LAST weekend’s Orange over 45s men’s Masters Hockey Championship triumph in Wollongong was one phone call away from being one of those sporting ‘might have been’ stories.
Battling to find players to help defend a title won in 2013, the Orange Hockey Association was painfully close to pulling the pin on this year’s masters championship campaign on the south coast until team management pleaded for extra time to source players.
They found the men required and, ironically, it also took extra time to claim this year’s B division championship.
Taking on Central Coast in the final following an undefeated pool stage, a Joe Clayton winner in golden goal secured Orange the over 45s men’s masters championship for a second straight year courtesy of a 3-2 win.
With the aid of some “reinforcements” from Dubbo, team manager Carmel Dickinson said the weekend’s campaign was a raging success.
“We didn’t have enough players to send away to the championship. I pleaded with him to give me a few more days to see what I could do in getting a team together and (on Sunday) the team took out the win for the second year running,” she said.
“We had an absolutely fantastic weekend away and made some strong friendships with our Dubbo players.
“Let’s see if we can make it a hat-trick and win three years running in 2015.”
Starting the championship in fine style, Orange defeated Illawarra (2) in their first game 4-0, secured a 1-all draw with Sydney (2) in the second before beating Manning Valley 4-0 and then thumping Newcastle (2) 7-0.
Faced with a tough fifth game of the championship against Nepean, Orange battled hard and defied injury to come away with a 1-all draw, a result that qualified the team for a place in the over 45s B division grand final and led to the championship win.
Orange also had Darryn Marjoram (NSW team one), Mick Bird (NSW team two) and David Milne (shadow) catch the eye of state selectors at the championship