Chapter 12 - WA Men Since 1984

Chapter 12



The quest for independence and national championships

With men’s club softball rapidly accepted it was natural for the men’s attention to turn to competing in national championships. The WAMSL wanted to achieve this independently of the women-focused WASA.  For the participation to become a reality the WAMSL had to find out what was going on around Australia. In July 1976, just two months after men’s club softball began, Nox Bailey wrote on behalf of the WAMSL to the Northern Territory Softball Association (NTSA) suggesting that men from both organizations play matches in Perth in March 1977. The NTSA responded in early 1977 to say that it could not organize a team but wondered if WA could organise ‘a game or two for individuals to play with a local side’.1 Nothing seems to have come of that.


When the Senior Women’s National Championship was held in Perth in March 1977, Bailey held lengthy discussions with ASF office bearers including President Esther Deason and Secretary Merle Short. From the available correspondence it is obvious Deason and Short were supportive of men playing softball and the possibility of men’s national championships but emphasized that the men had to affiliate with the WASA because the ASF only recognized one governing body in each State/Territory just like the ISF recognized one governing body in each member country. Bailey was uneasy with this and continued to explore alternatives. In July 1979 he wrote directly to Don Porter, Secretary General of the ISF, to determine how the WAMSL could affiliate with the ISF:

What we really want to do is form a body to control Men’s softball in Australia as distinct from the Australian Softball Federation which controls Women’s Softball. Do other countries have 2 ruling bodies for men and women which are affiliated or do they all have the one body? (Emphasis on original)


Bailey stressed that he was writing as an individual and mentioned that he had held discussions with Deason. Furthermore, Bailey did not want Porter to forward a copy of his letter to the ASF.2 Porter’s reply reiterated Deason’s explanation that the ISF only sanctioned one national governing body and that Bailey should contact Deason. Porter went against Bailey’s wish for discretion and forwarded his reply to Deason and Short.3 Deason in turn wrote to Bailey repeating Porter’s information but provided a very important addition:

… you must know of the steps taken in other States to promote Men’s Softball, to that point in NSW alone, the NSW Softball Association has been furthering the interests of Men’s Softball by lending them grounds and coaches in order for them to get started, as was done to promote and start a Men’s League in Western Australia.

Deason also reminded Bailey that when he was Secretary of the WASA in 1977, she had suggested that men’s and women’s teams from Indonesia and Singapore be invited to compete in WA ‘as a goodwill mission’. Such aninvitation would have to be approved by the ASF and ISF.4The next move was a letter written by Richard Campbell who had succeeded Bailey as WAMSL Secretary in 1977, to each State/Territory Department of Sport and Recreation (or its equivalent) seeking information about men’s softball in their respective jurisdictions. Replies from Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory and Victoria were all negative but expressed interest in being kept informed of any developments.5 The most detailed and encouraging reply came from John Reid, Chairman of the NSW Men’s Steering Committee. Reid was glad to have contact with the WAMSL and expressed his disappointment at the lack of support received from WA officials when they were in Sydney early in 1979 for a women’s national championship. He gave a thorough overview of the developments in NSW and emphasized how they were working to get the existing – women’s – associations of which there were about 32 to establish their own men’s competitions. Critically Reid wrote ‘we are sure that we have to work within the umbrella of the NSW Association and the Australian Federation’. He also mentioned his experience in New Zealand as Deputy Chief Umpire and Public Relations Officer before emigrating to Australia in 1968.6


Tudor Lee made further contact with Don Porter. Lee was a journalist with The Sunday Times and a member of Bailey’s club, Bayswater Morley. He met with Porter at the 1980 Women’s Mini World Series in Brisbane. Porter offered to continue to correspond‘unofficial and confidential’. Most importantly, Lee conveyed a message to Bailey that ‘the USA has a men’s softball team eager and willing to come to Australia on a no-cost to Australia basis’.7 (Underlining in original) Porter followed up with letters to David Hathaway who had replaced Richard Campbell as Secretary of the WAMSL when Campbell became its President. Again Porter emphasized that arrangements for the men’s tour would have to be negotiated by the ASF and ISF.8 On behalf of the ASF Merle Short wrote to Hathaway confirming support for the tour of a slow pitch team and then detailing the requirements of affiliation through the WASA to the ASF.9 Porter was obviously keen for the tour to go ahead and telegrammed Hathaway in August asking ‘What is the status of US Men’s team visit to Australia?’ For reasons that have not been documented the tour did not happen. Porter expressed his disappointment in a letter to Hathaway in September. Again, Porter was at pains to explain that the WAMSL could not affiliate directly with the ISF but had to work with the ASF.10


Apart from an exchange with Zambia Softball Association in late 1981, there was a lull in correspondence until late 1981.11 In December 1981 Campbell wrote to John McLennon, Secretary of the NSW association, noting ‘it has come to our attention that your Association has applied to the ASF to hold a national championship in the near future. I would like to inform you that the WA Men’s Softball League is willing to participate and are very keen to get things started’. Campbell explained that the WAMSL was still not affiliated with the WASA ‘but are undertaking steps to rectify this matter (we hope that by March ’82 we will become affiliated)’. This letter was forwarded to Reid.12 He responded a week later with detailed statistics of the growth in NSW and indicated that the NSW association on behalf of its Men’s Committee had requested the ASF to gather similar data across Australia and to gauge interest in a men’s national championship in 1982-83. Pointedly Reid wrote ‘If we are going to get anywhere, everything will have to be done Kosher through the Australian Federation’. Reid’s letter was discussed at the January 1982 WAMSL meeting. The WAMSL’s enthusiasm for a men’s national championship was clear in its reply. ‘Without wanting to get too far ahead, it was discussed that our state host the first Championships, and it was agreed that we would have the capabilities and facilities if this was the case’. The WAMSL also suggested that the ASF be asked to circulate a questionnaire seeking details from all States/Territories. If the ASF was not able to the WAMSL would do it with the ASF’s permission.13 Reid’s prompt reply indicated that most of the suggestions were already being acted on and that NSW would be the hosts. If this caused a conflict with WA then ‘it would need to be resolved by an authority higher than both of us’.14


Minutes of the April 1982 meeting of the NSW Men’s Committee were circulated including a note ‘that NSW would be prepared to host a national men’s championship in February 1984’. A month later Reid sent a memo to Richard Campbell (WA), Felix Menke (Victoria), Richard Coombe (SA) and Anne Kippen (Queens-land) alerting them to the fact that a circular had been sent to all State associations and that they ‘should keep an eye out for it at your end to help ensure that action is taken’. The circular included the questionnaire NSW had prepared on behalf of the ASF along with NSW’s answers. In June 1982 Hathaway wrote to Reid indicating that the WAMSL had a copy of the questionnaire as did the WASA. The WAMSL was waiting to see how it would be handled but took the precaution of submitting their own answers while they were waiting for input from affiliates. The WAMSL was in the process of attempting to affiliate with the WASA. In the midst of these negotiations Hathaway was transferred in his employment and Bailey replaced him as Secretary of the WAMSL. He updated Reid in a letter in late August 1982 noting that affiliation had been delayed while the WASA adjusted its constitution to facilitate the men’s affiliation. It was Bailey’s opinion that the affiliation would satisfy the ASF but would not be a true affiliation because the two bodies would operate independently.15 Bailey and Reid resumed their correspondence with Reid sharing a copy of his report on the questionnaire with Bailey. Reid provided Bailey with a sounding board for his ideas and someone with whom he could share his frustration with the slow progress in WA. There was still resistance among the WASA administrators.. For Bailey:

