As we see on a near-daily basis now, national coaches are nominating their teams for the Tokyo Olympics, teams and players that the coach feels have the best chance of winning an Olympic gold medal…
So when we look at the leaked squad of what Danny Kerry has selected as his Great Britain side that will lead his country to glory, there is one glaring omission, an omission that will raise a hell of a lot of eyebrows. But, unfortunately, the eyebrows at Hockey World News have most certainly not been raised.
If you are an out-and-out natural goalscorer, a forward that most teams worldwide would love to have in their side, and if your name is not Sam, then you face little chance of selection.
Yes, Sam Ward is a world-class goalscorer, a player that rightly deserves a place in the Olympic side and probably would force his way into most national teams from around the world. However, let’s look at the guy who has been the top goal scorer four of the last five seasons in the English National League, has scored countless goals for Great Britain, including vital goals that help the side qualify for Tokyo. Not to mention being one of the highest ever goal scorer for his home nation, yes, we’re talking about Alan Forsyth.
The Great Britain Omission
For most hockey fans around the world and coaches of national teams, this will be a big surprise; Alan has been selected only as a reserve for Tokyo, by far the best natural goal scorer in the Great Britain setup. Having missed out on Rio, under Bobby Crutchley, Danny Kerry struck a sucker punch to the talismanic Scotsman once again.
In a recent poll on social media listing the Great Britain forwards, asking who they would select to partner Sam ward when a vital goal is needed, 71.8% of you chose Alan Forsyth. So to most, this is a big shock, but as I said earlier, this is not a shock to me.
Here’s why, let me take you back to August 24th 2019, the European Championships in Antwerp. The final match of the tournament for England was against their bitter rivals Scotland. A rivalry that one section of the media said Danny Kerry takes too far.
Forsyth and Waller had a coming together during the match, where Forsyth’s stick accidentally caught Waller in the face, the umpires did not see the incident, and no injury had been reported to the tournament Doctor; a playing incident, so no further action was taken right?… Wrong.
The incident was seen by England and Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry. After the match, England Hockey instructed their videographer to find the clash on video and clip it. Then, against the players’ wishes, they took the video to the Tournament Director to initiate disciplinary proceedings. England Hockey have since said they ‘followed their standard procedures in notifying the TD and producing evidence”. They also state that they requested “no action to be taken against Forsyth”, so why take the time to clip an incident and produce it to the TD when no action was being taken anyway?
At the resulting disciplinary hearing, held some weeks later via video call, that Danny Kerry did not attend, Jack Waller said via email that it was a match play incident. He accepted Forsyth’s apology both immediately following the clash and again after the game. However, with England Hockey searching out and producing video evidence of the incident, the TD had no choice but to recommend the FIH issue Forsyth with a two-match suspension.
So, moving back to the selection of Danny Kerry’s team for Tokyo. Even with the additional information from Antwerp and England Hockey involvement in Forsyth’s suspension, it is still hard to believe that the most natural and prolific goalscorer in the English leagues has not been selected in the final 16.
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Of course, the full squad selection needs to be ratified by the BOA, and admin clearances need to be approved before the selection is rubber-stamped and finalised. Still, with all England and Wales players making it through the European Championships, it is unlikely that we will see any changes ahead of Thursday BOA announcement.