1000 Games & Going Strong; Arsenals' Stalwart Celebrates Milestone for 41 Years on Turf

The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia), May 27, 2019 | Go to article overview

1000 Games & Going Strong; Arsenals' Stalwart Celebrates Milestone for 41 Years on Turf


Byline: Aidan Cureton Aidan.Cureton@dailymercury.com.au

ARSENALS hockey veteran Bill Mackay is easy to spot on the turf. If his bright red bucket hat doesn't catch your attention first, his mean flick and notable accuracy make him stand out.

Bill has played the sport for 41 consecutive years. He has celebrated victory, suffered defeat and watched Mackay Hockey grow and morph into something spectacular.

The 57 year old stalwart is about to reach an achievement that is sure to go down in the history books.

While the maths may be a little off, Bill is expected to play 1000 games with Arsenals within the next month.

If anyone wanted to fast-track their way to Bill's achievement it would take 45 days of straight playing hockey to tally up the hours he has acquired.

The Arsenals player, who first put on the colours in 1979, has coached at every level within the club. He was club president for three years in the 1990s and has made regular appearances in the Queensland Masters team since 2002.

"I just love the sport. If I stop loving it there is a chance I might hang up the boots, but at the moment I'm still enjoying myself," Bill said.

When Bill started playing in Mackay, all fixtures were contested during daylight on a Saturday.

"We had no lights, we didn't play night hockey at all. Once all teams finished their games we'd go to the clubhouse and have a few beers and get to know your teammates and opposition," he said.

Bill admitted his sporting career had its ups and downs, but the right change always arose when he needed to re-kindle his love for hockey.

"People came up to me and asked 'why are you still playing'. A lot of it has to do with the artificial turf we have now," he said.

"In the old days we just played on grass. If we kept doing that I may have hung the boots up already.

"It's a different style of play and it kind of rejuvenated my love of hockey."

Bill first picked up a stick when he was 6 years old, for the Labrador Hockey club. He soon moved to North Brisbane and played with Redcliffe until he was 16.

"Then I moved north to a cane farm and just walked down to Mackay Hockey one day looking to play a game and I was pointed in the direction of Arsenals. The rest is history," he said.

A shoulder reconstruction and some knee problems looked like they might end Bill's uninterrupted run, but the midfielder always bounced back before the next season.

With a few premierships and representative medals decorating his trophy cabinet, Bill said his fondest memories were seeing those around him achieve.

"Over the years I've played with and against lots of past Olympians from Mackay. It was good to see them come through the ranks," he said.

"There's been Baeden Choppy, Jacob Anderson and Matty Swann as well as current promising players like your Noah Gauici and Claire Colwill," Bill said. …

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