Scottish Hockey has paid tribute to its oldest member who passed away late last month, aged 95. George Black represented Scotland 48 times, was capped in three games by Great Britain three times. He was a fervent player in the Masters game, so much so that he was hailed as the ‘faither’ (father) of Scottish veterans’.
Black was widely considered one of the most decorated players in Scottish hockey history and was also a non-travelling reserve for the 1964 Olympics. A goalkeeper for Stepps HC since he was 17, Black still played up until a few years ago.
“I already have a couple of regrets – not making it to 50 caps and not going to the Olympics,” he told the Glasgow Herald in an interview a few years ago, “but playing in this game would go some way to making up for that.”
Conscripted to work in a coal mine during the Second World War, Black would join his friends in turning out for Stepps during weekends at home. His dedication to Stepps – where he held numerous roles – saw him part of the club long enough to celebrate the clubs’ 50th, 75th and Centenary celebrations.
In the 1980/81 season Black was awarded the Robert Thistle Trophy for distinguished services to hockey; an annual award by the National Playing Fields Association.
He was also a founder member and first President of the Scottish Veterans LX Hockey Club who he represented in various age categories.
“George was one of the true gentlemen and characters of our sport, he will be sadly missed by those who had the privilege to know him,” Scottish Hockey said.
The outpouring of tributes in Scotland told of a social and welcoming person off the field and a teak-tough opponent on it.
According to one anecdote written on the Scotland LX website, Black once got the better of Scottish international and ICI Grangemouth player Charlie Donald in a West-East Baxter Trophy match at Dawson Park in Dundee. “After George had stopped him in his tracks, Charlie told his opponent that next time he was going to go right through him and put the ball into the net. George said nothing but when the forward ran at him with the ball on his stick, George dropped his shoulder and flipped Charlie into the air, somersaulting him into a rose bush in the garden behind the goal.”
In 2013 he told the Glasgow Herald: “I played a game for the third team down at Ayr recently when the opposite goalkeeper was a boy of 12,” recounts the Stepps Hockey Club veteran. “He played quite a good game . . . even if I conceded fewer goals than he did.”
“Back then, I was big-headed enough to think I was still the best man for the job. In fact, when I was younger, I was a big-headed lump. I never thought anyone else was any better than me. I was the best there was, as far as I was concerned.