Chapter 18 - A Home of Our Own

Chapter 18


From the outset having a home base of their own was a driving force for WA softball administrators. Home base meant diamonds to play on and buildings to accommodate the administration. Diamonds were readily available but gaining office space and facilities that softball could call its own took 40 years. Softball has had three main venues: Langley Park, Yokine Reserve and Mirrabooka. Langley Park in the City of Perth had plenty of space for diamonds but no other facilities. In the 1970s softball moved to Yokine Reserve – usually just referred to as Yokine - in the City of Stirling. Along with the diamonds there was a building with a meeting room, canteen and change rooms. At both Langley Park and Yokine Reserve softball was the summer tenant while basketball and hockey were the respective winter tenants. To softballers year round tenancy and international standard diamonds were paramount. This was achieved with the opening of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka – usually referred to as Mirrabooka – in 1991. It had two international standard diamonds, administration space, change rooms for players and umpires and a function centre. It was home. 


Initially most clubs trained at Langley Park then Yokine reserve but with suburban development club training became more localized. There were occasional suggestions that clubs should acquire their own grounds for home and away matches but inquiries to local governments indicated no grounds were available. In addition, numerous football grounds around central Perth were hired when WA hosted national championships before Mirrabooka was built. As well, there were experiments with night softball at the WACA, Cannington Greyhound Course and Parry Field, the one-time headquarters of WA Baseball. When men’s softball began in the mid-1970s softball became more localized as the men played on Sundays at parks all around Perth. The emergence of suburban affiliates such as the South East Metropolitan Softball Association (SEMSA) and Dale Districts Men’s Softball Association saw more quality playing diamonds established away from Yokine and Mirrabooka.

This chapter focuses on the three main venues managed by the WASA: Langley Park, Yokine Reserve and the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka.

1952 National Championships at The Esplanade.

Above: NSW fielding, SA batting.

Below: Heather Asquith (note canvas equipment bag)

Photos per courtesy Heather Asquith.


Reclamation of Swan River for parklands

Langley Park was named in honour of Thomas William Langley, Justice of the Peace, who represented the West Ward on the Perth City Council from 1922 to 1946.[i] He served on a variety of committees including the Works Committee and Endowment Lands Committee which oversaw the reclamation of the northern foreshore of Perth Water, the broad expanse of the Swan River which formed the southern perimeter of the City of Perth. Langley Park was reclaimed between 1921 and the 1930s. A stonewall was built in stages on the foreshore between Barrack Square and the Causeway. The site was dredged and gradually filled with sand and rubbish. Riverside Drive, the city by-pass located within 50 metres of the wall, was opened in August 1937 by Councilor Langley during one of his stints as Deputy Lord Mayor.[ii]

The Lord Mayor’s Report in the City of Perth Annual Report 1936-37 proposed an orderly development of Langley Park. From Victoria Avenue to Hill Street was for the relocation of lawns bowls, croquet and tennis from The Esplanade; from Hill Street to Bennett Street there would be four hockey grounds; from Bennett Street to Plain Street the space was to be used for basketball (netball) and baseball and from Plain Street to the Causeway there would be a park with a pond for model yachts.[iii] The area behind the Ozone Hotel was generally referred to as the Ozone Ground and was used in conjunction with Langley Park for softball in the early years. Home base for the proposed solitary baseball diamond was located on the riverside with the batters hitting towards the corner of Plain Street and Terrace Road. World War II delayed further development and the bowling greens were not built on the Ozone Ground until the mid-1960s.


Langley Park was an ideal ‘first base’ for WA softball. The 12 hectares were in a flat, long narrow strip almost 1 kilometer long by 110 metres wide bounded by Terrace Road on the north, Victoria Avenue to the west, Plain Street to the east and Riverside Drive to the south. The park was free of fences and seemed very large. During the 1950s the three-storey Langley Parks Flats were built on the northern side of Terrace Road to accommodate city workers.[iv] Over time Terrace Road became a commercial centre as well with Sydney Atkinson Holden sales yard opposite Langley Park.[v] The only permanent structure on the Park in the 1950s was the sewerage pumping station near Hill Street. A Heritage Council assessment report in February 2000 described the pumping station as ‘an example of fine craftsmanship and the design of a utilitarian structure’.[vi] It is highly unlikely that the many softball players for whom it was a turning point on their fitness runs ever concerned themselves with its craftsmanship! The openness of the Park also meant the sea breeze usually arrived across Perth Water some time after midday. Relief from the scorching summer temperatures was welcome but the turbulent conditions required astute judgment from the players. Fly balls hung in the air a little longer or drifted away towards left field. This was not a problem for local players but could be upsetting for interstate visitors during national championships.


Langley Park was an accessible central location. Trams plied the main city thoroughfare, Hay Street, just two blocks north of the Park. Buses traveled along Adelaide Terrace to the Causeway, the only crossing of the river near the city until the opening of the Narrows Bridge in 1959. Perth Railway Station was a 15-minute walk away. Proximity to the central business district meant that sports people who worked in the city could get to mid-week training quickly, often just pausing long enough after work to change into their playing clothes, a necessity since there were no change-rooms on Langley Park.  During the late 1950s and ‘60s private ownership of motor cars became more common. Reg Page recalled that:

The premium was parking and I don’t think there were as many cars then as there are now but I can remember ladies arriving with pushers, prams, one [child] in the pusher and one hanging on the side and that sort of thing. Nowadays everybody arrives singularly in cars. In those days they’d arrive five or six people in a car to play softball.[vii]

Water supply

From late 1939 the playing fields were watered from an artesian bore located at the Plain Street end with a distribution pipe running beneath the centre of the full length of the Park. However, there were no drinking taps on Langley Park and teams had to carry their own canvas water bags. Further development was halted during World War II and maintenance proved to be difficult in the post-war years. The Council report of 1945 drew attention to the twin problems of a lack of manpower to maintain all sports grounds and an anticipated increase in demand for sports grounds by returning servicemen.


Good use was made of Langley Park. The flat, grassed surface was ideal for baseball then played in summer. A census of winter sports in 1947 revealed that approximately 255 men played either hockey or rugby there while 684 women were involved with hockey and basketball.[viii] The provision of toilets for the increasing numbers of sports participants each year was a challenge.[ix] Latrines had been connected to the sewerage scheme as early as 1914.[x] However, there were no dedicated changing facilities. Following severe storms in September 1947 the mother of a rugby player wrote to the Daily News expressing her concern that players ‘had no option but to dress and undress in full view of the passing public’.[xi] A new lavatory block for women was opened on the northeastern corner of Hill Street and Terrace Road in 1950.[xii] It served as a change-room. Perth City Council (PCC) did recoup some of its expenditure from sports organisations by levying ground fees which also contributed towards the cost of maintaining the Park.

