WHEN Souths and St Pat’s begin a push for men’s Premier League Hockey glory this year, there will be another opponent standing between them and a premiership.
It is a team which has denied both Souths and Pat’s success in the past – Parkes United – which will return after sitting out season 2018.
Parkes Hockey Incorporated executive director Dan Wilson said skipping last year’s title race was designed to give his association’s exciting crop of young guns another 12 months to mature.
They’ve done that now and, as a result, Parkes United is back.
The 2011 men’s Premier League Hockey champions have indicated to Premier League Hockey officials they’re primed for a return to the Central West’s best hockey competition in 2019, potentially bumping up the number of men’s sides to seven for the upcoming season.
Last year’s premiership included Bathurst outfits Souths and St Pat’s, Lithgow Panthers, Lithgow Zig Zag and Orange Wanderers.
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“It was probably always the grand plan [returning in 2019]… certainly we were only ever looking at just one year off,” Wilson said.
“We had a lot of kids approach us last year about playing that were probably a year off being ready, and another year in A grade here in town has helped them.
“They’ll be pushing for premier league this year. They’ve certainly got the talent, but now they’re probably likely to handle it physically too.”
Wilson, Will Searle and, one of three Parkes goal-scorers in United’s historic 3-2 win over St Pat’s in the 2011 decider, Jack Elliott all travelled to Canberra to play hockey in 2019.
Wilson said both he and Searle would be back for United in 2019, and he was still working on Elliott, who is expecting to become a father again this year.
“Put him down as a maybe,” Wilson laughed.
“But I think the blokes that are older probably missed [premier league] a bit.”
The last time United’s men’s side played in the PLH competition was 2017, enjoying a strong year with 11 wins from 20 games and finished fifth.
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That season was also the last time Parkes played in the women’s competition, the girls also finishing fifth before stepping back from PLH in 2018, too.
Wilson said, unlike the men, the Parkes women wouldn’t be back in 2019.
“But as an association we are trying to get the women back,” he stressed.
Teams have until the end of January to nominate to be part of the 2019 PLH competition, with a draw to be confirmed after that.
PLH officials are hoping for six men’s teams and at least eight women’s outfits heading into the new season in 2019.