The stars aligned for eighth-placed Sydney University men’s Premier League hockey team on Saturday when they defeated sixth-placed Briars 5-4 in the final round of the competition proper, at Homebush Field, to earn a place in the finals series for the first time in more than 25 years.
But the finals berth only came about through third-placed Glebe defeating seventh-placed Sutherland to create a shuffle on the ladder.
The scenario for the ladder shuffle came about the previous weekend when the Students caused an upset by defeating second-placed Norwest Strikers to put them within two points of the top seven and a last-ditch push for the finals.
Moorebank Liverpool finished minor premiers on 54 points after 20 rounds, with Norwest Strikers (44), Glebe (41), Gordon North Sydney (37), Ryde Hunters Hill (27) and Sydney University (25) making up the top six.
The move into the rarefied finals air caused Hockey Club archivist Brett Radcliffe to delve in to the records, and his memory, to determine the last time Sydney University First made the finals in the Premier League.
But, as club treasurer Anne Simmons says: “The answer is: it depends. On one measure it may have been 1988, on another measure it may have been back in the 1960s.
“The last time men’s First Grade played in a finals series was in 1988 (in B division) and 1987 (Premiers in B division),” she says. “SUHC was promoted back into Sydney Hockey Association’s First Division in 1989.
“Since then we have not played finals in First Grade. The closest we have come was in 1992, when we finished 5th on goal difference. In 1993 we finished 8th.
“Brett’s records don’t show the last time we played in the finals in the top division. SHA shows the premiers, but not the finalists. If anyone has a list of finalists over the years we’d be grateful to receive a copy. It is therefore possible that we last played in the top division’s finals back in the 1950s or 1960s, in the era of Bruce Pryor, as we spent most of the 1970s and 1980s in other divisions.”
Sydney Men’s competition – final round
Premier League: Sydney University 5 d Briars 3.
Sydney Cup: Sydney University 5 d Briars 4.