Nick Parkes retires from international hockey
After winning 100 caps for Scotland and representing his country at two Commonwealth Games’, Nick Parkes has announced his retirement from international hockey.
Parkes played in Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 and was also part of the gold medal winning EuroHockey Championship II squad of 2017. His final appearances for Scotland were at the recent EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp where he won his 100th cap. He said, “It was the right time to go but I miss it already. You really don’t know what it all means until it’s gone. But it’s the right decision, I just got married and I’m not getting any younger and also reaching 100 caps on my last game made it a good time to call it a day.”
It was at World League 2 in St Germain in 2013 that Parkes played his first tournament for Scotland. He said “My debut was against Canada. I’d been in the juniors but hadn’t really played for Scotland while I was at university, after I graduated I focussed a lot more on hockey and raised my standard enough to play for Scotland and got into the squad. It was a great tournament for me, there were lots of familiar faces in the team when I came back and we ended up finishing fourth. We also had the Euros that summer so it was a really good summer for me.”
Next up for Parkes and the Scotland squad was a Commonwealth Games on home turf – Glasgow 2014. It would be the first of two Commonwealth Games outings for Parkes as he competed in Gold Coast 2018 as well. In Glasgow Parkes bagged his first goal for Scotland, while Gold Coast saw Scotland men finish in their highest ever position at a Commonwealth Games, an excellent achievement.
Parkes added, “Glasgow 2014 was a brilliant experience. The hockey was brilliant and I scored my first goal for Scotland against India, but my favourite was scoring the winner against Wales. I don’t score often so to get my first and second at the Commonwealth Games was a great feeling. Away from the pitch was amazing too, going into Glasgow made you feel like a celebrity; village life was great too and the ceremony was excellent.
“Gold Coast was better from a hockey side, we were more competitive and felt like we were more in the tournament. The win over South Africa was brilliant, that was when everything just came together – we were on fire that day. It was nice to go to Australia but Glasgow was better, with it being a home town games as well. It was special.”
In 2017 EuroHockey Championship II was held in Glasgow as Scotland made another attempt at promotion to the top level of European hockey, this time with a huge home support behind them. It was an incredible competition and the Blue Sticks won the tournament and promotion for the first time in over a decade. It was one of the memorable moments for Parkes in his Scotland career. He explained,
“Winning the Euros in Glasgow was another special moment, it was a great feeling to finally get promoted. I’d done three Euros by that point so to finally get promoted, especially at home, was just amazing. I think we may have got promoted because we were at home with the crowd behind us, but also the team was just getting better and better all the time. It wasn’t that we had better players because in the past we’ve had guys like Iain Scholefield; Michael Christie; Niall Stott and Graham Moodie – we were just really together. It was the team culture that took us on.
“The goals against Wales in Glasgow and again in Antwerp were right up there. Playing at the Euros in Antwerp will be a good memory even though I was gutted we got relegated, but I had it in the back of my mind that I’d retire at the end so I just took it all in. I didn’t have any worries and loved the experience.”
Parkes is planning to take a break from hockey, probably until Christmas, but will definitely be back playing club hockey in the future. Parkes said, “there’s so many people I’d like to thank, but Derek Forsyth was coach for nearly the whole time I played for Scotland and I really valued his support and coaching, he definitely developed me as a player. Chris Grassick was captain the majority of the time I was there as well, and he’s inspirational. Kenny Bain is another player; I’ve played with him since I was 12 and he was always such a great player – we had some brilliant times.”
Scotland men’s Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “Nick Parkes has been a stalwart of the team over the past decade between U21s and seniors, he’s always been committed to the programme and playing for Scotland. He’s been a great servant to the team and to Scottish Hockey, and has always been a fantastic asset through his work rate and intelligence. He’ll be missed; he’s a top guy and I wish him well for the future.”
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