SATURDAY’S women’s Premier League Hockey grand final win was not the first of Julie Hanman’s career, but it was arguably the sweetest.
It was because her latest victory as a Saint – a 5-2 result against Lithgow Panthers – was her last in the blue and white.
Hanman had decided before Saturday’s grand final that this would be her last season in the Central West competition, so she was delighted to finish with celebrations and a medal around her neck.
“I won a few in the early 2000s, I think I was part of four of the five we won back then. But it’s been a bloody long time since, a really long time,” she said.
“It just makes retirement so much sweeter, it’s a great bookend.”
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Though Hanman is now stepping away from Premier League, her last match showed exactly why she was a valued member of the Saints’ squad.
She helped swing momentum in favour of the Saints early in the second half as she linked with Kristy Ekert and Sarah Watterson to set up two goals.
It took the Saints from a 2-1 lead out to 4-1 and when Paityn Simpson scored a minute later, the blue and whites had a match-winning advantage.
Still, with 26 minutes still remaining Hanman was far from relaxed. It was not until she stepped back onto the field for the final minutes she knew the title was secured.
“I was definitely nervous, yes,” she admitted.
“I think the Souths game was in the back of our minds, they did come back from quite a long way back to share the lead. But that wasn’t happening today.
“There’s nothing better than playing with these girls, it’s just amazing. Some of us are mums and we’ve had to find the time every week to deal with the family and the training. Everyone has put in and it’s just awesome. I’ve got to thank Jaden [Ekert] and Jim [Muldoon] too for taking a chance with me two years ago.”