Hiring and marking

From the outset the WAWSA had to pay a hiring fee to the City of Perth and pay for the diamonds to be marked each week. For the1949-50 season four diamonds were marked at a cost of 4/- (40 cents) each but became somewhat contentious as the PCC apparently gave differing instructions to the marker, Mr Adams, about moving them each week. Only Langley Park was used as it was considered to be a better ground than Ozone.  The only exception to playing on Langley Park occurred in the 1951-52 season when Fremantle fielded several teams. The WAWSA decided to play B and C grade matches on Fremantle Park with the winning teams designated to telephone the results to The Sunday Times.  When the WAWSA hosted the national championship in March 1952, matches were played on The Esplanade during the week. This proved popular with city office workers who could spend their lunch hour watching the softball – usually featuring WA – for free. Donations were sought by volunteers who carried a blanket around for coins to be thrown in. At the weekends the matches reverted to Langley Park.  Hosting and winning the national championships boosted the number of players and by the 1952-53 season the WAWSA required 13 diamonds on Langley Park each week. The fee for marking the diamonds was disputed. The initial figure presented to the Association was £6/10/- or 10/- per diamond per week. This was challenged and eventually reduced to £2/12/- or 4/- per diamond per week. Ground fees levied on each team remained unchanged at £5/5/- for the season.

Technicolour splash

In the lead-up to the National Championship in Brisbane in March 1953, Perth-based journalist Hugh Schmitt, wrote a feature article which appeared in The Australasian POST. Schmitt estimated that there were ‘a dozen or so clearly marked diamonds and the 500 or so girls … made the [Langley] park look like a Sam Goldwyn technicolour splash’. Continuing the movie theme Schmitt noted ‘the almost urgent voices of the boys selling peanuts, popcorn, chewing gum, chocolate, and cool drinks. With the girl on crutches’, Val Johnson, acting as his interpreter Schmitt came to grips with the language of the game which ironically included ‘you can send this glass-armed hurler to the showers. There was no shower block at Langley Park![xiii]

While club softball was settling into a regular routine, participation in the national championships was still vigorously debated. The decision to defend the title in Brisbane was not automatic. The cost of travel and accommodation was greater than any previous venture and there was some debate about the appropriate use of a large sum of money. The WA Baseball League was investigating the possibility of purchasing its own ground and the suggestion was made from within softball that the Association ought to consider forming a partnership with baseball rather than traveling to Brisbane. Such a move would have given the WAWSA independence from the PCC and more control over the diamonds plus the possibility of developing additional facilities such as change rooms and offices. The partnership did not eventuate and the State team successfully defended its title in Brisbane. In January 1953 a letter was received from the Royal Agricultural Society inquiring if the WAWSA was interested in obtaining playing fields at the Showgrounds in Claremont. This was not acted on.

Relations with PCC

Every effort was made to maintain harmonious relations with the PCC and teams were continually chastised at meetings to keep the diamonds clean and to preserve the surface for matches. For the 1953-54 season the WAWSA requested that the diamonds be shifted 15 feet to the right one fortnight then 15 feet to the left for the next fortnight. Secretary Shirley Roberts wrote to clubs requesting that if they moved the sprinklers on the Park for training the sprinklers should be kept upright and returned to their original position after training to ensure even watering of the surface.  During the 1956-57 season there were minor developments on the playing fields. The WAWSA purchased two back-nets for the two A grade diamonds and these were stored in sprinkler pipe boxes beside the toilet block at the foot of Hill Street. Teams were also required to provide flags to mark the foul lines. Pitching distances varied with the grades: 40 feet for top grade, 38 feet for lower grades and 35 feet for juniors. Hiring of Langley Park from PCC cost the WAWSA £74 for the season with another £56/14/- paid to Mr Adams to mark the diamonds each week. When the WAWSA hosted the 1957championship Mr Adams donated his time to mark the diamonds.

Our own grounds

In her 1957 President’s Annual Report Johnson again raised the possibility of ‘whether we could purchase or lease our own grounds and maintain them for less is a decision which I feel must be made in the near future, while central areas are still available at reasonable cost’. Johnson had sown the seeds and her successors maintained enthusiasm for the idea. Ground hire and marking fees steadily increased. For the 1957-58 season they were £93 and £54 respectively. The following season the WAWSA sought a reduction on the basis that many of its players were juniors but the Council was not at all sympathetic. As well the WAWSA attempted to locate an enclosed ground like a football ground at which to play the Grand Finals, however, none were available. Presumably this would have provided elevated seating for spectators and, more importantly, allowed the Association to charge an admission fee.

The Swan River foreshore underwent one of its most significant changes, the construction of the Narrows Bridge. which was officially opened on 13 November 1959.[xiv]

Alternative venues

The deteriorating condition of the playing surface at Langley Park prompted the 1965-66 Executive to approach several local government authorities to seek alternatives. New grounds were being developed in South Perth and the WAWSA Secretary was instructed to write to the South Perth City Council about the allocation of grounds. In April 1966 the Executive sought to send a delegation to the South Perth City Council to discuss the use of South Perth foreshore for playing grounds. In July the Council advised the WAWSA that the area was not ready for such use. Another approach was made to South Perth City Council in April 1967 but the WAWSA was notified that the foreshore was to be parklands and not available for playing grounds.

Partnership with hockey

At the beginning of the 1967-68 season President Colin Smith repeated his call for more attention to be paid to the condition of the playing surface at Langley Park. Not only was safety a concern but improvements in playing standards were linked to this. At the final meeting of the Executive on 15 July, a very interesting development was noted in the minutes:

Moves being made by the W.A. Women’s Hockey Association (WHA) to approach Perth City Council re obtaining own grounds in conjunction with the W.A. Women’s Softball Association. Prospects appear very promising, and Secretary was instructed to write to W.A.W.H.A. assuring them of our full co-operation and support in this matter.

The A and A Reserve grade grand finals were played at Inglewood Oval. The dream for softball to have its own grounds was still alive and at the Executive meeting in October 1968 Shirley Roberts noted:

The WA WHA had reported that the joint application had been accepted by the Perth City Council. Further information will be supplied when details are available. Our association has been asked to notify them if we are still interested in this venture. Moved that we assure them of our full support and co-operation at all times in any way whatsoever.