… the real crux of our problem lies in the fact that Men’s Softball literally hit WA by storm – overnight so to speak, and bearing in mind that the general thinking of those involved in Softball for so many years was centred around it being a “girl’s game”, it was a bit more than the organizational structure, as it was and still is, could take. The women immediately felt threatened and probably still do – they are going one way, the men another and Softball is caught up in the middle somewhere and will be the one that suffers in the long run. I think if the growth of Men’s Softball in WA had been gradual rather than meteoric a more natural course of events would have taken place with men slotting into the various existing structures over a period of time.16


In his reply Reid urged the WAMSL to pursue a diplomatic route citing the NSW experience where the men accepted as a first step having just one male on the State Management Committee. By the time of Reid’s letter NSW had 6 of its 12 members of the Management Committee having some connection to men’s softball. Reid supported Bailey’s notion that a new body, the WA Softball Federation, should be formed with equal representation of men and women. As a fall back position Reid recommended ‘simple affiliation as just another association’. Reid was somewhat skeptical of the ISF which he considered to be focused on the US and ‘their great fantasy to get softball into the Olympics!’ The most positive aspect of Reid’s letter was that the ASF was seriously considering his report and that he saw no reason why the men could not organize their national championship in Sydney in early 1984. The only proviso would be ‘that players can only be from those States where men have been properly affiliated in the 1983 season so this is the big carrot for WA men to act quickly.17 (Underlining in original. In late 1982 the NSW association invited the WAMSL to participate in the First Men’s National Softball Association to be held in Sydney in February 1984. The only qualification was ‘that the players be registered with the ASF 1983 competitions’.18 Bailey responded affirmatively immediately.


Affiliation and transition

In November 1981 the WAMSL formally sought affiliation with the WASA. The Management Committee adjourned discussion of it until the New Year so the WAMSL’s ‘Constitution could be thoroughly examined’. Reg Page reported to the January meeting that he had read it and had found ‘some confliction [sic] to the WASA Constitution’. He recommended a sub-committee be formed to consider it in-depth. The members of the sub-committee were Shirley Claxton, Shirley Schneider, Roma Piercy, Albert Dumeresq, Lorraine Malcolm and Nox Bailey plus the President and Secretary. This arrangement was questioned by Apache club which believed that if the WAMSL affiliated with the WASA then they were governed by the latter’s constitution. Explanations were not given but the situation was deemed more complex than this, hence the need for the sub-committee. These points of difference were discussed with the President of the WAMSL and taken to their AGM in March 1982. In April 1983 affiliation was granted. The WAMSL paid $690 to cover 46 metropolitan teams. Bailey then enquired about the procedures to be followed to enter a team in the men’s carnival in 1984. He was advised that all that was required was notification to WASA which in turn would notify the ASF. Bailey mentioned the possibility of a name change to Perth Men’s Softball Association but nothing came of this.19 A follow-up request to play in Sydney was granted at the May meeting. The WAMSL had the same status as clubs and other affiliates – the right to have one member sit on the Management Committee. The dates for affiliation were a little problematic since the WASA operating year was from October to October in order to submit the requisite data and monies to the ASF in time for its Annual Council Meeting. What was also becoming clear to all parties is that the WASA would have to rewrite its constitution to take account of these (and other) developments. At the AGM in June a sub-committee of Lorraine Malcolm, Shirley Schneider, Joy Marsland and Wendy Kitson was appointed to prepare a draft for the Management Committee. As a temporary measure which marked the beginning of the transition to a new form of administration, there was an amendment to formalize the men’s representation. The men continued to demonstrate their enthusiasm by writing to the WASA seeking permission to host the 1985 Men’s national championship in Perth. This was rejected nationally because it was ‘too far away at this time’.20


The WAMSL’s interaction with the WASA was clearly a matter of towing the line as an affiliate but maintaining the pressure to achieve its ends. In October 1983 the WAMSL sought a meeting with the WASA Executive with Reg Page and Bailey given the go-ahead to determine the details. Graeme Rector was the WAMSL’s official delegate to the WASA and fulfilled as many obligations as possible such as attending the meeting to ratify the selection of the Senior Women’s team. Acceptance of men became clearer when nominations were called for coaches to attend an elite seminar in Melbourne in 1983. Five people nominated for the four places allocated to WA. Shirley Schneider as State Coaching Director was an automatic selection and ‘Mr G Rector [is the] only nomination received from [the] Men’s League and is accepted to represent the Men’s League’. Voting resulted in Reg Page and Bob McKibbin fillingthe remaining two places.21


Interestingly, a number of country men’s associations followed the WAMSL’s lead and affiliated with the WASA. Geraldton, Tarcoda, Bunbury and Albany submitted applications and $15 for one team each at the February 1984 meeting of the Management Committee. West Pilbara and the Goldfields followed in March. Reg Page initiated the next discussion in March 1984 when he reported to the Management Committee that he had spoken to the ASF President, Rosemary Adey, about the possibility of two members of the Executive attending ASF Council meetings. Page thought one of the delegates should be a male. His principle argument was that two people were necessary because so much was happening. Pat Grice rejected this arguing ‘Women have been at the Council in the past and have done a good job’. A motion put by Grice and seconded by M Fisher saw the status quo preserved until the WASA AGM. Following the 1984 State Championships, the Management Committee had to address the issue of a player playing with more than one association. The WAMSL sought clarification because they foresaw a problem arising between themselves and the Dale Men’s Association (formed in 1982) since the two played on different days. It was feasible that very enthusiastic players would want to play on both days. The task of resolving the problem was given to the Coaching Development Committee.


A new order

The Board of Management replaced the Management Committee in June 1987. In preparation for this a Notice of motion was moved by Bailey and seconded by Peter Tilley whereby ‘the WA Mens Softball League Inc be disbanded as from 11/5/1987 in order to effect the change over & disbursement of funds to the “WA Softball Association”’.22 The WAMSL transferred almost $89,00023 to the WASA providing a significant boost to funds for the development of a new stadium at Mirrabooka. As early as October 1984 Rector had indicated that the WAMSL’s supported an international diamond. The WAMSL was so financial because most of its clubs had licensed premises. At the first election of office bearers for the Board Reg Page was elected President and Graeme Rector was elected Senior Vice President. Rector had served as President of the WAMSL for the three years leading up to this and was a current player with Bedford Men’s Softball Club. No quotas were set for the gender of office bearers or committee members from the two combining associations. Each person was elected on merit. Other members of the WAMSL who sought office were Bailey who had been Treasurer of the WASA since the 1986 AGM and WAMSL since 1976. Ian Bastow, Secretary of the WAMSL was elected to the WASA Board. Peter Tilley was Winter Co-ordinator and joined the committee responsible for the detailed planning of the new stadium. Tilley was an architect and member of Bedford Men’s Softball Club. As well there were some men who held office whose primary focus was women’s softball such as Bill Grice who was Junior Vice President, Bob McKibbin who was Junior Development Officer and the WASA Patron Alf Bunting.


