’Our opponents thought the final was theirs’
THIS is the first instalment in our new series, My Favourite Sporting Moment.
Some of the region’s leading athletes, coaches and administrators will share the achievement that holds pride of place in their decorated careers.
Today, Aaron Harmsworth relives the jubilation of winning the state under-18 men’s hockey championship with his Rockhampton teammates in Ipswich in 2001.
AARON Harmsworth has had enduring success in a 32-year sporting career that started when he first picked up a hockey stick at age four.
He has celebrated victories as both player and coach, most notably in hockey and cricket.
One of his most notable achievements was to be one of just two players to feature in all of Wanderers’ 14 straight premiership wins in the Rockhampton Hockey A-grade competition.
Another memorable moment was when he was in the middle with brother Todd when the Gracemere Bulls claimed the Rockhampton Cricket A-grade title in 2017.
Captaining the CQ Seamers to victory in the Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge grand final at the Gabba in 2019 also holds a special place.
“I have been very fortunate to play in two sports where I have coached, played and captained at different levels in juniors and seniors and through to rep,” Harmsworth said.
“I have also been very fortunate to be a part of some successful team moments.
“Coaching state hockey teams to national gold is quite the honour and privilege, especially when you are coaching sometimes against former international greats.”
When asked to nominate his favourite sporting moment, he decided on a grand achievement of 2001.
“To name just one favourite sporting moment is a very tough task for most sporting fanatics, especially if you are fortunate enough to be a player and coach across multiple sports.
“But for me the number one moment would have to be playing with Rockhampton and winning the state under-18 men’s hockey titles, with the team coached and managed by my parents.
“To paint the picture, no one gave us a chance of making the final, let alone winning it.
“We played Cairns in the semi-final who were hot favourites. It went to shootouts in extra time where I missed a stroke, which was devastating at the time.
“We make the final against Brisbane who later got nine nine players in the state team plus shadows compared to our one player and one shadow. Our one state rep was our trump card Mark Knowles, who would go on to become one of the greatest players the world has seen.
“Our opponents thought the final was theirs but our players across the park played out of their skin.
“The game ended up going to a drop-off in extra time and the lower the numbers got, the more belief we had especially because we had Mark.
“We got a corner with only four players on the field and we were lucky that our corner battery was on the park.
“I remember telling our corner injector Brett Fellowes to pass to Mark. I would be at the spot and Mark should hit it at me for a deflection.
“It played out perfectly with a goal I will never forget (and a bus trip home to match). It went right to script.
“Beating Brisbane anytime is sweet but this was the sweetest, with nearly all the other teams barracking for us, the underdogs.
“I found out not too many years after when retelling this story in Mark’s presence that what I thought was the perfect pass from my best mate was in fact a shot and he was not passing to me all.
“Either way I will take it and always remember a group of good mates sharing a great tournament triumph.”