Stewart’s Melville College FP Robbie Croll recently earned his first full caps for the Scottish men’s hockey team, and he certainly has a bright future in the sport ahead of him.
Robbie, who left in 2018 and is now studying Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, took up the sport when he was in Primary 7, at ESMS Junior School. He made his debut for Scotland in a win over Wales in May.
Remembering his days at school he said:
“I was pretty small when I was about 10 or 11, so I chose hockey over rugby and I am very glad I did. While I was at the school and then after I left the hockey programme has grown massively for boys there, driven by Andrew Brogdon who is now the Head of Hockey at Stewart’s Melville. He played at a high level himself and was very enthusiastic. He was a really good coach who had other good coaches around him.
“When I think back to my school days and time on the hockey pitch, all I have are good memories. It was always nice to play alongside your friends and win in school colours.”
Whilst playing school hockey, Robbie also turned out for the Grange Club side and progressed through the ranks there from the development side to the first XI.
In his final year at school he was also made Captain of the first XI. “It was a real honour,” Robbie recounts.
“We had a good team at that time and made it through to the Scottish Schools’ Cup final through at Glasgow Green.
“We managed to win 4-2 against Hutchesons’ Grammar so it was really nice to lift silverware with my friends and a great way to sign off from school hockey. The school’s under-15s won their Cup that year at the same time so I knew my age group were leaving the school in good hands hockey-wise.”
Whilst at school he began playing for the East District Scotland age-grade hockey and just after leaving Stewart’s Melville College Robbie played with the national under-18s squad in a European event in Cardiff.
The team managed to get promoted after that and Robbie, who now plays as a centre back, said: “It was really special to be playing in a tournament for Scotland and that experience left me wanting more! I started university then in the summer of 2019 after my first year I played in the under-21s Euros.
“A few of us who were still eligible for the under-18s stepped up into that squad and we went to the event in the Czech Republic and managed to get promoted, this time finishing first which was nice.
“I then knuckled down and played a lot of club hockey for the University of Edinburgh before the pandemic shut things down in March 2020.”
Under their ‘elite sport’ banner, the Scotland senior and under-23 squads were able to keep training at times over the last year or so while grassroots sport was in lockdown.
This kept Robbie fit and in the mix for when normality returned and he was delighted to be selected for the full squad’s two matches in Cardiff against Wales last month.
“I felt I had been training well, but when the squad got announced I was pretty surprised. It was a nice shock,” he said.
“To earn my first two caps for Scotland was amazing.
“We won the first game 4-2 and then lost the second one 6-1, so that showed me just how up and down top-level sport can be. All of the senior players really helped me to settle in and I took a lot from the experience.
“Now I just have to keep working hard and build on this going forward. Next year [2021/22] will be busy since I will be in my fourth year at university and also full on with hockey, but I will try and keep a good balance between the two.”
“He should be proud of himself, we are certainly very proud of him”
On Robbie’s achievements, Stewart’s Melville College’s Head of Hockey Andrew Brogdon said: “He should be proud of himself, we are certainly very proud of him as a school. Robbie was always a hard worker at school and he set the standards for others when it came to hockey.
“Since he left school three years ago that work ethic has continued to serve him well and he is a great role model to the current pupils who play hockey at the school and his journey shows them all what can be done.
“Over the last few years, hockey for boys has really grown at the school and we have a lot of good hockey players in all the different year groups now from P5 right up to the first XI.
“We hope that Robbie can be a trailblazer and that we will see other pupils go on to achieve great things in the sport too.”
Good luck with a busy year, Robbie!
Article by Gary Heatly