New amenities block

The new amenities block on Langley Park built by PCC at a cost of $66,000 opened in 1969 and provided much needed change rooms and toilets but no storerooms. Players continued to carry bases, benches and the rest of their paraphernalia with them. In January 1971 the WAWSA was forced to apologise to the City of Perth stating that the Association was unaware that a window was broken by girls playing with softballs inside the change rooms and that another window had been hit by a batted ball.  The popularity of softball was such that the WAWSA asked PCC for permission for club teams to train on Langley Park five nights a week in addition to matches at the weekends. Concern was also expressed about the litter on the benches and grounds after matches and teams were reminded of the need to clean up. A monetary fine system was suggested if the situation did not improve.

Traffic hazard

As the standard of play improved it was not uncommon for a fast pass ball or big foul hit to confront the unwary motorist on Terrace Road. It took an exceptionally big homerun hit to interrupt traffic on Riverside Drive. The Executive urged clubs playing Junior matches to ‘try and provide some sort of netting … to save girls from having to run onto the road to get the ball. Something about 3 ft high (1 metre) may save a lot of this’. This problem was somewhat reduced by a decision at the December Council meeting to have ‘a ground rule that if the ball goes on the road it will be an automatic 3 base hit’.  With improvements in skills and equipment (the metal bat, in particular) by the 1972-73 season the constraints at Langley Park were becoming more obvious. The City of Perth forwarded a letter from the Metropolitan Transport Trust to the Association over problems of balls being hit on to roads in front of buses.

Changing cityscape

At the annual ground allocation meeting in August 1970 the City of Perth advised users, including the WAWSA, that 100 feet (30 metres) of Langley Park adjacent to Victoria Avenue would not be available owing to sewerage work. It was also foreshadowed that there would be a substantial rise in ground fees for the 1971-72 season and removal of the fee exemption for junior teams. A particularly interesting piece of correspondence was tabled at September 1970 WAWSA Council meeting from the Shire of Perth (which controlled the suburbs surrounding Perth City) outlining the Scaddan Pine Plantation development (in Yokine) and these were displayed for members to peruse at the conclusion of the meeting. People now understood that Perth was growing rapidly and there were possibilities for sports grounds in the suburbs. The growth of suburban shopping centres like Garden City, Centrepoint Midland and Karrinyup had turned focus away from the central business district.

Time to move

Reg Page summed up the situation at Langley Park:

When we first started there wasn’t much traffic and then as the years went along balls were being hit across Riverside Drive … more and more flats [were built] and [it] became more residential along there. It was becoming fairly obvious that something had to give; softball gave first, we had to move out. We didn’t have to move but we moved because we needed to too.


Scaddan Pine Plantation

Yokine is an Aboriginal word for wild or native dog although it is likely the dogs left the area when European settlers moved in.[xv] The suburb initially served Perth as a sanitary dump but in 1932 the area was vested in the Conservation of Forests and renamed the Scaddan Pine Plantation Reserve. During 1932 -3 the land was cleared and planted with Pinus pinaster seedlings, the seeds of which had been specially imported from Portugal and raised in the Forest Department’s nursery. Several similar areas were set aside around Perth by ‘a far-sighted Government wishing to preserve large areas of outer suburban land for institutional and recreational purposes’. A total of 85 hectares was planted at Yokine.[xvi] John Scaddan represented the Lawley Ward on the Shire of Perth and he reached the pinnacle of his political career when he was Labor Premier from October 1911 to July 1916. From 1931 until his death in 1934 he was Chief Elective Officer/ Chairman of the Perth Road Board (PRB). He served as President of Subiaco Football Club and was renowned as a recruiting officer. Scaddan was also involved in the battle for control of the speedway.[xvii] In 1933 Scaddan pointed out that the Perth Road Board was second to the City of Perth in revenue and population, but its provision of reserves and playing facilities for children and adults was totally inadequate. Following his remarks a special fund was set up in July 1933 for the control, improvement and maintenance of parks and reserves in the district. It was proposed to take five percent of the general revenue of the Inglewood, Lawley and Peninsula Wards for this purpose.[xviii] [xix] By 1956 the Town Planning Department with the Road Board was preparing to provide permanent open space in the Mount Lawley/Inglewood area on land occupied by the Scaddan Pine Plantation. As the pine trees reached maturity it was intended to clear the area and establish new plantations north of Morley. It was envisaged that the eventual extension of Fitzgerald Street, North Perth, would pass through the Scaddan Pine Plantation as a main road – Alexander Drive - to Morley.[xx]


New recreation complex

The idea came to fruition much earlier than expected when bush fires destroyed Scaddan Pine Plantation on 6 December 1958.[xxi] With the land prematurely cleared the government expedited planning and sub-division. Plans announced by Lands Minister Bovell in August 1960 showed a 100-acre section extending westwards from Alexander Drive and bounded on the north by Wordsworth Avenue and on the south by Bradford Street. Provision was made for aged people’s institutions including the War Veterans’ Home, the Masonic homes, and other similar projects undertaken by various churches. A large area extending north from the institutions towards Wordsworth Avenue, and west of Alexander Drive was to be developed as a recreational complex. The Municipal Swimming Pool (later renamed the Terry Tyzack Aquatic Centre) and recreational ground were already provided east of Alexander Drive, adjacent to the Mount Lawley Golf Club.[xxii] In November 1962 a report in the East Suburban Section of The West Australian indicated that ‘a new recreational reserve had been vested by the Department of Land and Surveys’.[xxiii]  Detailed plans for the site were released in January 1964 depicting:

Four children’s playgrounds, a pool and parking areas, five football ovals, 11 hockey fields, three rugby fields, a soccer ground, 15 basketball courts, two open playing fields, sites for change rooms and lavatories and landscaping of the area.[xxiv]

Four of the five football ovals were adjacent to Alexander Drive and the hockey fields were west of a driveway into the complex from Wordsworth Avenue. In 1968 the Shire Council, the successor to the Perth Road Board, appointed a Superintendent of Parks and Recreation to develop and maintain sites for recreation areas throughout the area. The ambitious plans (along with the relocation of East Perth Football Club to open space in Dianella) were abandoned in early 1970 following consultation with the local residents who argued that the development was incompatible with the existing social development.[xxv] On 24 January 1971 Shire of Perth was reconstituted as the City of Stirling.[xxvi] 

Financial commitment

At the 1971 AGM WAWSA President Dick Watters reported that he and:

the Association Secretary [Marie Taylor]… attended several meetings at the City of Stirling offices discussing a proposed new sports area adjacent to the Inglewood Swimming Pool. As a result of these meetings and in conjunction with Men’s & Women’s Hockey Associations, we can look forward to having some extra grounds for the 1973-74 season. Of course we had to pledge some financial assistance, but we have managed to keep this within our present budget.

