THE last time Orange Wanderers’ Rowan Baker played men’s Premier League Hockey John Howard was still in office, Ansett Australia was still in business and Kath and Kim was premiering on Australian television.
“It was a long time ago, I’ve had 12 years off,” Baker laughed.
After his extended hiatus Baker made his long awaited comeback to the sport this season, slotting straight into Wanderers’ midfield.
“I came back to play twilight with (Wanderers’ captain) Adam Hurford, and it just went from there,” Baker said.
“It’s taken a little bit to get back into it, fitness wise, but I’m really enjoying being back.”
Baker has helped Wanderers to fourth after five games, and said Saturday’s clash with Bathurst St Pat’s is a chance for his team to firmly entrench themselves in the top five.
“St Pat’s touched us up a bit last time,” he said.
“But we’re a much better side than we were the first time we played them. We started slow last time, but if we fix that this time around I think we could definitely surprise them.
“We’ve surprised a lot of people already, even ourselves a bit I think. We’re working on our structures, and slowly getting there. Tomorrow will be a good chance to gauge where we’re at compared to these guys. Together with Lithgow (Panthers), St Pat’s are the benchmark.”
St Pat’s thumped Wanderers 8-3 last month, and Baker said his role will be crucial to his side’s success today, more so than usual with the absence of the injured Michael Dillon.
“As an inner I’m helping out in attack and defence,” he said.
“With our structure, quick midfield play is key so effective ball distribution is a massive part of what I need to do. With Mickey out we all need to work harder.”
Wanderers host St Pat’s at Orange Hockey Centre, from 3.55pm on Saturday.