Belfast Telegraph

1988 Seoul hockey heroes also deserve honours, says NI star

By Gareth Fullerton

Northern Ireland hockey legend Stephen Martin has joined the calls for his GB team-mates from the 1988 Seoul Olympics to be retrospectively recognised with honours.

Martin was part of the heroic men's team that won gold almost 29 years ago with a stellar 3-1 win over West Germany.

Only three players from that squad have received honours, including Martin, who was awarded an MBE for services to hockey in 1993.

Richard Dodds - who captained the side in Seoul - was presented with an OBE after the Games, while Sean Kerly was awarded an MBE in 1992.

Thirteen other players - including Northern Ireland's Jimmy Kirkwood - have never been recognised for their achievements almost three decades ago.

And after the GB women's hockey squad were recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours for their gold medal success in Rio, Martin believes the heroes of 1988 deserve similar awards.

"Richard (Dodds) has been very vocal in his support of the squad being recognised, and I would be right behind him. There have been plenty of other retrospective honours for Olympic champions, but the 1988 men's hockey squad has never got full recognition," said Martin.

"What we achieved was unbelievable, similar to what the GB women's team did last summer. It just seems unfortunate that the men's squad has been ignored."

Martin received his MBE in 1993. He played in three Olympics, including the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, where he won a bronze medal.

"Hockey is a team sport, and it was a team effort that got us our gold medal," said Martin. "So I think it would be good for the whole squad to be recognised."

Fellow Northern Ireland Olympic champion Kirkwood says the Seoul Olympics is a memory he will cherish, but admits the absence of an honour following the gold medal success is not something he has dwelt on.

"I haven't thought about it too much," he said.

"It was a long time ago. I think there have been calls for other sportspeople to be honoured over the years, stretching back to the likes of England's 1966 World Cup winning football squad.

"I am delighted for everyone who is honoured. The women did fantastic in Rio. But I am not too worried about me missing out."

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