Jack Tynan a personal memoir

John Christopher (Jack) Tynan

5 December 1925 – August 23 2020

A personal memoir and tribute by Derek Wilshere

When I began my involvement with hockey in the early 1950’s Jack Tynan was New Zealand captain and my hero.

My first coach as a primary schoolboy playing for the Hutt Club was Brian Parkin. He constantly told us of Jack Tynan and the Karori Club team, the Wellington champions that he captained. Brian took us to watch them on several occasions. I remember watching Jack particularly and being impressed by his presence. He seemed to run the game! Through the 1950’s I continued to observe him whenever I could.

Jack was tall, strongly built with a good reach and a very strong left arm and wrist and was very speedy. He was a champion sprinter for the Karori Athletic Club with a time of 10.2 seconds for 100 yards. He had good hockey technique and stick skills with a formidable hit, flick and winning penalty bully execution. Passing, coupled with an excellent strategic and analytical brain, was possibly his greatest strengths.

Playing in the midfield, generally at centre-half and occasionally at inside-right his speed made him a huge asset to his team, particularly in cover defence. He made his senior debut for Karori in 1943 as a 17-year-old and played premier and representative hockey for 15 years. In that time Karori won the Wellington championship eight times and finished second six times. The Wellington teams he coached and captained through the 1950s were very well prepared, winning the Challenge Shield in 1952 and 1953. Internationally, over this period his Wellington team drew with Australia in 1952 (0-0) and lost narrowly to the Indian Wanderers 1-2 in 1955.

In 1948 Jack was selected to play at right half in a hastily assembled New Zealand team captained and coached by Cyril Walter, which lost its Test match in Dunedin 2- 3 to Australia. Jack became an advocate for Cyril Walter’s hockey philosophy, and they remained close friends.

He became a fixture in subsequent New Zealand teams as captain/coach until 1956. The Test results in that period were versus Australia in Adelaide 1952, lost 1-2, in Nelson 1954 and Sydney 1954 won 3-1. A highlight was the 1955 tour by the Indian Wanderers which included the legendary Indian Olympic gold medalists K.D. Singh (Babu), Balbir Singh, R.S. Gentle and Leslie Claudius. After New Zealand lost the first Test 2-3 in Wellington Jack devised a strategy to disrupt the flow of attacking the ball from the Indian right-back Gentle to inside right Babu Singh, from which a majority of Indian attacks were mounted. Jack asked the New Zealand fullback, Wellington’s Reg Johansson to advance and mark Babu closely. It worked, and New Zealand won the second test in Auckland 4-2 with Jack scoring from a penalty bully. The Wanderers bounced back to win the Third Test in Auckland 2-0.

Perhaps the greatest honour for Jack was to captain New Zealand’s first Olympic hockey team, to the Melbourne Games in 1956. For the very well prepared and capable New Zealand team it was a baptism of fire.

The players experienced more liberal interpretations of the rules that allowed more body play, obstruction and challenges to the close skills of players honed by application of the methods of Indian teams. This was tough, but the team adapted well, gaining wins over Belgium twice (3-0 and 3-2) and Singapore (13-0); with losses to Pakistan (1-5) Australia (0-1) and Germany 4-5 in a critical Pool game. Jack later recalled with anger that against Germany two goals from penalty corners were ruled out for illegal hand stops after German protests to the Indian umpires. There were no video umpires in those days, but film footage shows that the stops were clearly legal. New Zealand finished sixth with India winning the gold medal and Jack retired from International Hockey after those Games and was one of the last surviving Olympians from those Games.

He was clearly the New Zealand Hockey player of the 1950s.

Coaching remained a passion for a busy Jack and he coached Wellington teams until the early 1960s, with a 2-2 draw in 1961 against All India and again in the Challenge Shield Tournament 1969 (2nd) and 1970 (lost semifinal).

His eye-hand coordination and strength also made him well suited to cricket in which he represented Wellington in the early 1950s and golf which he continued to play for many years.

His achievements were recognised by his induction as a Legend of Wellington Sport in 2007.

His hockey heritage was carried on by his sons Mark and Peter, each of whom played for Canterbury and New Zealand, as well as New Zealand Universities where I had the pleasure of coaching them in a very successful Australian Tour in 1984 (under Jack’s watchful eye!).

For me personally Jack’s inspiration still fires my passion for the sport.

He was a very staunch, loyal, and principled man with admirable integrity and sense of fair play, respected by all he played with, against and coached.

On behalf of New Zealand and Wellington Hockey, I extend my sincere condolences to his wife Lois, his sons and daughter Kris and their families of whom he was very proud.

Acknowledgements to:

Wilf Haskell in “Seasons of Honour” – A Centenary History of New Zealand Hockey 1902- 2002 and pers.comm.

Todd Foster – Wellington Hockey

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