In April 1972 Marie Taylor tabled a progress report from the City of Stirling stating ‘the grounds are coming along very well and all going well they should be ready for use in the 1973/74 season’. The City of Stirling asked the WSWSA to re-confirm its commitment and amount of money to be contributed towards buildings. The WAWSA responded positively within a month and agreed to increase its contribution to $2,500. This money was formally handed to the City of Stirling in March 1973. These developments inspired the WAWSA to consider the possibility of extending season and playing on Sundays ‘on [our] own grounds’. Dates were to be obtained from hockey associations to determine the feasibility of this.

At the 1973 AGM President Shirley Schneider reported that the availability of the new grounds would be known in June. If the grounds were not ready for the forthcoming season they certainly would be for the 1974-75 one. Most importantly Schneider noted ‘there will be a Meeting Room, Shower Facilities together with provision for a canteen’. The next meeting with the City of Stirling in July 1973 covered the charges to the softball and hockey associations for the use of the grounds and the formation of the Yokine Reserve Management Committee (also known as the Yokine Advisory Committee) with Shirley Schneider and Marie Taylor nominated as softball’s representatives with Joy Marsland as their proxy. As Reg Page explained the Committee became ‘the watch dogs for the ovals, any vandalism, anything went wrong, the roof leaked, doors broken, a light was broken, whatever, you kept an eye on the oval. We had a lot of good active people and the grounds were in better condition ….’ 

Moving from Langley Park

The move from Langley Park to Yokine Reserve took several seasons. In August 1974 the WAWSA held an emergency meeting to consider how it would cope with the City of Stirling’s decision to allow play on only 10 diamonds for the coming season. Saturday afternoon competition was split over the two venues with A, A Reserve, B1 and Junior A and A Reserve grades at Yokine and the rest at Langley Park. Sub-juniors and Junior B Grades remained at Langley Park on Saturday mornings. An extra 15 minutes was allowed between early and late matches so coaches and umpires could travel between the two venues. Thus the WAWSA was paying hiring fees to both the City of Perth and the City of Stirling. This situation continued for several more seasons until all afternoon matches were accommodated at Yokine. As well, the Association had to pay to have the diamonds marked each week. Backstops were required and the Association had to pay $883 for them of which $500 was recouped as an Equipment Grant from the Youth Recreation Council.

International stadium for hockey and softball

While softball and hockey were compatible co-tenants, the relationship was tested during the 1977-78 season when a proposal was forwarded to the Yokine Advisory Committee for an international standard hockey stadium. Softball President John Claxton, association Secretary Peter Lynch and Yokine Advisory Committee Secretary Shirley Schneider attended a sequence of meetings with hockey officials, local rate payers and representatives of the various aged care facilities on the southern boundary of Yokine Reserve. Softball was concerned that it would lose up to four diamonds and that girls from the City of Stirling would be deprived of a venue in their area. Numerous options were explored with the most ambitious being the sharing of the new stadium: hockey in winter, softball in summer. Softball was to be given replacement diamonds and was accepted as a junior partner in the stadium development with a requirement to raise $50,000 of the expected total cost of $250,000. Softball would have two positions on the 10-person board.[xxvii] The hockey associations finally opted to locate their international pitch and headquarters at the WA Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) in Bentley. The WASA became the sole sporting association with its headquarters at Yokine. Surf and Dianella Hockey Clubs shared the facilities in winter.


Despite early fears that sport would not be compatible with the adjacent retirement homes, softball proved to be of interest to the residents. Reg Page remembered:

they said the sport would upset the old people [but] after a short period of time we found that a lot of the people from the old people’s homes were bringing their seats out and sitting at the fence and watching play. [Some were] actually coming out and sitting on the sides of the diamonds and watching ….

Yokine as a training venue

With the change of the playing venue, over time many teams opted to relocate their training sessions from Langley Park to Yokine. In the early 1980s the fee for training at Yokine was $3 per head. Gradually some clubs made Yokine their headquarters, too. Shirley Schneider lived in Wordsworth Avenue, just across the road and she took responsibility for the keys to the clubrooms. She stated that:

it’s convenient because it’s just over the road but it does have its problems. I have keys in our meter box … We had a very strict control of the keys. There was only one set of keys to be used and that was the reason I had them here, for security reasons. The Men’s and Women’s hockey were happy because it only involved clubs that were going to play here. They had no resident clubs as such to start with and then Surf Hockey Club came over and then Dianella Hockey Club became trainer clubs in the area. It was more convenient for the keys to be left in the meter box so that the first person at training could pick them up rather than having to wait for someone that might not knock off till half past six and they couldn’t get into the change rooms or the club rooms. That’s been a standing arrangement since we first played on the grounds.[xxviii]

New expenses

‘Our own grounds’ and headquarters presented major challenges to the WASA. Expenses were incurred which the Association had not previously had to consider for diamond maintenance and the buildings. The investment fund was drawn on to meet the new expenses and Treasurer Peggy Beckett strongly advised that ‘should we get our heads above water in the near future I would like to see this withdrawal reversed’. President Shirley Schneider was more forthright indicating that steps would have to be taken in the coming seasons ‘either [as] increased fees, or the Association will have to revert to levying each Club tickets for all Social Functions’In 1979 the WASA was asked to consider a proposal from the Yokine Advisory Committee to have floodlights installed. A motion to contribute $1,500 provided the light intensity was adequate was defeated. With softball continuing to grow the WASA was reprimanded by the City of Stirling in 1979 for marking more diamonds than had been negotiated and in 1980 a further increase in teams lead to a suggestion to relegate lower B grade sides back to Langley Park. There was a fear that if the WASA abused its position at Yokine, then it might lose the grounds. The Secretary was directed to contact the City in September 1980 to explain the situation.


