Brisbane Blaze’s ‘Benjamin Button’ X Factor

By Adam Clifford

The personal story around Brisbane Blaze striker Cale Cramer is one that boasts similarities to the Academy Award-winning box-office smash: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

The 34-year old’s two crucial goals on his Hockey One League debut away against the Tassie Tigers on Friday night suggests that like the tale; the older Cramer gets, the more he rejuvenates.

The prelude leading up to playing that starring role is even more incredible when you consider that Cramer retired from the sport in 2018.

“I retired when I was 30 years old, when my daughter Sahara was born to concentrate on family life and my company Cramers Plumbing Co,” the powerful forward explains.

At the time of his retirement, Brisbane Hockey acknowledged Cramer’s incredible record of 196 goals from 143 games, including being named player of the final in the Australian Hockey League in 2015 and sweeping the Brisbane hockey awards the following year.

But Cramer would return, citing his inner competitiveness and his longing to return to playing on the big stage.

“I just enjoy the challenge and the mental aspect of playing in big games, where the ability to make the correct decisions under pressure and make big plays is key.”

“I won the Brisbane Hockey best and fairest in 2021 and then I put my hand up to be a part of the 2022 Hockey One season with the Blaze.”

“It’s been exciting back training full time again and being around the Australian boys and coaching staff, where I’m learning new systems and challenging myself even at my age.”

“The league is so exciting. It’s fantastic to see Australian hockey trying to get the game we all love out there in the public eye and treating it professionally.”

Now a proud dad of two children, including Knox (1 year old), Cramer’s earlier journey through the sport included spending two seasons with Heracles Hockey Club in Belgium and another with Canterbury Hockey Club in England during his 20’s.

It’s in Antwerp that he met his wife, Celine Hogenkamp, and many lifelong friends.

“I believe that travelling and playing overseas at a young age really develops you as a human being through the experiences and memories you make.”

“It’s a fantastic platform for you to take into other aspects of your life and lessons that I’ll pass onto my own kids.”

With great balance in his life, Cramer has continued to adapt as a prolific forward, resisting the temptation of many aging hockey players to retreat into the backline.

“Being a striker and plumber have also been very demanding tolls on the body. I’ve always stayed fit and ate quite healthily, but it’s hard to say exactly how I have stayed competitive up front. I’ve been very fortunate with limited to no serious injuries.”

If Friday night’s debut performance is any indication, fans can expect plenty more goals from Cramer who says his role in the side alongside Kookaburras trio Jake Whetton, Jacob Anderson and Daniel Beale is simple.

“I’m expected to bang goals and give their backs plenty, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

“I enjoy helping and sharing knowledge to the younger guys on and off the field. It’s as satisfying and enjoyable watching close mates achieving their dreams and goals.”

So the connections between the Blaze’s X Factor forward and Brad Pitt’s character portrayal continue, with the movie full of philosophical aphorisms centring on the importance of cherishing each day.

Or as Cramer puts it: “I’m unsure what the next few years will bring but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

Of more immediate focus is Cramer adding to his goal tally when the Blaze face the Canberra Chill in Brisbane on Thursday night from 5:30pm local time.

Tickets for Brisbane Blaze’s first home fixture of the season are available now through Ticketek.