Queensland Veterans Hockey - How It All Began

Ian ‘Inky’ Millett was born in Townsville in 1934. From a family of 3 boys Ian attended the Centrals Primary School, moving on to Town High where he graduated and took up a Cadet Draftsman position with the Townsville City Council.  

To further his career Ian joined the Townsville engineering firm of McIntyre and Associates as a Draftsman and then moved on to a new position with ARC working in Cairns, Tamworth, Newcastle and Papua New Guinea. He returned to Townsville in 1973 working with Annandale Estates.  

Ian’s home Hockey Club in Townsville was the Boomerangs Club later changed to the present name Wests. Playing all his hockey on the right side as a winger or right inside, Ian graduated through the grades to first Division along the way representing Townsville in both the juniors and seniors. He was also picked for a number of years in the Queensland Country touring sides.  

It was his passion for hockey that saw Ian become involved in the formation of Veterans Hockey in Queensland. In 1980 at the Queensland Men’s Hockey Championships in Bundaberg, Lou Hailey nudged Ian in the ribs and said "Western Australia are going to conduct the inaugural Australian Mens Veterans Hockey tournament in August on Astroturf. Are you interested in forming a team?” Ian’s reply was, "Maybe if QHA gives me the nod”.  

Soon after the nod from QHA Ian made contact with the tournament convener in WA, Peter Kennedy and within minutes he had a Queensland team nominated for the Sand-groper tournament.

This team comprised of players from Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane and they competed in this historical Australian Tournament with some success. Eight teams competed in the first carnival, 3 from WA, one each from QLD, SA, ACT, NSW and Victoria.

The original team was:

Ken Reid                        Ken Voysey                         Norm Bryer
Rob Stevens                  Jeff Jorgensen                     Ian Millett
Bernie Gibbs                 Barry Malcolm (captain)   Roy Church
Ken McElligott              Gordon Spenceley             Dick Cummins
Kim Webster                 Bernie Murray                    John Nicols

Ian managed the side and Gordon Spenceley was Coach. At this carnival the President of WA Hockey Colin Nichols wrote "Veterans Hockey will continue to grow in this State and I am confident that this 1980 Carnival will launch the concept of Veterans Hockey throughout Australia. I offer my profound gratitude to the Organising committee for creating and initiating an event that will become a significant contribution to Australian Hockey”. How right Colin Nichols was.  

In 1980 with the help of Ian Millett Queensland Veterans Hockey was born. In 1981 the tournament was again held in WA with Tasmania attending. 1982 and 1983 in Melbourne. In 1984 the tournament was brought to Queensland and held in Townsville. From 1985 the Australian Veterans Tournament was allocated to each State on rotation.  

In the early years until his untimely death in 1987, Ian was the driving force behind the Veterans movement in Queensland assisted by Townsvillians Barry Malcolm and Gordon Spenceley with assistance from QHA secretary Stan Griffin. Gordon Spenceley took on Ian’s role after his death and gradually handed that role over to QHA. 

This is a brief history of what transpired over the early years and no doubt some of the older Queensland Veterans still playing have more history and stories to pass on. Veterans Hockey in Queensland owes a debt of honour to the man Ian ‘Inky’ Millett who in 1980 put his passion and love of the game of Hockey to the fore and created Queensland Veterans Hockey.


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