League sticks to winning formula

IN 2012, Premier League Hockey president Chris Smith oversaw several new rules and initiatives that set alight the region’s hockey pitches.

His message for the upcoming winter is simple - expect more of the same.

Twelve months ago the PLH introduced the concept of gala days and bonus points to the competition.

Both proved an instant hit and, barring the unforeseen, will be voted back into use for the 2013 season when the annual general meeting is held on February 13.

Last year both Orange and Bathurst hosted gala days in the minor premiership, which saw all of that round’s games being played at one centre.

In round three all men’s teams travelled to Bathurst, while the women’s sides convened in Orange on May 12 for their round seven fixtures.

Smith said the idea had proved successful on many fronts.

“It’s a really great way to promote hockey and the Premier League,” he said.

“It gives the players a chance to watch each other, but the biggest positive is for the spectators who get to see so many quality players in one place at one time.”

The benefits are also felt off the pitches, with the numbers of visitors allowing the hosting clubs and organisations to fill their coffers with fundraising on the scheduled days.

The bonus point - awarded to a side that scores five or more goals - also looks set to return this season.

Smith believes the extra point has dangled a carrot in front of the competition’s heavyweights, which has promoted more attacking and attractive hockey.

“The whole competition really benefited from bonus points,” Smith said.

“It keeps sides motivated. Three-nil and four-nil wins are no longer enough when there’s a chance for more competition points.

“Also, teams that are being well beaten tried hard for the whole game to stop a five-goal defeat.

“It adds a whole new element to games which aren’t as even and hard fought as others.

One thing that will be different on the region’s pitches in 2013 will be the welcome return of Dubbo to the women’s league.

Previously one of PLH’s powerhouses, Dubbo has been unable to field a side in either competition for a number of seasons.

But Smith confirmed the nomination of the city’s ladies for 2013.

“We’re thrilled to have a Dubbo side back in the fold and look forward to seeing them on the pitch,” Smith said.

“We hope this will lead to a new growth in Dubbo hockey and that the men will be able to follow suit in the near future.”

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