Tony Barton takes over as Manning Hockey president

Manning Hockey's new president Tony Barton at the hockey complex at Taree Recreation Ground.
Manning Hockey's new president Tony Barton at the hockey complex at Taree Recreation Ground.

MANNING Hockey Association board members will meet with their Port Macquarie counterparts soon to establish if Hastings sides will play in the Manning division one men's and women's competitions this year.

New association president Tony Barton believes it is imperative the two associations work together to ensure viable top division competitions are conducted on the Mid North Coast.

"We want five or six teams in our division one competitions so we have to work with Port to make sure that's possible,'' Mr Barton said.

Teams from the Hastings have regularly played in the Manning top grade competitions in recent seasons. However, the competition was truncated in 2020 because of the COVID lockdown and the northern teams opted not to play when play eventually started.

This left just three sides in the men's division one and four in the women.

Mr Barton said Manning board member Tony Lewis has been in contact with the representatives from Port Macquarie and further discussions will take place soon. He's confident teams from Port Macquarie will be part of season 2021.

Manning Hockey's new season will be underway from Friday April 16 and Saturday April 17.

"We're bring back Friday night hockey this year to provide a bit more flexibility for shift workers,'' Mr Barton explained.

Mr Barton said there will be an emphasis on getting more juniors involved in the game this year through a program to be run on Saturday mornings. This will be free for players aged 10 and under and all gear will be provided by the association.

"We'll have a training run and then a bit of a game. If the kids want to then join a club, if they don't well, that's okay as well,'' he said.

The clubhouse at Taree Recreation Centre was largely off limit for players last year because of COVID restrictions. While there will be protocols in place this season, Mr Barton confirmed players will be able to use the clubhouse.

"We want to have after game presentations there and ensure the teams can socialise together after a game,'' he said.

This will be Mr Barton's return to hockey administration.

He was president of the men's association about 13 years ago. He was elected association president at the January annual meeting, replacing Debbie Monck, who stood down, but remains on the board.

"We want to build on the great work done by Debbie and her board over the last couple of years,'' Mr Barton said.

He'll also be playing again with Sharks in the division one competition.