Close bond keeps Easts on track
HAVING five skilful players from the same family on the field at once is enough to test most opposing teams.
So imagine what might happen when six brothers and cousins join forces.
That milestone occurred at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday when defending premiers Easts had six relatives all playing together in A-grade.
Mantell brothers Adam, Daniel and Chris linked with their cousins - Woodford siblings Tim, Luke and Andrew - at Raceview.
Ipswich hockey's "Six Pack" reunited for the first time in many years, helping Easts secure a handy 3-1 victory over Wests.
The historic moment came 10 minutes into the second half when the six players were all on the field at the same time.
Andrew was goalkeeper, with Adam, Chris and Luke in defence.
Daniel and Tim were strikers.
While Daniel, Chris, Tim, Luke and Andrew had played in similar sides in recent years, it was the return of Adam that completed the family feat.
"That was the reason I came back," said Adam, who last played A-grade four years ago.
"To play with the boys and so the kids could come and watch me play."
Adam's three-year-old daughter Charlotte has joined Ipswich's popular Hookin2hockey program this year.
However, Saturday's match was all about the rare A-grade achievement.
"We played hockey in the backyard (acreage at Karalee) since we were sort of knee-high," Adam said.
"We all know what each other's going to do. It's good for us.
"There was a few times Daniel and Tim found each other up front and Luke found me at the back."
Adam, a Brassall accountant, is the oldest at 29.
"It shows how family based Ipswich hockey is really," Adam said.
"In our team, there's the six of us and two Llewelyns and two Sippels."
Adam is hoping to play on this season and see how he goes with the defending premiers.
"For me, the premiership is the least alluring thing," Adam said.
"It's the camaraderie and the team atmosphere we've got."
Fittingly, Tim and Daniel scored goals on Saturday as Easts continued their bid for a fifth consecutive A-grade title.
Tim finished off a penalty corner in the 28th minute before Daniel scored a close-range goal in the second half.
Wests player Aaron Gotting kept the game alive with a penalty corner conversion before Steve Bayliss sealed Easts' win with a late field goal.
Tim said the Easts juniors had talked about the possibility of reuniting since Adam returned.
"We think it was the first time since C grade (with Easts)," Tim said.
"We didn't think it would happen because Ads (Adam) was still unsure if he wanted to play."