It took some time for the two groups to reconcile their different management approaches. The women had grown up with a strong commitment to the traditional conduct of business as directed by the constitution whereas the men were more laissez faire. Graeme Rector recalled that with many issues the men thought ‘well, this is the right way we should go, let’s do it even if the rules don’t quite say that’s the way it should be progressed. If there’s something that’s wrong and needs changing, let’s change it and do it’.24 The new Constitution made a clear distinction between the Summer Competition played from October to March by women and the Winter Competition played from April to September by men. Each competition established its own committee to conduct matches and the respective State Championships. The only concession was that the Winter Competition changed its State Championships from Winter to the same long weekend in March that was used for the women’s State Championships. The Convenor of each competition automatically became a member of the WASA Board of Management until the next major restructure in 1997 which gave each independence similar to the affiliates.

1984 First WA Men’s team and first Men’s National Champions

Back L->R: Peter Gliddon, Wayne Brown, Michael Touchell

Centre L->R: Rod Coultas, Anthony Bull, Jamie Panos, Darryl Rector, Geoff Coultas, Mark Knight

Front L->R: Frank Valberg, Lindsay Anderson (capt), Nox Bailey (manager), Dave Cosson (coach), Rose Knight (scorer), Alan Hall, Glen Knight

WA men at national championships

The first men’s national championship was played in Sydney at the Oriole Baseball Stadium, Auburn, in February 1984. The ASF sanctioned the carnival and provided the Umpire-in-Chief, Marj Dwyer, but no other assistance. Two NSW association members – Edna Nash and Pat Rawlings – shared their expertise with the organisers. Teams from NSW, WA, Queensland and Victoria participated. They played six games each on the first two days followed by finals. WA defeated NSW 9-0 to claim the John Reid Shield. Team members were Lindsay Anderson (captain), Peter Gliddon, Bill Brown, Michael Touchell, Rod Coultas, Anthony Bull, Daryl Rector, Jamie Panos, Geoff Coultas, Mark Knight, Frank Valberg, Alan Hall and Glenn Knight. The coach was David Cosson with Nox Bailey as Manager and Rose Knight as scorer. Lists for WA men’s teams participating in national championships are presented in Appendix 4. In part WA’s success could be attributed to the rapid and wide-spread growth of men’s softball including another men’s association in Dale districts, and to the presence of New Zealand softball players especially the pitcher, Lindsay Anderson. The success of the WA men at the first national championship warranted a special note in the Management Committee Meeting Minutes in February 1984 appropriately moved by WA’s outstanding female player, Nina Menner. The advent of the men’s championship highlighted differences in the style of play between men and women. The National Coaching Director, Jim Gibson, reported that the:

… first cracks in Australian umpiring methods appeared with the umpires out of position, being run over by the players and generally struggling to come to terms with the enormous change in game speed generated by men versus the women’s game.25


The following year the ASF nominated men’s softball as its contribution to the Australia Games held in Melbourne. To help promote the image of softball as a men’s sport, a leading New Zealand team, Birkenhead, was invited to participate. New Zealand was a world leader in both men’s and women’s softball. The visitors won all but one of their matches, their loss being to WA in the qualifying rounds. Birkenhead defeated WA in the grand final, 7-3, and were awarded the gold medal. WA won the silver medal and as the top Australian team were declared Australian champions and thus claimed its second title. An Australian All Stars team played matches against the New Zealanders but was not recognized as an official Australian team. Unfortunately during the Games softball attracted attention for the wrong reason. Birkenhead walked off the diamond after a confrontation over the calling of illegal pitches. Birkenhead’s stance forced that ASF to confront the crisis that had emerged in umpiring and upshot was the sacking of Umpire-in-Chief, Marj Dwyer.26


The 1986 national champion-ship was held in Perth at Yokine Reserve. The incentive for the winning team was the option to accept an invitation to tour New Zealand. The ASF was reluctant to send an Australian team so the champion State team was a worth-while alternative. Manager Graeme Rector recalled ‘… off we went … a 21-day tour of New Zealand which meant we played all of the provinces and we ended up playing a mini-tournament in Palmerston North against two New Zealand teams and Singapore’.



Life Member: 1995

The fact that you do get out of the house and do something. It’s low impact and now I’ve been playing with guys … that I’ve played with for 28 years. We go away to the Masters tournaments, we play in the winter and we play Vets softball in summer … I’ve got friendships that are 29 years old from softball.


Women’s: Bedford District Youth Club

Men’s: Bedford Men’s


Bedford Men’s

State Teams

Manager Senior Men: 1985-92

Australian Team

Manager Senior Men: 1991

WA Men’s Softball League

President: 1985-87

Committee: 1979-84


Senior Vice President: 1987-93


Level 1: Coach



Australian Softball Federation Service Award: 1993

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

Life Member: Bedford Men’s

Graeme Rector’s first sporting passion was hockey which he played each winter from the age of 11 until his early 20s. His first recollections of softball revolve around watching his sister, Janice, play in the finals with Bedford District Youth Club sometime during the early 1970s. From then Graeme and his mates spent their summers ‘hanging around with the girls and in winter we started playing softball [and] it was about that time that I gave up playing hockey’. The girls encouraged their friends to enter a team in the social competitions played at the end of the season. The men enjoyed softball so much that they made up a team and in about 1978 went to Bedford Men’s Softball Club which had been founded in 1976. Graeme also got talked into assisting coach the women at Bedford DYC beginning with the juniors and progressing to the A3 then A Reserve grade teams. In his last year with the A Reserve they won the premiership. Along the way he completed the Level 1 accreditation for coaches and an umpiring course. In 1984 Graeme represented WA men’s softball at the inaugural elite coaching seminar conducted by the ASF in Melbourne. By 1979 Graeme had been ‘hoodwinked into going along to a Men’s Committee meeting’ to represent Bedford Men’s. In 1985 he was elected President of the WA Men’s Softball League which was an autonomous association. Over the next three years the Men’s League and the Women’s Association entered negotiations to amalgamate and the WA Softball Association came into being in 1987. Graeme was elected as Senior Vice President of the new organization. Overall the merger of the two groups proceeded smoothly but for Graeme there was some frustration when trying to balance the experience and tradition of the women’s association with the youth and exuberance of the men’s league. Managing change demanded a willingness to embrace change. Among the challenges Graeme worked on was establishing realistic periods of office for team officials such as coaches so that the incumbents had time to implement their ideas without having to seek election each year but allowing for change after two or three years. He was always keen to explore innovative ways of reaching out to non-softball players and was a strong advocate for slow pitch softball and variations in season length and playing times. 


