Devil of a day for angles
By GREG WHITE
DESPITE gale-force winds proving problematic for players, the district hockey grand finals were a huge hit with supporters in Coffs Harbour on Saturday. Particularly for the Bello Angels and their army of fans who survived an almighty scare from Norths Tigers before taking out the feature A Grade women's decider. After capturing the minor premiership, the Angels started hottest favourite of the day. But even hot favourites can stumble when confronted by a spirited underdog. If superior speed around the field and an abundance of flair counted for anything, Bellingen would have trounced the Tigers. Instead, the Angels escaped 1-0, and even seconds from full time, looked likely to be forced into extra time as the Tigers poured pressure at their goal circle. A last ditch intercept rescued them, but gee, it was close. The Angels were continually frustrated by desperate defence. There were attacking raids and near misses galore before Emma Brownlee pulled out some mesmerising individuality to smash the ball home for a 1-0 Bello lead. At the time, it was almost unthinkable this would be the sole scoring shot of the contest. Despite the Angels camping in their territory for long passages of the second half, Tigers defended madly. Momentarily, they lifted to pepper the Angel's net with drive upon drive to take the game to the edge. With 30 seconds remaining, Bellingen escaped the noose by driving hard to the far reaches. Thus, 1-0. Maybe, it could have been anything-nil, except for a Tigers squad who refused to become rattled and meekly surrender. Along with five quality games to end the season, the large crowd stayed on into the night to see two of the association's leading lights honoured. Life memberships were awarded to Sue Musgrave and Kerry Bryant to reward their long service in multiple levels of the sport. The Best and Fairest Award winners for the 2005 season were: Alice Hensche (Womens A Grade); Ellen Barry (Womens B Grade); Jessica Sharkey (Womens A Reserve); Paul Schultz (Mens B Grade); Craig Rathbone (Mens C Grade).