Years of dedication

Years of dedication

Nigel Kingston has been playing hockey for as long as he could hold a stick.

When Kingston started his career with the Saints at age 11, the Greater Northern League had a much smaller representation in Circular Head with just two mens teams: the Under 17 side and Division One. 

Hockey was soon a part of life, taking up every Tuesday and Thursday night with training as well as game day on Saturday.

Kingston has now played 450 games in the red, white and black – the second most of any player in the club’s history.

“I’ll never catch Mildoo,” he says of club legend Elliott Mainwaring. 

“He’s up over 600 now, he’s the heart and soul of the club.”

Despite Kingston’s lengthy career, he has tasted Div One premiership success just once. 

Although the Saints went on to lift the cup in 2003, the side could not have started off the previous season in worse nick. 

Back then the roster was 21 games long, and the Saints started their campaign with a disheartening eight-game losing streak.

The Saints finally found their feet and with just four teams playing finals, Smithton couldn’t afford any more losses.

“It was do or die from weeks out.”

After finishing in fourth place on percentage, the Saints booked a slot in the Grand Final.

“They gave us a hiding. It was no surprise really – we’d been playing our grand finals for weeks. 

“We kept planning our end of season party but then we’d win, so we had to plan another one the week after,” he laughs. 

A much better start to the 2003 season made for a more comfortable push into finals, and the Saints won their maiden Div One title. 

Three decades on, Kingston hasn’t considered hanging up his boots just yet. 

“I’m lost of a Saturday morning if I’m not playing hockey.

“Realistically I know I won’t be in the Division One team forever, but I’ll play wherever they need me to for as long as I can. I just love the game.” 

Starting young, Nigel Kingston has now racked up 450 games for the Smithton Saints. Picture: Ashleigh Force.