BRUCE Snape is happiest when he is on the hockey field, stick in hand.
Gloucester born and bred, Bruce first picked up a stick half a century ago under the tutelage of local hockey doyen Ollie Rinkin.
Incidentally, junior hockey in Gloucester celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
“I started playing hockey has a 13-year-old in 1963,” Bruce said.
“We used to play where the new tennis hard courts and clubhouse are. When the tennis courts expanded, hockey moved to number two oval.”
Bruce played hockey locally until 1974 when he moved to Kempsey for work.
He helped establish hockey in Kempsey and stuck with the club when it amalgamated with Port Macquarie several decades later.
Bruce got his first taste of Masters hockey in 1991 when he was selected to represent NSW.
He would remain a permanent fixture in the side until 1999, when he took a couple of years off.
After a one-off appearance back in the Blues squad in 2006, Bruce again started playing regularly for the State side in 2008.
In between, he has also featured in the Australian squad, visiting countries such as Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain and China.
Later this year he will travel to The Netherlands for the Masters World Cup, which will include a stopover in Spain and Italy.
Before that come the national championships, which will be held at Homebush from September 23.
“We play each State once and then semi finals and a final if we’re good enough,” Bruce said.
“We’ve won the last two years so we’re going for the hat-trick.”
Bruce says it is the physical nature of the game and the opportunities it has given him that makes him keep coming back.
“The chance to lead a fitter, more active lifestyle is definitely part of it and I like playing with the younger guys in the local comp. I think it helps keep me young,” he said.
“Masters hockey has been great. It’s taken me to every State and even other countries, things I would never have been able to do before.”