Grafton?s link to national title
By TONY WHITE
THE 'Grafton Connection' ? Brent Livermore, Robbie Green and Peter Kelly ? played an integral role in the victorious NSW hockey team that defeated Queensland 4-3 to win the Australian Hockey League grand final in Brisbane on Sunday.
It's an incredible achievement by a regional centre like Grafton to have three home-grown products in a senior State hockey team that are champions to boot!
And the young NSW team stopped Queensland, with seven Olympians in the squad, from making it a trifecta of wins after winning the title in 2003-04.
Livermore, captain of Australia's gold medal winning men's hockey team at the Athens Olympics, was particularly chuffed at the result, especially playing alongside his fellow Graftonians.
"It's a very special feeling with Greeny (Robbie Green) and Peter Kelly in the same side," the 29-year-old said. "It's a different buzz from the Olympics and World Cup.
"Playing with mates you grew up with, especially from my home town, and winning is fantastic.
"It just adds a very special feeling to the whole tournament.
"The three of us even roomed together. Everyone used to refer to us as the 'Grafton Connection'.
"It's just so good to come back from Holland and help mentor them and guide them through the process. You tend to pay special attention to them as we always train together when I come home.
"We've had fantastic support from all the families and supporters."
Livermore returned from Holland where he currently plays for Breda in the Dutch National League for the AHL finals series in Brisbane.
"It was minus 20 when I left Holland and 30 degrees in Brisbane," Livermore said.
"In order to qualify for the national squad part of the requirements is I play in the NHL.
"I've only been back 10 days but the other boys helped get us through to the finals.
"Greenie has played just about every minute of every game. The NSW coach Larry McIntosh said he's been the best-performed player in the team. He's a very valuable player with superb defence.