800-gamer reflects on milestone day

May 10, 2024 BY

Claire Barnes is celebrating 800 career hockey games. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

A LEGEND of hockey in the Geelong region says her love of the game remains as strong as ever, following her milestone game last month.

Newtown City Hockey Club president Claire Barnes competed in her 800th career hockey game in what was a special day for her local club.

While the Eagles lost on April 20 to Geelong Jaguars, Barnes said it was a humbling occasion, with both teams forming a guard of honour to celebrate the milestone.

“It was really nice and there were really nice words and gestures from both teams, so that was good,” Barnes said.

“We’ve had a lot of wins over the years, but being a part of Newtown City each week is a win in itself already.”

Barnes has been playing competitive field hockey for more than 50 years, first taking up the stick in 1972 during her tertiary studies at The Gordon.

The 800th game saw both teams form a guard of honour for Barnes (middle).

After a brief playing hiatus, Barnes officially joined Newtown City in 1978 following the formation of a senior women’s side and has played almost every year since.

“Hockey is a great way to keep active and join a new community of people that are all sort of the same mind as you. It’s a big family, really,” Barnes said.

“It’s been really great to be part of the success of the club and its members, not just my own, but all the good things that happen within the club.”

Barnes has served as the club’s goalkeeper in recent years, a position she wasn’t used to at first, but has become quite fond of.

The goalkeeper position has also allowed Barnes to watch new female players rise through the club’s ranks, which she said was one of the best perks of the position.

Barnes said she had not put an end date on her playing days but would come to that decision when she felt she could no longer have a positive effect on the team.