REVEALED: Top 10 code-hopping sports stars in the Clarence
THE Clarence Valley is a sporting hub like no other where athletes can try their hand at just about any code and make it to the highest level.
With so many cross-code hoppers, The Daily Examiner decided to rank the best across multiple disciplines.
We’re not talking just a simple jump between rugby league and rugby union - this is for the athletes who excel at opposite ends of the sporting spectrum.
Find out who made the top 10 below:
10. Carla Dougherty, Rugby Union and Horse Racing: The former Grafton jockey amassed 26 career wins in the saddle, but then became a mainstay in the Grafton Redmen women’s rugby 10s side. Dougherty sure has some horsepower in those legs. Dougherty was also a handy hockey player.
9. Hayden McMahon, Cricket and Football: The Harwood all-rounder has been an instrumental part of the club’s Clarence River and North Coast premier league successes over the years, but a recent return to the Maclean Bobcats has helped the side to a successful season in its return to the Football Far North Coast Premier League competition.
Interestingly, McMahon plays as a wicket keeper for Harwood, but leaves the gloves at home for the Bobcats.
8. Keaton Stutt, Cricket, Hockey and Rugby League: The first of our junior stars on the list, Stutt has had an impressive sporting career to date which includes higher representative honours across all several codes including cricket, hockey and rugby league.
In 2017 Keaton was named Junior Male Sportsperson of the Year at the Clarence Valley Sports Awards for his achievements for NSW in the Australian Under-13 Hockey Championships.
Last summer Stutt emerged as a key part of the Tucabia Copmanhurst Cricket Club senior squad.
7. Hanna Tait, Heptathlon: While multiple Sportsperson of the Month winner Tait doesn’t compete in a range of sports, her efforts across a range of disciplines in track and field are unrivalled.
The champion heptathlete packs 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin and 800m into three days when she competes.
The multifaceted event is a testament to well-rounded athletes everywhere and Tait deserves her spot on this list as much as anyone else.
6. Hayden Ensbey, Cricket and Rugby League: You name it, and Ensbey has probably done it. Call-ups include the North Coast Bulldogs Rugby League, North Coastal Zone and North Coast Cricket Council Academy sides, Ensbey is a true competitor across all disciplines.
5. Ben McLennan, Bull Riding, Rugby League, Hockey: One of the Grafton Ghosts longest serving players, McLennan has always loved a battle, which explains his wild past as a former bull rider.
McLennan has also played hockey for City Bears and was a formidable backrower on the footy field before hanging up the boots last year.
McLennan was voted into the Grafton Ghosts Dream Team of the Decade earlier this year.
4. Ellynie Cameron, Hockey and Cricket: When it comes to hockey in Grafton, Ellynie Cameron is one of the first names that comes to mind. The lethal goalscorer has been an undeniable threat for a number of years now.
She was also a part of the Coffs Coast Chargers side to win the Regional Big Bash at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2019.
3. Elliot Speed, Cricket, Hockey and Rugby League: Speed by name, Speed by nature. The prodigious son of supercoach Col Speed, Elliot continues to exceed expectations and looks set to have a real chance at making it in his chosen sport.
Rugby league is arguably his best discipline, but Elliot is also a key part of a dominant City Bears hockey side.
2. Eli Fahey, Cricket, Hockey and Rugby League: A superstar in all respects, Fahey is best known for his efforts on the cricket pitch. But his ability to adapt to any sport is impressive to say the least.
A true all-round sportsman, Fahey has been known to post the occasional top score on the golf course as well. Leave some glory for the rest of us, Eli.
Ed’s note: While Eli moved to Queensland earlier this year to study at university, Fahey has reportedly found his way back to the Clarence Valley after ongoing disruptions due to COVID-19 and border restrictions put his university plans on hold. It is understood the No.3 batting spot at Coutts Crossing Cricket Club has been kept warm for his return.
1. Mitchell Lollback, AFL, Hockey, Rugby Union and Rugby League: Elliot Speed may live up to the name, but Lollback is the true speed demon around these parts. Holding down the backline in a dominant Grafton Ghosts outfit, Lollback has taken the time off rugby league to help the Grafton Tigers to an AFL North Coast premiership flag and has been key in their revival this year.
Pair that with his pure ability on the hockey field with City Bears, and a couple of stints with the Grafton Redmen, Lollback has it all in the locker and could probably pick up just about any sport and be damn good at it.
Lollback was also voted into the Clarence Valley Rugby League Dream Team of the Decade.
There you have it, the Top 10 Clarence Valley multi-sport stars. Did we get it right?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or join the discussion on the Clarence Valley Sports Hub Facebook page.