Eddie Ockenden could be forgiven a moment’s reflection after leading Australia to victory at the venue where he began his illustrious hockey career.
The triple Olympian and two-time World Cup winner led a Kookaburras side featuring a trio of Tasmanians to an impressive 4-2 win over four-time Olympic champion Germany in front of an adoring crowd at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre on Sunday.
“You dream about things like this when you’re young,” said the 31-year-old, whose 341st appearance made him Australia’s second most capped player behind five-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer.
“When I first played here I just wanted to play for my club first team. Then I wanted to play for Tasmania. Then Australia. It’s been a dream to play for them, especially here.
“I’m proud to be part of this team, I love the Kookaburras. They’re a great group of men and an absolute pleasure to be a part of that when the team’s going well.”
Twenty-one years after he was a ball boy at the venue when Matthew Wells made his international debut, Ockenden was the star attraction as Colin Batch’s team recorded its first victory of the FIH Pro League.
Leading the team out alongside fellow Hobart products Josh Beltz and Jack Welch in front of friends and family, Ockenden said he was proud of the team and its support.
“That was great. I wasn’t nervous before the game but maybe anxious about our performance but I was really happy with the team.
“We had to fight through some really tough periods but you expect that against good opposition and in the second half I don’t think they went in our circle which is fantastic.
“The hockey community in Tasmania is awesome. The turnout was really good. That makes you proud because you can feel them wanting you to do well. They’ve invested a lot in my career so I felt I was performing for them.”
Beltz, 23, and Welch, 21, also began playing at the venue and said they were proud to return wearing green and gold.
“That was a great experience,” said Welch, who looked to have provided the loudest cheer of the day when he appeared to score Australia’s third goal before a groan greeted the news that it would be credited to South Australian Tom Wickham.
“I was just trying to soak it up and think I went alright so I’m happy. It was an awesome experience to play in front of friends and family.
“I did not score but I set one up so I’m happy with that.”
Player of the match Jacob Anderson, of Queensland, scored twice before the break and Dylan Wotherspoon, of NSW, added a late sealer after Germany had started brightly with goals from Florian Fuchs and Lukas Windfeder.
Making a fourth appearance in Hobart since turn of the century, the second-ranked Kookaburras were looking to bounce back against sixth-ranked Germany, after a shootout loss to the Dutch and 4-1 defeat to world champions Belgium last round.
The Hockeyroos ensured an exciting and popular end to proceedings by claiming a shootout bonus point after their clash with Germany had finished 2-2.
Victorian Sophie Taylor had opened the scoring from an early penalty corner but Hanna Granitzki equalised before half-time.
Grace Stewart, of NSW, restored Australia’s lead soon after the restart before Granitzki produced another equaliser.
Victorian keeper Rachael Lynch was the shootout hero with an amazing save to clinch a 3-1 triumph.
The result followed the Hockeyroos recording a 1-0 win over world champions Netherlands and a 2-1 defeat to Belgium last round before a 4-3 defeat of China on Saturday.
Next up in the global competition for both teams will be matches against Great Britain in Perth on Saturday, February 16.