Joel Latham, one of many life-time club champions in the side, had extra cause for celebration, taking out the Bundaberg Hockey Division 1 Men’s Player of the Grand Final Award and the Patron’s Trophy for D1 Men’s Player of the Year.
It came after bridesmaid of the past four seasons Waves Cities finally made it back to the altar with a 6-0 white-wash of four times defending champions All Blacks.
Waves Cities also contested all six other grand finals, with their Division 1 Women completing back-to-back titles with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Arrows/Athletics, Division 2 Men outgunning Arrows 5-2, and Under-13’s repelling Arrows 2-0.
But Raiders/Rovers notched the Division 2 Women’s and U11 double with 1-0 and 5-1 triumphs respectively, while Arrows claimed a share of the spoils, getting home in an upset in U16 4-3.
Joel Latham shone in a galaxy of stars, drawing first blood in the 16th minute, before they took control with three goals in an electrifying eight-minute burst leading into three-quarter time, scored by U16 sensation Sam Aitkenhead, Lewis Dexter, and inspirational captain Adam Harradine.
Player/coach Jerry Burtt joined the party in the 49th minute, before Adam put an exclamation mark on the result with his second goal on the final buzzer.
Jerry said the magnitude of the win in no way eased the pain of their four grand final losses in a row, but it was very sweet and a fitting way to reclaim the silverware after losing just one game all season, and from eight clashes with All Blacks, they recorded 7 wins and 1 draw by a goal aggregate of 45 to 4.
Eight players were doubling up from their Division 2 Men’s triumph the previous night, Sam Aitkenhead, Jonty McMahon, Harrison Baldwin, and Reserve Keeper Matthew Simmons, who all also played in the U16 finale, Sam Callaghan, Lachlan McLennan, Ethan Rach, and Adam Lovett, while Ethan’s father Jamie would have also played except for being on crutches after suffering a knee injury in D2.
Jamie’s elder brother Nigel, who came out of a one-year retirement this season, did however play, along with Matthew Quaite, whose late grandfather Jim and grandmother Elsie Quaite are icons of not only the club but also Bundaberg, Queensland and Australian Hockey, keeper Jarred Taylor and Jimmy Carter.
Arrows’ Jack Beveridge was awarded the inaugural Cislowski/Chase Trophy for the D1 Most Improved Male.
Nigel Rach also coached Cities’ youthful D1 Women’s side, for whom their fearless captain Angela Asnicar, who played along-side her daughter Jessica, was a popular winner of the Irene Steffensen Memorial Shield for the Player of the Grand Final.
Their goals were scored by Pippa McKinstry and Matthew Quaite’s sister Sarah, while the team included one other mother and daughter duo in Kristine and Milee Flanders, who were both playing with heavy hearts following the passing of Kristine’s father Dudley Dorron, another Bundaberg all-round sporting champion, a fortnight earlier.
Nigel Rach lauded a “great team effort” throughout the season, during which they also lost only one game.
“Angela Asnicar always leads from the front, Sarah Quaite was always solid and was a good motivator for the team, and Sarah Ryan also showed some great form towards the end of the season,” Nigel said.
All Blacks’ Leah McLaren was the winner of the Patron’s Trophy for the Women’s D1 Player of the Year, while Raiders/Rovers’ Annalea Vowles took home the Jenny Hartley Memorial Trophy for the D1 Most Improved Female Player.
In D2 Men, Sam Aitkenhead chalked up a hat-trick of goals in a Player of the Grand Final performance for Cities, but the team was well led by vastly experienced captain Adam Lovett, who was a popular recipient of the Patron’s Trophy for D2M’s Player of the Year, and another U16 talent Harrison Baldwin was also among the goals.
Morgan Fogarty, who took out the Irene Steffensen Memorial Shield for Division 1 Women’s Player of the Grand Final in their loss to Cities last year, was again a hero, scoring the only goal of the match, this time in D2 Women in the 38th minute.
She picked up her second Player of the Grand Final prize, albeit in a lower division, but Arrows’ Eboney Braysher was voted as the Patron’s Trophy D2W’s Player of the Year.
Raiders/Rovers captain Nola Zahn was at her vintage best, while veteran keeper Chris Pohlmann was again outstanding, and in a team which included a fine blend of experience and youth, others to come to the fore included hard working Bundaberg Hockey Association Administration Officer Kerri-Anne Lunde and sisters Reegan and Olivia Wightman.
In U16, Cities came out all guns blazing, and they looked well on track after Sam Aitkenhead scored twice in the first three minutes and Jonty McMahon followed suit in the eighth minute.
But Arrows picked themselves up off the canvas, and Jake McCaig pulled a goal back one minute into the second quarter.
He repeated the dose in the 36th minute, then when captain Damon Pegg also goaled one minute later, scores were level.
Jake then put them in front for the first time with his third goal in the 51st minute, and from there, they held on despite everything Cities threw at them.
Despite Jake’s heroics, Sam Aitkenhead picked up his second Player of the Grand Final for the weekend.
In U13, Cities went one better than their grand final loss to All Blacks in 2020, with captain Connor Castelli breaking through in the fifth minute and Lily Potter also scoring in the 33rd minute, but they were both shaded for the Player of the Grand Final by Campbell Baldwin.
Three Cities players were doubling up from U11, Sam Callaghan’s son Cameron, Sophie Aitkenhead, who was playing along side her elder sister Gabby, and Brock Green, while the team also included Nigel Rach’s son Thomas.
Continuing the family connections, Connor’s father Anthony, who is also a club stalwart who made a playing comeback this season and was an integral part of their D2 Men’s team, while that team also included another life-time club champion also in his comeback season, Michael Callaghan, a brother to Angela Asnicar.
In U11, Cities took the early lead through Kruger Frantz in just the fifth minute and Raiders/Rovers could not reply until two minutes into the third quarter when Silvana Silvestro goaled.
But her strike opened the floodgates, triggering a goal frenzy with four in the space of 11 minutes, with Silvana completing a double seven minutes later, quickly followed by goals to Molly Crow and captain Courtney Kendall.
Courtney, who was playing together with her younger identical twin brothers Levi and Beau, and against her cousin Sophie Aitkenhead, put the icing on the cake by also scoring from a Penalty Stroke in the 50th minute, and she was a deserved winner of the Player of the Final.
The team also included three other sets of siblings, Ellena, and Molly Crow, who are great-grand-daughters of the late Jim and Elsie Quaite, Will and Ava Baldry, and Zander and Amelia Law.