Wimmera Hockey Association will commence its 2008 season this Saturday with nine hockey matches to be played at Nhill College grounds.
Some of the usual grounds are still suffering from drought conditions, however the Nhill fields should provide comfortable conditions for the first couple of rounds.
The association this year will field 19 teams from six clubs including Nhill, Dimboola, Yanac, Kaniva, Warracknabeal and Horsham.
Junior team numbers have dropped from nine last season to seven this year. Horsham and Nhill have both dropped a junior side.
Junior lineups are always an unknown quantity until a few rounds into the season due to their rotation of losing older and experienced players every year. It can take a few weeks for the ‘new’ teams to gel.
Season action hits off from 9.30am with junior teams Leopards and Warriors the first to take the field. Reigning premiers Leopards will have lost one or two of their top players, and will need to play well against the hard working Warriors.
Kaniva Raiders will take on Dimboola Kookaburras, while Horsham Bombers face last year’s runners up Dimboola Kangaroos. Warracknabeal Revengers have the bye.
Horsham Highlanders will sport a new look uniform this year, dropping the tartan skirts for a colour uniform more in line with their men and junior counterparts. Warrack Women have lost one of their greats in Jenny Ford who left the area at the end of last season, but still always seem to come up with a strong line up. This game will be a grand final rematch for the women, with both Warrack and Highlanders keen to see what strengths their opponents possess this season.
Kaniva and Dimboola’s women’s teams usually have an even match so this should be a nice way to start the season for both.
Nhill Thunderbirds will take on Yanac Women.
The men’s competition sees the return of the Nhill Men which boosts the field to six. This will mean a more consistent draw for the men, with no byes. The Nhill team will play last year’s runners up Yanac Tigers and will need to start fast. It should be a good match for the Nhill camp to see where they stand.
Reigning men’s premiers Warracknabeal Hoops may dominate over Horsham Hurricanes.
Kaniva Men made their debut in the association last year and were playing great hockey by season’s end, making the preliminary finals. They will play the young Dimboola Men who now also have another year of experience playing together. This should see both teams in good stead for the season.
Good luck to all teams for a happy, healthy and entertaining season 2008!