He scored more goals than any player in the men’s Premier League Hockey competition this season but Daniel Carter, a former Orange cricket star, didn’t get the fairy tale farewell he had hoped for.
On Saturday Carter and his Bathurst Souths team-mates suffered a 6-2 loss to Lithgow Panthers in the grand final, at Lithgow.
Carter produced a typically tenacious performance for the two blues and was unlucky not to have found the mark 12 minutes into the second half.
He blasted in a shot from the top of the circle that looked destined to haul Souths back into the contest – it would have made it 4-2 – but Panthers goalkeeper Logan Hunter made a brilliant diving stick save to deny him.
That passage of play highlighted the story of the day for Souths, the Bathurst side creating plenty in attack but unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
Though Carter was disappointed it meant he did not retire with a medal around his neck, he praised the Panthers for their finishing.
“It’s one of those things where some days you can turn up and have five or six shots and score off them and other days you’ll have 10 shots and only score two,” he said.
“They made the most of their opportunities, they’ve got great strike power up front and they used it too. They played to the conditions and I don’t think we did that as well and that was probably our downfall today.
“Credit to Lithgow Panthers as well and for what they’ve done for the last three years. It’s pretty to watch them up front, even from an opposition point of view, to see them score clinical goals like that.
“I’m sure the crowd were happy to see hockey like that, it was great to see the number of Lithgow supporters that turned out and our Souths supporters turned out.”
Saturday marked the third year in succession Souths had qualified for the men’s Premier League Hockey grand final.
They won the minor premiership along the way and hosted the preliminary final. As well as Carter clinching the leading goal scorer award, Souths striker Nick McEwen was named the league’s best and fairest.
It is that sort of record that meant Carter should still see the positives for season 2018.
“I guess if you played soccer, the minor premiership means more than the grand final, but unfortunately this is a sport where it doesn’t,” he said.
“But the boys worked so hard, we took a step forward, we just fell at the final hurdle again this year which was disappointing.”
While Carter laughed and agreed he would probably get some phone calls to convince him to play on next year, he does plan to retire.
He said he enjoyed his time with Souths and the people he met while with the club.
“You learn to appreciate it a bit more, it’s my last year as well. It’s not just about the hockey you play, it’s the friends you make, the mateship, you know I’ve made friends for life,” he said.
“It’s the club, it’s everything behind it that make Souths so special.”
Bathurst players also claimed the top awards for the women’s Premier League Hockey competition with St Pat’s Sarah Watterson leading goal-scorer and Bathurst City’s Lisa Quinn the best and fairest.