This year’s season started off earlier for us, as we were invited to an ANZAC weekend tournament in Timaru in the April school holidays.
This was very good for the team as it enabled us to integrate the new players into our team, practice playing in game situations, and gave us time to set key goals for the season.
Our first goal was to finish in the Top 4 of the SSP division, which is the top grade for Boys Hockey in Canterbury. A new format to the competition this season meant the teams would split into Top 4 and Bottom 4 for the final stages of the season. After last season’s disappointing 7th place finish we were driven to achieve our goal and prove to traditionally strong teams that we weren’t in the competition to make up numbers.
The season started with some tight games and some very good wins. We lost 2-0 to STAC and drew 1-1 with Christ’s College, who were last year’s national champions and finished 2nd this year. Good results such as a 15-0 win over Shirley Boys HS and a 6-0 win over Cashmere kept us in the running for a Top 4 spot. It all came down to our last game of round robin and pool play where we played Boys’ High, who had previously beaten us 6-1. Because of this they came into the game very cocky and were shocked when we won 1-0. This achieved our first goal and put us into the Top 4. In our semi-final we came up against eventual winners STAC, after a very close game we were beaten 3-1. Unfortunately we also lost the 3rd/4th play-off to Timaru Boys HS in another very close game, so ended our season in 4th place.
A Top 4 finish in Canterbury was what we needed in our build-up to tournament as we could practice playing against some of the best teams in the country. Once again we were in the Rankin Cup/India Shield tournament, which is the combined Tier 1 and Tier 2 national tournament involving the 32 best school teams. Last year we narrowly avoided relegation from India in a 4-4 draw that we won on shootouts. This year we decided our goal was to reach Rankin, a feat Burnside hasn’t achieved in the last 13 years. Our pool was very evenly matched and after all three games we finished 2nd equal, as we had the same points, wins and goal difference as Rosmini - a team we had drawn 3-3 with. This meant for the first time in Rankin/India history two teams would go to a shootout to decide who would progress into Rankin Cup. We convincingly beat Rosmini in the shootout 4-2 after some great saves from our goal keeper Emil Collins. So for the first time in 13 years, Burnside was back in Rankin Cup and we had achieved both our goals we set at the start of the season. Unfortunately we ended up finishing 16th after losing some very close games.
I would like to congratulate Jayden Rakowitz,our captain, as he was selected for the U18 Junior Blacksticks squad. I would like to thank our coach, Sam Bennett, for all his hard work and dedication to the team. He set the goals for our team to achieve and has driven us to achieve them. I would also like thank Mr Christeller and Sean Wilson for assisting Sam this season and providing their knowledge of the game to improve us as players. Thanks also to Hilary Wilson and other parents who helped organize fundraisers for the team and supported us all season long. Thanks to our supporters who watched us play in Christchurch and supported us in Tauranga at tournament. I would also like to thank Louis Park for his excellent photography during our matches in Christchurch.
It has been an honour to play for Burnside all these years and good luck to the boys who will wear the Green and White in the future.
PS: Special thanks to Mickey Mills, owner of Dominator Doors Christchurch, for his generous donation of $1500, which went towards this year’s team supply of warm-up jackets, which will be reused for future 1st XI teams.