Third time is the charm for Alford
THE WORDS superstar of the future mean nothing when you line up for the third time representing all of Country New South Wales at hockey.
But Justin Alford is only 19 and just beginning his representative future.
The young Bears star player has been fantastic in his efforts this season, getting the chance to represent the Grafton Hockey Association recently at the NSW State Championships.
Alford's mother Michelle has seen a great change in her son's attitude to his hockey in the past couple of years and believes it stems from his movement to the Grafton City Bears side.
"Justin is absolutely over the moon with his selection in the Country side for a third time," Mrs Alford said. "I think he puts it down to the influence that Darty [Dave Dart] and Mick Russ have had on him since he joined the Bears.
"Moving up to the Bears was a real turning point in his hockey and I think both of those men have played a huge part in it. He really looks up to them.
"Also all of the former Grafton men playing in Sydney. Guys like Robbie Green and PK [Peter Kelly] were fantastic to him when he played in the Grafton side."
Alford's City Bears teammate Hugh Cameron was also picked in the NSW Country side as a shadow player ready to fill in when needed.
Cameron has had a fantastic start to the season and was again picked as part of the Grafton Open representative side at the State Championships.
The young forward continued his stellar run at the weekend, scoring in his side's victory against East Lismore.
Bears veteran midfielder Mick Russ said the side got off to a slow start against Easts but were able to pull through in the second half when it counted.
"It wasn't a bad game at all by us but we were a little slow out of the blocks," Russ said. "After 10 or 15 minutes we began to kick into gear and got the ball moving better, but in the second half we pretty much dominated the match and ran away with it."
"The 35-minute halves do add an extra element to these games and we have worked on that a bit this year because the lack of power in those last 10 minutes really hurt us last year."
In other Premier League action at the weekend the Barbarians side became the first team to defeat the dominant Coraki outfit, downing the Far North Coast side 5-2.
Both Royals and Sailors failed to secure victories in their matches away from home, losing 6-4 and 9-2 respectively.