In October 1982 the WASA was notified that the City of Stirling had officially classified the clubrooms and hereafter there was a hiring fee of $175. The WASA argued that the canteen should be exempt from this since it had built the canteen, not the City.  The WASA continually lobbied the City of Stirling to gain extra grounds and were somewhat perplexed when in February 1984 Perth Baseball Tee Ball Club granted use of ground on the western side of the car park for home games in the next season. There was some suggestion that softball might get access but the City declared that the grounds would not be ready for heavy use for two years. Also, the City of Stirling stipulated that there was to be no parking on the road or verge of Wordsworth Avenue. Offenders risked a $20 fine. As well, the only vehicles allowed on the reserve were to be those of the diamond markers. Safety of players and spectators was an ongoing concern and several requests were made to the City of Stirling to have speed humps installed to slow traffic entering the car park.  Further significant changes began in 1987 when the WASA restructured. Women’s Saturday softball became the Summer Competition which took control of the competition at Yokine. The WASA maintained ownership of the canteen and undertook negotiations with the City of Stirling. This was felt to be the best way to ensure that softball could fend off other sports such as soccer which eyed the open space with envy.


Diamond location

Among the challenges at Yokine was determination of the best allocation of diamonds. Logic suggested that the grades should simply proceed in order from Wordsworth Avenue to the southern boundary. By 1978 the diamonds were organized in lines of four from west to east with five rows north to south. This arrangement was practical but not conducive to the social atmosphere. At Langley Park the diamonds had been set out in one continuous line from Victoria Avenue to Plain Street with home bases adjacent to Terrace Drive. As Lorraine Page lamented:

You could walk from one end of Langley Park to the other and you would see everybody whereas at Yokine [in] the vastness you lost that … you knew everybody just about in any team in any club that played at Langley because the closeness was there … and once you shifted to Yokine that was lost.[xxix]

To generate business for the canteen it was decided in 1982 that the A grade diamonds would be placed at the opposite (southern) end of the reserve. Two arguments were used to support this: (a) the ground was in better condition; and (b) it would draw more people passed the canteen. However, in 2003 it was decided that A grade should play on the diamonds directly in line with the canteen.


Marking the diamonds

Marking the diamonds was an ongoing expense for the WASA. Each year it called for quotes to mark diamonds. Different individuals and clubs responded. Even State coaches undertook this task. In the 1977-78 season Bob McKibbin and John Claxton marked the diamonds on Yokine Reserve for $3 per diamond. McKibbin recalled that:

John Claxton and I used to mark 24 [diamonds] on Yokine Reserve every Friday night and Saturday morning … I started off trying to organize the fathers from Bedford to do it as a fundraiser. When it got to Ron Malcolm and Bob McKibbin doing it every week [I thought], “No, this is silly.” So I said, “Next season you’re going to have to pay somebody.” It rolled on and I spoke to John. He and I were both going away with State teams so this will pay for our fund raising … We used to go down and do several on Friday night, then we’d go back at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning but it became very simple in the end. It ended up we didn’t even have to talk to one another. One would look what the other was doing and do the next bit. And when we stopped using lime and started using the black stuff it got easier still … and the funny thing with that was we used to go around in between marking the diamonds and watch the subbies play on Saturday morning and think who is that kid? We watched kids like Cheryl Garcia, Gail Clarke and that age group … Little did we know that in a few years we’d be coaching them in State teams.


For the 1981-82 season Kalamunda club was paid $4 per diamond. For the 1982-83 season diamond marking was shared between L Kitson and Nollamara club with the sub-junior and junior diamonds marked in the corridors between the seniors diamonds to minimize overuse of the grounds. For the 1983-84 season marking was shared 50/50 between Lou Bonomi and Nollamara club.  In the 1990s Don Brooks, Deputy Convener of the Summer Competition, took over diamond marking. On one occasion when he and Laurie Prior were purchasing the paint:

The bloke said, “What coverage do you get?” I said, “About six kilometers.” He said, “What? How much is that?” I said, “I don’t know.” … I got to know the chap who marked the hockey fields down there and he said, “What paint do you use?” This is well into the hockey season and he said, “I can still see your lines.” I think at that time we were using what Dulux gave us. It was scraps. One of the women who played softball worked for Dulux. I think when they cleaned the machines out they used to put it in tins and give it to the staff for local football clubs as a sort of fund raiser and that sort of thing. I think we were paying about $5 for a 20-litre tin. And the [hockey] bloke said, “My paint’s no good ‘cos we’ve only got this pump.” “Well,” I said, “You don’t mix it too thick.” See he was marking [the hockey fields] and every time they mow it, he loses his lines. I said, “You’re having the mix too thick so you’re painting the grass. If you have a thin mix and keep the pressure up you get to the ground under the grass.” It gets covered in as well but when they mow it, you can still see your lines. Someone said to me one day, “What happened to that line?” Once you’ve put it down you can’t rub it out. I was going along and I didn’t hear a thing but this Rottweiller came up and started humping my leg and I forgot to turn the machine off.[xxx]


Backstops were essential behind every home base in such a large open space. Erecting and dismantling them was a bone of contention with frequent reminders in the Minutes to clubs to do this. When he marked the diamonds McKibbin set out the backstops using his treasured car:

The Little Dat the girls used to call it. It was a little Datsun 1000 station wagon. I used to put the backstops in at Yokine. [I’d put] them on the roof rack of this thing and [John Claxton] walked along behind hanging on to them’.[xxxi]

Pitching mats were introduced to preserve the grounds. Stephen Prior handled this job for a while. He used ride his bike to Yokine then load the mats on his father’s ute and drive them to each diamond. After matches he collected them to put away. Laurie Prior remembered ‘When he got his licence and put P plates on some of the girls were surprised because he’d been driving around Yokine for years’.[xxxii]



After 25 years at Langley Park with no facilities, Yokine at first appeared luxurious with a meeting room, change rooms and storage space. It was not long, however, before changes were necessary. The sport grew to such an extent that its volunteer office bearers could no longer operate from their homes and office space had to be set aside in the building. It became apparent very quickly that the canteen needed to be a dedicated facility, not part of the meeting room.  New tasks emerged. As Shirley Schneider recalled:

Yokine Reserve became operational and the three associations, two hockey associations and the softball association, were the management people of Yokine. We were responsible for cleaning of the change rooms and the meeting room. We couldn’t get anyone to do it so I spoke to Lorraine and said, “Well look, how about you and I do it, and we’ll split the money raised three ways. You and I will take a third each, and we’ll give a third to the club [Demons].” We did that for about four years. … Well, we were getting five dollars an hour at one stage, and then after awhile … the chairman of the Yokine Reserve Committee, said $5 an hour is just ridiculous, so we put it up to $10.[xxxiii]

As part of the process of establishing Yokine Reserve as the headquarters for softball Schneider sought approval from the Yokine Reserve Advisory Committee to have framed photographs of State softball teams placed on the walls of the building. In May 1974 the WASA gave her permission to have the photographs framed in readiness.


