Sticking around veterans hit town

WITH a cloudless sky overhead, the early morning sun is blaring down on four men working tirelessly on the sand-based turf field at the Grafton Regional Hockey Centre.

The men are marking lines across Legends Field, blowing away debris and re-painting the goals, all the while ignoring the ever intensifying heat.

With the Over-55s Veterans State Hockey Championship starting today, there is a job to be done and not much time to finish it.

“It's a big thing to get the state titles,” Grafton Men's Veterans president Ken Davison said.

“It is a pat on the back for the association to have.”

Nearly 300 players across 20 teams, covering an area from Canberra in the south, west to Dubbo, and up to the Far North Coast, will contest the two-tiered championship.

And while there is a will to win among the players, it is matched by an emphasis on friendship and fun.

“A-division is very competitive - a lot of those players have played for Australia,” Grafton Veterans secretary Alf Groves said.

“In B-division it is a lot more relaxed.”

“In the lower divisions in any of the state ages it tends to be a bit more social, but everyone still wants to win,” Davison added.

“We all have a great time ... but we all want to win.”

Davison said Grafton had proved itself to be the perfect venue to host the championships.

“You cannot get a state title unless you have two turf fields,” he said.

“Also the accommodation of the town ... the centre needs accommodation and facilities and we have both.”

The Grafton squad, with a roster of entirely local players, has evolved over a number of years to be involved with the more competitive A-division.

It is a position the squad is unwilling to give up without a fight.

“We're a team composed of older players drawn from all the clubs played in the winter competition,” Davison said.

“We've stuck together since playing over-40s, we've had some victories and some state titles.

“Our aim is not to go down to B-division, we don't care, win, lose or draw, we'll stay in A grade.”

Competition starts today with finals beginning at 1.15pm on Sunday.

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