The captain of Great Britain’s 1988 Olympic men’s hockey champions has called for his team-mates to be given the same honours as every other gold medallist since the Seoul Games.
Britain’s women’s Olympic hockey heroes from Rio 2016 received awards in the new year honours and Richard Dodds, who the led the team to glory over West Germany almost 29 years ago, says it is an injustice that the men continue to be ignored.
Dodds was appointed OBE after the Games to recognise his captaincy and has waged a private campaign for more than 15 years for his team-mates to be honoured. Sean Kerly and Stephen “Sam” Martin have received MBEs but none of the remaining 13 members has been given any such award.
“I take my hat off to the women’s team — they have been fantastic and they have all now been honoured which was richly deserved,” Dodds told The Times. “But that highlights how my team are just as worthy of receiving similar honours. There have been plenty of other retrospective honours for Olympic champions and it seems an injustice that the 1988 team continue to be ignored.”
Britain won five golds in Seoul and the hockey final made some of the players into household names. The final, which Britain won 3-1, was also made memorable by Barry Davies’s commentary for the BBC, in which he said after Imran Sherwani had scored the third goal: “Where were the Germans . . . Frankly, who cares?”
Dodds began his campaign in 2001 after all Britain’s gold medallists in Sydney had received honours and tried to persuade Tony Blair to step in, but received a reply from the prime minister that the government was not responsible for a decision taken under Margaret Thatcher’s administration. He tried again before the London 2012 Games, approaching the cabinet secretary in charge of honours without success.
Dodds, an orthopaedic consultant, said that he would now write to Theresa May, whom he knows personally.
Many of the 1988 squad had already won a bronze medal at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics and Dodds added that Roger Self, the manager of the hockey team at both Games who was appointed OBE, is desperate for the whole of the squad to be recognised. “Roger has been struggling with ill health and he would absolutely love it if it happened — he has also worked for this with me for years,” he said.
He pointed out that all of the England cricket squad who won the 2005 Ashes were honoured, including Paul Collingwood, who played only the final Test. “That was for just beating a single country, not even winning a world championship,” Dodds said.
Apart from the hockey squad, only a handful of surviving Olympic champions are still without honours.
The oldest is Gillian Sheen, 88, who won Britain’s only ever fencing gold in 1956, and who is believed to be living in the United States.
The others still not honoured include Mark Phillips and Bridget Parker, who were part of Britain’s successful eventing team in 1972. Phillips is the former husband of Princess Anne, the president of the British Olympic Association. Neither Adrian Parker nor Danny Nightingale, who won the modern pentathlon team gold in 1976 has been honoured, and nor has Adrian Ellison, who was cox when Sir Steve Redgrave won the first of five gold medals in 1984.
In 2000, 34 years after England’s football World Cup success, the five remaining members of the team who had not been honoured received MBEs.
1988, men’s hockey team
- 1 Ian Taylor
- 2 Russell Garcia
- 3 Jon Potter
- 4 Imran Sherwani
- 5 Martyn Grimley
- 6 Jimmy Kirkwood
- 7 Kulbir Bhaura
- 8 David Faulkner
- 9 Paul Barber
- 10 Richard Leman
- 11 Steve Batchelor
- 12 Robert Clift
- 13 Veryann Pappin
(Richard Dodds, Sean Kerly, Stephen “Sam” Martin have been honoured since)
- 1984 Cox of men’s coxed four, Adrian Ellison
- 1976 Modern pentathletes Danny Nightingale and Adrian Parker
- 1972 Equestrian eventing team, Mark Phillips, Bridget Parker
- 1956 Fencing: Gillian Sheen (Britain’s only ever fencing gold)