With ‘Pitch Up and Play’ well and truly underway, and plenty of hockey opportunities for juniors – such as the summer hockey camps which are fast approaching – we thought we would have another ‘Player Profiles’ report.
Or how about three in one?! The McAllister family – which includes Barry and his two children, Cara and Patrick – are very much established club players for Clydesdale & Clydesdale Western. ‘Player Profiles’ reporter Ally Walker met up with all three to discuss how they got into hockey and life as Clydesdale members:
When Cara McAllister’s primary school PE teacher told her that she was the worst outfield hockey player she had ever seen, she unwittingly set Cara on the path of a very successful goalkeeping career! Aged just 15, Cara has already been to EuroHockey Club Challenge I in Lille as reserve goalkeeper for Clydesdale Western 1st XI and when I spoke to her, she was just off the plane from St Aloysius College’s 1st XI hockey tour to Lisbon.
After discovering the joys of throwing herself around in a goal, Cara joined Clydesdale Western and quickly moved up through the ladies teams from the 7s to the 6s to the 5s, leapfrogging over the 4s and is now well established in the 3s. Quick to spot a talented youngster, the school put Cara forward for U14s and U16s district teams where she thrived. And last season she trained with the U18s Regional Academy, putting her firmly on the pathway for more U18s action at both district and national level.
Looking back on the last season with Clydesdale Western, and putting the Euros with the L1s to the side, I asked Cara what were her highlights: “Going to penalty flicks in the Plate Quarter-Final (against GHK 1s) and winning has to be up there. But then so was beating the Clydesdale 2s!”
Another of Cara’s hockey achievements over the years has been to recruit her younger brother, Patrick, and father, Barry, into hockey at Clydesdale. Patrick and Barry now operate as a highly effective ‘Team McAllister’ in the Men’s 5s. Patrick, who is turning 12, started coming along to Friday night “Jockey” a couple of years ago and is now training with the Boys’ Performance squad as well as representing the Men’s 5s.
Like his sister, he was invited to join in everything that was going on. For Patrick that included U12 festivals, U14 and U15s district events and then came training for the U13s national Nottingham tournament. It was the night before the bus to Nottingham when I met Patrick and he didn’t know yet that this was going to be an experience that he’ll never forget! But he was definitely looking forward to it. He said: “We’ve got some great kit for Nottingham and I’ve got friends like Andrew Cox going with me too.”
The recruitment of father, Barry has been a coup for the 5s. With 30 years of ice hockey experience behind him, Barry had hung up his skates and turned his attention to taxiing Patrick and Cara to training and games. However, he hadn’t bargained for the pincer action of Tricia Lonergan and Karl Richmond. Tricia lent him a stick and introduced him to Monday night’s ‘Pitch up and Play’ which runs throughout the summer during the off season. And when ‘Pitch Up and Play’ had finished, then Karl moved in and recruited him for the 5s.
Barry said: “I absolutely love it! People have been really welcoming and I’m really enjoying training and playing with Patrick. Although I know only too well that it won’t be long before we’ll be going in different directions.”
So how does that ice hockey experience play out in real hockey? Cara and Patrick were quick to explain: “He can’t get used to only playing with only one side of his stick. And then he does these small nudges!”
However, I have heard from reliable sources that the big slap shot comes in very handy sometimes!
Main photo credit: Ally Walker