New dad thrilled to see Easts juniors stepping up
HOCKEY: As a new dad, loyal Ipswich player Tim Woodford has scaled back his A-Grade and teaching commitments this season.
However, when he grabs the hockey stick and has a run, the Easts' striker is still lethal close to goal.
Woodford scored four goals in Easts' pre-Easter 5-4 upset win over last year's grand finals Norths at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
It was the Tigers' first win of the season in a seesawing match between two sides missing some regular players.
However, after a recent 12-0 loss to defending premiers Hancocks, Woodford was delighted to see the youth-laden Easts' side respond so well against Norths.
"There was a very good feeling in the dressing rooms after winning,'' Woodford said.
"And just knowing that all the hard work the boys are putting in at training, just everything they are doing, is starting to pay off.
"That will be a big boost for all those younger kids that are are learning on the go.''
Among the current young players Woodford has coached at Easts, Ipswich or Met West junior level are goalkeeper Seth Bolton, Saturday night debutant Riley Anderson, Sebestian Miller and George Evans.
Seth is one of the 14-year-olds.
"It's been a learning curve for him but he's just improving every week,'' Woodford said.
Woodford said first-time Easts' head coach Tom Cook was doing a terrific job in his third year at the club.
"He's always been keen to develop these juniors,'' Woodford said.
"It was sort of a baptism by fire you could say for him coming into the A-Grade coaching while those senior boys were stepping aside.''
However, Woodford said the latest win showed the Easts juniors were good enough to be in the A-Grade side.
Woodford has gone back to part-time teaching at Leichhardt State School to help look after his 10 month-old daughter Amelia.
"I absolutely love it,'' Tim said of looking after Amelia while wife and paramedic Alyssa works.
"I can't really commit to full-time A-Grade this year.
"I've dropped down to part-time to be a stay-at-home dad for two days a week.''
Woodford fills in when he can with cousins Chris, Daniel and Adam Mantell who also have young families after being Easts' stalwarts for many years.
As for his first four-goal A-Grade haul in a few years, Woodford said he was just happy to help the team.
"I didn't have the best game . . . and I was just 'Johnny on the spot' in the final 30 seconds to tap one away to win,'' he said.
Woodford's winning strike came after Easts fought back from 4-3 down to draw level.
Adam Spry scored the Tigers' other goal.
Woodford and Spry were among the handful of senior players in the side being captained by Kyle Sippel this season.
In the other A-Grade men's match, Hancocks beat Wests 3-1.
In the women's A-Grade competition, Norths upstaged Swifts 5-1 and Wests beat Hancocks 4-0.
Erin Bartlam (nee Alchin) scored a hat-trick for the Devils.
Wests' sharpshooter Amy Kickbusch added four more goals to her rapidly growing tally in helping the Magpies remain unbeaten heading into the Easter break.
State of play
A-Grade men: Easts 5 (T Woodford 4, A Spry) d Norths 4 (K Morrow, D Jeffery, C Doyle, R Baxter); Hancock Brothers 3 (J Willie 2, N Smith) d Wests 1 (C McCoombes).
A-Grade women: Norths 5 (E Bartlam 3, A Opperman, S Fynes-Clinton) d Swifts 1 (J Dodd); Wests 4 (A Kickbusch 4) d Hancock Brothers 0.