Security of the office

In October 1981 the WASA received a setback when the building was broken into twice and equipment and stock stolen resulting in an increase in insurance premiums. Further break-ins during the season exasperated the situation. Acting on his own initiative President Reg Page had an alarm system installed. The City of Stirling supplied a Tax Exemption form but no financial assistance. The Management Committee endorsed Page’s action. So effective was the alarm that Page actually arrived on site as the fourth break-in of the season occurred. Despite being of slight build Page had a strong military background and apprehended one of the thieves which earned him a note in the Minutes ‘Well done Reg. 10 out of 10 for Courage – “Our little Commando”’.  The first steps towards setting up a permanent office were taken in 1985 when Secretary Connie Montgomery attended Yokine for four hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This in turn meant that the office had to be appropriately equipped beginning with the purchase of a reconditioned typewriter for $295. By 1986 the office was running full-time with Administration Assistant Mary Androetta employed for 35 hours per week. Jan Beuglaar urged the Association to enter the technological era and use computers for general secretarial tasks and softball specific needs like registrations. The computer proved rather temperamental in the heat of Yokine office which required the installation of air conditioning. With more expensive equipment and frequent break-ins Yokine was not as secure as desired and the office was moved to the Herb Graham Recreation Centre in Mirrabooka, adjacent to the site where the State Softball Centre was to be constructed.



Life Member: 1984

Softball is brilliant. It is not the achievement of what you get but what

you can give.


Blue Jays



State Team

Manager Senior Men: 2001


Treasurer: 1958-60

Management Committee: 1979-92

Junior Vice President: 1988-92

Board of Management: 1992-94

Hall of Fame Committee: 2007


WASA Patron: 1980-88

Australian Softball Federation Service Award: 1995

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

After showing promise as a boxer in his early school years, Alf turned to baseball and played A grade with Northern Suburbs for 25 years. He then joined Melville and subsequently Fremantle for brief periods.  His involvement with softball began in 1952. Alf coached Blue Jays A Reserve team for 10 years, a team which “stuck together” and at least once went through the season undefeated. He thought his A Reserve players could have succeeded in A grade but at that stage Blue Jays A grade team had a high proportion of State team members and there was imply no room for A Reserve players to move up. Alf’s belief in his players was justified in the knock-out competition when Blue Jays A Reserve defeated the A grade team coached by a rather furious Bill Wells.  Alf moved to Nollamara when a change of coaches was needed. Alf coached the Nollamara juniors, at one stage guiding two teams and getting them both into the finals. As coach he emphasized the importance of mastering the basic techniques so that when players progressed to a higher grade their new coach didn’t have to teach them a thing. He also had a couple of seasons with Demons.  When necessary he took his turn as umpire. He made his first and only State team in 2001 when he assisted the Men’s Open team. The players were reluctant to go to the national championships but Reg Page stepped up to coach and Alf decided to support Reg by becoming Manager.  He gained his first sports administration experience at Blue Jays when he managed the club’s finances. Blue Jays had run up a debt of £112 with Boans department store and was threatened with a lawsuit. Alf negotiated with Boans to have the debt paid off by Christmas. Such were Alf’s fund raising skills – and personal generosity – that Blue Jays could always rely on having the best club trophies and windup night of any association club.  That reputation saw Alf serve as Treasurer of the WAWSA for two years at the end of the 1950s with a further year managing after the Accident Fund. He temporarily left softball to marry, raise his family and start his cabinet making business. He returned to softball when his children began to play tee-ball and softball. His two daughters played with Nollamara and Demons.


Alf was a club delegate to the WASA for over 30 years during which time he served on the Management Committee and Board of Management including sub-committees responsible for Sponsorship and Finance and Grounds and Buildings. In 1990 he represented softball at the early meetings called by the government to discuss the establishment of the Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway). Mostly, Alf preferred to work ‘behind the scenes’ and was happy undertaking a range of tasks so long as they were for the benefit of softball. He was willing to mark the diamonds, keep the grounds clean and even undertake large scale projects like top dressing the diamonds at Mirrabooka by bringing his tractor down from his farm at Gingin.  Alf gave generously of his money and time to ensure that the canteen was built at Yokine Reserve. In the 1981-82 Annual Report, President Reg Page expressed his pride in the completion of the new canteen and paid tribute to Alf’s efforts:

These facilities were erected by the Association under the able leadership and guidance of our Patron and Works organizer Mr. Alf Bunting, whose tireless efforts set an example and proved what could be achieved with a “Little Effort”. Alf’s untiring efforts in organizing Materials, Men and in some instances finance was in my opinion a Magnificent Effort.

Later he served on the Committee which oversaw the development of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka. He was also responsible for the internal fitting out the building. Again his efforts did not go unnoticed. Bob McKibbin appreciated that Alf’s ‘knowledge of the building game just made things simpler at this time. Alf’s a doer … if its got to be done, he goes out and does it and if you’ve got to spend a quid to do it, he’ll spend it. If he gets it back, well, he doesn’t care’. A lasting testimony to his workmanship is the table used by the gateman at Mirrabooka. Alf built it very quickly prior to the opening of Mirrabooka in 1991 when it was realized there were no facilities for the gateman. The table was used till the mid-2000s. Shirley Schneider recalled that:

he came on to the Board and he’s worked tirelessly actually with the building of Mirrabooka. He’s been instrumental in saving us many thousands of dollars in sponsorship for formica and timber and things like that. He was also responsible for the building of the canteen at Yokine reserve which virtually cost us nothing. He built all the kitchen sinks and the cupboards and everything for us. He’s been a wonderful helper for softball.


