By TONY WHITE
BRENT Livermore, captain of Australia's gold medal-winning men's hockey team at the Athens Olympic Games, is eagerly awaiting the renewal of old acquaintances this weekend in Grafton.
The local legend arrived in Grafton last week in preparation for a series of matches featuring two exhibition games between the New South Wales and Queensland State hockey sides.
Livermore, who was awarded an OAM on Australia Day for services to hockey, will play five matches over the weekend including a special father and son game scheduled for Saturday.
"I'm really looking forward to catching up with a lot of people and especially getting out and playing with Dad (Barry) again," the 29-year-old, 176cm, centre forward said.
"It will revive old times from the day we used to play together with the Bears (City).
"Apart from playing two games for NSW against Queensland, I'm turning out for Grafton against Dubbo and myself and fellow Olympian Michael McCann will also run around in two games with the local kids.
"I spoke to Michael over the weekend and he's really looking forward to it.
"There's an opportunity for 32 kids (two teams) to play with two gold medallists and for us it's an opportunity to put something back into the game and hopefully give the kids something to aspire towards."
Interested children wanting to play against the Olympians can fill out a form available from the Bank of Queensland in Prince Street, Grafton, and a ballot will then be conducted to determine the make-up of the two teams.
It is indeed a rare opportunity to line up with two national heroes.
This weekend will also include the official opening and naming of the new water-based synthetic field and sand-based field.
The new water-based synthetic field will be known as Brent Livermore Field, while the sand-based arena will be named Legends Field.
"It's an absolute honour and privilege to have the field named after me," a modest Livermore said.
"That sort of thing comes around probably only once in a lifetime.
"When I'm home I normally go down there (to the hockey fields) to train and to go down there and actually have the new water-based field named after me is just unbelievable.
"I'm very proud."
Locals are in for a feast of top class hockey and other festivities on the weekend.
A German beerfest will also be conducted on Saturday night at The Barn at the Grafton Showgrounds.
"This weekend is a great opportunity for people to get out and enjoy the festivities," Livermore said.
"Not only to see top quality hockey ? having two state NHL sides here is terrific ? but also at the beerfest which is something different. I'll have to take it easy on Saturday night as I've got to play early on Sunday with NSW.
"Due to work and time away I haven't played a lot of hockey recently. It's going to be a long day on Saturday with four games and no doubt my fitness will be tested. I'll have to see how I hold up.
"For me this is an opportunity to play for NSW before the NHL competition and my stint in Holland and run around with some old mates and the kids.
"I'm really looking forward to it."