Biography

Neil McLeod
Born 1952

Like reserve goalie Les Wilson, Neil McLeod was not awarded a gold medal in 1976 because he did not take the field during the Olympic hockey tournament.

The controversial International Olympic Committee rule has since been abandoned and these days every player in the team would be awarded a medal, regardless of whether he took the field.

The New Zealanders caused a shock at Montreal by beating Australia 1-0 to win the gold medal. It was not a triumph easily achieved - they won a thrilling play-off match against Spain 1-0 just to squeeze into the semi-finals. There they caused an upset by beating the impressive Netherlands side 2-1 in the third period of extra time.

The final, a torrid affair, tipped New Zealand’s way when their captain, Tony Ineson, smashed home a penalty corner shortly after halftime.

The New Zealand team management learned only at the semi-finals stage that their reserves would not be eligible to receive medals if they did not at least take the field, but decided that they could not afford to risk shuffling the team about at that late stage.

McLeod became a stalwart contributor to hockey in Northland. He and his brother Ross were the backbone of the Northland team for many years and became assistant coaches of the Northland Hockey League team. Their younger brother, Grant, also played in the New Zealand hockey team for many years, including Olympic Games experiences in 1984 and 1992.

Neil McLeod has his own upholstery company in Whangarei.

The 1976 Olympic hockey team was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.