When needed Alf helped with fund raising for State teams. He donated space at his factory when the Under 16 Girls’ team had to store telephone books in preparation for their delivery to homes throughout Perth’s suburbs. Under 16 Coach, Bob McKibbin, survived only one day helping with the phone books because he reckoned Alf worked people to death! To encourage youngsters to take up softball he purchased gloves and uniforms for them. Once he was offered 100 gloves for $10 each. He purchased the lot and then sold the lot over the next eight weeks for the purchase price.  Likewise Alf was willing to help interstate visitors in Perth for national championships. In 1970 he gained his B class driver’s licence so that he could help transport the NSW Under 16 team around Perth including visits to his home for barbeques and swims. Alf (and Reg Page) achieved a degree of notoriety when WA hosted the Women’s Open Championship at Leederville Oval in 1984. Alf used his truck to transport backstops from Yokine Reserve to the oval, a job that had to be done in the dark at 5am because the backstops were too wide. All went well until they clipped a light pole and dislodged the load which had to be reloaded before they were seen. Alf never sought or accepted payment from the WASA but gained enormous satisfaction from being its Patron from 1980 to 1988. In 1984 he was made a Life Member and in 1995 he received an ASF Service Award. When the federal government awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 as part of the celebration of the Sydney Olympics, there was double joy in the Bunting household: Alf was awarded a medal for his contribution to softball and his wife, Gwen, received one for her role in 10-pin bowling.



In the final years Langley Park the association had the use of a caravan provided by Weaver and Lock, producers of soft drinks. This had proven financially worthwhile and so the canteen at Yokine was anticipated to become a major source of income.  By 1979 the modest arrangements for the canteen were beginning to reveal shortcomings that the WASA realized could only be solved by construction of a dedicated facility. In 1979 the WASA began planning for a kiosk at Yokine Reserve and submitted its request to the City of Stirling. In July 1980 doubts were cast over how well the case had been presented to the City. Alf Bunting suggested that the City be asked to draw up plans for a building and the WASA President to meet with City representatives. Meanwhile the Association had to continue to serve the players and spectators and moved ahead with its plans for better facilities by obtaining quotes for a cool room for which a budget of $300 was set. By October 1980 an 11 cubic [foot] freezer had been purchased for $200. A pie warmer was hired from Peters. As had been the tradition for some years the Tee Ball Association held its annual carnival at Yokine Reserve in early December 1980. While this was financially beneficially to softball generating an extra $1,000 income for the canteen, it brought the problems to a head. Nox Bailey argued that it should be the Association’s ‘No 1 priority that we either build a canteen next door ourselves or sub-contract’. Alf Bunting was given the go-ahead to negotiate with the City of Stirling and in February 1981 reported that a building permit had been received. He had also secured a donation of bricks from Midland Brick Company. Bunting donated materials and spent many hours installing cupboards. He requested and received a cheque for $2,000 for materials to complete the building. A further $3,000 was advanced to Bunting in January 1981. All the requisite approvals were in place by September 1981.


Yokine was also used for the State Softball Championships which generated additional income and drove home the need for better facilities such as a cool room. It was purchased for $2,419 from canteen revenue. The new canteen was operational by early 1982. Ongoing maintenance required constant attention such as concreting the apron surrounding the canteen and repairing damaged cupboards. These were ready for the 1982-83 season.  However, for the canteen to generate a profit it had to be run efficiently. A key to the success was a supervisor. In the first season no one from within the softball community was willing to do so and the Association hired a woman for $260 for the season which reduced the profit margin. Nox Bailey attended to the onerous task of sourcing and maintaining the stock. Initially softball and hockey operated independently meaning that stock had to be cleared out at the end of the season. Bailey then took on the management. For the 1981-82 season all clubs playing at Yokine were rostered in alphabetical order for canteen duty each week from 10am to 6pm. Clubs failing to complete this were fined $20. Some of the volunteers believed they should be given free drinks but the Management Committee made it clear in the Minutes of March 1982 that ‘the canteen is run for the benefit of Softball and members. Therefore no-one should feel they are entitled to free drinks, etc. EVERYONE PAYS’. (Emphasis in original).


Following Bailey, Lorraine Page and Shirley Schneider on behalf of Demons took on the management of canteen and were granted an advance of $300 for stock. Lorraine Page recalled:

Shirley [Schneider] and I decided that we would run the canteen … that involved the ordering and banking and everything else that went with running it. We used to roster players on to look after the canteen when they weren’t playing and that worked well for 12 months then … the [Demons] club decided that it was becoming too much of a hassle so Shirley and I continued on for another year and the clubs at Yokine were rostered on to the canteen to do the duty and the year after that I took it on myself.

Page had no specific background but learnt by what people brought and adjusted supplies accordingly. For her efforts over six days each week, she received an honorarium which over time increased from $300 to $600 per season. This was miniscule for what became a 16-hour day:

I had to be down there at 8 o’clock at Yokine to take delivery of the pies and sausage rolls and that. They would deliver them Saturday morning which was good. Yes, it was a long Saturday and in between you’d play Saturday afternoon … It never worried you.[xxxiv] 


Page would be back at Yokine by 9 o’clock Sunday morning for training with either the Under 19 Women’s or Under 16 Girls’ teams for which she was coach/assistant coach.  The importance of the canteen to softball can be gauged by the steady increase in profits. In the 1978-79 Annual Report Treasurer Beckett noted that in just four years the canteen, through the efforts of Bailey and his helpers had raised $11,000 of which $4,000 had been generated in the past season. Profit continued to grow by approximately $500 per annum. When Demons managed it the profit for the WASA was $6,000. When Lorraine Page retired in 1997, canteen profits were approximately $35,000 per annum. More recently, however, profits have declined with the decrease in the number of softballers. A lack of volunteers to run the canteen led the WASA to hire a canteen manager.


Time to move on again

As a big open space Yokine was not suitable for national championships except for the 1986 and 1991 Senior Men’s tournaments and the 1993 Masters Championships. National championships were held at enclosed football grounds until 1991 when the WASA achieved its long-held dream of its own international standard diamonds at Mirrabooka. State teams continued to train at Yokine until the late 1990s but moved to Mirrabooka when four diamonds were available.


A new sporting complex in the City of Stirling

With Yokine Reserve established as a functional recreational facility by the mid-1970s, the City of Stirling turned its attention to developing other areas within its boundaries. In late 1979 the City indicated that it was considering developing a sporting complex at Mirrabooka, a new suburb approximately 5 kilometres north of Yokine. The WASA, along with a number of other sporting organizations, responded positively by attending meetings with the City, DYSR and the WASF. By March 1980 the Secretary reported to the WASA that a letter had been received from City asking approximately how much money the WASA was willing to contribute towards costs of the complex. The Secretary was directed to reply giving an approximate but not binding amount. Roma Piercy, the WASA delegate to the WASF, reported that following a meeting organized by the Federation quite a few sports were interested in getting in on the ground floor. The WASA invited Steve Stacey from the City to address the July Management Committee meeting on Mirrabooka Complex. He outlined what was being planned and indicated that the WASA would need to confirm its commitment within the next twelve months.


