Avoca Netball Club History

 

1931 to 1993

The following information is taken from the Avoca Football Netball Club history book that was released in 1993.

 Information recorded is only until that time.

Information from 1993 will be posted in the future sometime.

 

 The first record of netball being played in the district was a match in 1927 played at the Avoca school ground between Avoca and Amphitheatre.

Avoca won the game 11 to 5.

 The coach was Miss B. Main, the captain was Dulcie Howell, vice-captain was Dora Bevan, and the team consisted of Bessie Astbury, Jean Powers, Nellie Evans, Marjorie Armstrong, Loran Humphrey, and Dulcie Evans.

 The Avoca Basketball Association was formed in 1931.

The Office Bearers were:

President: Miss Vic McDonald

Vice-President: Miss K. Summers

Secretary: Miss Elma Brown.

Treasurer: Miss Dora Bevan

 

Committee: Jean McDonald, Cath Williams, Elizabeth Redpath, Lilian Redpath, Essie Wolfe, Sheila Courtney, Pat Courtney.

The age limit for players was 13 years, and membership cost one shilling and sixpence.

According to the Avoca Free Press matches were played between teams known as Red, Blue, Orange and Green.

At the end of the season, Avoca Schoolgirls defeated Rathscar 19 to 15.

In 1932, the team captains were:

Red: Elva Humphrey

Blue: Dora Bevan

Orange: Jean McDonald

Green: Elma Brown

 

The club captain was Elma Brown and Vice captain Elva Humphrey. They were both selectors for the club along with Miss Dorothy Dawson.

When the Maryborough club visited Avoca the home side handed out a thrashing winning 40 goals to 8.

In the local competition the Red team played the Orange in the final.

Scores were level on 14 each when the siren sounded, so another quarter was played, however, each team had scored one goal so it was the same result and another r quarter was played.

When the third quarter play-off finished the Orange team was ahead three goals to one.

Because the red team was minor premiers, they earned the right to challenge Orange in a Grand final match the following Saturday.

This time the red team reversed the tables, winning 25 to 20.

To celebrate, the girls organized a picnic at the slate quarry at the foot of the Pyrenees.

In 2020 a photograph emerged of an Avoca Basketball team indicating that they were premiers sometime between 1934 to 1938.

(Team members were. Hazel French?, Em Ross, Alma Morris, Flora Dawson, Alice Field?, Lilian Redpath, Elma Brown, Irene Redpath.)

The birth of Netball in the Lexton League, can be directly attributed to the late Ray Bibby.

It was at annual meeting of the Lexton Football League that its President raised the proposal to form a basketball association.

A meeting convened by the Avoca Football Club in the Avoca Shire hall to discuss the idea attracted more than 30 people.

Support was overwhelming and the Avoca basketball Club was formed in conjunction with the Football Social Committee. With a membership fee of ten shillings, or one dollar.

The football club paid for an earthen court to be laid at the southern end of the Public Park, and the nets and a ball were donated by Mr. H. Everett of the Victoria Hotel.

Mrs Frank Jolly was the first President, Mrs D. Williams Secretary, and Mrs E Robson Treasurer.

The players list included:

Goal: Gwen Atkinson, Eilleen Harrison

Centres: Lorraine Pugh, Elaine Pora, Lorraine Morris.

Defence: Marlene O’Neill

Other Players: Maureen Gordon, Shirley peel,.

The Timekeeper and scorer was Mrs D. Williams.

 

The first captain was Ena Harrison, whilst Mrs. Norma Forrest took on the role of Coach and Umpire.

Norma was experienced at the game after playing for many years in both New Zealand and Australia.

Early in the first season, Avoca’s vice-captain, Lynne West, sustained a nasty injury, and was sidelined for the rest of the year.

Avoca finished third on the ladder and then played a fast, exciting game to win the semi final by two goals.

Unfortunately Waubra beat Avoca 13 to 5 in the preliminary final.

1958 was a disappointing year, with Avoca finishing in seventh position.

The ladder at the end of the season was:

 

Beaufort 64
Lexton 52
Moonambel 46
Waubra 30
Navarre 28
Raglan 18
Avoca 14
Amphitheatre 10

 

Moonambel won the Premiership defeating Lexton 11 goals to 8.

Avoca languished at the bottom of the ladder until the turn of the decade.

With Wendy Scott as President, Merle Streeter Secretary and Maureen Jolly as Treasurer, Avoca started to move up the ladder, just missing the finals by two points.

