Ruth Blaikie, who has established herself in the Scottish senior women’s squad, makes a switch from Europe back to nearer home this season, a move which has been a bonus to a leading women’s team North of the Border. Nigel Duncan reports
The Perth-born and educated midfielder, who played with Dutch club AMVJ based in Amstelveen while studying liberal arts and sciences in The Netherlands, has switched to The University of Edinburgh who will hope to mount a strong challenge to arch Capital rivals Watsonians who won the Grand Slam last season.
Blaikie, 22, is a welcome addition and joins coach Sam Judge who has suffered the loss of four players, two of them from the critical midfield department, who were in or on the fringes of the Scottish international squad.
Katie Robertson, Scotland’s captain in the EuroHockey Championships, A Division, in Monchengladbach, following the absence through injury of Olympic bronze medallist, Sarah Robertson, has left, and the 26-year-old has joined Reading HC.
Eve Pearson, the 21-year-old midfielder who provided the killer pass to Great Britain squad member, Charlotte Watson, in the EuroHockey Championships in Germany when gutsy Scotland earned a historic 2-1 win over Spain in their final fixture, is moving abroad to an as yet undisclosed club.
That left 45-year-old Judge’s midfield thin before the signature of Blaikie and the coach has also lost Georgia Jones and talented goalkeeper, Amber Murray, who were around the squad in the build-up to the EuroHockey Championships.
Last season, the students pushed treble winners, Watsonians, hard for honours and Judge is keen to see a changing of the guard this season.
The Paisley-born coach, who made 199 appearances for the international side, said: “Ruth joining is good and we have Ava Smith back from injury which is also a plus. We have a lot of first year students coming in so I am not sure of my squad. It currently sits at 25.”
The University of Edinburgh Hall of Famer, who is director of hockey at George Watson’s College, and head of performance for women’s hockey at The University of Edinburgh, where she graduated in sports science, has until Sep 23 to make key decisions.
That is when the students open their campaign at ambitious Uddingston, who now have Gareth Ikin, one of the back-rooms staff for Scotland women’s team, in charge of the squad and doubling as director of hockey in Lanakrshire.