Friends pay tribute after death of gifted hockey player, aged only 27

COLLEAGUES and friends of a former Scottish hockey youth international who died suddenly have paid tribute to the "naturally talented sportsman".

Richard Docherty, who was diabetic, passed away on Sunday at the age of 27. It is understood that the father of two from Edinburgh died from a health problem associated with the condition.

He leaves behind fiance Karen, son Cameron, two, and daughter Millie, who was born earlier this year.

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He was a regular player in the country's premier outdoor competition, National League One, where he plied his trade for Inverleith.

His team-mates yesterday described him as a "very talented" player who "gave everything" for his club.

The keen sportsman, who also played basketball, football and rugby in his younger days, represented a number of clubs throughout his career, including Grange, CALA Edinburgh and Western Wildcats.

He represented Scotland at all youth levels, winning several Under-21 caps, and was included in the senior men's performance programme.

Adam Mackenzie, the Scotland international who played alongside Mr Docherty in Inverleith's defence, told The Scotsman last night that the players were "distraught".

"I knew Richard for years and he was a very talented player, someone who it was a pleasure to play alongside," Mr Mackenzie said.

"He was an out-and-out good guy, who was very family-orientated. With Inverleith, he gave everything and was 100 per cent committed."

Graham Stuart, who had known Mr Docherty for more than 20 years and asked him to be his best man at his wedding, said: "I recently became a father, and I'll be happy if I can have half the relationship Richard did with his kids.

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"Cameron absolutely doted after him. Richard always had time for them, and it was a joy to see them playing."

Although he played predominantly in a defensive position, Mr Docherty frequently made the score-sheet courtesy of his powerful penalty corner routine.

In May, he played in the Arthur McKay Scottish Cup final, where Inverleith lost to Kelburne,

Mr Docherty was not the only member of his family to excel at the sport. His brother, Laurence, played for the full Scotland side, but the 30-year-old turned his back on his native land to take Dutch citizenship in an attempt to further his career.

Their mother Maureen played hockey for Edinburgh club side Telford Ladies, while their father, Laurie, was a junior internationalist at basketball.

Jonathan Bower, the vice- president of Inverleith, described Mr Docherty as a "natural" talent and fine company off the pitch.

He told The Scotsman: "Richard was a really nice young guy with two young kids.

"He was a relaxed character who, off the pitch, was a bloke's bloke.

"But when he was playing, he was competitive.

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"The young lads in the team liked playing alongside him because he was a secure and confident player at the back. He was the type of guy you could rely on not to make a mistake."

Brent Deans, Scottish Hockey chief executive, said: "We are truly saddened to learn of Richard's sudden passing, and naturally our thoughts and condolences go out to Richard's family and close friends.

"Richard was a fine hockey player and will be sorely missed throughout the game in Scotland, including club-mates, past and present, fellow players and coaches who worked with him."