Border Mail – Round 6 – Preview

WHEN Peter Hancock surprisingly pulled up stumps on his Ovens and Murray career after 60 senior matches with Lavington, he was only going one place.

He had been playing cricket with Howlong and the apprentice bricklayer’s boss was Spider stalwart Aaron Hoskin.

Hancock hasn’t regretted it for a second.

The 196-centimetre ruckman has won two Azzi medals and three best and fairests since 2013 while his wife, Jess, is coach of the club’s B-grade netball side.

“I’ve loved it,” the 30-year-old said ahead of his 100th match for Howlong against Osborne on Saturday.

“I’d like to think I’ll keep going for a while.”

Hancock has only missed one match due to injury at Howlong when he sat out a week on the eve of a finals series with Achilles soreness.

Not that it’s been an easy ride.

Hancock said the Hume league had never been more even than this year with an influx of quality ruckmen like Matt Seiter, Ben Dower and Chris Willis coming into the competition.

“It’s a good challenge every week,” he said.

“Most sides have a good ruckman and, if they don’t, they have two or three who swap and change and you don’t get much of a rest.”

Hancock started his career with Wodonga and played alongside North Melbourne captain Jack Ziebell in the Bulldogs’ 2006 third grade premiership.

The following year he switched to rival club Lavington.

While the laid-back big-man says he hasn’t really missed the Ovens and Murray, he did speak to Corowa-Rutherglen earlier this year.

“I had a bit of a chat to ‘Almo’ (Marc Almond) at Corowa,” he said.

“I’d pretty much made my mind up to stay at Howlong before he had signed as coach though.

“I’m enjoying it here.”

Howlong flew out of the blocks by defeating CDHBU, Billabong Crows and Lockhart before falling to finals contenders Holbrook and Brock-Burrum in the past fortnight.

They are determined to avoid the same path as last season when they opened with five straight wins only to crash badly and miss the top six.

“It’s a very even comp,” he said.

“You can’t afford to slip up in many games.”

Osborne is playing as well as anyone in the league with its pace and goalkicking options putting it in a good position to win back-to-back flags.

Ben Baker, Steve Jolliffe and Toby Pargeter are in form and will need to be at their best to chalk up a win in Hancock’s milestone.

RAND-Walbundrie-Walla will be out to put three successive narrow losses behind them when they take on Culcairn at Rand on Saturday.

After going down to Jindera by a point last weekend and being in matches for a long time against Osborne and Brock-Burrum, coach Myles Aalbers said it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“We’ve been in every game we have played which is a positive but the frustrating part is we haven’t come away with enough wins,” Aalbers said.

“At the moment we’re still trying to come together as a group after adding a lot of new players over the off-season .

“We are putting ourselves in good positions but haven’t been able to do it for long enough to get over the line.”

The Giants have dropped to 11th spot on the ladder after a tough draw and meet a Lions outfit coming off their best performance of the season.

Both sides are set to be near full strength.

HENTY full-forward Damian Cupido is on the verge of kicking his 1000th goal outside the AFL.

“It’s freaky actually,” Cupido said.

“I didn’t know until after the game at the weekend that I’d kicked that many and it blew me away a bit.

“It isn’t the reason you play but I was pretty chuffed.

“I’m going to have a crack at it on Saturday.

“I try and get 10 every week.”

Cupido has kicked 990 goals in 306 matches, plus another 66 for Essendon and Brisbane during his 53-match AFL career.

His biggest haul was 14 for Southern Districts against Palmerston in the Northern Territory Football League in 2014.

He went on kick 140 that season.

“It’s been well documented that I’ve played around the country, but I just love playing footy,” he said.

“I’m still enjoying myself.

“Once you lose the fun, it’s time to hang up the boots.

“It’s nice to be back on the Border again and playing for Henty.”

Cupido’s 990 goals have been kicked during stints with Rumbalara, Bacchus Marsh, Croydon, East Burwood, Airport West, Bendigo, Mount Evelyn, Moyhu, North Wangaratta, Henty, Howlong, Southern Distriicts, Nightcliff, South Adelaide, West Adelaide, Bairnsdale, North Albury and Ouyen United.

His tally includes goals in representative matches for the Gippsland, Ballarat, Ovens and Murray, Murray and Mallee leagues.

Cupido has 24 goals in five matches for Henty this season with the Swampies opening up their 50-metre arc at every opportunity for the sharpshooter.

“I’m always going to get seven or eight shots on goal with the side I’m playing in and I hope I take my opportunities,” he said.