Why Wests have extra reason to celebrate 50th year
WITH Wests Hockey Club's 50th anniversary celebrations this weekend, stalwart Greg Walker is anxious to have his full voice back.
Struggling to talk due to a cold, Walker handed the major coaching reins to Todd Watson in his A-Grade team's latest 2-1 victory over Norths.
However, the highly regarded Ipswich sportsman was hoping a couple of days rest will ensure he's right to join in Saturday's festivities.
Wests officials are holding a "Magpie Birthday Party'' for the kids at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday before the family club's major function, a gala dinner at the Ipswich Civic Centre that night.
A recovery breakfast and bowls day is planned for Sunday as past and current Wests players, officials and supporters enjoy a memorable occasion.
As one of the Magpies' proudest servants, Walker shares the excitement he and many others will enjoy recognising Wests' five decades of achievement.
Wests Hockey Club was formed when the St Stephens club underwent a name change on January 17, 1969 at a meeting in Ferrett Street.
Wests have won multiple premierships across the grades since. Years of success were capped in 2018 with six titles.
But while this weekend is a milestone chapter in Wests' history, Walker was also thrilled to see his men's team strengthen its hopes of a top two finish with Ipswich competition finals just weeks away.
After what Walker described as his team's "worst performance of the year'' against Hancocks a week earlier, he was pleased Wests turned it around on Friday night.
"It was a good strong game,'' Walker said, praising his team's defensive effort.
After leading 2-0, Wests had to repel the second half firepower of Norths, especially from the ever-dangerous corner sharpshooter Zac Profke.
He scored the Norths' goal that set up a thrilling finish.
"It was good to see the boys hold out,'' Walker said.
"You've got to try and stop Norths getting corners because Zac is pretty good at flicking.''
Before Profke's latest goal, ever-green Steve Rogers and Trent Davison scored for the Magpies.
Rogers has qualified for the finals, having played 10 games since returning to A-Grade. The former Norths' strike weapon is proving a handy addition, on and off the field.
"It's more just having his presence,'' Walker said of Rogers' role in the forward line and helping the team.
Wests are working to stay in touch with defending premiers Hancocks and keep ahead of the Devils in trying to secure a second chance for the playoffs.
"Hopefully we can push now,'' Walker said, mindful that only a few points separate the main premiership contenders.
"You basically have to win the last three games to make top two.''
Wests' latest win came before Combined Competition and Mid-season final victors Hancocks continued their bid for another title by outclassing Easts 7-3 on Sunday.
Kai Douglas netted a hat-trick for Hancocks.
In the women's A-Grade competition, unbeaten Wests also marched ahead, beating Norths 3-0.
Second-placed Hancocks overcame Swifts 2-0.