Ladies Committee


There is an old saying that a country football club is only as strong as its ladies committee, and certainly at Avoca the ladies have always been the backbone of the club.

 They have catered for everything from cabaret balls to supplying the players with tea on Thursday nights after training.

To help raise money for the club, the ladies have even catered for weddings and other functions.

Regrettably, like most of the football club records, details of the ladies committees were not kept or mislaid.

However, by talking to the local women who have been involved with the club, Ross Dawson has been able to trace some of the history relating to the ladies.

As far back as the Author can remember, Gwen Matthews was involved with the club.

She would help cook up a big pot of soup for Thursday nights for the boys to have after training.

Just before Gwen passed away, I visited her in the Avoca Hospital. She did not look at all well, but let looses with that familiar belly laugh when I suggested a cup of her soup would get her back on her feet quick smart.

Gwen was president of the Ladies Committee for four years and vice-president for one.

With her husband Mick, who worked at the textile factory, each match day the pair would light a fire in the old tin shed, which was located next to the grandstand.

This would ensure the ladies were at least warm when they arrived to prepare afternoon tea

Before each match Mick would collect a standing order of pies and pasties baked by Rod Rowe.

Everyone agreed, Rowie’s pies were the best in the world, and Gwen knew there would always be at least half a dozen missing by the time Mick had delivered them to the old tin shed.

Mick was also one of the team’s trainers, and along with Jack Coghlan, a local farmer, would give the footballers a rub down before the match.

The goanna oil they used was a special brew mixed up by Mick. The ingredients were secret, but rub it on and I swear that you could feel yourself getting taller.

Jack Coghlan, a giant of a man, was the grandfather of Michael Coghlan, who after a distinguished career is now one of the team’s veteran’s, and main motivators.

Some of my most treasured memories are the stories that old Jack would tell whilst he and Mick were rubbing me down prior to a game.

If a footballer needed to be relaxed, Jack could always tell a story that would make us laugh, sometimes until we cried. If an individual needed inspiration, a few choice words whispered quietly in one’s ear in a gravelly voice do the trick; heaven help us if it did not.

Gwen and Mick Matthews were both honoured with Life membership in 1979.

Alma Field was Secretary of the Ladies Committee for four years from 1977, and became President in 1982.

She is married to local farmer, Norm Field, regarded as one of the district’s best footballers ever.

Together they reared four sons who were all champions in their own right. Ron, Graeme, Neville and Richard.

Another son, Barry, or Baz as he is affectionately known, accepted doctor’s advice and stopped playing football as a teenager, but there is no disputing the claim that he has been one of Avoca’s most enthusiastic and vocal supporters.

In her youth, Alma was also a keen barracker, and providing you could cope with the excitement and noise, one would usually find a vacant parking space either side of Alma’s car, even when the ground was packed.

Enthusiasm aside, Alma is a very kind. Generous person, devoted to her family and the football club. In 1982 she was honoured by being invited to unfurl the premiership pennant won by the senior team the previous season.

Kath Clohesy became President of the Ladies Committee in 1984 after being Vice-President for three years from 1976 and Secretary for another three years from 1981.

Kath and her husband Gerry ran the Avoca Hotel with Danny Ryan. All three were enormously popular and made a marvelous contribution to the community, and the football club.

In 1985, Kath and Gerry were both made Life Members.

The Wardlaw family has produced a host of footballers for Avoca, and off the field the Wardlaw ladies, Dawn, Marie and Helen, have been a tower of strength in recent years.

After serving as Treasurer of the Ladies Committee, Dawn became President in 1991, and was Secretary in 1992.

Marie was Secretary for four years, and then became President in 1992, and has continued in that role in 1993.

After sampling some of the food served up to the footballers on a Thursday night after training, there is no doubt why the Wardlaw boys are all as strong as Bullocks.

Pat Edwards was President from 1987 until 1990 and an outstanding worker.

Other President’s who have given dedicated service were Julian Constable in 1975, and 1980, Trish Deledio in 1981, Bess Field 1983, Karen Medwell 1985, and Elaine Beavis 1986.

Over the years there have been many women who have worked on the Ladies Committee and deserve acknowledgement for outstanding service. They include:

Mark Trickey, Bess Field, Amy Wardlaw, Elva Barker, Joan Curtis, Ella Carey, Dinah Blair, Doreen Gordon, Lola Richards, Marg Barker, Kaylene Rayner, Pat Edwards, Freda Morrison, Bev Redpath, Loralee Field, Carol Evans, Vicki Burge, Thel Blair, Cheryl Field, Kath Jolly, Lyn Reynolds, Thel Coghlan, Doreen Hunter, Leanne Calder, Eileen Marshall, Kath Cudmore, Marg Curtis, Ev Jess, Marg McKechnie, Maree Henderson, Lorna Bradley, Marie Reeves, Dot Webb, Elaine Jolly, Isabel Holland, Esma Thiele, Fran Penrice, Maise Barker.

Before 1975, Hilda Marshall, Bess Jolly, Jean Pora, Jean Martin, Marg Barker, Joyce McKenzie, Tess Stuart and Doss Evans were some of the mainstays.

Reg Pora was a big help and could always be relied on to help out where needed.

The ladies knew whenever Reg lit the fire in the old tin shed, the copper would always boil up quicker, and the hot dogs would definitely taste better.

Again in 1993 Avoca has a dedicated band of women working tirelessly behind the scenes.

A premiership would be a fitting reward for their loyalty and devotion!

Apologies to those ladies who have not been recognised, but records fo the ladies committee were sparse.    

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