Former Australian mens hockey captain Warren Birmingham has come out of retirement to play for Coraki.
Former Australian mens hockey captain Warren Birmingham has come out of retirement to play for Coraki. Northern Star/Cathy Adams

'Buster' turns back the clock

FORMER Kookaburras' captain Warren 'Buster' Birmingham describes his comeback with Coraki as one of the 'most unusual experiences in my life as far as hockey is concerned'.

The 47-year-old pulled on the boots again this year for the first time since retiring from international competition in 1995.

Birmingham sees it as a chance to give something back to the hockey community of Coraki, which nurtured him as a junior.

“I wanted to play a few games with Coraki because I thought it would be one of my last opportunities,” he said.

“I am playing with the sons of the guys that I grew up with and to do that I have had to fairly and squarely park my ego in the back of the car because it is impossible to play the way I used to.”

Birmingham is probably being way too humble, because Coraki has been one of the most successful teams this year and this evening will take on Northern Star in the Far North Coast major semi-final.

The elder statesman believes his role is to 'value add' to the team.

“From a physical fitness point of view, it's fine, but after not playing for 10 years, there is no way of getting close to replicating what I did when I was captain of the men's hockey side,” he said.

“I'm a passenger, an absolute passenger. At the age of 47, there is no way in the world that I should dominate in the local comp and if I did there would be something drastically wrong with the competition.”

Although Coraki has a tiny population, Birmingham says it is a 'total hockey town'.

“There are not too many people who aren't associated with hockey,” he said. “There has always been a culture there and when I grew up if you didn't play hockey, you didn't really fit into the community.

“I've always wanted to play for Coraki. I grew up and played juniors there, then I went and lived in Perth for 12 years.”



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