It's a Celebration!

Past players 2Prior 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 taken.

Many Victorian reps' in those 60's & 70's photos were taken by surprise to see themselves on screen, looking 40 odd years younger!Past players

 

Early 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 photo

 

 

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
 

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