Young pair return to lift Park’s premiership hopes

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Spencer Park’s hopes of ending a nine-year premiership drought in the Lower Great Southern Hockey Association men’s A-grade competition have been boosted by the return of young duo Karel Cronje and Hennie Botha for Saturday’s grand final against Mt Barker.

Cronje and Botha missed last Saturday’s epic preliminary final win over Manypeaks, but the pair will return for the decider as a full-strength Park outfit look to win their first premiership since 2007.

Only veteran Andrew McKay, who scored last week’s winning goal, is left from Park’s 2007 premiership team, with a blend of talented youngsters to go with the likes of senior pair Sam Brown and Jack Dawson propelling their side into title contention.

Park finished third on the ladder and have eliminated North Albany and Peaks on their way to back-to-back grand final appearances.

“It definitely adds a fair bit of strength into our side, having Karel and Hennie back,” player-coach Brown said.

“We’ve been missing a lot of personnel, but in the back end of the season, we’ve got guys back and that’s helped us find some consistency and we are peaking at the right time.

“A lot of Spencer Park fans are looking forward to the game, so if we can pull it off as underdogs, it will make a lot of people happy.”

Park will have to overcome a terrible record against Mt Barker this season, having lost all four encounters in the regular season, which includes a 5-1 loss in their most recent clash in round 16.

“Mt Barker is a pretty difficult opponent for us,” Brown said.

“We haven’t really challenged them at all.

“They are strong through the middle, so have to keep it out of there and use our strengths of speed and the guys up-front.”

Mt Barker, led by player-coach and star midfielder Reece Curwen, will be chasing a fairytale finish to their debut men’s A-grade season.

Curwen, along with Brendan Havercroft and Alex Fergie, are vital players in Mt Barker’s bid to end the season with a premiership.

The men’s A-grade decider will start at 6.45pm on Saturday.

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