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Roger Self, Great Britain’s 1988 gold medal-winning hockey manager, dies aged 77

Roger Self OBE, second left, pictured at Cannock HC in 2010 (Cannock Hockey Club)

BY ROD GILMOUR

Tributes have been paid to Roger Self OBE, Great Britain’s inspirational manager who oversaw Olympic hockey gold in 1988, who died on Monday after a long illness. He was 77.

Self’s involvement with Great Britain Hockey lasted 30 years as a coach and manager, his finest hour coming as he led the men’s side at the Seoul Games to victory over favourites West Germany, 3-2 in the Olympic final.

Stephen Martin, who played at the 1988 Games, said on Monday that Self was an “inspirational leader and friend”, while team-mate Jon Potter said that hockey had “lost a friend and mentor today”.

In 1980, after several decades of decline, Self set about changing the team’s fortunes, with backing from the GB hockey board.

He hired David Whitaker as coach before a bronze medal was garnered by GB men at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and followed, four years later, by an era-defining gold medal in South Korea.

Just how important Self was to the resurgent GB side as the Eighties’ developed was summed up by Sean Kerly, the former England and GB forward, who said in a 2008 interview that “Roger was the key person.”

He added: “He was determined to build us mentally strong and supplied the ‘hockey intelligence’.

“He used to make and break us, again and again. It was not much fun but we realised afterwards, how important it was.”

Self, an insurance broker and financial consultant, was also manager of the Welsh team for seven years.

He was manager too of Southgate Hockey Club, where he took them to European pean titles.

In 2004, he became president of the GB Hockey board and was a technical offical at the International Hockey Federation.

The GB board reluctantly accepted Self’s resignation in 2007 on the grounds of ill health.

Self was awarded an OBE for the GB team’s stunning Seoul success.

However, for the last 30 years he had campaigned, along with captain Richard Dodds, for equal recognition in the Queen’s honours.

Three players received honours, but 13 of the Seoul squad have yet to be recognised.

“They were all amateurs back then and I would like to see equality and every player to be honoured,” Self told The Hockey Paper in January.

Roger Self was born on 10.06.1939. He died on Monday, aged 77

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3 thoughts on “Roger Self, Great Britain’s 1988 gold medal-winning hockey manager, dies aged 77

  1. Roy Woster

    I have known Roger for more years than I can remember.
    We were protagonists both on the hockey and cricket fields…sharing many moments of humour and angst..
    Throughout we remained friends and like myself many many people will never forget his humour and good nature.
    Goodbye my friend..may the fields in heaven be as kind as they were to you on earth.
    Forever

    Reply
  2. David Prosser

    Roger was brought into the Wales Squad in the 70’s as a physical trainer by Tony Bannister to get us fit. And he did !!!!
    He was an inspiring Coach, Manager and had a instinctive insight on how to maximise a players attrubutes. He was also a great tactical reader of the game.
    He got his teams in a frame of mind to win and they did.
    His record will go down in history and it was a privilege to have played in so many Internationals under his Management.

    Reply
  3. Austin Savage

    Roger Self was a truly inspirational Manager/Coach of Wales in the ’70s. I was so lucky to have been involved with the national side throughout his tenure. With such limited resources to hand ‘Selfie’ was able to transform the team into one which enjoyed several successes against strong opposition, notably England!
    I firmly believe that Roger’s brilliant achievements with the GB side were as a result of his own learning period with Wales!
    More importantly, however,I feel that in his passing I have lost such a good friend.

    Reply

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