The other major task on WASA’s agenda was the building of the new softball complex. Graeme was a member of the Working Party and then Building Committee which oversaw the establishment of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka.  With his extensive knowledge and experience in men’s softball Graeme was an ideal candidate to join the Working Party to establish State League Softball in 1991. For the men it was an opportunity to engage in quality softball before heading off to the nationals traditionally held in March, a considerable time after men’s club softball wrapped up in September.   His management skills lead him to be the first manager of the WA Senior men’s State team, a position which he held from 1985 to 1992. The ASF did not support an Australian men’s team until 1988, so when an invitation arrived from the New Zealand Association for an Australian men’s team to tour New Zealand in 1986, the ASF offered the invitation to the winner of the 1986 Australian men’s national championship. WA were successful and undertook a 21 day tour culminating in a mini series against two New Zealand teams and a team from Singapore. As well Graeme managed the Australian men’s team for the Test Series played against New Zealand to celebrate the opening of the stadium at Mirrabooka in September 1991. Among the players Graeme took away at both State and national level was his brother, Darryl.  With a young family demanding more of his time, Graeme stepped down from managing the men’s team in after the 1992 nationals and relinquished his Board of Management position in 1993. In 1982 Graeme had married Debbie Dorrington, a friend and team-mate at Bedford DYC of his sister Janice. Debbie was a member of the WA women’s senior team in 1980, 1983 and 1984. Graeme was among the band of loyal WA supporters who followed the team to the nationals including a car trip across the Nullabor to cheer the team on in Adelaide. Graeme returned to hockey to coach his son. He continued with softball as President and a player for Bedford Men’s and to coach his daughter. In the Bedford DYC team… His sister, Janice (Landy), continued with softball and when her family moved to the Pilbara, she became the driving force there.  Side by side with his softball career Graeme worked in the WA State Public Service until 1995 when he took up a position with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) where he rose to the rank of Manager for WA of the Financial Assistance Program, a very demanding role given the boom in resource development in WA.

WASA representatives in the first Australian team which played in the Seventh Men’s World Championship in Canada in 1988

Back L->R:Lindsay Anderson (capt), Rod Coultas, Brad Delavale, Glen Knight, Bill Downing, Anthony Bull

Front L->R: Geoff Brott (wd), Brian Flint, Geoff Coultas, Darryl Rector

Ten West Australians were named in the Australian team for the 1988 Seventh World Champion-ship in Canada. They were Lindsay Anderson, Darryl Rector, Gordon Brott, Brad Delavale, Geoff Coultas, Tony Bull, Bill Downing, Glen Knight, Rod Coultas and Brian Flint. Gordon Brott withdrew and was replaced by a Victorian. WA’s Dave Cossons was Australian coach andteam in 1985, captained the first Australian men’s team which finished fifth at the 1988 Seventh World Championship in Canada and coached Australia in a Test Series against New Zealand in 1991. While Anderson’s prowess on the diamond was undisputed, he was reluctant to become involved with administration and coach accreditation. Attempts to have him share his expertise with up and coming players in the ASF Softball Academy scheme were thwarted when he was not able to attend all required sessions. ACT took the title in 1989 and 1990. Its strength came from the presence of the Harrow family who had migrated from Canada in1987. WA’s coach in 1990 was Mario Delpero. WA finished third. WA’s dominance had motivated the other States/Territories to look overseas for help. Delpero noted that:

A major conflict which may be difficult to overcome from the WA point of view, is the importing of players [by] the other states, of International players from Canada and New Zealand, for the tournaments. These quality players appear to be imported into Australia for Tournaments only. They arrive a short time prior to and fly out immediately after the Series.


WA’s Steve Migro outperformed all the imports and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. He was selected in the Australian squad along with Geoff Coultas, Darryl Rector, Brian Flint, Bill Downing and Troy Walton. The championships returned to Perth in 1991. Unfortunately, the new facility at Mirrabooka was not ready and matches were played at Yokine Reserve. The tension between the men’s and women’s competitions in Perth resulted in diverse opinions about the success of the tournament. The men considered it to be the best one to date and very professionally run and took the kudos for its success. The Life Members who worked as volunteers were of the opinion that if they hadn’t have been available the tournament would have been chaotic. They were particularly galled after the grand final when the men simply walked off to celebrate and the volunteers were left to clean up without their efforts being acknowledged. Numerous Winter competition teams incurred fines of $50 for failing to fulfill their rostered canteen duties during the championships.


Lindsay Anderson returned as coach for the 1992 national championships. The championships were held in Noosa, north of Brisbane in Queensland, the first time they were held outside a capital city. However, even Noosa could not escape Queensland’s reputation for wet championships with the last four days of the tournament played in heavy rain. WA outperformed the other States/Territories to take its eighth national title. As well WA players took out individual awards: Robin Reedy (Batting) and Dave McKenzie (Pitching). They were joined by Tony Bull (captain), Darryl Rector, Brian Flint, Bill Downing, Geoff Coultas, Russell Taylor, Brenton Bower and Stephen Lefler in the Australian team for the Eighth world Championships in Manilla, Philippines. Lindsay Anderson was named as coach with ex-Tasmanian Mike Palmer as one of his assistants, a role he had fulfilled for WA when both Anderson and Bull were playing as well as coaching. In preparation for the championship, the team played in six-match tournament in New Zealand with matches against their hosts and Japan. Both New Zealand and Japan proved too strong for Australia.


The WA State League had been intended to expose more players to the pressure of elite softball but it appeared to have backfired somewhat for the 1993 team. Coach Anderson observed that the League was a positive step forward for overall State development but for the very elite players the number of non-competitive games outweighed the intense ones and this seemed to carry through to performances at the nationals. Anderson considered that:

… it was noticeable that our players had drifted away from winning the more competitive games, to almost going through the motions and thinking it would happen. In the past our strength was the fact that we had the ability and knowledge to win close games, very much due to the competitive nature of our domestic season.

WA lost the grand final to the ACT. Manager Terry Sheppard also thought the tournament was too long and that being in a motel well out of town with nothing to do between matches took the edge off the WA players. Anderson retired for a second and final time after the 1994 national championship in which WA finished fifth. He was very hard on himself writing in his report that ‘it could well be for the better to have a change of thought towards the team. To run a team with so much talent into fifth position is obviously saying there is a need for change’.


Another ex-New Zealander, Kevin Henderson, was the playing coach for 1995 and 1996 before moving to Melbourne to work in the Victorian ITC program. Peter Koha progressed from Under age ranks to take the Senior Men’s team from 1997 to 2000. In 2001 WA appeared likely not to field a team as the result of a dispute over levies. Following the Operational Review in 2000, the Board was advised by the Ministry of Sport and Recreation that State teams would have to be self-funding and not part-funded as had been the practice in previous years. The Ministry did, however, allow part-funding of team officials. The Board subsequently equalized the levies across all six teams with the five teams traveling interstate paying $1,300 per player and $800 per official. The Senior Women’s team playing at home in Perth were charged $550 per member to cover accommodation, transport and some meals. The Under age teams accepted the challenge and set about fund raising. The Senior men reacted negatively and many players decided not to nominate for the team. Almost since its inception in 1984 the Senior Men have been most vocal in expressing their belief that the levy set by the WASA was too high. This attitude was probably due to the presence of a considerable number of ex-New Zealand players. Softball was an amateur sport in New Zealand but club levies, uniforms and travel expenses were usually paid by the player’s club or association. In WA players had to cover their own costs. The stand-off in 2001 dismayed long standing supporters of WA softball and especially former President and Under 19 coach Reg Page. He volunteered to coach the team and then set about seeking as much sponsorship as possible to minimize costs. He was backed by Alf Bunting, a Life Member since 1984, who was appointed Manager. WA finished sixth, its worst ever result but had participated. One very positive outcome was the selection of Nathan Jones in the Australian team.


