West coast competitors shine bright at Scottish Hockey Awards 2019

Left photo: Jess Buchanan with Jamie Frail, Head of Domestic Game for Scottish Hockey and  Right: Gavin Wallace, Kaz Cuthbert and Ava Smith
Left photo: Jess Buchanan with Jamie Frail, Head of Domestic Game for Scottish Hockey and Right: Gavin Wallace, Kaz Cuthbert and Ava Smith

International players in and around Glasgow have been honoured at this year’s Scottish Hockey Awards.

Leading the way was Western Wildcats player-coach Kaz Cuthbert, who was voted Scotland Senior Women Player of the Year.

She was joined by Wildcats teammate Ava Smith in the U16 Girls’ category, along with Jess Buchanan of Clydesdale Hockey Club for the U21 Women.

Ali Douglas of Inverness – now with Glasgow School of Sport at Bellahouston Academy – was voted Scotland U16 Boys’ Player of the Year. Umpire Martin Madden of Clydesdale HC was chosen as male Official of the Year for the second year running.

Ten individuals were honoured as Player of the Year from various age groups at the 2019 awards ceremony held on November 30 at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. Accolades were also handed out to the country’s top officials, while the Senior Women’s squad secured the coveted title of Team of the Year.

Kaz skippered Scotland in the Women’s EuroHockey II Championship held earlier this year in Glasgow, a tournament which the host nation won to secure a place in the top flight of European competition. In addition to her success at national level, the 31-year-old led Wildcats ladies to victory in the Grand Final in April to qualify for Europe for the first time in the club’s history.

Known as a fearless goalkeeper, Jess began playing less than three years ago for Clydesdale, having previously been in goals as a footballer.

Voted in 2018 as the U16 Girls’ Player of the Year, she has now added the U21 title to her list of credits. The 17-year-old plays most of her internationals for the U21s, but is also a member of the Women’s Senior squad, putting her in the unusual position of potentially playing for the U18s, the U21s and the Seniors all in one year.

Previously with Highland Hockey Club, goalkeeper Ali is now at Glasgow School of Sport and playing for Clydesdale Western. Hailing from a family of hockey players, he competed at Inter-District U16 level at the age of 12, and is described as “dynamic” and “highly-rated” in his new set-up.

Currently on the first team at Western Wildcats, Ava was previously attached to GHK Hockey Club. A prolific goal scorer at every level she has played, she was a standout earlier this year in a series between Scotland and Ulster, scoring a total of five times.

Martin umpired several critical matches at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, including the Bronze Medal decider. He oversaw a World Cup Semi Final in December, and was officiating earlier this year at Ready Steady Tokyo, a test event for the Olympics.

He and Sarah Wilson, Scottish Hockey’s female Official of the Year, have both been appointed to umpire at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Other notable winners from the awards night included Surrey-based hockey ace Andy Bull, who was named Player of the Year among Scotland’s Senior Men.

Andy made his debut on the Scotland squad earlier this year, having been deemed eligible by virtue of his Scottish grandparents.

The 27-year-old full back currently plays for Old Georgians HC in Addlestone, and has a wealth of experience in some of the top leagues abroad with stints in Belgium, Amsterdam and Australia.

Scotland’s Senior Women were named Team of the Year, as decided by a combination of public vote and expert panel. Fending off competition from Scotland U21 Women, Scotland U21 Men and the Scotland O45 Men’s squads, the Senior Women rode to victory on their successful return to the top division of European competition during their first full year under new head coach Jen Wilson.

Scottish Hockey chief executive David Sweetman congratulated all of the winners and nominees, whose combined achievements reflect the game’s progress in Scotland.

“It was a great night at the Awards, and an excellent way to wrap up a season that has been successful on so many fronts for the national game,” David said.

“Kaz, Ava, Jess and Ali have all had an exceptional year, as has Martin, who is further solidifying Scotland’s reputation for top-class officials. It’s great to see hockey flourishing in this country, with the game growing at all levels.”