Hands in the Air ‘cos They just Don’t Care

The famous Dead Ant goal scoring celebration is alive and well at the 30th anniversary of the Alice Springs Masters Games.

The time-honoured celebration involves the hockey team, officials and supporters lying on their backs with their hands and feet in the air.

Team spokesman Mark Haines said there was a fine for non-participation – even if you only happen to be wearing a Dead Ants’ shirt.

“We normally make sure our men come down to support our women – fines apply if they don’t – and women come down to support the men,” he said.

“It builds a bit of camaraderie between teammates.”

Haines said some of the other teams were put off by the ritual but the Dead Ants feel their goal celebration is in keeping with the spirit of the Friendly Games.

The Dead Ants team dates back to the inaugural Alice Springs Masters Games in 1986 when it was called Mal’s Marauders and came from Mt Isa, 1,100km away from Alice Springs.

The team became Mt Isa Dead Ants in the early 1990s and then just Dead Ants in the noughties.

Haines said the team’s tribute has a truly Territory history.

“We pulled up near the Tropic of Capricorn, just north of Alice for an obligatory drink prior to the Masters Games and there were a whole lot of dead ants, so that was really how the celebration was born.”

Haines, who hails from Townsville, said the team had a more national and international flavour than it used to.

“Players are from Townsville, South East Queensland, Mt Isa and Northern New South Wales,” he said.

“Also we have a couple of players coming back from overseas just to play for us – that’s the appeal of the Games and, of course, the Dead Ants.

“It is truly remarkable the efforts some of our players make to get to the Games.”

Haines said some players had driven to Adelaide to compete in the Australian State Hockey Championships, then on to Alice Springs to play for a week in the Games, before driving back to Townsville – a distance of about 6,500km.

He said diehard team members were rewarded for their efforts.

“After you’ve come four times we present you with a special mug with a little Dead Ant logo on it.”

Most of the Dead Ants have been associated with hockey for the better part of their lives, either with family or on their own.

“Like a lot of the teams competing at the Games, we have a number of our players who’ve also represented hockey at a state level, so they just enjoy the sport and the camaraderie it brings.”

Haines said Alice Springs Hockey has great facilities with the water-based turf.

“The local Association and volunteers always run a great comp for the Games,” he said.