Oldies pool their talent
AFTER 23 years as a team in Far North Coast water polo, Le-Ba is still a formidable outfit but most importantly still likes to have fun.
Four foundation players - Mick Gooley, Cliff Corbett, Raz Burtonwood and Terry Chandler - remain from the 1988 side and the average age is 54.
Le-Ba, which is short for Lennox Head/Ballina, has had its ups and downs over the years.
The team made five grand finals in A-grade but lost them all.
Finally, after dropping down to B-grade in 2008, the side won its first competition when it beat Mullumbimby in the grand final.
Chandler, himself a veteran at 56, said he would never forget the celebrations that night.
"We made five grand finals and just couldn't win; we were like the bridesmaids of A-grade," he said.
"So when we finally won a competition we really kicked up our heels.
"We're all good mates and go on surfing trips together - and we all enjoy a beer."
But the team still trains hard.
"Raz is 61 and he has a six-pack," Chandler said.
"He keeps busy in retirement - he swims, runs and body surfs.
"Mick is a builder so he's quite fit for a 56-year-old and I swim about a kilometre every day."
Le-Ba is the only team left in FNC water polo flying the flag for Ballina and Lennox Head.
"At one stage there were four or five sides but we're the only one now," Chandler said.
Now that the monkey is off the team's back after its 2008 triumph, Chandler said winning was not everything any more.
"I don't think we'll win it this season but you never know," he chuckled.
"We play in the right spirit but we don't it too seriously.
"It's more of a social thing now."