England and GB Hockey were very saddened to hear that former colleague Mike Hamilton had passed away. Mike, who was 71, died suddenly last week. Mike worked for England and GB Hockey and its predecessors from 1985 to 2004.
Mike was a proud Yorkshireman, hailing from Doncaster, and attended the town’s grammar school. He then studied PE at Loughborough before becoming a teacher in Leicestershire, originally in PE before moving into technology as an early advocate of IT. Later his interest and knowledge in this area helped develop video and analysis in the sport.
Mike played cricket, a fast bowler at County 2nd XI level, and hockey, to a high standard. He was captain/coach at Leicester Westleigh HC and became involved in coaching in the Midlands – both for regional junior teams and in coach education where he played an increasingly key role. He was always a man who stayed loyal to his roots, later in his career he coached Leicester Ladies and remained a close friend of the club as it developed and grew into Leicester City.
His aptitude for coach education led him to leading Hockey Association coaching courses both locally and staffing national residential courses at Lilleshall National Sports Centre which were an important step on the coaching ladder for many top coaches from the past forty years.
Mike also coached the England U16s for a number of seasons during the 1980s and former international player Simon Mason recalls his time playing for the team.
“Mike was my first international coach back in 1983, working with the manager John Law running the England U16s. He was a knowledgeable, professional coach but more so an approachable and caring man. He worked so well with the young players in his teams and many of us went on to gain full international honours. His fun side shone through – he especially enjoyed ‘training’ the keepers which involved employing his own hitting skills to try and smash the ball past our heads!”
In 1985 Mike joined The Hockey Association as a Regional Coach and he was appointed Director of Coaching in 1989, initially based in the HA Coaching Office in Worcester before a move to Milton Keynes. He oversaw a joint coaching award programme with the All England Women’s Hockey Association that was one of the first collaborative projects that ultimately led to the game being governed by one single body.
He became High Performance Manager for the new body in 1997 and in 2000 moved to Performance Director, a post he held until 2004. This was a challenging transitional time at the elite level of the sport, with the introduction of lottery funding, and Mike worked hard during this period to introduce player pathways and coach development, laying the foundations for the performance programme we have today. During this time Mike also had short spells as assistant and lead coach with the senior international teams.
Simon Mason’s further reflections on Mike will no doubt be echoed by many players of his generation.
“He was a steady presence throughout my hockey career, from early days as coach to latter stages as Performance Director and senior team coach. A man who had hockey in his heart and only ever wanted what was best for the game. He was an influential figure in the game, from my first to last international moments.”
Mike later joined British Orienteering as Chief Executive a post he held for twelve years until retirement in 2018.
Current Competition Manager, Stephen Barlow worked with Mike for a number of years and offered his thoughts on the sad news.
“Mike cared passionately about the game and how it should be played, dedicating his time in the sport to giving opportunities and the right environment for players and coaches to develop. He was a hugely supportive and kind manager, simply a top man and larger than life figure who will be missed by the many many people he helped in the game over the years.”
Our sincere condolences go to Mike’s wife Jill at this time. Further details regarding funeral arrangements will be published when known.