They might have different reasons but both Theo Gruschka and Ben Ferguson desperately want the same prize this weekend – the Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League cup.
Norths skipper Gruschka, 33, has held the silverware so many times all the grand finals begin to blur into one, but there’s a chance for the boys in blue to defend their crown and again stamp the club’s dominance in this competition.
At the other end of his career Gosford midfielder Ferguson, 22, is chasing his maiden major premiership and after missing out 12 months ago the undefeated Central Coast crew want to cap off an almost faultless campaign in style.
Sunday at Newcastle International Hockey Centre will mark the third time in as many seasons these sides have met in the decider.
The ledger is all square at one apiece.- Norths up 3-2 in the most recent edition and Gosford’s inaugural prize in 2015 following a 2-1 victory.
This splits the difference.
“In terms of the last few grand finals being against Gosford we’re one apiece so this is an opportunity to take some bragging rights and go ahead,” Gruschka said.
“We’d absolutely like to take this trophy home and keep it in Newcastle hands.”
Ferguson wasn’t part of Gosford’s breakthrough success having joined the club from Tigers afterwards and seeing his chance slip away last September still “stings”, especially to opponents and Sydney-based housemates Nick Hill and Jesse Moss.
“I saw two of my best mates hold the trophy up in front of me last year so it would be good to get one back,” Ferguson said.
“There’s plenty of Norths cups in the cupboard so it would be good to get a Gosford one in there as well.”
Ferguson said there would be a certain sense “relief” for Gosford to win having gone through the season without a single loss.
Gruschka said there was “pressure” on both sides simply because it was such a “big stage”.
Norths are hoping defender Ben Howey (hamstring) comes back into the starting XI while midfielder Connor Eyres got through the weekend’s preliminary final win over Souths unscathed.
Gosford are largely unchanged but goalkeeper and NSW squad member Nick Holman has been named and trained this week in a bid to return from a hamstring injury suffered six weeks ago.
The rival squads have met on four occasions in 2017 with a 1-all draw the only time Gosford didn’t win.
Play starts at 2:30pm.
GOSFORD: 1 Nick Holman 2 Brett Giffin 3 Robbie McGuire 4 Geoff McGuire 5 Hugh Wickert 6 Rhiley Carr 7 Lain Carr 8 Lloyd Radcliffe 9 Adam Bosley 10 Lee McCormack 11 Stuart Fletcher 12 Liam Alexander (c) 13 Ben Ferguson 14 Jake Wigham 15 Craig Campbell 16 Michael Taylor
NORTHS: 1 Shaun O’Brien 2 Shaun Frazer 3 Brad Binns 4 Connor Eyres 5 Nick Hill 6 Jordan Dennis 7 Ben Howey 8 Andrew Oliver 9 Theo Gruschka (c) 10 Jordan Willott 11 Jesse Moss 12 Oliver Flack 13 James Piper 14 Ky Willott 15 Dane Pettitt 16 Rory Walker 17 Eamon Smith
Premier League: Gosford v Norths (2:30pm)
Second Grade: Norths v Souths (12:30pm)
Third Grade: Port Stephens v University (11am)
Fourth Grade: Souths v Wests (9:30am)
Fifth Grade: Tigers v Wests (11am)
Sixth Grade: Tigers v Maitland (9:30am)
Seventh Grade: Maitland v Wests (12:30pm)