Norths lucky charm keen to help club, masters players
HOCKEY: With zinc all over his face, Norths captain Terry Wode modestly rejected being his team's lucky charm.
But in a hotly contested R2 grand final, it was loyal Norths players like Wode who made the difference.
An experienced Norths side held out a developing Easts combination 3-2 in summer-like conditions at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday.
"That's the seventh season I've played for Norths and that's seven premierships in A2, Reserve Grade,'' Wode said.
"I'm not saying I'm a lucky charm but I didn't want to tell the boys before the game (about the record).''
Wode praised seasoned Devils regulars like Tony Ross, Liam Lambert, Steve Profke and Jay Petersen who stuck together to give the club its first and only success on senior grand final day.
"These guys have been at the club all their lives and you get used to playing with them,'' he said.
But therein is a major challenge the proud Norths club is tackling.. "We just don't have enough depth (at Norths) to run in all four grades,'' Wode said.
"Next year, we're trying to rebuild so that we end up having enough for all four grades but it's been a bit tough this year with some of the A-Grade blokes dropping away and not enough juniors coming through to fill that bridge.
"A lot of the guys (in this year's R2 side) have played for a number of years.''
While proud of his players, Wode praised Easts for their efforts under experienced captain Paul Malcolm trying to nurture more talent in the R2 competition.
"The difference in the end was not necessarily the skill level but the fact that we probably had a little bit more maturity, which is not the desire of the grade,'' Wode said.
"It just meant that under the pressure moments we just kept our cool just a little bit longer.
"Paul Malcolm and that Easts team, he's done a wonderful job at promoting the youth through that grade. And that's the benchmark of where we want to be.''
Saturday's R2 grand final victory was laced with emotion.
The Norths players wore black arm bands in honour of Jay Petersen's father-in-law who recently passed away.
Fullback Petersen fittingly scored what turned out to be the winning goal.
"You could see the emotion in his face when he put that goal in,'' Wode said. "It was not just for the team. It was for his wife and his family.''
Other players like Duane Blake also had a tough week but helped out his side.
Captaining Norths to victory completed a personal milestone for Wode. He won the Masters Excellence Award at the recent Ipswich Hockey Gala Dinner.
However, a humble Wode said his personal accolade was a credit to the work of so many people in masters hockey, including regional coaching director Sam Spry and her husband Adam along with his Ipswich teammates.
"I temper it (winning the award) by the fact that there's a core group of 40 odd Ipswich boys that are dedicated to come to training, and Sam Spry and Adam Spry give up all their time to help us at the beginning of the year, during the year and at the end,'' he said.
"We have something like 21 Ipswich players playing in Queensland teams in masters, and in a week's time, they'll be playing Ballina.
"All I'm trying to do is get the guys involved and continue to play because there's no sport in the world that continues to do as much as possible to promote people to play (more hockey).''
Ipswich stalwarts like Gil Tweed and recent Australian team silver medallist Arthur Rowe are still playing in their 70s. "These guys are in their twilight but they continue to play for the love of the game,'' Wode said.