Following on from last week’s focus on the women’s final of the sensational Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 competition in The Hague, we now turn our attention to the men’s title match.
Just like the women’s competition, the final was contested between hosts the Netherlands and Australia, although the end result turned out to be very different indeed. Thanks to a hat-trick from penalty corner ace Chris Ciriello and field goal contributions from Kieran Govers, Glenn Turner and legendary attacker Jamie Dwyer, the Kookaburras stormed to a 6-1 victory over the home favourites to defend their 2010 title in awe-inspiring fashion.
In the first of a two-part interview, five times FIH Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer talks to FIH about his memories of what he described as the best hockey event he ever attended, reflecting on his team’s astonishing performance levels throughout the competition as well as the ‘electrifying’ atmosphere within the vast stadium complex itself.
Part two of the interview will be published on Thursday 21 January, the same day that the full match replay of the final will be available for all fans via the Watch.Hockey App.
Jamie Dwyer, thank you so much for joining us. The 2014 Hockey World Cup in The Hague was an extremely special occasion for fans and players. An incredible double event, with a football stadium being turned into a hockey arena. What was the event like for you? Can you remember your experience of The Hague?
Jamie Dwyer: “Yep, I remember it very clearly. It was definitely the best hockey event that I have ever been to. To have the men’s and women’s World Cups on at the same time, to have it in that setting, a football stadium over in Den Haag, it was all just perfectly run. From the Australian men’s point of view, we played really good hockey there. Probably the best hockey consistently over a six or seven game tournament that I’ve been involved in, and we came away with a gold medal, which was really good.”
It was an incredible performance from you guys. You reached the competition final against the Netherlands by winning six out of six matches, only conceding two goals on that run. Going into the final against the Dutch, it was always going to be a challenge taking on the host nation, who were playing very well. What were the thoughts of the team going into that match? Were there any nerves, or were you feeling pretty confident?
Jamie Dwyer: “For me personally, there is always a few nerves going into big tournaments and big games like that. That said, it was probably a weird tournament for us because normally you have ups and flows throughout the tournament. This is the first tournament I was involved in where we have just played brilliant hockey from the first whistle to the end whistle in the final. I just felt huge confidence in our team, throughout the whole tournament, really. I remember [Australia captain] Mark Knowles coming into my room after a couple of games and asking, ‘how do you think we are going’, and I said ‘mate, we are doing really well. Everyone is performing really well, so I cannot really see us losing, to be honest’. Those were my words to him. So, going into that final, I was pretty excited. A little bit nervous, as I thought it would have been a shame if we had lost that final because we had played so well in the six games leading into it. But yeah, in Holland, with the 16,000-person stadium, where 15,950 of them were Dutch people wearing orange shirts, the environment and atmosphere was electrifying.”
We wanted to ask you about that atmosphere, which was spine-tingling, especially when the anthems were played. It perhaps added a little bit of pressure on the hosts, but what about for you guys? Was there any element of intimidation there, just the fact that you were in a vast stadium full of orange-shirted fans
Jamie Dwyer: “For me, not really. That is what I played hockey for. The Dutch hockey fans are very knowledgeable of the game, so they knew that we were good, they knew that they needed to get behind the Dutch team, so we knew that the atmosphere was going to be the way it was, especially after they scored the first goal. That is probably when I did get a little bit nervous. I was thinking now they have scored the first goal they might get another one, we might get a little bit nervous and not play to our potential. Thankfully we scored three goals in that first half and scored a couple of quick goals after half time and the game was pretty much settled. One thing that I really admired about that crowd was that no-one left. They all stayed there until the final whistle. They applauded us after we had won. They applauded the Dutch team as well, as they should have because a silver medal at the World Cup is still pretty unbelievable. But they cheered us as well, which is something that I will never forget, and I show huge appreciation to all the Dutch fans that day.”
The full replay of the women’s final at the 2014 Hockey World Cup can be found on the Watch.Hockey App.