Mick Russ takes the ball up field for the City Bears in their clash against Clocktower Hotel Royals.
Mick Russ takes the ball up field for the City Bears in their clash against Clocktower Hotel Royals. Shirleyanne Thompson

Russ returns as Bears clinch minor premiership

HOCKEY: Sporting a new Spanish tan and carrying six kilos less than before he left, Mick Russ returned to the field for the City Bears for the first time at the weekend.

Fresh off a successful Masters World Cup effort for the Australian over-50s, the Bears midfield veteran could not have chosen a better time to return as the side locked up the Grafton Hockey Association Premier League minor premiership.

Despite a round to go in the season, Bears will finish on top of the ladder following a thrilling 3-1 victory over Clocktower Hotel Royals.

Both sides were missing State masters representatives who were away at a training camp in Newcastle, but Russ admitted it did not diminish the on-field competition.

"We were missing a few blokes but so were they, it was probably even par really,” Russ said. "It was just like a classic Royals and Bears style of game. It was end to end, neck and neck sort of stuff.

"There is a bit of feeling in the game, we are two competitive sides determined to win, but there is no crap in them.”

Royals were first to get on the board, scoring through a field goal in the opening 15 minutes and looked to have the edge over their rivals.

But a solo barrage from the in-form Hugh Cameron soon turned the tables on them.

"Hugh was great, he just put two in the back of the net in quick succession and really turned the tide,” Russ said.

Mitch Lollback netted a third for the Bears in the second half to give the side a two-goal victory, which Russ said did not tell the full story.

"Sometimes you look at a score like 3-1 and can think it was a one-sided affair,” he said. "It wasn't. Both sides had plenty of opportunities on goal. It was just a really good game.”