Historic trophy resurfaces for North-South hockey series

Dominic Newman is congratulated after scoring a goal during the FIH Pro League match between the...
Dominic Newman is congratulated after scoring a goal during the FIH Pro League match between the New Zealand and Argentina at Nga Puna Wai on February 28 last year. Photo: Getty Images
The North-South hockey rivalry will return to the turf this weekend as Hockey New Zealand gives its elite players some much need competition in an Olympic year.

The Black Sticks men's and women's teams haven't played in more than a year and face the prospect of heading to the Tokyo Olympics without any international matches under their belts.

A three-match series for both the men and women will be played in Hamilton on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

The trophy the men will be playing for is the Havilah Down Cup, named after a patron of the game.

The Havilah Down Cup. Photo: NZ Hockey via RNZ
The Havilah Down Cup. Photo: NZ Hockey via RNZ
William Havilah Down was secretary-treasurer of the New Zealand Hockey Association in the early part of last century and organised one of the first major tours by a foreign team, when the Indian Army team played here in 1926.

Perhaps more significant for the future of the game in New Zealand, Havilah Down is the grandfather of the Maister and Miskimmin men who played a major part in the national sides of the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Barry, Selwyn and Chris Maister, along with Peter and Brent Miskimmin, played for New Zealand. Barry and Selwyn Maister won Olympic gold in 1976.

While the engraving on the trophy has the rivalry lasting from 1960 to 1973, Barry Maister says it was in fact played for through until 1975.

He played in eight games up until 1975 with the Canterbury dominated South team winning six of those times.

Barry Maister. Photo: Getty Images
Barry Maister. Photo: Getty Images
Maister says William Havilah Down was a dominant figure in New Zealand hockey.

"He lived hockey and did everything that was needed to make it a success."

As for the North-South game itself, Maister says it was always a significant game and everyone wanted to be involved, but the timing was never great.

"It was huge, but unfortunately is was always played at the end of the national tournament, which was stupid, especially for Canterbury which had dominated the national competition."

Keeping the family link going, Peter Miskimmin is coaching the South side this weekend, while his nephew Harry (Brent's son) is playing in the South team.

Defender Dane Lett is looking forward to playing in the traditional white colours of the South.

"I've had a number of past players from a few generations ago talk to me about the games and what a great event it was."

Lett says with no international games for a year and inter-squad games having limited appeal, this provides an extra edge.

"It's better to put something on it and if it's an official event there is more to play for and it'll have that match type feel both before and during the games that will be helpful if we get to the Olympics with little play under our belts."

Lett says there will be plenty of rivalry between the two sides and there has already been some banter between the players since the series was announced.

Black Sticks Men's head coach Darren Smith says it will be fantastic to play some high quality hockey.

"The series will not only operate as an Olympic trial with spots on the line for Tokyo but it also gives us a chance to monitor how the next level of talent is tracking for post 2021."

Women's head coach Graham Shaw says the players are very excited about the series after training together since January.

"The series will provide the players with a perfect opportunity to test our style of play and the areas we have focused heavily on since the beginning of the year. It will also give us a good marker on how players are tracking as we get closer to selection for Tokyo."

"Playing three quality games over four days will test not only their field play but their physical conditioning and their ability to perform consistently in a tournament format which we have not done since the Premier Hockey League in November last year."

The North-South selections are not solely based on the islands, and the divide is different for the men and women to ensure two competitive teams.

There is also a North-South trophy for women that has been retrieved from the back of the New Zealand Hockey trophy cabinet, but because the women's game had a significantly lower profile 40 years ago, there is no engraving on it.

Olivia Merry during the FIH Women's Pro League match between New Zealand and Argentina at Nga...
Olivia Merry during the FIH Women's Pro League match between New Zealand and Argentina at Nga Puna Wai on February 28, 2020. Photo: Getty Images
Teams

  • Men - North: Benji Edwards, Steve Edwards , Connor Greentree, Xavier Guy, George Muir, Charl Ulrich (North Harbour); Leon Hayward (GK), Kim Kingstone, Jared Panchia (Auckland); Tim Neild, Aidan Sarikaya, Nic Woods (Waikato); Dom Dixon (GK), Sean Findlay, Sam Hiha, Shea McAleese, Dylan Thomas (Hawke's Bay); Nick Wilson (Manawatu).
  • Men - South: Angus Griffin (GK) (Guest - Manawatu); Jordan Cohen (Wanganui); Stephen Jenness, Dane Lett, Oliver McIntyre, Harry Miskimmin, Jacob Smith, Matt Symonds (Wellington); David Brydon, George Connell, George Enersen (GK), Sam Lane, Joseph Morrison, Dominic Newman (Canterbury); Nick Elder, Hugo Inglis, Nick Ross, Blair Tarrant (Otago).
  • Women - North: Katie Doar, Ella Gunson, Stacey Michelsen, Brooke Roberts (GK) (Northland); Ella Hyatt-Brown (North Harbour); Kate Ivory, Julia King, Tyler Lench, Grace O'Hanlon (GK), Deanna Ritchie, Liz Thompson, Rose Tynan, Tayla White (Auckland); Tarryn Davey (Thames Valley); Alex Lukin, Alia Jaques (Waikato); Samantha Charlton, Frances Davies, Rose Keddell (Tauranga).
  • Women - South: Kaitlin Cotter (Hawke's Bay); Anna Crowley, Casey Crowley, Holly Pearson, Hope Ralph (Taranaki); Georgia Barnett (GK), Michaela Curtis, Steph Dickins, Kayla Whitelock, Olivia Shannon (Manawatu); Megan Hull (Wairarapa); Aniwaka Roberts (Wellington); Kelsey Smith (Nelson); Olivia Merry, Georgie Mackay-Stewart, Catherine Tinning (Canterbury); Tessa Jopp, Ginny Wilson (GK) (Otago).

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