Arsenals fire into history books
IT WAS a win created by more than a half-century of development and passion for women's hockey.
Mackay Arsenals A1 field hockey team broke a 64-year premiership drought on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Norths Devils.
Arsenals A1 women's team has had eight grand final appearances since 1955 and were tantalised by the prospect of reversing four consecutive grand final losses since 2015.
Arsenals A-Grade veteran of 20 years, Sheree Hinton, said the reality of her first premiership with the team was still sinking in.
Hinton, who used to captain the red and white side, said the win could be celebrated by every player, coach and volunteer who had helped build the women's side in the past 50 years.
"There were a lot of players and coaches that contributed to our win that might not have been able to make it onto the field on the weekend,” she said.
"They still contributed their wealth of knowledge and experience to get us to where we are.”
For Hinton, the premiership delivered a long-held A-Grade career goal.
The Arsenals veteran said she had pushed back stepping down to the A2 competition to see her A-Grade dream through.
"I was lucky enough that I'm fit and uninjured and could still run around to be in that winning team,” she said. "I'm happy to step down any time they ask me now. I just knew I had to stay injury free until I had conquered that trophy.”
Arsenals fielded a team in every women's grand final this year, which Hinton said was an "unreal” achievement for the club.
While only the Masters and A2 joined A-Grade in the winners circle, Hinton said everyone could be proud of their achievement.
"We didn't win them all, but to have them all in the grand final...” she said.
Originally a Townsville girl, Hinton first moved to Mackay in 1999, when she was 22. Apart from a few years off while she had her children, she had been a regular face in the top side.
The 42-year-old said despite a fruitless two decades of playing A-Grade, she never wavered in her commitment towards the club.
"It was determination and drive that we would eventually win which kept me going,” she said.
"When you sign up for that level of hockey that's what you play all year for. I wasn't going to stop until we got it.”
Last year Arsenals were in a similar position; in a do-or-die situation against Norths Devils. The Devils stole the 2018 premiership in an overtime shoot-out.
"No one likes to lose like that,” Hinton said.
While there was only a one point difference in the weekend's grand final, Hinton said her team had looked in control for most of the game.
"We knew we were in control and our belief in each other got us over the line,” Hinton said.