Wendy won the Best & Fairest, with Merle Runner Up, whilst Elaine Wardlaw was the Reserves Best & Fairest winner.

In 1962, Mavis Scott coached the seniors, but again the team finished in fifth position.

Merle Streeter won the Best & Fairest from Wendy Scott and Wendy Stubbs.

However, promising young talent was emerging in the Reserves where three girls tied for the Best & Fairest award: Elaine Wardlaw, Janet Scott and Gwen Streeter.

In 1964 Avoca finally made the finals after finishing third, but were defeated by Moonambel 30 to 11, in the first semi final.

Janet Scott was voted Best & Fairest, whilst Barbara Jolly won the Reserves B & F and Sue Winzer took out the thirds best player award.

After finishing second in 1965, Avoca were beaten by Waubra in the second semi final 29 goals to 9, and lost the preliminary final to Navarre 12 goals to 10.

Once again Janet Scott was the seniors Best & Fairest, Judith Howell won the Reserves B & F and Sue Winzer again won the top player award in the thirds.

Wendy Scott and max Robertson tied the knot in 1966, and married life seemed to agree with Wendy, who scored a runaway win in the Best & fairest voting.

In the Reserves, Loralee Evans won the best player award from Judith Howell, and Glenda Evans was voted best in the thirds.

However, Avoca missed the finals, finishing in fifth spot.

In 1967, the tide seemed to turn with the seniors finishing on top of the ladder after the home and away games with 58 points.

Avoca had little trouble beating Moonambel 24 to 13 in the second semi final, and played a thrilling grand final against Natte-Bealiba to win the premiership 24 goals to 19.

This was Avoca’s first premiership and therefore those involved will always be a special part of the club’s history.

Gwen Streeter was president, Barbara Jolly was Vice-President, Kath Blair was Secretary, and Merle Streeter was Treasurer.

Jan Scott won the Senior Best & Fairest, beating her sister, Wendy Robertson.

Although the thirds were in third position after the home and away matches, they performed magnificently in the finals eventually losing the Grand final to Landsborough 18 to 12.

Lol Evans was the Reserves Best & fairest player, with Kathy martin Runner Up and Glenda Evans was best player in the thirds.

Gwen Streeter and Norma Pora tied for the Best Club Women award.

1968 was also a significant and extremely memorable year, with all sides finishing on top of the ladder after the home and away games, and then taking out all four premierships.

The results of the Grand Finals were:

Seniors: Avoca 23 defeated Natte-Bealiba 19

Reserves: Avoca 31 defeated Natte-Bealiba 13

Thirds: Avoca 16 defeated Natte-Bealiba 5

Fourths: Avoca 8 defeated Amphitheatre 3

The Office Bearers were:

President: Gwen Streeter

Vice-President: Teresa Rafferty

Secretary: Kath Martin

Treasurer: Vida Morton

Local Primary School teacher Col Fisher coached the seniors and Reserves, whilst Doreen Hunter coached the thirds and Kath Verlin the fourths.

Captains were:

Seniors: Gwen Streeter

Reserves: Kath Martin

Thirds: Vicki Grant

Fourths: Kath Verlin

The seniors Best & fairest winner was Wendy Robertson with her sister Jan Scott was Runner Up.

Kath Martin was the Reserves B & F from Loralie Evans.

The thirds best and fairest was Julie Eastman, with Glenda Evans Runner Up, and in the fourths, Kath Verlin was voted the best player from Lorna Pitcher.

Other award winners in arguably the club’s most memorable year included:

Julie Eastman: Most Improved

Roslyn Wardlaw: Most Consistent

Kath Martin: Best Club Woman.

Since 1968, Avoca’s record in basketball – and netball, as it later became known – is remarkable. (as of 1992)

The seniors have played in the finals 20 times winning nine premierships.

They have finished runners up twice, in third position on five occasions, and fourth four times.

Between 1986 and 1990, the team won every premiership, and has played in the finals for the last nine years.

The reserves have played in 20 finals since 1961, winning seven premierships, and finishing runner up on eight occasions.

They have played in the finals for the last seven years.

The Under 17 record is even more amazing. Since 1964 they played in 26 finals and won nine premierships.

For the last 14 years the Under 17’s have never been out if the finals.

Not to be outdone, during the past 25 years, the Under 14’s have made the finals 23 times, and taken out 14 premierships.

Between 1972 and 1976, they won back-to-back premierships.

It was the same story between 1986 and 1991.

Of the last seven grand finals, the Under 14 team has won six, a remarkable performance.

