Grafton volunteers key to masterful hockey titles
HOCKEY: It was a Hockey NSW Men's Masters titles that had it all - thrilling finishes, cracking hockey and a mountain of emotion.
For championship co-ordinator Tony Nixon the weekend could not have run more smoothly at the Clarence Valley Regional Hockey Complex.
Nixon praised the efforts of the Grafton Hockey Association and its intrepid group of volunteers for their tireless work in bringing the championships to life.
"It is always very pleasing coming to Grafton," he said.
"I organise all the state championships and travel to many various locations around New South Wales and the people I deal with in Grafton are very accommodating and cannot do enough to help us.
"Marg (Francis), Pete (Fysh) and the crew at Grafton are excellent. It makes my job organising the carnival just that much easier."
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Nixon said the tournament went off without a hitch and had a fitting finale as a spirited Grafton 1 side left it all on the field to clinch a 2-1 victory over Bathurst in front of a vocal home crowd.
"The action on the field across the whole titles was amazing," he said. "It is always unbelievable to see these men, who are not spring chickens, to still come out in the final and play with all they have got.
"Each team had played six games already but they still manage to find another set of legs."
The B Division final was just as exciting as the blue ribbon event, with Inverell and Tamworth trading goals in a see-sawing contest before Tamworth narrowly held on to win the title 4-3.
Grafton Hockey Association administration officer Joel Ward praised the number of volunteers who showed up at the complex across the weekend who helped ensure the carnival ran as smoothly as possible.
"There are always lessons to be learnt from events like this, but to be honest it was a very favourable carnival," Ward said.
"It was great to see three local teams compete across the weekend which has to be a first in at least the last decade of hockey at the GHA.
"The success of the carnival is a credit to so many other people at the association, people like Marg Francis. Without Marg, the GHA would be flat out just existing."
Ward pinpointed his favourite moment of the carnival as the A Grade semi-final when Grafton handed it to the Sydney 1 side to record a 2-1 victory.
"It is so great to see Grafton beat Sydney in the semi-final," he said. "It is definitely something that doesn't happen every day. Being from the bush we take great pride in getting one over our city rivals."