Hearts a close knit group

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014

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Northern Hearts will be hoping to go one better in the South Canterbury premier men's competition this season.

In the season opener today at Aoraki Turf they face defending champions Wakanui Black, from Ashburton, in what is a replay of the last year's Walker and Hall Shield final.

Northern Hearts would ntsGdearlynte love to take out the early encounter and will have plenty of sibling ties to call on, with four families providing 10 players in the squad.

That means at some stage during the season they could make up the entire team, with the exception of the goalkeeper.

Matt, Simon and Richard Cooper are seasoned campaigners for Hearts, who won their first championships title on debut four years ago.ntsGSince then Wakanui have had a stranglehold on it including 3-0 win last year.

Along with Jayden Hardacre, twins Shannon and Justin, make up over half  the Hearts a team.

Add in Reagan and Cameron Stevenson along with Jeremy and Josh Smallridge to make it a real family affair.

Reagan Stevenson is the youngest in the squad at 14, Cameron is 16, while the remaining  brothers are in their 20s.

The only player missing from last year for Hearts is Sam Nevin, who is on his OE.

The familiarity with each other should give them plenty of confidence against the strong Wakanui outfit, that went through unbeaten last year.

There is, however, one large hole in this year's competition with Excelsior unable to field a premier men's side.

Excelsior were once a powerhouse on the local scene but struggled to field a side last year.

Their demise has benefited Cambridge with several players making the switch to the Blues, which will help their chances of finishing further up the ladder.

That will however leave a bye, in the seven team competition.

Wakanui has a second team, along with Tinwald, Tainui, from Oamaru, and Timaru Boys' High School's First XI.

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- The Timaru Herald

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