In 1968 the Avoca Netball Club won the premiership in all four grades.

Over the years, there have been many girls who have been dedicated, and given wonderful service to the club.

Because records are sparse, and for many years non existent, or have been discarded completely, the risk of overlooking someone who deserves to be mentioned is acute.

However, names that have been prominent as both Players and Office Bearers include:

Wendy (Scott) Robertson, Merle (Streeter) Gothard, Mavis Scott, Janet Scott, Gaylene (Lobb) Collison, Loralee Field, Doreen Hunter, Leah and Colleen Harris, Maree Jess, Carol (Lobb) Evans, Glenda and Lol Evans.

Janet Scott was the Treasurer in 1965 and 1966, she won the seniors Best & Fairest award in 1964, 1965 and 1967, and the Reserves Best & Fairest award in 1962 and 1963.

Merle (Streeter) Gothard was President in 1966, and Secretary for five consecutive years from 1961.

She won the Best & Fairest award in 1962, and returned to the club to coach, winning back to back premierships in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

Merle was awarded Life membership in 1990.

Wendy (Scott) Robertson was President of the club for five years from 1961. Her record as an official and a player is simply remarkable.

Senior Best & Fairest: Four times

Runner Up B & F: Four times

Club President: Five times

Club Secretary: Five times

Wendy was made a Life member in 1987

Doreen Hunter is another stalwart who has served the club for over 30 years in the roles of Coach, Umpire, and Office Bearer.

In 1990, Dorrie was rewarded for the years of devotion to the club with Life membership.

Loralee Field is another who has given outstanding service as an Office Bearer and for three years was Treasurer from 1985.

She was awarded a Life Membership in 1990.

Christine Hunter has played more senior games than any other girl in recent years, and barring injury, was expected to play her 150th game during the 1993 season.

She was President of the club in 1987 and Secretary in 1986, 1989 and 1990.

Over the years she has worked tirelessly on the committee.

Besides representing the Lexton Netball Association on several occasions, Christine has also been coach of Avoca Junior sides and has also coached the senior and reserves grades for the past two seasons.

Leah Harris is the best player produced by the club in recent years and includes:

Association Best & Fairest: Seniors twice, Under 16 once.

Association Best & Fairest R/Up: Twice

Avoca Best & Fairest: Senior’s Five times, U16’s Once. U14’s Twice.

She has played in a senior premiership side on five occasions and has served the club as President and Vice-President.

Although Colleen Harris has never held office, she has been on the committee for many years.

Colleen has been recognised as one of the best goal shooters in the Association.

She was first promoted to the seniors in 1985, and with her sister Leah, the pair went on a goal shooting spree that helped steer Avoca to five consecutive premierships.

Colleen was captain of the side for three of those glorious years.

Playing against Moonambel in 1983, Leah scored 59 goals to set a new club record.

Avoca’s tally of 97 goals was an Association record.

Colleen holds the clubs next nine highest individual scores with the highest being 56 goals, just three behind Leah.

In the six years as a senior player, Colleen has thrown over 2600 goals, with an average of 433 per season.

She threw 497 goals in 1987, which is a club record. The Association record is 653, set by Navarre’s Trish Bibby in 1991.

Leah Harris has thrown over 2600 goals in eight years as a senior player, for an average of 325 goals per season.

Whilst her brothers were performing magic on the football field, Maree Jess was casting her own spell on the netball court., winning the club’s senior Best & Fairest award three years in a row.

She was also Secretary in 1973, and became President the following year.

The Lobb sisters, Carol and Gaylene, also gave the club excellent service, with Carol (Lobb) Evans being President in 1972 and 1973.

She made a comeback in 1987 and played in the senior premiership side that year besides coaching the juniors to the three premierships,

Gaylene (Lobb) Collison became President in 1990 and has coached the senior and reserves grades in a joint capacity with Nicole Robertson.

She has also won numerous Best & Fairest Awards.

The Gaylard sisters, Leanne and Janelle, also figured prominently in Best Player awards in the 1970’s.

Janelle won the Under 16’s Best & Fairest award in 1973 and followed with consecutive Best & Fairest award in the Reserves grade in 1974 and 1975.

Leanne was the Senior Best & Fairest in 1977, 1978 and 1979. In the previous three years. She won the thirds top player award in 1976, and the fourths in 1974 & 1975.

In 1984, Joanne (Driscoll) Jess became the first Avoca player to win the Lexton Netball Association’s Best & Fairest award after it was introduced in 1980. Joanne was a former top netballer for Navarre and made the move to Avoca through her marriage to John Jess.

