CALL OF DUTY: Yamba veteran steps up for his country
HOCKEY: Yamba hockey veteran Terry Daly is on the verge of making his representative debut for Australia and he has only had to wait 75 years to do it.
After being named as a shadow for the national Over-65s side for the past two years, Daly finally got the call-up he had been waiting for, named in the Australian Over-75s, and he was not even there to hear his name called out.
The selection had come after Daly helped steer NSW Over-75s to a memorable gold medal performance at the recent Masters Hockey National Championships in Lismore.
"I actually had a few friends, a few drought-stricken farmers from out west, with me at the titles,” he said.
"As soon as we won the gold medal I had a beer to celebrate and then we were off because they needed to get home. I missed the team announcement altogether.
"It wasn't until a mate called me afterwards to let me know, even then I just thought he was pulling my leg.”
A late bloomer in the sport, Daly did not pick up a hockey stick until he was 42, when he had stepped up to coach his two daughters in the Dubbo junior ranks.
"I had never actually played the sport, and I heard there was a veterans carnival coming up so I just thought I would give it a go,” he said. "That was more than 30 years ago and I have been hooked ever since.”
After he retired to the Clarence Valley, Daly quickly linked up with a few masters friends in the Sailors Old Boys outfit where he still plays to this day.
"It's the socialness of the sport that has kept me in it,” he said. "My wife always asks me 'how can you drive up and play hockey for an hour and end up drinking for two?' But that's just part of the fun of it.
"When you retire from work, you can soon end up hibernating. Hockey makes sure I keep my connections with friends and the community.”
While he has been on tour with an informal national outfit in the past, Daly said there was nothing like being named for your country.
"This means a lot, I never thought it was going to come,” he said. "It is an absolute honour for me, how often do you get to represent your country?
"I am going to buy every bit of uniform possible, if they have Australian team undies I'll even get a few pairs of them.
"Everyone in the family has gotten in touch to wish me well. I think that's half the reason I keep trying so (my grandkids) can proudly say their pop plays for Australia.”
The 75-year-old Sailors star will join fellow Grafton hockey masters Mick Russ, Kane Hancock and Andrew 'Doc' Terrey who were also named to play for Australia in their respective age groups.
Sailors goalkeeper Dale Neaves was named as a shadow player for the Australian over-50s.
Grafton Hockey Association umpire David Ross has also been called up to officiate next year when our Australian masters play New Zealand in a series on the Gold Coast.