Kere Johanson, a former New Zealander, took charge of the Senior Men in 2002. The national championships were held at Mirrabooka and all States and Territories entered teams. Neal Delpero continued his form winning the Most Valuable Player Award.  From 2003 until 2009 the ACT and Victoria were the dominant teams. Adam Humble claimed the Batting Award in 2003 while WA has had three Rookies of the Year with Luke Bonomi (2005), Brett Titterton (2006) and Beau Harich (2011). A highlight for Adam Humble in 2008 was being named the ASF’s Male Athlete of the Year. One of the stalwarts of the Senior Men’s team has been a woman. Rose Knight scored for the team from its beginnings in 1984 through until 2001. She was the Statistician for the first Australian team to attend the Men’s Seventh World Championship in Saskatoon, Canada, in 1988. She fulfilled the same role for the Test Series against New Zealand for the matches in Perth in 1991. The Senior men have experienced a reversal of success in the early 2000s. Since 2006 WA have played in four grand finals and returned to the winner’s podium in 2010, giving WA the unique double of men’s and women’s national championships, the first State to do so at that level. (See Appendices 4 and 5 for WA team placings and winners of national championships.)


In the early 1980s the ASF wrote its first Long Range Plan which was subject to continual updating. Advice was sought from John Reid about the potential of men’s softball. After discussions with representatives from each State/Territory Reid noted that:

It is quite clear that there is a desire – and a clear need – for the ASF to provide under-age championships at a national level. If left to happen by itself, from current momentum, this would probably not occur until 1990 at the earliest. The matter is so important, however, that the ASF should take a positive lead to slot in the first under-age championship by early 1988, probably an Under 19, with progression to the World Youth Series in 1989. Further provision should be made for the first under-16 championship by, say, 1989.27


Specifically with regard to WA Reid wrote:

… while precise quantitative assessment is not possible in WA currently of numbers in various age groupings, there is confidence that within the sheer weight of total numbers there would be sufficient talented players to field a team in an under-age series. WA have also informally indicated a preference to start with Under-19 teams. Their timetabling would also probably indicate an early 1987 start.


In anticipation the NSW Association hosted an Invitational Tournament at the Homebush Stadium in January 1988. WA sent an Under 18 Boys’ team. In a whirlwind 17-day trip in a mini-bus 15 players, coach Brody Barr, Manager Ian Bastow, Scorer Evelyn Harvey, extra Bus Driver Bob Butler and his wife, Carolyn, visited South Australia, NSW and Victoria. Along the way matches – usually double headers - were played against a South Australian men’s squad, Newcastle, Muswell Brook, Gosford women, Central Coast men and Campbelltown. Apart for Gosford, team members were billeted with local families thus reducing costs considerably. At Gosford, the team believed that they had booked a hall at the local oval only to discover that it was only an amenities block. Fortunately, WA Life Member. Greta Craig, was in Gosford at the time and managed to arrange another hall. By the time they arrived at Ingleburn Army Camp on the outskirts of Sydney they were ready for the tournament. They played double headers against NSW, Queensland and the ACT. The latter team played a 20-year old Canadian pitcher who dominated all matches against younger players. WA lost its final against NSW to finish fourth. On the return journey to WA the team detoured to Werribee in Victoria for four more matches winning two of them. Their overall performance was 10 wins and 8 losses in 12 days. As a fact finding mission in preparation for the official Under 19 championship it was a useful adventure but frustrated by the fact that the other States/Territories tended to play older players who would not be eligible. Already the determination to win was clear. WA Coach Brody Barr reported that WA was the strongest team in the age classification with top pitchers and a good outfield, however, more work was required on batting. Scorer Evelyn Harvey expressed concern that there was too much emphasis on winning and four boys were not given a chance to play at the tournament even though the team played seven matches. At one stage the coach put himself in as pitcher ahead of the Under 19 boys. It was a learning experience for all involved and Harvey stated ‘the players were a credit to our State, even when things went wrong. They still played for WA to the best of their ability’. For Harvey it was the beginning of a two-decade career with the Under 19 men as Statistician. The 1989 team for the first official national Under 19 Youth team was Warren Noonan (captain), Troy Walton (vice captain) Stephen Oliver, Bruce Bowra, Stephen Lefler, Gary Butler, Garry Goodall, Kelvin Craig, Jason Pipe, Sean McCausland, Jason Chave, Terry Gay, Ray Moyle, Simon Munro and Neal Delpero who had his 14th birthday during the championship. Delpero had been selected because the selectors believed that he had great potential as a pitcher and he went of to fulfill all expectations by progressing to the Under 19 then Senior Men’s Australian teams. The coach was WASA President Reg Page with Alan Francis as his assistant, Ev Harvey as Statistician and Bob Butler as Manager. Like the Senior Men’s team, the Under 19s were competing out of season, that is, they played in March while the club competition was played in winter.

Inaugural Under 19 Men’s team 1989

Back L to R: Neal Delpero, Stephen Oliver, Stephen Lefler, Garry Goodall, Ray Moyle, Simon Monro

Middle L to R: Alan Francis (ac), Evelyn Harvey (scorer), Jayson Chave, Terry Gay, Bruce Bowra, Reg Page (coach), Bob Butler (Manager)

Front L to R: Jason Pipe, Gary Butler, Troy Walton (vc), Warren Noon (capt), Kelvin Craig, Sean McCausland

To overcome the lack of match practice the team participated in two country carnivals, one at Bunbury and the other at Northam. Some members were unable to do this because of work commitments and injuries. As well scratch matches against the Senior women helped. The Under 19 team was spared another bus trip across the Nullabor because it was an official WASA team and funded to fly. Five Australian State teams – NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA - were joined by Milverton Midgets from Ontario, Canada, adding an international flavour to the tournament. WA had some tight matches to eventually finish fourth with a positive note of having defeated the winners, NSW, during the round robin. The trophy for this tournament was named in honour of WA’s Nox Bailey.


The team moved up to second place after the 1990 national championship which was held in Perth for the first time. To help the players develop match fitness, the Under 19 Men competed in the five-team 10 week Super League held in December and January but did not reach the finals. Over the Australia Day long weekend they finished third in a tournament held in Mandurah with the coaching staff taking care to ensure that they did not peak before the national championship in March. With only five teams competing at the national championship the organizers scheduled two qualifying rounds and finals. WA was on top after the first round but slipped to second after the second round. Queensland were the in form team and took the title. WA’s Lewis Wetere won the award for the best batting average. Coach Page was critical of some players who switched off when they were on the bench and warned that future teams would have to be tougher both physically and mentally.  The 1991 team also competed in the Super League before traveling to Brisbane for the championship. At the end of the round robin WA were in fourth position. The highlight came in the semi—finals when WA defeated Queensland on their home ground. In a tight fought preliminary final against NSW WA went down 4-3 to finish the championship in third place. Scott Goodall won the batting award, making it two years in row for a WA player to claim this important recognition.


