GISBORNE is the winner, not just hockey, says long-time hockey advocate Tony Scragg, who was among the 2000 crowd who watched the New Zealand Women’s Black Sticks beat Argentina 1-0 in a historic first international on the new LJ Hooker Turf at Harry Barker Reserve yesterday.http://www.gisborneherald.c...https://www.facebook.com/gi...https://www.youtube.com/gis...
“We’ve got one of the best climates in the country, we’re known as a city where the people are friendly, who have a can-do attitude — and now we have a facility that will not only attract international teams here every year but will help lift the skill levels of our young players.”
Mr Scragg has been involved with hockey here for 28 years.
“It has been said before but I’ll say it again — turf is not just suitable for hockey but for other sporting codes. It’s fantastic for Gisborne.”
That word fantastic kept coming up, as the crowd continued to grow throughout the afternoon, leading to the first game involving two international teams of any code to play in Gisborne.
“Fantastic, terrific the best birthday present I could have asked for,” said Poverty Bay Hockey Association life member Jim Nisbett, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on Monday.
“It’s just a pity that my late wife Diane (also a life member) isn’t here to see it. It has been a long time coming but it’s here now and I’m looking forward to the game.”
Mayor Meng Foon was also a “fantastic” fan.
“Fantastic, great to see.”
“Congratulations to all those involved in getting an international game to Gisborne. I’m proud of every one of them.”
Gisborne hockey umpire Amber Church was in the middle with an umpire from Argentina. Another Gisborne umpire Jo Cumming will officiate at today’s second test of the two-match series.
“It’s awesome,” Church said.
“I never thought I’d see the day we had turf here . . . then get an international game so soon after.
“The game took a little while to settle but once the goal went in, you could see the intensity lift. I enjoyed it.
Cumming, who was reserve official yesterday, couldn’t wait until the second game today.
“I’m nervous but excited, but once the game starts the nerves will go.”
Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said he hoped the team could come back again.
“It has been a great day and can only be good for the future of the game here.”
Poverty Bay hockey development officer Wade Manson paid tribute to all who first had the vision a long time ago and who continued to believe that one day we would have a turf pitch here.
“Talk to someone like Julie Hollamby — the hours she had put in, especially over the past six weeks, is incredible.”
Over to committee member Julie:
“You’ve heard of hockey widows. I’m not one . . . my husband Wayvern is the one who has been left at home.”
She reckons she has spent the best part of 500 hours as well as working fulltime at Gisborne Hospital.
“A lot of people have put in countless hours and energy over the years working towards this goal.”
Preparation for the international started in earnest about two months ago.
“Putting in the turf began in November, then Hockey New Zealand asked if we were interested in hosting an international game between New Zealand and Argentina.
“As hockey players, we all said yes but it also required funding. Without the support and generosity of ECT, GDC, Polytan (turf suppliers) and local businesses we would never have been able to get to where we are today . . . talking about an international game between the third and fourth-ranked teams in the world.
“Maybe next year we can get Australia to play here.”