Milestone man, Michael Irby reaches 1,000 games

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A unique moment in world sport took place at the Bruce Pryor Hockey Field at Lidcombe on Saturday when Michael “Bott” Irby ran out with Sydney University Hockey Club’s 4th Grade team to play in his 1000th game for the Club.

“This is an amazing achievement,” SUHC President Ant McInnes said when presenting Irby with a plaque to mark the event. “Even more so because Mick still represents not only Sydney University, but also Sydney, NSW and Australia.

He joined us in April 1988 and is one of our most respected and well-liked players. I am proud to call Mick a teammate.”

SUHC’s Records Officer, Brett Radcliffe, confirmed it was Mick’s 1000th game.“Our club records are in good shape and I can track every one of Mick’s 1000 games,” he said. “He has scored over 120 goals for us and I am proud to be one of the 532 people who have been his past or present SUHC teammates.He is a great athlete and pillar of our club. More importantly, he is a true sportsman, a great mentor and a wonderful role model for every sportsman.”

Mr McInness said Irby has represented Australia 11 times in Masters teams, including as captain, and has represented and captained NSW teams 19 times. “He has held numerous roles with SUHC, including as Club Captain, he has also been named SUSF’s Club person of the Year,” he said.

“He has won or been awarded almost every possible honour available to him, including Life Membership at both SUHC and Sydney Masters Hockey Association, and a University Gold Award from SUSF for his significant contribution to his Club. There is even a Masters Cup named after him, and he is still playing!”

Ed Smith, the CEO of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, called it an extraordinary milestone. “Since 1863, the University of Sydney has been the home of over 50 sporting clubs catering for students, alumni and community members of all ages across almost every sport imaginable,” he said.

“To play 200 games for your club makes you a great; to play 300 games makes you a legend of your league – but to play 1000 games for your club is unheard of in any sport. It is a truly extraordinary effort and the ultimate testimony to one man’s commitment to his community.”

Messages of congratulation for Irby’s 1000th club game have come from around the world from current and former teammates as well as hockey officials and organisations he has represented over the past three decades, including the President of the International Hockey Federation, the Switzerland-based body governing World Hockey, who also sent his congratulations.

Hockey NSW CEO, Emma Highwood commented on the milestone “On behalf of Hockey NSW I would like to congratulate Michael on his 1000th game.  What a great achievement, for an individual who has been involved in so many areas of the game. Hockey is a game that creates a true family for life. Enjoy the game Michael.”

Sydney Hockey President, Peter Busch, added he was “delighted Mick’s 1000th game was one of our games.”

“We have a great hockey community and we all want to congratulate him” he said. Those words were echoed by Sydney Masters Hockey President, Greg Kay, who said Irby has been a long-serving Masters player for more than 20 years and is highly respected.

“He was rewarded with Life Membership in 2015 and last year was further recognised in having his name on the Masters League Premiership trophy given his outstanding contribution to Sydney Masters hockey,” Mr Kay said.

“Mick has been a loyal member of the Sydney Uni club and has also represented Sydney, NSW and Australia in Masters hockey with distinction. His strong sense of fair play and will to win and has always been admired by his teammates and fellow players and officials.”

SUHC, the oldest hockey club in NSW and third oldest in Australia, is planning a ceremony at its Bruce Pryor Hockey Field on 12 August to honour Irby’s 1000th game achievement. Everyone is welcome to attend to congratulate “Bott” on his exceptional milestone.