Rod Gilmour, of The Hockey Paper, speaks to Old Georgians ace Alan Forsyth ahead of his first home fixture against old club Surbiton
Nearly four years ago, a brace from Alan Forsyth inflicted Old Georgians’ first defeat in the Men’s Premier Division during a typically frenetic match and 4-3 win for Surbiton.
Now, the Scot is back on English turf, this time in an Old Georgians shirt after two seasons away playing in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. On Saturday he will go up against former club Surbiton in his first home fixture under the Weybridge lights. It looks set to be another cracker, with both sides serving up a combined nine goals on the opening weekend.
“I’ve kept my eye on the results over the last few years and it always seems to be a feisty affair, which is always nice!” said Forsyth.
The 31-year-old relished his seven years at Surbiton. “I loved my time there during the most successful period in the men’s history and titles outdoors and indoors,” he said. “I loved working under Todd Williams at the start, then Mark Pearn and as a forward he was excellent to play for as you just wanted the ball to come into the circle.”
Forsyth knows many of his new team-mates at Old Georgians, who are gunning for a hat-trick of Premier Division titles this season as well as putting down a marker in the Euro Hockey League next month.
There’s Lee Morton, his Scottish compatriot, as well as an array of GB internationals over the years, from Tom Carson and George Pinner to Sam Ward, who he is excited to be linking up with at club level.
Forsyth has also joined forces with Brett Garrard, the latter having moved to OGs as part of the coaching set up alongside head coach Ashley Jackson. Forsyth was also an assistant coach to Garrard at Surbiton women.
“Already at training you can see what he is so good at, the way he has small conversations with people at training and pulls them aside,” the Scot said of Garrard, who is now Epsom College’s director of hockey.
“He has been involved in the game for a long time and he is looking forward to a different challenge after years in the women’s game. It will be his first home game against his old club too and he’ll be looking forward to that as well.”
Forsyth spent two seasons with Hague-based HGC, where he lived in a club flat with Zach Wallace and Ollie Willars, a pair he has known for nearly a decade.
The trio would do fitness together and as soon as the sun came out, they would head to the beach next to the Hague. Coffee was a big part of their daily routine, too. “It’s the easy life of Holland I love, jumping on the bike and everything is 10-15 minutes away,” added Forsyth. “There is no hassle or a stressful M25. I miss the simple things and here you now have to drive everywhere!
He joined HGC as then coach Paul van Ass set about rejigging a new squad which gelled sufficiently enough to take powerhouse side Bloemendaal to a deciding game in the Hoofdklasse play-offs.
“After 15 years of the international game and then joining that level of hockey out there, how they treat it and how exciting the games are, it was amazing,” admitted Forsyth.
He also travelled to the Netherlands following the disappointment of missing out on GB men’s selection for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where he was one of two playing reserves.
“The way things were I took a bit of a break after Tokyo and some time away. Going to the Netherlands and getting away from it was a very good decision,” he said.
“The team didn’t really care what you had done international hockey wise, you were there to play for the team and that was my role.”
“It’s a great league. Every game is massive and it is a privileged position to be in where your club can train four or five times every week and then a big game at weekends.”
Old Georgians had kept talks going with Forsyth ahead of his move to the continent, before announcing his signing over the summer.
It also came at a time when Forysth’s father, Derek, sadly died after a short illness in the summer. “There are a lot of people I haven’t met yet but how the club has supported me in that time is a true credit to them. At the time, no one really knew my dad was ill.”
Forsyth had travelled back and forth from the Netherlands since Christmas, with Derek telling Alan to “crack on with the hockey”.
He played in the EuroHockey B Division just after his father died where Scotland came third with a raft of new caps.
“There is a future but we are in a rebuilding phase at the moment. It was good to be back,” said Forsyth, who is also back training with the GB men’s programme as he bids for an Olympic berth at the third time of asking.
“My mum came over to watch and the way the Forsyth family is, sometimes we just jump on the wagon and get on with it.”
Saturday: Old Georgians v Surbiton, 6pm