Up a grade
By TONY WHITE
A new, more demanding challenge awaits Grafton's men's Over-45 representative hockey team when they tackle the State Championships in Bathurst commencing tomorrow.
Last year the 13-man squad returned victorious after winning the B division title against the best from around NSW.
Seeded in A division this year the team is confident they are up to the challenge.
"It's certainly going to be tougher, but I'm confident the team will acquit themselves well," coach Kerry Wilsmore said.
Like a good red wine develops subtleties with age, many of these 'vintage' players have continued to gather hockey skills over the years, even as the years take their toll.
The elite squad contains seven State representatives players -- Ian Ross, Neil Cook, Peter Ryder, Brett Condie, Barry Livermore, Neville Lollback and Andrew Terry.
Livermore is the father of Brent Livermore, captain of Australia's gold medal winning men's hockey team at the Athens Olympic's.
Neil Cook is currently based in Queensland, but formerly played in the Grafton men's competition.
The remainder of the squad is: Peter Gibbons, Wayne Conyard, Peter Hackett, Terry Fischer, Bruce Carle, president of the Grafton Hockey Association, and Geoff Lancaster.
"We've got the same squad as last year and while we're not expecting to win the title we'll be giving it our best shot," Gibbons said.
"Everyone is keen to do well."
Accompanying the team to help ease the bumps, bruises, aches and pains is Grafton-based State veterans physiotherapist, Jane-Anne Burnes.
The squad leave for Bathurst today.
Tomorrow they tackle Bathurst and Newcastle and on Saturday take on Lithgow and Far North Coast.
The finals section is scheduled for Sunday.