Remembering the 1992 Olympics through Hockey legend Jay Stacy

Our final chapter of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics will be a reflection with Hockey legend Jay Stacy, one of the best players Australia has ever produced.

A four-time Olympian representing Australia in a record 321 games, captaining his country on several occasions and receiving some of the highest accolades in hockey, Jay Stacy was a player of a generation. 

Three-time Olympic medalist, 1999 FIH Player of the Year and Champions Trophy Winner. He retired in 2000 as the most capped international player for Australia and there is even a statue of him in the Netherlands! 

Following his retirement from the Kookaburras he was a player at MHC Oranje Zwart in the Netherlands and Head Coach of the club’s Academy. He was also Head Coach of Dabang Mumbai in the professional Hockey India League. 

Since 2010, Jay has been working at the VIS as Head Coach of the Men’s Hockey program, with the first and foremost responsibility of producing and developing the next Australian players. 

Opening Ceremony for one 

In 1992 the Australian Kookaburras decided not to attend the Opening Ceremony as they had a game the next morning against Argentina. 

“You never know how long an Opening Ceremony goes for,” Stacy said and continued “once you are in the stadium you can’t get out”. 

All but one Kookaburra stayed at home that night. The one being Stacy’s best friend and fellow VIS scholarship holder Ashley Carey. 

“I was lucky enough to have already experienced an Opening Ceremony in Seoul in 1988 but my mate Ashley Carey was worried this might be his one and only shot at experiencing it,” Stacy said and continued “he chose to attend the Ceremony”. As it turned out, this was a wise decision as it was Ash’s only Olympic Games, a feat only a select few ever achieve. 

As the Hockey venue was in Terrassa, a 45 minute drive from the Olympic Village, the Kookaburras had to get up at 4.30am the next morning for their match against Argentina. 

Argentina, traditionally a strong hockey nation, was not a match for the Kookaburras and they easily won 7-0. “After the match, we thought we might as well had went to the Opening Ceremony,” Stacy laughed. 

Chasing redemption

In 1988 the Kookaburras missed out on a medal after losing the semifinal to Great Britain and the following bronze medal game to the Netherlands. A disappointment for the 1986 World Cup winners. 

At his first Olympics Stacy was only 19 and a young hockey star in the making. In 1992 Stacy was one of the leaders on the team that came into the tournament ranked third in the world. 

Image: Jay Stacy features in the Newspaper the next morning after Australia make it into the semi finals. 

Every morning the team would go for a walk on a path along one of Barcelona’s fantastic beaches. Without fail they would see the German team every morning and they would acknowledge them but nothing more. 

“We had a feeling that we would meet the Germans at an important stage in the tournament,” Stacy explained. “That was village life for you, you couldn’t get away from your opponents”. 

West-Germany won silver at the 1988 Olympics and came into the 1992 Games as one of the favourites. In the pool stages Australia drew 1-1 with them setting up a thrilling encounter later in the tournament. 

In 1988 the Kookaburras had left the Olympics empty handed and there was no way they wanted to experience that feeling again. “The semifinal is the most difficult game in my opinion,” Stacy explained “if you win you have a chance to achieve your dream and if you lose there is the potential to come home with nothing”.

After a strong tournament Stacy and his Kookaburras were facing Hockey Powerhouse Netherlands in the semis. The same team that had taken the bronze away from them in Seoul. 

This time the Kookaburras prevailed and beat the Dutch 3-2, which set them up for a rematch with Germany in the Final.

It all came down to one goal

At the Olympics the Hockey tournament goes for all 14 days of the event and on their off days the Kookaburras would still be training. 

“During the Olympic Games I have never had time to be a tourist,” Stacy said. “You would see other athletes walking around with their medals and enjoying the Games, while we were still in the middle of it”. 

The Men’s Hockey final was on the last day of the Games, the day before the Closing Ceremony. Most athletes had finished up their competitions and Estadi Municipal Olímpic was filled with Aussie Olympic Team members cheering the Kookaburras on.

“I remember the Oarsome Foursome, members of the swimming team and coaches and athletes from other diciplines were all there cheering us on,” - Jay Stacy 

Going into the Final, Germany were the more experienced side while Australia were the young, enthousiastic and talented team. 

Preparing for an Olympic Final has its difficulties. Media attention, fans, well wishes from home and sleeping the night before, just to name a few. 

“Over the past four years we had been preparing as a group and individually for this moment,” Stacy said. 

“I embraced our position and felt in control of my preparation. My routine was sound and I felt like I was ready to perform on the biggest stage,” he recalls. “My sleep on the night prior to the final was restless to say the least!”.

Germany shocked the green and gold with a goal only two minutes into the game. If one has watched European soccer then they wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Germany ‘parked the bus’ and put all their efforts into defending the lead. 

They scored again coming up to the hour-mark of the game but Australia quickly responded, keeping the lead to one goal. 

The Kookaburras kept pressing but Germany were too experienced and didn’t let this one slip away from them. 

“On reflection they were just a bit better on the night,” Stacy said. 

Stacy and the Kookaburras were clearly disappointed about the result and coming so close to gold. They quickly had to turn that disappointment into a celebration, as they less than 24 hours after the final whistle had to walk back into the Olympic Stadium for the Closing Ceremony. 

Image: Jay Stacy celebrates his silver medal with teammates. 

At only 23 years of age, Stacy had a fantastic tournament with five goals to his name and co-top scorer for the Kookaburras. 

His 24th birthday was the 9th August, the day of the Closing Ceremony. “It was a nice way to celebrate as an Olympic silver medalist,” Stacy said.

To this day, the 1992 Olympics was not only Stacy’s biggest disappointment but also his greatest achievement! 

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