THE Anderson Cup Super 9s will conclude with the final four round robin tournament this Wednesday at Havelock Park.
And Banbridge are right in the thick of things as one of the four finalists, alongside Cookstown, Annadale and Lisnagarvey.
They got to the finals after beating Mossley 5-0 and Kilkeel 6-0 in the first round of games under new format and it’s one that Banbridge seem to be enjoying.
Based on an idea initiated in Australia it is a first for local hockey. The format of the cup has been transformed into a fast flowing nine aside game played on a full pitch.
With each team allowed a maximum of 18 players in a squad constant substitutions ensure that the tempo of the matches remains high throughout. To date in the group matches a total of 66 goals have been scored in just 12 matches.
All matches are officiated by three umpires instead of the normal two as each side must keep at least one attacker in the opposition half at all times. Coupled to this are variations in the penalty corner and long corner rules
“I think the new format is positive and good for the game,” said Dane Ward, the Bears’ joint top goalscorer in Group A, speaking on the Anderson Cup YouTube channel.
“It makes the game quicker under the new rules and it’s something that should be kept going.
“The powerplay situations make you think a lot more and makes you more aware of the space around you.”
It’s a trophy with a proud Banbridge connection. It was donated to the Ulster Hockey Union of the Irish Hockey Association by Mr T N Anderson as a memorial for his brother, Captain J G Anderson MC. Captain Anderson was a prominent member of Banbridge Hockey Club and an Irish International player who was killed whilst serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I. One of the conditions requested by the donor was that the Final should be played at the ground of Banbridge Hockey Club.
Each of the teams have their own ‘tags’ with Banbridge known as the Bears. The tag-name is derived from a chant which the renowned Banbridge team of the 1980’s used in their pre-match huddle. The chant was initially the idea of Bann legend Joe McKnight and the team carried on using it well into the 90’s. It was “If you wanna be a Bear, be a grizzly!”
Games in the final four last for 12-and-a-half minutes with Banbridge getting the finals underway at 6.40pm against Annadale Dragons.
The Dragons then play Cookstown Mavericks at 7.15pm before Cookstown and Instonians Seahorses clash at 7.50pm.
Instonians and Banbridge meet at 8.25pm followed by Banbridge v Cookstown at 9pm and the final game of the evening, Dale Dragons v Instonians Seahorses at 9.35pm.
With a barbeque and music to add atmosphere to the event it promises to be an evening of quality entertainment. If you are unable to get to Havelock you can follow all the action on Twitter @Anderson Cup.