WA’s first under age victory came in 1992 when it defeated NSW 4-0 in the grand final. Neal Delpero was awarded the Best Pitcher Medal and Richard Barker (captain) was the Most Valuable Player. The other team members were Damien Stewart, Steven Prior, Simon Chapman, Bradley Morris, Simon Crofts, Adam Humble, Jarrad Cross, Graeme Cooke, Paul Perkins, Stephen Broadhead, Lee Stafford, Adrian Magistro and Jarrod Atkinson. The coach was Reg Page with Peter Koha as his Assistant, Bob Butler as Manager and Evelyn Harvey as Statistician. WA’s exuberance was curbed only by the ASF decision not to present the medals at the conclusion of the grand final nor at the Final Night Dinner. It was left to Reg Page to present them at the motel just before the team flew home.  WA could not maintain the standard and in 1992 slipped to third place behind Queensland and Victoria. South Australia joined the competition which was played as a double round robin and finals. Two problems seemed to unsettle WA. First, a number of players had passed the pre-departure fitness test but still carried injuries which limited their contribution and some were simply not fit enough for more than one match a week. Second, shortly after arrival in Canberra the senior members of the team embarked on some initiation rituals including the shaving of the head of a newcomer which became known as ‘the incident’. The team was split over it and took several days to settle. Coach Page wanted to send the offenders home immediately but would not have had sufficient fit players to field a team. Initiations have been a tradition of all Australian State and national teams. Previously removing opposing team’s flags and banners were seen as nothing more than pranks but those leading this initiation over-stepped the line by physically abusing a fellow team mate. Social expectations had changed and the implications of risk management and duty of care were foremost in the officials’ minds.


By 1993 the Under 19 competition had developed to the point where the ASF was happy to support a team to contest the Fourth World Youth Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Three WA players were selected: Neal Delpero (captain), Graeme Cooke and Stephen Prior. Unfortunately Prior suffered a severe shoulder injury and was forced to withdraw. WA Coach Reg Page took over as coach after the ASF’s initial nominee withdrew.


Representatives in the 1993 Under 19 Men’s team

L->R: Reg Page (coach), Neal Delpero, Graeme Cooke

Page was ‘very, very happy. I felt I had achieved something that I never thought I would achieve. My ambition was to be a State coach but I never thought I’d get one step higher’. Page had a squad of 17 players plus 7 support staff including a physiotherapist. ASF President Rosemary Adey was Head of Delegation. Two umpires also traveled with the team. The team finished a very credible fourth. The nationals came back to WA in 1994 in a dual carnival whereby both the Under 16 Boys and the Under 19 Men played simultaneously at Mirrabooka. Both age divisions had entries from South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland, the ACT and WA and played a double round robin plus finals. As always the WASA excelled in the administration especially due to the efforts of Convenor Shirley Schneider. WA Under 19s began strongly winning its first nine games but then faltered in the closing stages of the second round with mixed fortunes in the finals to lose the preliminary final to Victoria and finish third. Coach Page considered this team to be even stronger that which had won the title in 1992 and several factors were mentioned as reasons why the team stumbled at the critical stage.


The pressure of performing in front of the home crowd whose attention was spread across both WA teams was one. Another was team infighting arising from problems associated with a cap provided by one of the sponsors which resulted in the coach declaring that only the cap presented to the players by the WASA could be worn. As well, there was intense friction between the manager and players who flouted the team rules to the point where WASA officials were called to speak to some players. The manager himself undertook changes to be more supportive of the players but unfortunately they did not reciprocate. Despite this, Neal Delpero and Graeme Cooke were respectively recognized as the outstanding pitcher and batter of the tournament. The opportunity to represent Australia at the Fifth World Youth Championships in Newfoundland, Canada, was a strong motivation for participants in the 1997 national championships. Two WA players made the 17-member team: second baseman Robert Close and pitcher Adam Lloyd. Despite Close suffering a knee injury their efforts at the World Championships were rewarded with a gold medal, the first by an Australian men’s team. The team was coached by Kevin Henderson. A former New Zealander Henderson had coached in WA before joining the ITC program in Victoria.


Reg Page kept the Under 19 Men in the top three until 1999. He was assisted by Bob McKibbin in 1998 and 1999. McKibbin had previously coached the Under 16 and Under 19 female teams. However, both Page and McKibbin were removed after the 1999 national championship. Some members of the team engaged in unacceptable behaviour including under-age drinking, initiation ceremonies and screening inappropriate videos. Following an inquiry the WASA Board asked Page to resign or he would be sacked. It was an unseemly end to what had been a successful contribution to junior men’s softball. McKibbin was barred from State teams for two years and accepted the decision since he had already realized that he no longer passionate about the sport. Severe reprimands were issued to Manager Ron Farr and to Statistician Evelyn Harvey. Technically Harvey was not a member of the management of the team but with over a decade of experience it was deemed she should have been more in tune with happenings. The matter was then placed in the hands of solicitors. In June the Board of Management rescinded the original penalties. A Tribunal of Laurie Prior, Pauline O’Connor and Julie Richardson was formed to hear the charge of ‘bringing softball into disrepute’. The Tribunal recommended that the team management be suspended for one year from all State representation for the charge in relation to the attendance of an inappropriate adult and the Manager and Assistant Coach received one year suspended sentences for the charge in relation to underage drinking. All suspensions and suspended sentences were to be served concurrently. Page and Harvey appealed but lost then appealed to the ASF which upheld the WASA ruling against Page but dismissed the case against Harvey so she could be re-instated as Statistician. Suspensions of varying lengths were given to the players involved.


Gary Butler, a former Assistant Coach of the Under 16 Boys, moved up to Head Coach of the Under 19 Men for the next three seasons. His task was difficult because of an overall decline in junior boys softball and minimal numbers participating in the WA Softball Academy and selection trials. After the 2000 team finished fourth Butler recommended that future teams be selected before the end of the Winter Competition to maximize training especially since the basic skill level was below expectations. While being very critical of the plight of junior softball Butler was prepared to be part of the solution and committed himself to help bring about change. Taking a long term perspective, Butler believed that by the time of the Seventh World Youth Championship WA should have improved to have five or six members of the Australian team.


The Under 19 Men’s national championship was held independently of the Under 16 Boys’ event for the first time in 2001. It was a big year for the Under 19 Men because the Sixth World Championship was hosted by the ASF at the Blacktown Olympic Stadium in NSW in April. In seven days of competition the Australians were undefeated in 11 games, the first team to do so. WA did not have any representatives in the national team having fielded a team with 10 rookies at the national championships and finishing fifth.  From 2002 to 2008 WA maintained a place in the top 4 and in 2009 broke through to win the national championship. The tactics employed by the coach, Mike Herk, were crucial to this. During the qualifying round robin WA was able to use all its players including four pitchers. It was not until the grand final that their opponents, NSW, faced WA Number 1 pitcher Tyson Duncan. NSW had seen him pitch in other matches but as Statistician Ev Harvey noted ‘they hadn’t faced him and he just went out and did the job’. No discussion of the Under 19 Men’s team would be complete without acknowledging the long service of Statistician Evelyn Harvey. She participated in the 1988 eastern States tour and was appointed Scorer to the first official team in 1989. Two decades later she maintains the position and her enthusiasm. All the coaches with whom she has worked have paid tribute to her talents as Statistician and to her willingness to assist the team with the mundane tasks like washing uniforms and assisting with meals. Her contribution as Statistician is completely voluntarily, however, her passion for softball also sees her as a paid employee of the WASA attending to the administration of the various competitions.



