It's a Celebration!
Prior to the 50th successive season
opener at Altona saw one hundred and forty four guests attend a
celebratory luncheon at The Champions venue at MVRC. The day
began with an overview of the fledgling start womens lacrosse had
in 1962 with just 4 teams from three clubs, then three panellists
of each era, 60's 70's, 80's., entertained with stories and funny
anecdotes from the past.
Victorian Team members of the
Australian Touring Team 1972. They are Vivienne Parker-White,
Margot Grant, Pam Molloy, Liz Allen, Donna Appleby and Kendrea
Kendall. (I am shoulder wearing my Vic. Blazer bought from
Leviathan Clothing Store in 1964).
The stories were often assisted by visuals of same era, after
requests to clubs resulted in many copies of old photographs. Each
club was noted on the "big screen" the year they joined and
information regarding early office bearers, founders, coaches
and/or club legends. We had all Senior State team photo's except
one from the mid 80's which we have now concluded - wasn't
Many Victorian reps' in those 60's & 70's photos were taken
by surprise to see themselves on screen, looking 40 odd years
Pioneers of Caulfield/Chadstone clubs from the 1960's, and on the
extreme left is Sue Green who began with Oak Park.The others in the photo are Sue Taylor, Liz Allen
& Barbara Cheevers, with Margie Thomas centre of
Five months of planning, scanning, club interest and assistance
brought together a day to remember with shared laughter,
reminiscing and a renewal of interest in the game for many whom
left it long ago. Past players travelled from Port Douglas,
Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and country Victoria to join us at
this special event.
Sue Taylor (Life Member) told a tale of arriving from England to
teach at Lauriston Girls. Sue was in Australia for a week when she
discovered to her surprise that Womens Lacrosse was played
locally. The following Sunday she found herself at Caulfield
Park in a green and yellow uniform and ready for action. The draw
was taken and Sue in defence took her stance to body block or check
the fast running opponent heading towards her.
Seconds later, Sue was flat on her back staring skywards,
thoughts racing through her head.
"Oh well at least I will get the ball now" "Doesn't any
one help you up?" "Whats the umpire gesturing?"
The umpire was gesturing "goal"the ball was in the back of the
net so it must be a goal and "the run through" - WELL! we played
the game a little differently then than in
the UK or USA.
The player whom Sue named as the runner that day was the late
Margaret Cleggett. Margaret like Sue had played for many seasons in
the UK prior to settling here, but after three local seasons had
adopted more of the 1960's Aussie style of play.
Coached and umpired predominantly by men, certainly had an effect
on the early womens game.
(Both Margaret & Sue were instrumental in the early
growth of lacrosse for women, assisting Joy Parker by coaching and
umpriing. Evolution takes time, and a major improvement took place
after a visit from some special overseas guests in 1969).
WHY the 1969 Pioneers Tour was so important to Womens
Lacrosse in Australia?
Seven seasons in, we thought we knew a bit about the game - how
wrong we were. For the first time we were to see two overseas teams
compete in Australia. Teams from USA and a team known as the
British Pioneers travelled through Melbourne, Adelaide and then
Perth late in the '69 season.
They were able to show us via their game play a very different
style of play. Throwing the ball into what seemed like an open
space and watching the attach player run into space, closely
followed by her opponent - was vastly different to the way some of
our local teams played.
We had the goalkeeper, infront of her stood Point, who was often
more like a second goal keeper but a little further forward. Cover
Point and Third Man (that is correct) made up the other defenders.
These two were usually a little more active than Point, she really
was the "stay at home" defender, so its not surprising that the fan
rule eventually arrived in the rule book.
We discovered a better way to hold the stick, to cradle in a
more upright position and from side to side. Looping passes were
now possible, and although not encouraged to practise both sides of
the body, due to the old wooden style sticks we certainly improved
our stick skills.
We should be eternally grateful for that visit, it opened our
eyes to the necessary improvement required before we could compete
on a world stage. Australia did play against both teams in Perth
during September 1969, and were soundly beaten on both
occcasions.Val Orr told stories from the 1970's, she told us of
travelling to Hobart for a game against South Australia. Val had
asked two of the team members to "bring the tops". The main brige
over the Derwent, the Tasman had fallen after a ship rammed it, and
Hobart traffic was forced to go around the river for 2 years before
fully repaired. Many people had their usual short 10 minute trips
altered to 1 hour each way, to get in and out of Hobart city. The
billets of the Victorian side had planned well and allowed for
plenty of travel time prior to the game schedule start. It must
have been a shock when they realised that the chirpy young Vic's
had left behind the game tops. The billets travelled the long trip
round the river a few times that day, making sure that the tops
made it just in time for the game start….who forgot them, no one
officially owned up as they still blame one another. Who are they,
two of Victoria's and Australian Womens best known lacrosse
legends. School friends, club foes, multiple Victorian &
Australian team reps, were both in the successful World
Championship National team. However their first National selection
was almost marred by their fierce club allegiance. Being selected
was a shock to them, although not to others. They were extremely
concerned that if they accepted their selection and the subsequent
follow up of a weeks training interstate would not allow them to
play for their own clubs in Victorian final series.A night without
sleep meant they approached their team manager the following
morning with their decision. National team selection would not stop
their desire to play in club finals. Their Manager well known for
her "no-nonsense" style after a career in the Department of
Defence, then laid down her views. You have a duty to your club, a
duty to your State and a duty to your Country, "YOU TWO have it the
wrong way round, of course you are going to play for Australia",
and they did. More recently their daughters have also been
selected in National teams. These two characters were in many
of the Vic teams who valiantly tried to defeat South Australia at
their brilliant best, an eleven year winning streak. Victoria went
close many times often winning the lead up games in the tournament
to fail by the narrowest margin at the final. The style of play
allowed then, full defence allowed for every player to be in the
defensive half, thus making it difficult to break through. Goals
were rare, scores were soccer like, 2 -1 or 3 -2, its no wonder the
rules were changed after chess like moves were played out in team
defence.Finally Victoria broke the drought, Peth in 1996, and these
two players celebrated with their team mates long into the night,
at some stage deciding they needed a lasting memento of the
occasion.Tattoo parlours were not open in Perth early that morning,
so these two don't have any serious ink to remind them daily of
that remarkable hard fought win.WHO are they, you will find out
when you join us for the second celebration of our 50th
successive season of womens lacrosse @ Eltham Lacrosse Clubs
hosting of the Family/Picnic day on May 29th