Six hockey representatives from Parkes have helped contribute to NSW’s massive medal haul at this year’s Men's Masters Australian Hockey Championships.
NSW sent 16 teams, walking away from the titles with five gold, seven silver and a bronze – with Parkes players claiming three of those gold.
The men headed to Lismore and Ballina, in the NSW northern region, to compete from September 21 to October 6.
The tournament attracted 80 teams of players from around Australia, all playing for the coveted medals, and for some, the chance to represent Australia at international level.
Medics – like the players – must also apply to represent NSW and are looked at when they attend state championships with various hockey teams.
Parkes was represented by two medics – physiotherapist Sharon Dixon and massage therapist Tony Mrak.
Over 60s Division 2 player Barry Reeves, Over 75s rep Warwick Johnson and Over 45s Division 2 player Laurie Wakefield all came home with gold, with Over 70s rep Noel Johnson making up the fourth player flying the flag for Parkes.
Barry showed great skill playing for the NSW Blues Brothers, also winning the Player’s Player medal when his team defeated the Over 60s Division 1 and Division 2 Queensland teams.
He was also awarded the trophy for the Player of the Tournament, as voted by his team mates.
It’s not a bad coup for his first NSW representation at the men’s masters.
Barry said he’s officially “hooked” and will be in training over the summer to try out again when the state championships come around next year.
Warwick was a late comer to masters hockey, first starting out in the Over 65s in 2012.
To date he has won medals in Over 65s, two in Over 70s and three in Over 75s.
Warwick can be seen alongside his brother Noel at the hockey fields training three to five days a week through the year.
He hopes to trial for selection for one more chance next year.
Warwick’s wife Jude said that will be his final one – but she’s heard that before!
Laurie has been away with the Over 40s on two previous occasions, also winning medals in the past.
Noel is a well-known hockey player in the Over 60s and 70s. He has represented Parkes in state hockey for multiple years, and in men’s masters hockey for more than 20 years.
He’s captained the Over 60s and Over 65s teams in the past.
Noel has represented Australia on tours to South Africa in 2010, England at the inaugural World Cup in 2012 and Newcastle NSW when the World Cup was played in Australia in 2016.
He trains throughout the year at the local hockey fields, usually with Warwick or anyone else he can rope in to practice with him.
This is Sharon’s 14th year representing NSW men’s masters hockey as a physiotherapist – the last six as head of medical, with six to nine therapists under her guidance.
She has also represented Australia at eight international championships, selected from a field of medics from around Australia.
“It’s a thrill and an honour to be picked to represent at this level, it helps to keep me focused in the larger sports arena,” Sharon said.
“Most sports therapists can work on elite athletes, but not as many have the experience to work on elite masters players.”
Tony enjoyed his second time away with the men’s masters after starting last year in Hobart.
Sharon talked Tony into working for the women’s teams when they visited Parkes for the half state championships in July 2017 and he was keen to go further in the sports arena.
He said it added another dimension to his busy workload.
“But it’s fun,” Tony said.
He’s already thinking about the national titles in Bunbury next year.
Tony said it was an opportunity for him to observe how effective his massage is, when he gets to sit on a bench and work on players while the game is played around him.
“I had to get used to the blood from cuts and scrapes, but it’s like being on the farm – deal with what turns up,” he said.
This championship is run annually, involving players aged 35 to 80 years old, and is the largest master’s competition of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 2019 Men's Masters Australian Hockey Championships will be held in Bunbury, Western Australia.