Five of the squad had an idea of what they were about to
face and the team were well prepared, but the mighty force that are Australia were just too good and ran away with the match nine goals to nil.
The Scottish men’s hockey squad faced the toughest test of their career today when, under the sweltering sun, they played seventy minutes of the highest intensity hockey against the boys in gold and green who are the current world champions and Commonwealth gold medallists.
Since hockey was introduced to the Games in 1998, Australia have taken gold on every occasion. They have only lost one match in the competition which was against South Africa in the group stages of the Kuala Lumpur Games.
Four years ago in Melbourne, Scotland were again in the Aussies group and went down 5-1. The score may look more appealing but the team feel they have come a long way since then.
Stephen Dick played a part in both matches and compared the two experiences. He said, “Our structure and the way we play now is much better than four years ago. Australia are a lot more clinical in their finishing than in the past and were really on their game today. The pace they play at and their front defence was very strong.”
How does a hockey player pick themselves up after a heavy defeat and look ahead to the next game? Dick explains, “We have a bit of experience in that situation. It happened to us in the World Cup Qualifier and we went on to win the bronze medal so we know it’s possible. We’re looking for a strong result against Malaysia and we’ve got to do it.”
The youngest player in the Scotland side is 18 year old Alan Forsyth who was facing the hockey giants for the first time.
“Australia are world class and it’s a brilliant opportunity for us to play against some of the world’s top players. Playing the world champions at their best, is difficult but for me, to get selected for the Games is fantastic. Today’s game ranks as the number one experience in my career so far. They’re amazing players individually and to get the chance to face them was really special. Disappointing to lose but you can’t expect too much against the number one team,” said Forsyth.
Australia didn’t have it all their own way. Scotland’s attack created chances and earned two penalty corners and a couple of shots at goal to make their keeper work and gain confidence from some flowing passages of play and possession.
Australian player Glenn Turner was happy with his sides opening game but found the heat and the Scots a bit of a challenge. “The heat is still a bit of a shock to us and it was tough out there but it was good to get off to a good start. The Scotland goal keeper had a really good game and they’re a determined side. We knew we were in for a tough, physical match and that’s exactly what they gave us,” said Turner.
Alistair McGregor was one of the Scotland’s busiest players on the pitch but he’s holding up well. He commented, “The team are looking after me well, giving me ice vests to wear at half time and I am drinking lots. It was a tough game but we always knew it would be.”
Plenty of rest over the next 24 hours then match three for the men against Malaysia on Friday evening and a game they are all desperate to win.