Veterans contest titles

HOCKEY player Gary Millard is philosophical: Sure, in an ideal world, his team would have started this weekend's State Championships with a home ground advantage.

Instead he and two Warwick veteran men's teams are Sunshine Coast bound.

“Going to the coast for the weekend is a tough call,” he explained good humouredly.

“But I think we'll cope.”

Warwick lost the chance to host the 2011 Queensland over-40s and over-50s men's championships after the January floods destroyed the synthetic surface of the Queen's Park hockey fields.

The event will now be held at Buderim where organisers have generously offered to donate 50% of championship profits to help the Rose City hockey club replace flood-damaged gear.

Their generosity has impressed Millard.

He said state hockey organisers might also offer Warwick a chance to host a major competition next year if the Queens Park fields were repaired soon.

But, while support for the flood-affected club has been widespread, local players have struggled without a synthetic surface in the lead-up to the state championships.

“Our training has been limited because we don't have lights on the grass fields,” Millard said.

“So for preparation we have relied heavily on our weekly games in the Toowoomba veteran's fixtures.”

Yet Millard, who captains the over-40s side, said he was confident Warwick would hold its own against the best teams in Queensland.

“I would like to think we could finish in the top eight,” he said.

This is the first year Warwick has fielded both an over-40s and an over-50s side in the championships.

“In recent years we have done very well at state level, especially when you consider we are a small centre,” Millard said.

He said his team would play Red-lands this morning in the first of five games held during two days.

“We also come up against sides from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Mackay so there will be some tough opposition,” he said.

But he said local players, like forward Dion Phillips, midfielder Craig McKay and defenders Alan Balfour and Phil Rolfe, would be pivotal to his team's success.

Meanwhile the region's first over-50s side is expected to be competitive thanks to the combined might of captain Steve Farrell and versatile players Donny Campbell, Tony Duncan and Graham Olsen.

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