Inaugural WA Under 16 Boys’ Team 1993

Back L to R: Taygen Dray, Greg Hope, Hugh Mason, Jason Bertolini, Adam Lloyd

Middle L to R: Peter Koha (coach), Gary Butler (ac), Andrew Hoekzema, Stephen Dall, Tony Moretti, Geoff Shaw (manager), Kristen Maher (scorer)

Front L to R: Robert Close, Chris Schroder, Adam Humble (capt),Daniel Delpero (vc), Shane Osborne, Keith Geary

Absent: Benn Ford

As with the Under 19 Men, the ASF was a little behind the schedule proposed by John Reid for the introduction of an Under 16 Boys national championship. The ASF discussed the possibility at its Council meeting in October 1990 and asked the NSW association to prepare a report for the February 1991 Board meeting with the intention of commencing the championship in January 1992. NSW took the initiative and organized an Invitational event in January 1991 with teams from the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and NSW participating.  By 1992 the Under 16 Boys’ national championships were part of the ASF roster. Teams competed for the Arthur Allsop Shield. Allsop was a Victorian who had devoted himself to junior softball. Not all State/Territory associations were able to field Under age male teams so for the first few years the Under16 Boys were played concurrently with the Under 19 Men at the samevenue. The WASA opted not to enter a team in the inaugural championship in 1992 much to the disappointment of the Winter Competition. The strength of the junior development programs in NSW was rewarded with four successive victories for its Under 16 Boys.


WA entered the championship in 1993 in Canberra. The team demonstrated the depth in WA’s junior ranks with a second placing. Members of the team were Adam Lloyd, Daniel Delpero, Stephen Dall, Robert Close, Hugh Mason, Adam Humble, Keith Geary, Ben Ford, Chris Schroeder, Shane Osborne, Tony Moretti, Greg Hope, Andrew Hoekzema, Jason Bertolini and Taygen Dray. The coach was Peter Koha with Gary Butler as his assistant. Geoff Shaw managed the team. Kristen Maher was the scorer.  In 1994 the Under 16 Boys had the chance to show their home crowd their ability but could not pull off a victory in the grand final and again finished second. The team had to overcome the frustration of having its bus breakdown twice while traveling from the motel to Mirrabooka. In accordance with championship regulations the team was fined $100 by the ASF for each occurrence. After the championship there was some dissension over the payment of the fines with the WASA eventually relenting and covering it with a warning to all teams that in future fines were the responsibility of the coach and manager. In his report Coach Koha recognized the exceptional efforts of Manager Garry Butler who lived and worked as a police officer in Kalgoorlie which meant that he had to take time off work to travel to Perth to fulfill his softball commitments.


Tommy Maher coached the Under 16 Boys from 1995 to 2001 during which time the team maintained a place in the top three apart from 1998. In his final year the team finished third. Danny Critchell was named as the Most Valuable Player at the tournament and along with Lukasz Rorbach was named in the All Stars team. Maher was named as one of its coaches. His appointment was of concern to the parents of some WA players who felt that Maher had been less than supportive of his own players.  In 2003 the under 16s broke through to win the title. Team members were A Stoker (captain), R Andrews (vice captain), L Baron, L Dimmer, J Garner, R Gates, M Godfrey, Greg James, Nicholas Murray, B Phillips, N Pope, J Rayner, R Sloan, M Watkins and M Workman. The coach was M Godfrey with Shane Hughes as his Assistant, Allan Collings as Manager and Sheena Collings as Statistician. Rarely has the team slipped outside the top five. To reach the final WA defeated nine times national champion NSW in the preliminary final and then beat Victoria 4-3 in the grand final. Nicholas Murray was named the Most Valuable Player with a sterling all round effort as a pitcher, fielder and batter. Greg James batted over .500 to win the batting award. Since 2004 NSW and Victoria have been the dominant teams.  Karen Sullivan (nee Neil) was the first WA woman to coach a male State team when she was appointed coach of the Under 16 Boys in 2009. She had previously coached the Under 23 Women.


WA men have enjoyed considerable success at national championships. The Senior Men set the standard by winning five consecutive titles and by 1998 had won nine but have not enjoyed the same success until 2010. The ACT also has nine titles including 2006 to 2009. Of the other States/Territory Victoria has won four, Queensland three and NSW one. Tasmania and the NT have not been able to raise teams. In the Under age divisions NSW has been most successful with 14 Under 16 titles, 8 Under 19 and 1 Under 23. Victoria has three Under 19 and two Under 16 titles. With three Under 23, five Under 19 and 2 Under 16 titles the ACT has become the major threat in men’s softball. WA has won just two Under 19 and one Under 16 titles. Queensland has two Under 19 titles.  It has already been suggested that WA’s early success was in part due to the immigration of a number of outstanding New Zealand players to WA during the 1970s and 1980s. New Zealand men have been consistently outstanding performers at World Championships. As well many of its players have played semi-professional softball in the USA. WA’s dominance was curtailed when other States/Territories began importing foreign players especially for national championships.


WA’s success also came at a time when WA was ranked second in registrations. Unlike women’s softball which has seen a halving of registrations since 1988, men’s softball in Australia experienced substantial growth from 1988 (11,098) to 1998 (16,030) after which there has been a steady decline of approximately 30 percent to 2007 (9,204). Given the leader-ship of Nox Bailey in WA and John Reid in it is not surprising that these two States had the highest registration figures. In 1988 WA had 3,290 registered male players and contributed 29.6 percent of all registrations with the ASF. NSW was marginally ahead with 3,383 players and 30.1 percent of the total. Unlike the women’s registration data in which the State/Territory associations have retained constant rankings, the men’s registrations have shown more variability. NSW has always had the highest number of registered male players. From 1998 WA slipped to third when Queensland claimed second place. Victoria ranked fourth with South Australia initially fifth but was overtaken by the ACT in 1996. The ACT overtook Victoria to have the fourth ranking in registrations in 1998. WA has experienced the greatest decline from a peak of 3,697 in 1994 to 1,748 in 2006. In contrast the ACT has grown from 490 in 1988 to 1,696 in 2000 and although it has declined like the other States, its share of national registrations has increased. In 1988 the ACT had just 4.4 percent of players and currently claims 10 percent. The other stand out feature of the registration data is that WA has registered almost seven times more Senior players than Juniors. In the 2006-07 season WA registered 1,476 Seniors and just 221 Juniors.


As with women’s softball it can be tentatively claimed that the higher the total number of registrations in a State/Territory, the more likely it is to be successful at national championships. WA’s high proportion of Senior registrations in the 1980s and 1990s supports this as do the Junior registrations for NSW and the ACT. However, the rise of the ACT suggests that other factors are involved and these need to be teased out. One interesting possibility is to consider if the establishment of under age championships has fulfilled its intent of preparing teams for the Senior ranks. To fully investigate this proposal would require an analysis of the composition of all teams and especially which players have progressed through the age divisions to the Senior teams. Superficially there does appear to be some support for this if allowance is made for a short time lag of one or two years between success at Under 16s followed by success at Under 19s then Seniors (or Under 23s for the short time they were held). When the ACT broke through to take the Under 16 Boys’ title in 2000, it ended NSW’s dominance. NSW’s success in Under 16s appeared to flow through to the Under 19s during the 1990s. The ACT then claimed three successive Under 23 titles and four Senior ones. Another important element is family commitment to softball be it sisters, mothers and daughters in women’s softball or brothers, fathers and sons in men’s softball. In women’s softball it was possible for both parents and daughters to be fully involved. The advent of men’s softball allowed the sons of the family to play as well.


