Cold War Hockey

When the Scotland hockey team was invited to play against West Germany in Berlin in September 1961, it was just weeks after the Berlin Wall had been constructed. Many feared the world was on the verge of war. In Cold War Hockey, four women from the Scotland team recall playing hockey and politics as they came face to face with the shocking reality of the Berlin Crisis. With aggression and war once again on the agenda in Europe, two of the team, Jenna and Valerie, revisit the city for the first time in sixty years, understanding the significance of the trip to their lives, and to the history of the Cold War.

Broadcast on BBC ALBA in 2023. Nominated in the best sport documentary category by the Celtic Media Festival, 2024. 

On the 30th of September 1961 the Scotland international hockey team played against West Germany in Berlin. However, this is not just a story about one hockey match, the context of the game is politically and culturally significant.

Just weeks before the international was played, in August 1961, the city of Berlin was physically and ideologically divided when the German Democratic Republic began building a concrete wall, separating West Berlin from East Germany. It would soon symbolise the so-called Iron Curtain. The Scots travelled to Berlin to play international hockey largely unaware of the extent of the East-West political tensions.

Our film tells the remarkable story of the trip to Berlin from the point of view of four of the players from the Scottish team; Jenna Park, Val Crombie, Kit Gow and Alix Stevenson.

Examining the role world-renowned political strategist and Berlin Mayor, Willy Brandt, played in the match, as well as providing insight into the political context of sport and the Cold War the film features experts in this field, Dr Wolfgang Schmidt and Dr Heather Dichter.

Jane Helmchen, a teacher in Berlin in 1961 shares her first person testimony from the period setting the context of a very dangerous period indeed, including details of trips she made to smuggle goods into the east during the Berlin Crisis.

Jenny Grassick, Chair of Scottish Hockey Heritage Group and Evlyn Raistrick, co-author, One Hundred Years of Scottish Hockey also feature.


Writer / Producer / Director: Margot McCuaig

Filmed: Gavin Hopkins

Editor: Kenny Park

Narrator: Alex O’Henley