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David Austin Savage: 15.12.1940 – 01.05.2024

Austin was a true legend of Welsh hockey and a staunch Welsh-speaking ‘North Walean’. He was born in St Asaph where his funeral was held on 17 May. Raised in Trelogan, Flintshire, he lost his mother aged six, then his father at 16. He was a keen sportsman, playing football, rugby and cricket at an early age before being recruited to hockey by the PE Mistress, with whom he got a ride to school, to start a team to compete against the girls.

He went on to Bangor University to study biology and tried out for the hockey team. Luckily the regular first team goalkeeper was on his final year research, and therefore Austin was promoted to the first team within a month. He then went on to represent Caernarfonshire and then Welsh trials. Although born and raised in North Wales he had to cross the border to Cheshire to obtain quality club hockey experience in the era before leagues. He played his early club hockey at Oxton Hockey Club and represented Cheshire, later moving on to Hightown Hockey Club in Lancashire.

Austin’s first international cap for Wales was against England at Edgbaston in 1962, where they lost 4-0. In 1966 he was selected for a six-week Great Britain (GB) tour of Australia, coming only six weeks after his wedding to wife, Vera. He played in five of the six test matches, where he gained his first of 20 caps for GB.

Austin was very disappointed to miss out on the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. He later put this down to the stress of having long, tiring journeys from North Wales to GB gatherings or to Cardiff. Even today the journey from North Wales to Cardiff is an arduous one. Some consolation came in 1970 when he played against England at Colston’s School in Bristol and they won 3-1, the first time Wales had beaten England, and was one of his fondest memories in the game.He continued to tour with Wales all across Europe and he toured Rhodesia, Kenya and Tanzania in 1971. He was selected for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, where he unexpectedly found himself a reporter on the inside for the BBC during the infamous Black September terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes.

Austin claims that he made at least three ‘retirements’ and in 1981, at the age of 40, he again played for Wales at the Intercontinental Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here he gained eight ‘bonus’ international caps to reach the landmark total of 100 caps for Wales.

As well as his accomplishments in hockey, he was a biology teacher for nearly 30 years, appointed as a JP, played cricket for St Asaph for over 20 years, was Captain at Rhuddlan golf club and a regular contributor on the BBC in Wales.

David Austin Savage is survived by his wife of 58 years, Vera, sons Dewi, Huw and Gwyn, and grandchildren Hazel, Rhys, Molly, Addie, Ava and Alice. Both Huw and Gwyn played junior international hockey for Wales.

A phenomenal save by Austin for Wales vs Russia during the European Nations Championship in September 1970, although it was later observed that he might have been blown for ‘sticks’! The full-time score was 0-0; Wales won 5-3 on penalty strokes.

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