Leah Harris has won the prestigious trophy twice.

Colleen Jess has dominated the seniors club Best & Fairest awards in 1981, 1982 and 1983. She was also the club Secretary in 1980 and 1981.

Mary Constable won the top club award in 1980, after previously dominating the junior grades.

Hayley Farnsworth was also a prominent player, winning the Under 14’s Best & Fairest in 1977 & 1978, and the Under 17’s award in 1980 & 1981. She as also the club Treasurer in 1981.

Loralee and Glenda Evans have also played a significant role in Avoca’s success on the netball court.

In 1972, the pair went on a goal scoring rampage against Amphitheatre, with 33 goals each. This was considered a very high score then, because games were shorter than today.

Ironically, it was the same day a 17 year-old kid named Jim Jess also rewrote the football club’s record books by booting 16 goals in the seniors.

Later Jim and Loralie became Husband and Wife.

Whilst Jim has successfully turned the clock back 20 years and is coaching and playing in the football team. Lol has no ambitions of making a comeback and is content to be an enthusiastic supporter.

In recent years, the club’s fortunes have been in very good hands.

Former champion player, Wendy (Scott) Robertson and husband max, have four daughters who have all been prominent, namely, Nicole, Kylie, Jacinta and Stacey.

Nicole, who won the Under 14’s Best & fairest award twice, has played over 100 games and has figured as a solid defender in recent premiership victories.

As a junior, Kylie, won numerous Best & fairest awards and gave the club good service until she was cleared to Natte-Bealiba, where her boyfriend plays football.

Jacinta was an outstanding player with the juniors,. She now coach’s the junior ranks, but is also making her mark as a player with the seniors.

Stacey is following in the family tradition and after winning the Under 14’s Best & Fairest award last year, has been promoted to the Under 17’s.

Simone, Belinda and Jayne Field are the daughters of Bruce and Loralee Field. Loralee has given both the football and netball club long and distinguished service.

Over the years Simone has been a much underrated player and appears to be unlucky, when she finished runner up in Best & fairest awards on numerous occasions. However she played a vital role in the senior team’s recent premiership victories and did win the senior grade club Best & Fairest in 1993.

Belinda achieved notoriety by winning the Association’s Under 14 Best & Fairest award, but appeared unlucky when she was beaten by just two votes in the Association’s Senior Best & Fairest award last year.

It was some consolation that she won the club equivalent, and there is no doubt Belinda has a bright future.

Jayne has been playing Under 14’s for the past two years, but after being Runner Up Best & Fairest last year, she appears to be following in her sister’s footsteps, and will be a top player in the future.

Anne and Peter Howell have three daughters, Louella, Penny and Gemma, who were all valuable players.

Besides playing in numerous premiership sides, Louella has figured prominently in club Best & Fairest voting over the years and good judges say that she was an underrated player.

Penny, won the Association Under 17’s Best & Fairest award in 1988 and in 1991 was denied the Association’s prestigious senior award by just one vote. She ahs always figured prominently in club Best & fairest awards and this year transferred to Natte-Bealiba where her boyfriend plays football.

Gemma won the club’s Under 14 Best & fairest in 1988 and won votes impressively in other awards until she was forced to retire prematurely because of her employment.

Work commitments have been costly for the Avoca girls.

Kristyn Powers was an outstanding junior player and won numerous awards until she shifted to Adelaide.

When Colleen Harris retired, it created a void as regards to a senior goal shooter. However, Nicole Gollop, who was solid goal shooter in the juniors, has accepted the challenge admirably.

Dianne (Webb) Meade, has given the club excellent service, and won the Under 14’s Best & Fairest award in 1970.

When she married Michael Meade, Dianne moved to St Arnaud, but returned to play with Avoca when her husband was appointed senior football coach in 1990.

After missing four games in 1990, Dianne could be considered unlucky to have finished runner up by one slender vote in the Association’s Reserves Best & Fairest. However, she won the club equivalent.

In 1991, she made amends by winning the Reserves Association Best & Fairest, but ironically lost the club award by three votes to Amanda Gothard.

When one scans through the names of the up and coming juniors and views names such as Evans, Farnsworth, Gothard, and Robertson coming up through the ranks, it is understandable why Avoca can be confident about its future on the netball courts.

But make no mistake, these girls and many others too numerous to mention, have big shoes to fill if they are to live up to the incredibly high standards that have been achieved in the past; A past that Avoca can be enormously proud of, and for that we are all extremely grateful.

 

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