Chatham Wolves favoured for Manning A-grade men's hockey grand final

Experienced Adam Birkefeld will lead the Chatham defence in the Manning men's A-grade grand final against Tigers on Saturday evening.
Experienced Adam Birkefeld will lead the Chatham defence in the Manning men's A-grade grand final against Tigers on Saturday evening.

THE chance to extend the club’s dynasty will ensure Chatham players aren’t complacent going into tomorrow’s Manning division one men’s hockey grand final against Tigers.

Coach Frank Birkefeld gave this assurance.

Chatham will start short-priced favourites on the strength of their 6-0 demolition of Tigers in the major semi a fortnight ago. Tigers will also go into the match minus a couple of mainstays due to injury.

The Wolves have ruled in Manning Hockey for more than five years and already have the Mid North Coast Premier League trophy in their keeping this season. However, they want to maintain this domination this year and into the future.

“The players know these things go in cycles,’’ Birkefeld said.

“It wasn’t that long ago that Tigers were dominant. Now it’s our turn and our players want to add to their record. Complacency won’t be an issue here.’’

Unlike their counterparts Chatham have no injury concerns. Birkefeld expects Tigers to try and pressure Chatham early in the hope of unsettling the Wolves. However, he is confident his side has the big match experience to counter anything that Tigers throw at them.

He added his young representative stars Sam Ferguson and Wade Harry have the ability to make opposition teams pay if they are given latitude.

“Sam has been outstanding this year,’’ Birkefeld said.

There’s plenty of goal scoring potential in the side. However, Birkefeld said there’s nothing wrong with the defensive qualities either, led by Adam Birkefeld and Bryce Hough. He added that Eamon Smith continues Chatham’s tradition of producing quality goal keepers. 

Birkefeld said there is depth in the Chatham ranks.

“We have players in our B-grade who would be in A-grade with other clubs. But they stay with us because they're loyal Chathamites,’’ he said.

However, Birkefeld stressed the Wolves won’t underestimate Tigers, saying they still boast plenty of quality and experienced players. He said any team coached by Tony Lewis will come out with an effective game plan.

Chatham will be chasing hockey’s Triple Crown, with the division two and three sides all involved in grand finals. Birkefeld will play in the division three match tonight. Division three will play Sharks from 6.30 while the division two tackles Taree West at 3pm.