Hockeyroos co-captain’s 67-year-old aunt makes history with Central Hockey Club

Hannah Sparks 5 October 2020 10
Catherine Dooley

Catherine Dooley has played 800 games for Central Hockey Club since 1971. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

At 67 years of age, Catherine Dooley may have set a new record for Australian hockey.

The aunt of Hockeyroos co-captain Emily Chalker celebrated her 800th game for Central Hockey Club in Canberra on Sunday, 27 September. And that figure only includes field hockey games – Catherine has played close to double that number when including indoor hockey.

She started playing at the age of seven for the under-8s team in the NSW town of Crookwell, an hour-and-a-half north of Canberra, where a strong hockey culture lives on.

“In those days, hockey was all there was to do in Crookwell,” says Catherine. “My schoolmates from primary school played and it was just the thing to do.

“We used to run up and down outside mum and dad’s house with hockey sticks, practising and playing.”

In 1971, at the age of 17, Catherine moved to Canberra to work for the public service and live with her twin sister, who was playing for Central Hockey Club at the time.

“Hockey was a love of mine and it was only natural that I would play hockey when I moved to Canberra,” says Catherine.

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Her fiance – also a representative hockey player from Crookwell – played for Central, too.

“We married in 1972 so he came to Central to play hockey and was playing first grade while I played second grade,” says Catherine. “Now we’re both life members.”

The dedicated hockey player only missed a few seasons while having her three children, who followed in their mother’s footsteps and played hockey at various stages of their lives.

Catherine Dooley Central Hockey Club

Catherine is determined to keep playing … and inspiring.

“I guess it was my passion for the game that kept me going and I got involved in several areas of the club, with coaching and administration,” says Catherine. “I’m lucky to have played in different teams and with different people who give you motivation along the way.”

She has travelled all over Australia, representing the ACT in masters and veterans with teams ranging from the over-40s to over-65s.

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You have so much fun when you go away with Central,” she says. “A lot of the states are serious and we were very serious on the field, but we had a lot of fun off the field. I’ve also formed many friendships during the years and still run into people I played against in Victoria or Western Australia.”

Catherine has been an inspiration to many players and encouraged younger people to play hockey while coaching Central’s under-11s and under-13s.

She says she will continue to take the field until she can’t play anymore and is determined to make it to another Australian Championship after this year’s tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Hockey has always been Catherine’s main pursuit, playing indoor hockey through summer and outdoor hockey through winter. She has no plans of slowing down.

“I can still run so that’s good,” she says. “It’s been a wonderful journey, even if I couldn’t score a goal in my 800th game!”

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10 Responses to Hockeyroos co-captain’s 67-year-old aunt makes history with Central Hockey Club
Brad Castles Brad Castles 7:12 am 03 Oct 20

What a great role model you are Cath. Love the way you approach the game: determination, fairness and a never say die attitude. Your position within the club is well deserved. Here's to another 800.

Meredith Hawke Meredith Hawke 6:49 am 03 Oct 20

Wow what a great achievement

Kathryn Hope Kathryn Hope 9:54 pm 02 Oct 20

Well done, Catherine

Karen Castles Karen Castles 5:59 pm 02 Oct 20

Go Cath! What an achievement, congratulations xx

Julia Smith Julia Smith 8:09 am 02 Oct 20

Congratulations Cath, clever girl!

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 6:16 am 02 Oct 20

Brilliant, should be more of it

Jo Brown Jo Brown 10:17 pm 01 Oct 20

Congrats Cath! Amazing achievement!

Proud to play with you...35 years ago?

Lea Powell Lea Powell 9:07 pm 01 Oct 20


Dianne Latimer Dianne Latimer 7:42 pm 01 Oct 20

Congratulations Cathy!

Lili Jankovic Lili Jankovic 1:50 pm 01 Oct 20

Legend! Congratulations Catherine. 🤩 🏑

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