Nick Russ hurls himself after the ball during a game earlier this season.
Nick Russ hurls himself after the ball during a game earlier this season.

A tale of two mums

By Tony White

Grafton hockey identity Carol Inmon won't get the chance to watch her sons Brad and Nick play for Barbarians when they take on Bears in tomorrow's A grade men's hockey grand final.

"They (Brad and Nick) reckon I jonah them," Inmon said.

"They barred me a few years ago when Barbs were dead certainties and got beaten.

"Now I go and watch all the other games but not theirs. I come home and look after the grand children. Hopefully I might sneak a little peek before we go."

In contrast Leanne Russ, wife of Bears stalwart Michael Russ who will play alongside son Nick, will be at the Grafton Hockey Fields supporting her husband and talented son Nick who has worked closely with local icon, Brent Livermore.

Both are NSW representatives, Michael in Over-40s and Nick in the Under-18s.

And daughter Caitlin is also a representative player and taking part in the women's A grade grand final with Grafton High Blues.

"I wouldn't miss Saturday for the world," Leanne said. "I'll be there cheering the boys and Caitlin on.

"I feel sorry for Carol. Fancy her boys banning her."

With Carol Inmon a life member of the Kylies Club and Grafton Women's Hockey Association, player, coach and administrator who started playing in 1969, the Inmon brothers have understandably been around hockey most of their lives.

However, Nick Inmon, 28 and younger brother Brad, 24, had contrasting starts.

While Brad started as a four-year-old playing Minkey, Nick didn't take up the sport competitively until later in life.

"Nick always told me it (hockey) was a game for girls and he'd never play it, ever," Carol recalled.

"When he was in about third class he signed up for six weeks training every Saturday. You wouldn't believe it, it rained every single Saturday.

"He thought it was a stupid game, you never get to play and decided to play other sports."

About three years later Carol was shocked when Nick arrived at the family home one afternoon and said to his mum: "Have we got a spare hockey stick. They are a man short and I'm going to play."

The brothers Inmon have played for the Barbarians Club ever since and will be integral members of the grand final team.

"Every year the boys say this will be their last, unfortunately they've had a few injuries this year," Carol said.

"But they love their hockey. I think they like the social aspect the best. They quiet enjoy that. They are in a really good club and have a lot of good friends.

"I know they'd love to win this grand final. I love grand final day, it's wonderful. The social atmosphere is great. It's an all day affair. I thoroughly enjoy it."

For the Russ family, this weekend has particular significance.

"This could be the last time Michael and Nick get to play in a grand final together," Leanne Russ said. "Nick is likely to go to Brisbane or Sydney next year.

"And Michael coaches the Grafton High Blues with Caitlin (daughter) who plays in the game before his grand final."

Leanne and Michael Russ were teenage sweethearts who married in 1974.

"We went to school together, Michael lived out of town then, but we spent all weekend together playing hockey when we were young and got to know each other," Leanne said.

"And after 30 years we're still there and still playing.

"We've spent a lot of time in and around the hockey fields."

Leanne gave a light hearted insight into her husband and son's demeanour in the lead up to the all important grand final.

"Michael just lives for it (hockey), he loves it," she said.

"And he loves being with the kids and coaching the girls team. He gets right into it."

"He'll be as nervous as Nelly. He'll spend all day pacing around," Leanne laughed.

"The girls A grade is the game before his grand final.

"By then he'll be stressed out big time and hoping Nick makes him look really good with the Bears.

"Playing alongside Nick is a culmination of a lot of years. They both love playing hockey, especially playing together. It's a real big father and son thing."

As you could imagine in a hockey family, the sport is a major topic of conversation in the household.

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