Mt Barker to stay in men’s top competition

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Mt Barker celebrate their 2018 LGSHA men’s A grade grand final win.
Camera IconMt Barker celebrate their 2018 LGSHA men’s A grade grand final win. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Lower Great Southern Hockey Association has confirmed its premier men’s competition will remain at four teams despite concerns Mt Barker were going to withdraw from the upcoming season.

The men’s A-grade competition regained Mt Barker in 2017 after a long hiatus but that injection was matched by the loss of Tigers at the end of the same year, leaving four teams. However the potential loss of Mt Barker, premiers of the past two seasons, would have been a significant blow to the competition and the LGSHA more broadly.

Mt Barker had been able to attract players from the surrounding areas including Kojonup, Katanning, Woodanilling and Tambellup, but with some of those travellers not committing this year, there were fears they may not be able to field a team in 2019.

LGSHA vice-president Sam Brown said Mt Barker, who fielded two B-grade sides last season, would have two men’s senior teams this year. “We definitely have Manypeaks, Spencer Park and North Albany,” he said.

“Mt Barker are struggling for numbers but they will have one A-grade side and one B-grade side this season. It’s great news because obviously we want to ensure that we have four men’s A-grade teams.”

There will also be changes to the women’s A-grade competition, which remains at five teams for the new season.

Tigers, who won the 2016 premiership, will not field a women’s team in 2019 but they will be replaced by previous B-grade outfit Vikings.

Vikings lost the women’s B-grade grand final last season and have other teams in junior grades but will make the jump to the top-tier women’s competition.

Some Tigers players are expected to switch across and play for Vikings. LGSHA is also comfortable with their decision to delay the resurfacing of their turf pitch.

In February, funding was announced for new turf to be laid at the LGSHA home but it was planned to be done before games were played there this year.

That meant a complete fixture restructure, games moving to grass and most matches being played on the turf in Mt Barker.

However, Brown confirmed after consultation with the City of Albany, the resurfacing had been delayed until the end of this season.

“We want to explain the reasoning behind our decision,” Brown said. “The main reason we had to proceed with the turf replacement now was the turf required significant repairs to it to ensure it was safe.

“We are now able to make those repairs after splitting the cost 50-50 with the City.

“The install period is 10-12 weeks with decent weather and the fixturing was going to be very tight if we went to Mt Barker.

“This is the ideal outcome for the association, and fixtures will be as normal.”

The first week in May will be the start date for most of the competitions, with A-grade games set to start on Saturday, May 4.

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