The numbers can also be examined in relation to Australian teams. The ASF first entered a team in the Men’s World Championships in 1988. Ten members of the team were from Western Australia as was the coach. The composition for the Australian team to play a Test Series against New Zealand in 1991 was determined by geography. For the matches played in Perth to co-incide with the opening of Mirrabooka, ten players were drawn from WA with two each from NSW and SA. Lindsay Anderson was the coach with Michael Palmer as his assistant, Graeme Rector as manager and Rose Knight as Statistician. For the matches in Sydney Bill Downing was WA’s sole playing representative with the other players drawn from the ACT, NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Anderson was coach again with his support staff drawn from NSW. This approach was cost effective for the ASF and did allow more players to experience international competition. WA’s dominance continued into the team for the Eighth World Championships in 1992. Again ten players were selected: Brendon Bower, Tony Bull, Geoff Coultas, Bill Downing, Brian Flint, Stephen Lefler, Glen Knight, Daryl Rector, Robin Reedy and Russell Taylor. Again Anderson was the coach and Michael Palmer an Assistant Coach. By the time of the Ninth world Championship in 1996 WA only had three representatives: Neal Delpero, Dave McKenzie and Russell Taylor. Victoria had four players while the ACT, NSW and Queensland had three each. Dean Marigoni and Steve Milligan were named as reserves. No coaching staff or officials came from WA. 


With the men performing better at each World Championship the ASF realized that future teams would need more international experience and in 2001 entered a team in a prestigious tournament in New Zealand which was followed by a four-match Test Series. Neal Delpero, Adam Humble and Nathan Jones were members of the 16-player team.  By the twelfth World Championship in 2009 for which the Australian team was named the Aussie Steelers, WA had four playing representatives in Aaron Cockman, Michael Gibson, Adam Humble and Nathan Jones with Kere Johanson as an Assistant Coach and Michael Titheradge as the Manager.  WA has also contributed consistently to the Australian Under 19 Men’s team beginning in 1993 when Australia first entered a team in the Fourth World Championship. Graham Cooke, Neal Delpero and Stephen Prior were named in the team although Prior withdrew because of a shoulder injury. Reg Page took over the reigns as Head Coach and took the team to a fourth placing. The Under 19 Men have taken successive World Champion-ships in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009.


WA men have not had many opportunities to see or play against international teams at home. After the Test Series against New Zealand in 1991 for the opening of Mirrabooka, it was another nine years until the WASA was able to mount an International Fastpitch Challenge in June 2000. The Challenge served as a warm-up for Australia and Chinese Taipei prior to the World Championship in South Africa. Chinese Taipei provided the international component and played against Australia and two WA teams: Perth Thunder and Western Australia. Adam Humble and Dave McKenzie played for Australia while the two WA teams were made up of current and former Senior and Under 19 men.  With WA being a force in Australian men’s softball there has been little need for players to seek opportunities interstate. Those who have done so have usually pursued employment. Brian Flint who represented WA for 8 years moved to Victoria and continued to play before pursing a coaching career.


With men’s softball played in winter in WA, the introduction of the State League in 1992 was seen as a way of providing intense elite competition as the men’s teams prepared for national champion-ships in January (Under 19) and March (Senior). The intent was not matched by outcome. In the early 1990s coach Lindsay Anderson caste doubt about the value of the State League and by 2007-08 the men’s component had been disbanded with the men preferring to focus on their Winter Competition.  Since 1951 WA has been a key participant in national softball championships across all divisions. Success came early to the Senior women’s and men’s teams. The Under 19 Men and Under 16 Boys have experienced the thrill of winning while the Under 19 Women and Under 16 girls have played in grand finals but been unable to win. Numerous ideas have been put forward to account for this, some specific to WA’s internal environment and some more cognisant of the broader Australian context. What is important is that young people have the opportunity to play at the peak of their potential in top class competitions. Each January almost 1,000 people attend national softball championships to play, coach, score and umpire. In addition, large numbers of volunteers ensure that each host State/Territory association conducts the best possible tournament it can. WA has an enviable reputation for tournament organization. In a week spectators view matches that are on a par with the best softball played around the world. This has been clearly demonstrated in recent years when Australia has emerged as the leading softball nation because its representative teams are world champions or at least in the top three. No other nation appears to have achieved the same balance across women’s and men’s softball.


[i]Letter (1 January 1977) from Doug Wright, NTSA to Nox Bailey.

[i]Letter (27 July 1979) from Nox Bailey to Don Porter, ISF.

[i]Letter (22 August 1979) from Don Porter to Nox Bailey

[i]Letter (1 September 1979) from Esther Deason to Nox Bailey

[i]The original letter from Richard Campbell is not on file in the ASF office (as of 1994-95) but the replies are.

[i]Letter (10 December 1979) from John Reid to Richard Campbell.

[i]Letter (10 April 1980) from Tudor Lee to Nox and Joyce Bailey.

[i]Letters (6 and 30 June 1980) from Don Porter to David Hathaway.

[i]Letter (1 July 1980) from Merle Short (Secretary, ASF) to David Hathaway.

[i]Letter (15 September 1980) from Don Porter to David Hathaway.

[i]Letter (9 October 1981) from Flo Morgan, President, Zambia Softball Association to Richard Campbell. Mention it also made of an award won by Chris Forde who apparently played softball in Zambia. He won the Division 1 Best and Fairest Award as a member of Nollamara club.

[i]Letter (4 January 1982) from John McLennon to Richard Campbell.

[i]Letter (28 January 1982) from Richard Campbell to John Reid.

[i]Letter (9 February 1982) from John Reid to Richard Campbell.

[i]Letter (approximately late August 1982) from Nox Bailey to John Reid. The reference points for the date are the previous sequence of correspondence and the listing of secretary details in WAMSL records.

[i]Letter (1 October 1982) from Nox Bailey to John Reid.

[i]Letter (18 October 1982) from John Reid to Nox Bailey; underlining in the original.

[i]Letter (late 1982) from NSW Softball Association to affiliates.

[i]WASA (18 April 1984) Minutes of Management Committee Meeting.

[i]Lorraine Malcolm (18 October 1983) Report to WASA Management Committee as ASF Delegate.

[i]WASA (20 June 1983). Minutes of Management Committee Meeting.

[i]History of Mens Softball in WA. The Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting and lists of office bearers, successful teams and best and fairest players have been preserved in a small green folder thought to have been compiled by Nox Bailey and handed to the WASA for safe keeping.

[i]Financial statements contained in the 1987-88 Annual Report.

[i]Graeme Rector, Interview, September 2008.

[i]Lorraine Malcolm (26 June 1984) Report as ASF Delegate to WASA Management Committee.

[i]See L Embrey (1995). Batter Up. The history of softball in Australia. Chapter 5.

[i]Letter from John Reid to Pat Shearwood, ASF Treasurer, 9 July 1985.