Troy never lost faith in the Sharks
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
FIVE weeks into this year's hockey season, if you'd have said 'the Southside Sharks will play in this year's men's A Grade grand final', you might have had a straight jacket put on you.
The Sharks had lost their opening five matches and were languishing at the bottom of the table.
But early season madness has now turned into genius as a massive turnaround in the Sharks fortunes sees them challenge the Southside Redbacks this afternoon in the grand final.
One player who says he knew that his Sharks could make it this far is Troy Herbert.
"We just needed to get our full team there," he said of the early season woes.
"I had no doubt that we could've beaten everyone which we have.
"From the start of the season to now we're a different side, the young kids are playing with so much confidence. They've got a few results on the board and they're playing their positions a lot better now than what they were at the start of the year."
What could stop the Sharks from completing a rags to riches fairytale is the all-conquering Redbacks.
They've won the last four titles and the younger and fitter players within the Redbacks line-up are confident that it will be title number five today.
One of these young players is Garreth Edwards who believes that if his team's attitude is right then the sky is the limit.
"We're use to grand finals now, the pressure wouldn't really be a problem I guess," the young Redback said.
"It can play both ways though, we could go in cocky and they could surprise us.
"We're well aware the Sharks are going to come out to play. When we've played them before, they've come out hard so we've just got to try and tire them in the first half and score at the back end because we're a younger and fitter team I guess."
nONE of the main reasons that the emu is on Australia's coat of arms is because of it's inability to take a backward step. It's a sure bet that a team of the same name won't be taking a backward step this afternoon in the women's A grade hockey grand final.
The Orara Valley Emus have swept all before them on their march towards this year's grand final and have easily been the most improved team in the competition this year.
In preparation for their premiership battle with reigning title holders the Bellingen Angels, the Emus go into the match as favourites. According to Orara Valley defender Renae Smidt, every player has improved this year but the addition of one player in particular has helped to straighten the team up.
"I think the girl who we inherited from New Zealand, Jane Rossiter, has helped as she's a great player and having somebody else in the forward line to support the likes of Kiona Moseley and Monique Donn Patterson has improved our go forward," Smidt said.
Two of the younger Angels disagree with that assessment.
At Bellingen High School, Tara Woodward and Kiaya Brownlee felt that a grand final victory was within their grasp.
"I think we've picked up our game over the last couple of weeks and started training harder," Woodward said. "I think we're in with a good shot."