FIVE of Scotland’s most experienced hockey stars – with a combined total of 773 caps between them – have announced their retirement from the national set-up.
In the women’s side, defender and vice-captain Catriona Ralph along with strikers Ali Bell, Ailsa Wyllie and Sam Judge are to quit the international scene.
From the men’s squad, Bromac Kelburne’s Chris Nelson is also calling it a day.
That means a headache for coaches Gordon Shepherd (women) and Derek Forsyth (men) as they prepare for the European Nations Championships next summer following the earlier retirals of women’s captain Linda Clement, along with Niall Stott and goalkeeper Allan Dick on the men’s side.
Nelson, who has represented his country for the last ten years, said: “Playing for Scotland means we have to fund ourselves and take holidays from work for tournaments.
“It is a big commitment and I have been really lucky that my work has supported me through my international career, giving me extra holidays. It is also a lot of time you spend in training, so it has to come to an end at some point.
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“We have a lot of kids coming through at Kelburne, with many who have got ambitions to play for Scotland.
“It is nice to know I can be a role model to them.”
Ralph, a veteran of 165 caps who played in the very competitive Dutch league for two years, said: “I wanted to finish on a high, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was always going to be a pinnacle for any Scottish player.
“Finishing on Glasgow Green in front of a 5,000 crowd was amazing.”
Bell, of Grove Menzieshill, who recently got married, added: “It has been a really difficult decision to make but I think the time is right.
“I feel proud and lucky to have been involved in such an amazing and successful squad, and it is going to be strange not being part of it all. I have a lot of great memories from my time within the squad and I will definitely miss the banter.”
Perhaps the most frustrated player was Judge, former Milne Craig Western striker and now player/coach at Edinburgh University, who finished her international career on 199 caps after she was not selected for the final Commonwealth Games squad of 16.
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