FRANK Birkefeld has been playing hockey in the Manning Valley competition since the days when games were limited to the grass fields at Taree Recreation Centre.
He’s seen how the synthetic surface fields have revolutionised the sport. It’s quicker and the players have more skills due to the improved facilities, he said. However, he is still in awe at the ability of some of the leading players in the Manning A-grade when he first come into the competition years ago. He wonders how good they would have been if they’d had the chance to play on turf fields.
Birkefeld is the coach of the all-conquering Chatham Wolves in the Manning Valley men’s A-grade men's competition and winners of the Mid North Coast Premier League. Chatham were due to play Tigers in the A-grade grand final on Saturday September 16. He’s still playing the game and was goal keeper for Chatham’s C-grade side. He is a past chairman of Manning Hockey Association and played a leading role in moves to seek funding for the clubhouse at Taree Recreation Centre.
Birkefeld was the guest on Friday Sport Talk where he spoke of his life and times in hockey, how much the game has changed and why Chatham has developed into such a juggernaut.