John Kirchner of Bundaberg looks to beat a Brisbane player in the Queensland Veteran Men’s Hockey Titles.
John Kirchner of Bundaberg looks to beat a Brisbane player in the Queensland Veteran Men’s Hockey Titles. Mike Knott

Gutsy veterans back on field

IT MAY have cost them a few barbed comments from more fresh-legged team mates but a group of seasoned Bundaberg hockey campaigners plan to make waves on the veteran circuit.

All Blacks stalwart Peter Leather and Arrows/Athletics old timers Paul Green, Dave Lassick and John Kirchner have been selected to represent the state at the upcoming Australian Veterans Championships.

Kirchner said the announcement had given his opponents and team-mates plenty of fodder for sledging but hoped to have the last laugh and help lead his team to victory in the national competition.

“We may be a bit older and a bit greyer than some of the guys in the Bundaberg competition but we can still play and we’ll be bringing our best game to the carnival,” he said.

Kirchner will take the reins of the Queensland over 50s veterans team as coach with Leather serving as striker and Green and Lassick will slot into the midfield of the over 40s team.

Kirchner competed in the tournament last year and said while the selectees were decidedly long in the tooth they had lost none of their competitiveness.

“Everyone will be competing with one thing on their mind and that’s to win,” he said.

“It’s a pretty fast-paced tournament and it sets a pretty high standard of hockey.”

He said many had questioned his enduring passion for the sport as well as his sanity, but planned to keep playing until he was no longer able.

“Some people say I’m stupid, some people think I’m mad and I like to think a few admire me,” he said.

“I love the game so as long as I keep enjoying it and it’s still a challenge for me I’m going to keep going with it.”

Kirchner said Bundaberg had offered up a strong pool of veteran talent for Queensland sides in recent years and hoped the trend would continue.

“There’s still plenty of old timers running around which is great to see,” he said.

“We’ve certainly shown we’ve got some great veteran players who can match it with the best at a national level.”

The Bundaberg contingent will leave for Bunbury, WA in late September to compete in the one-week competition. Kirchner said the group would intensify training in the lead-up to the competition in anticipation of a bruising week of hockey.

“It can be quite demanding and when you’re a bit older the body can get knocked around a bit so preparation is pretty important,” he said.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us but it’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to.”

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