Mt Barker to swell association’s A-grade ranks this season

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

The new Lower Great Southern Hockey Association season has been boosted by the addition of a fifth A-grade club, with Mt Barker joining the ranks ahead of the opening senior fixtures tomorrow night.

The men’s and women’s A-grade competitions have both consisted of four teams for several years, but an off-season push from several people including new LGSHA president Geoff Sandilands led to Mt Barker adding top-tier men’s and women’s teams.

The new teams have pulled players from the outlying areas around Mt Barker including Kojonup, Katanning, Woodanilling and Tambellup and will play most of their games on Friday nights.

Sandilands said the expansion of the A-grade competition was much-needed and confirmed a six-team men’s and women’s competition was the main goal.

“We had some meetings about getting extra teams in the competition,” Sandilands said.

“I’ll try and step up and help the process.

“We have one extra team, with the likelihood of getting another next year quite possible. We as an association are trying to even the competition out and help the bottom teams.”

Mt Barker’s new men’s side will include LGSHA star and ex-Manypeaks midfielder Reece Curwen, who will also coach the team, while Nick Slade, James Douglas and Tim Zadow are also among the player cohort. Sandilands will coach the Mt Barker women’s side, which will include Lani Frusher, Shaydn Garder, Emma Pearce and Laura Archer.

“It’s really exciting times,” Sandilands said.

“Mainly through Mt Barker now having a turf, there has been a lot of interest. We will trial playing games on weeknights as well.”

In the men’s competition, defending premiers Manypeaks will be without Curwen and young forward Brett Stevens.

Stevens has joined Tigers, while Lachie Stainton and Andre van Rooyen have moved to Perth and Andrew Lister and All-an Pearce come into the Peaks side.

North Albany will be boosted by the recruitment of Perth’s Andre Gabriel and returning defender Matt Heberle as they look to cover the loss of Karel Cronje and Hennie Botha, who have switched to Spencer Park.

Tim Burns and Tom Sherrington also depart Redbacks, who finished third in 2016.

Meanwhile, in the women’s league, A-grade premiers Tigers have lost talented youngster Georgina Lilford for 2017.

Lilford has joined the returning Kirby Williams and Tessa Wood at Spencer Park, who are out to better their third-place finish last year, but will be without midfielder Aleesha Thompson and Chloe Westerberg.

Runners-up North Albany have a big void to fill in goals after the loss of gun Ruby Tompkins, who has moved to Perth, while Frusher, Issy Burcham and Patricia Hoveler are other omissions.

Elyce Proud and Gretta and Evie Milne have joined Redbacks.

Manypeaks look set for a rise up the ladder after regaining Courtney Robinson and Gemma Pyle, while Renae Parsons has overcome injury.

Round 1 - Friday March 31

Mt Barker Turf

6.30pm Women's A — Spencer Park v Mt Barker

8pm Men's A — Spencer Park v Mt Barker

Albany Turf

6.10pm Women's A —North Albany v Tigers

7.40pm Men's A — North Albany v Tigers

Bye — Manypeaks

Round 2 - Friday April 7

Mt Barker Turf

6.30pm Men's A — Tigers v Mt Barker

8pm Women's A — Tigers v Mt Barker

Albany Turf

6.10pm Men's A — North Albany v Manypeaks

7.40pm Women's A — North Albany v Manypeaks

Bye — Spencer Park

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