Norths juniors celebrate historic win
NORTHS celebrated a historic Ipswich junior grand final feat with plenty of club spirit and well deserved ice blocks at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
After such a long wait, the young J2 grade players and club officials had plenty to be pleased about as they passed the ice blocks around the dressing room.
The last Norths junior boys team to win on grand final day was two decades ago.
However, that drought was broken by a gritty group of young players who joined forces to beat last year's champions Wests 3-1 in blustery conditions on Saturday afternoon.
For coach Robert Lewis, it was a proud moment having worked with the boys in recent seasons.
"We looked up the 60 year Norths record the other day and the last win for a D grade team was in 1996,'' Lewis said.
"This has been a five-year plan.
"I've been looking after these boys for the last five years as a combined team and it's all worked up to this.
"It's a credit to the boys, not me. They have certainly worked their backsides off this year.''
The victory by the Norths J2 boys came on a day Wests won two of the six Ipswich junior grand finals.
Hancock Brothers, Easts and Hearts shared the other glory.
Lewis was delighted to see a number of his players start with the Hookin2Hockey program and playing as a combined team with Easts five years ago.
"Back then, we didn't have the numbers,'' he said.
"Some of them have been participating in the Hookin2Hockey program as well as playing. It's just been great for them.
"As a club, we've developed and nurtured these boys and my part of it has been taking them through that journey to make sure they continue on.''
The kids in the under-10 division are aged from seven.
The team includes some skilful leaders like captain Riley Profke who scored two goals on Saturday.
"It's a very diverse group but the good thing about them is that they all participate and they all contributed this year,'' Lewis said, grinning from ear to ear.
"Every single one of them actually scored a goal this year.''
Norths only secured the minor premiership in the final game before the playoffs.
"At the start of the day, I said 'win or lose, we are here to celebrate and enjoy the day together'. And I made sure I really instilled that in them,'' the coach said.
"It's great to see the looks on their faces.
"We were runners-up last year so this year it was good to go one better.''
While Norths celebrated, the beaten Wests' players and coaching staff also displayed terrific team spirit.
They united in a huddle on the field and belted out a "go mighty Magpies'' song before collecting their runners-up medals.
Norths and Wests are the two best represented clubs in this weekend's Ipswich Hockey senior grand finals at Raceview.
Norths have three men's teams lining up in the season deciders - in A grade, Reserve grade and A2.
Wests have impressed in the women's competition with sides in A grade, Reserve grade and A2.
Swifts have two teams playing after the A-grade women came from fourth to oust Bellbowrie and defending premiers Hancock Brothers.
The A-graders continued their late season surge by surprising Hancocks 2-0 in Sunday's preliminary final.
The Swifts Reserve grade side plays Wests in Saturday's grand final.
The A-grade men's decider features the two teams expected to battle it out.
Defending premiers Hancocks won through after winning the major semi-final. Norths qualified after Sunday's 3-0 preliminary final victory where Dean Jeffrey scored a hat-trick.
Grand finals start on Friday night with the A2 men's and women's matches from 7pm.
Saturday's big day of hockey action begins at 11am with the R2 women's encounter between Veterans and Collegians.
Look out for more stories online and in your QT this week.