THERE are few better people to spearhead Scotland’s men’s hockey team over the next month than Alan Forsyth. 

With the 4-Nations beginning today, closely followed by the Commonwealth Games, the stakes are high but few are better equipped than the Scotland captain to lead the team into battle over the coming weeks.  

Forsyth is on the verge of claiming his 200th international appearance when GB and Scotland caps are combined – he currently sits on 196 caps – which is quite an achievement and highlights Forsyth’s value to the national team over the past decade or so. 

Having been born into a hockey family – both his mum and brother are internationalists, and his father is current Scotland men’s national coach – success in the game was somewhat predictable but even Forsyth admits he could never have imagined this level of longevity. 

“It is pretty crazy to be at this point in my career,” the 30-year-old says. 

“I’m in a very fortunate position in that over the past number of years I’ve been a full-time hockey player and so in a way, when that’s your life, you let these milestones slip by a little bit, which is a shame.  

“You don’t take a step back and think about what you’ve achieved and think about the fact you’d never have seen yourself getting to this point. It becomes so natural when you’re in the middle of it. 

“I remember having a conversation with my mum when I was about 15 and saying I bet I’d overtake her number of caps and she bet me £20 I wouldn’t. I’m not exactly sure what number she finished on but she definitely owes me £20 now. 

To have, in a few games time, 200 combined caps and 112 goals, or maybe more if I score again, is crazy.” 

At the 4-Nations, which begins today in Uddingston, Scotland will face USA, Wales and Ireland, with the Commonwealth Games squad being confirmed following the tournament. 

These three matches will be the side’s final competitive appearances before heading to Birmingham 2022 for what will, all going to plan, be Forsyth’s fourth Commonwealth Games appearance and while the 4-Nations is, says Forsyth, important in its own right, it is of particular importance when the proximity of Birmingham 2022 is taken into account. 

Scotland have got, it’s safe to say, a testing draw at the Games; they face Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa, with Scotland the lowest ranked team in their group at number 20 in the world

There is little doubt they must excel themselves if they are to progress to the knock-out stages in Birmingham but for Forsyth, he’d have it no other way. 

“Some people will look at who the lesser-ranked teams are in the draw but I never do that – I look at the top teams,” he says.  

“Maybe that’s with being Scottish, we don’t often get to play against this kind of top class opposition so it’s exciting to get these chances.  

“If all goes well and I’m selected, this will be my fourth Commonwealth Games and every time, I’ve played Australia, who have always been world number one. “That’s really exciting because you want to test yourself against the best - put yourself out there and see how you can do.  

“At these top tournaments, there’s no such thing as an easy game so if you want to be a top team, you have to compete against these top teams. So it doesn’t faze me at all, you have to accept that in top level sport, every team is going to be very tough.” 

A sixth-place finish in 2018 was an impressive showing for the Scots but Forsyth is optimistic that the squad this time around is as strong as he’s ever seen it. 

“This squad, more than any of the others, is a real mix of experience and youth. In my 14 years, this is the biggest squad there’s been and that’s a huge positive,” he says.  

“We’ve got a lot of experience in there, and I think I’m going to have to class myself as one of the older boys unfortunately. And there’s a lot of youngsters coming through who are just out of the under-21s, as well as a group who are getting close to 50 caps and have quite a bit of experience themselves now. 

“We’ll set some team goals nearer the Games but it’s an exciting time for Scottish hockey.” 

For Forsyth personally, the past year has been one of ups and downs. 

Having controversially missed out on making the final cut for GB’s squad for the Tokyo Olympics, the Glaswegian relocated to the Netherlands, signing for HGC near The Hague and spending his first season in Europe. 

Despite his club narrowly missing out on honours, the sojourn has been, from his perspective, an overwhelming success, so much so that after this summer of international action is over, Forsyth will be returning to Holland next season. 

“The first half of the season, I was finding my feet a little bit – not so much from a hockey perspective but more from a mental perspective,” he says.  

“But I took a proper break over Christmas – I took a full six weeks off which I’ve never done before and for four weeks, I did nothing. It felt quite weird but it helped massively and the second half of the season was great.  

“In Holland, every game’s a big game – you go into every match knowing you have to play well so hockey-wise, it’s brilliant.  

“And there’s a real mix of players so it was a great experience for me.”