The First Masters/Vets Team

ACT Veterans Hockey – History

From Humble Beginnings…

Few in the ACT know of the long history of Vets Hockey in the ACT. It started from humble beginnings way back in 1980. That year, the Western Australian Hockey Association (WAHA), initiated the idea of an Australian Veterans Hockey Carnival, to be played in Perth.

At that time, only WAHA had a Veterans competition (of 20 teams). As a credit to its foresight, the WAHA saw that Veterans Hockey had a place in the game. Then, and for a few years afterwards, it was a view not shared by many in the game across the other states (including the ACT).

WAHA was successful in its plans, and a National Carnival comprising eight teams was held in Perth over the period 11-15 August, 1980. All five major states (WA, SA, VIC, NSW, and QLD), as well as the “minnow” ACT, were represented. WA with its strength fielded three sides.

In the ACT, with no Veterans competition, it fell to an individual (Grant Waddell – United) to organise a team. Just enough players (all ex-first graders) responded to the “call”. They were: Tom Boag (Waratah); Des Biddle (Central); Mick Edwards (Old Canberrans); Egbert Fernandes (St Pats); Ross Jones (Central); Cec Hunter (United); Vince O’Connor (Central); Tony Barley (Wests); Graham Walker (Central. Capt/Coach); and, Ray King (Barton). Grant Waddell was Manager, and part-time player. Don Whitbred (Old Canberrans) and Brian Bird (Central) as Manager had been included in the programmed team, but did not attend.
Supplemented by a couple of WA players unable to gain selection in the WA sides, the ACT did well. It lost one game (to WA State), and was the only side to defeat the ultimate winners NSW.

There has been a down side to all of this. Because of the unexpected success of the ACT, or maybe the minnow status which it has to this day, the Australian Masters Hockey Association have never acknowledged the participation of ACT in that Carnival.

Des Biddle and Vince O’Connor. May, 2019.