House that Bruce built

Grafton Hockey executive officer Bruce Carle (right, maroon shirt) shows Anthony Albanese, Mayor Richie Williamson and Member for Page Janelle Saffin around the Grafton Hockey facilities in 2010.
Grafton Hockey executive officer Bruce Carle (right, maroon shirt) shows Anthony Albanese, Mayor Richie Williamson and Member for Page Janelle Saffin around the Grafton Hockey facilities in 2010. Adam Hourigan

WHEN Bruce Carle pulls into the carpark at the Grafton Hockey Complex next Tuesday night he may well take a moment to ponder what he has been instrumental in creating over the past 25 years.

The executive officer has held the senior position on the Grafton Hockey board for close to 15 of those years.

At one point he was one of a small group dedicated enough to mortgage their family homes to help fund the further development of the Grafton Hockey complex.

But after marvelling at the world-class artificial surface of the newly opened Legends Field on a tour with Carle, and turning toward the club and bunkhouses which overlook the Brent Livermore turf, it occurs to me that this may be the last time that Carle opens the gates on the facility.

He says he will walk away from the sport should the members elect to accept his resignation at a special general meeting called for 7pm at the Grafton Hockey Complex next Tuesday.

"With the right board in place, I'll continue on," Carle said.

"Without it, I'll walk away from hockey completely."

While Carle refused to comment on the exact reasons for the special meeting, the usual politicking, behind the scenes workings of the association and stream of negative feedback from members are no doubt to blame for the shock move from some of Grafton's most staunch hockey visionaries.

The same eroding force of negativity has also seen the resignation of board members and eventual folding of the Grafton Rhinos Rugby League Club, and to a lesser extent the Clarence River Cricket Association which also held a special meeting before this season began to fill top roles in the sporting body.

Another of the long-term elected board members who has made huge personal sacrifice for his sport, Kerry Wilsmore, is also standing aside and allowing members to have their say on who makes up the committee next year. Like Carle, Wilsmore also mortgaged the family home to help fund capital works at the Hockey Complex.

Treasurer Ron Gould, secretary Julie McIlveen and board member Phil Wainwright will also resign on the night and leave the table clear for a vote.

Royals Hockey Club members were invited to meet last night to "discuss the options in regards the future of the board and its makeup, and how it will affect the future of our sport" and there is little doubt that other clubs have done the same.

If Carle and his fellow board members are replaced on Tuesday night, hockey in the Clarence Valley is likely to lose some of its biggest supporters for good.

"I enjoy my work with the sports council and will continue my role there because I feel I can make a good contribution," Carle said. "I'll get involved with another sport and work to improve the experience of their members.

"I'm not in it for the fight, I'm in it to benefit all hockey players."

GRAFTON HOCKEY SPECIAL MEETING

WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday December 18.

WHERE: Grafton Hockey Complex

WHO: All Grafton Hockey members

WHY: To elect board for 2013

Topics:  bruce carle, grafton, hockey



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