RED-HANDED: Adrian Crispo, left, Daniel Lidbetter and club stalwart Terry Burnett.
RED-HANDED: Adrian Crispo, left, Daniel Lidbetter and club stalwart Terry Burnett.

A red alert

By STEVE SPINKS

THE Red Soilers are looking to make their mark.

The unofficial name of the Alstonville Hockey Club was recounted with pride by club member Terry Burnett as he told The Northern Star of his club's plan to step back into the Far North Coast Hockey Association's men's A-grade competition this year.

"You won't see it written anywhere," Burnett said.

"But that's what we call ourselves around here."

The Red Soilers stepped down from A-grade in the mid-1990s after suffering a player drain.

However, since folding their top side, Alstonville have found it difficult to hang on to top juniors coming up through the lower grade ranks.

They have continually played in either B-grade or reserve grade, but Burnett and a number of other members have finally had enough.

"We've toyed with the idea of going up for a few years," Burnett said.

"But it came to if we never did it this year, we'd never do it."

Burnett is realistic about the A-grade team's chances and he said that Alstonville wasn't expecting to win the premiership in their first year back. But he points out that you have to start somewhere.

"We've got more depth this year and Alstonville is a bigger population now," he said.

"It will definitely make the local competition more interesting and we will enter the bigger competition (The Northern Rivers Signs-Hockey League that encompasses the Gold Coast, Tweed Border and Far North Coast associations)."

Alstonville's decision to step-up, means there will be five A-grade teams contesting the 2005 season including Coraki, Easts and Northern Star.

Ballina are the defending champions.

The Red Soilers are in negotiation with a high profile coach and are keen to hear from anyone interested in breaking into A-grade.

Already Alstonville have enticed former player and junior NSW representative Adrian Crispo back to the fold.

Crispo has been playing A-grade with Northern Star for a couple of seasons, but is set to rejoin his old club to play alongside another State junior representative in Daniel Lidbetter.

For further information contact Terry Burnett on 6629 5452 or Ian Crispo 6628 0041.



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