At a Special Meeting convened in August the WASA was informed that the City of Stirling had sufficient funds to begin the earth works and wanted a clearer commitment of money from the interested sporting organizations. The WASA was concerned about the additional running costs and decided not to commit a specific sum until the President and Secretary had attended a meeting with other interested sporting bodies. After a further meeting the WASA convened another Special Meeting in October to outline developments. Each sporting association was expected to contribute $15,000 to cover running costs. It was envisaged that financial support would be sought from both State and federal governments for the complex to be managed by a committee comprising two members from each sporting association, and one member from each of DYSR and the City of Stirling. As well the complex would include a Sportsman’s Bar to generate income for the sports. Treasurer Beckett and Apache’s club delegate, Ron Piercy, moved a motion to delay any commitment until all financial questions had been satisfactorily resolved. This was defeated because there was anxiety about missing out. Bill Grice also spoke against the venture ‘as he cannot see it being viable for our Association. He feels we will be in financial difficulties in the future’. However, the optimists prevailed and it was agreed that the WASA enter into the Mirrabooka Complex venture.


Herb Graham Recreation Centre

In June 1983 Reg Page reported that he had been advised that the land had been cleared and building started for what was to become the Herb Graham Recreation Centre. Some pessimistic softball members still felt that Mirrabooka was not the best solution for softball and that more effort ought to be made to convince the City to develop the land west of the car park at Yokine for softball.


Softball’s million dollar investment

The other sporting organizations that had shown early interest fell by the way. Softball, through Page, maintained a dialogue with the City. Following a meeting in November 1984 with officers from the City Page considered the proposed complex was ‘fantastic’. Grice maintained his cautious approach and urged the WASA to ‘consciously do our homework’. Grice’s recommendation was heeded. Peter Tilley, an architect from Roger Gregson & Associates, and a member of Bedford Men’s Softball Club was employed. In April 1984 Page reported to the Management Committee that a submission had been presented to the City of Stirling following just two days notice. Bob McKibbin recalled that:

we met with the [Stirling] Council down at Yokine Reserve. There were several of them and several of us. Peter [Tilley] had all these colour perspectives of what it was going to look like … and went through it and the bloke said, “This is one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen but … we need to get down to the nitty gritty … Mr Page, as President, what can your Association put in?” And, Reg said, “Well, how’s about a million dollars as a start?” The bloke said, “You want us to give you a million dollars?” [Reg] said, “No, no. We’ve got a million dollars to put into this.” The bloke looked at him and he looked at Peter and back at the plans and he said, “We’d better sit down. We can talk about this.” We finished up, believe it or not, … we lent money to the [City] of Stirling.[xxxv]


Feasibility study

At this stage the WASA had not had to outlay any funds but Page foresaw that this was not going to continue and so an application was made to DYSR for a feasibility grant. By June 1985 the WASA had been granted the land from the City of Stirling and $4,000 from DYSR for the feasibility study. Initially the City of Stirling leased the land to the WASA for 21 years with two further 10-year options. Rental was to be based on the number of players but with flexibility for future years. The City of Stirling agreed to a grant of $75,000 in kind. A Steering Committee was formed including three representatives from the WASA – Page, Grice and Tilley – plus two from DYSR. Entering such a scheme required the engagement of a lawyer and by December 1985 Gibson & Gibson had been appointed.  While major hurdles had been crossed there was no doubt in Treasurer Beckett’s mind that:

… before we get too starry eyed, let’s all realize the work has only just begun and it will need all hands on deck to achieve our final goal. I must admit that when I look at the situation in the “Contest Fund” this year I become frightened and I think that the Association will have to become more professional in many aspects and realize that we cannot rely on our members alone for funding of this “Giant Project”. Let’s go to it and show them “THE WEST IS THE BEST”!

(Emphasis in original)


In June 1986 Reg Page reported to the Management Committee that the City of Stirling and the WASA solicitors had met to discuss details of the lease. In the meantime a feasibility study was completed and copies sent to the Minister for Sport and Recreation and City of Stirling. As well there was a reduction in the scope of works and Association costs which had also been forwarded to the City of Stirling. The Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation was happy with the costings and sent them to the Minister for approval. Page emphasized that the venture would need the support of all people participating in softball. Roma Piercy, the WASA Delegate to the WA Sports Federation, reported that the ‘Federation Meeting felt that the Softball Feasibility Study was the best one received'.


In July 1986 accounts submitted by Peter Tilley for $1722.00 and Roger Gregson & Associates Pty Ltd for $1288.00 took a large chunk of the feasibility funds. The remaining funds were returned to DSR. According to Reg Page ‘I think we were one of the first sports that did our feasibility study and had some money over and gave it back to them, they were quite surprised …’. By February 1987 the City of Stirling was able to advise the WASA that the grounds had been valued at $17,000 which meant a Lease 10 of ratable value.  In anticipation of move of headquarters to Mirrabooka, the Board of Management held its monthly meetings and AGM at Herb Graham Recreation Centre which was east of the site of the new softball complex across a shared car park. The Centre had opened in December 1983.  WASA funds received a very significant boost in May 1987 when the WAMSL was formally wound up and approximately $89,000 was transferred to the WASA which was invested for Mirrabooka.


Ministerial hiccup

With optimism at an all time high the WASA was somewhat taken aback in July 1988 when Page, Tilley, Bunting and Schneider met with the Honourable Graham Edwards, Minister for Sport and Recreation. In preparation for the meeting the Minister had received briefings from the DSR and the WA Sports Federation. To the surprise of the softball delegation, the Minister declared that softball should be sharing Parry Field with the WA Baseball Association. While softball has its origins in baseball, the modern versions of each sport are such that sharing a facility for elite competition is not viable as the WASA had discovered from its attempts to conduct night softball at Parry Field in the mid-1980s Reg Page knew that:

the biggest problem with the baseball is that the cut-outs are further out and you had to put the bases in between on the harder ground. We found that there was a terrible lot of injury … particularly hands, wrists and arms where people were diving into bases … the synthetic surface at the time was a bit abrasive.

Another difference was that baseball pitchers pitched over a longer distance and from a mound. Page explained that:

… the mound was behind our pitchers but it did cause a bit of a problem with fielding if the ball hit the mound. They then ended up with a portable mound and we used to have to take it off the diamond and put it on again when we finished.[xxxvi]


The Minister recommended that the WASA look to Community Sports Funding and that the cost of the project be reduced with more input from softball. The softball delegation considered that the Minister had been poorly advised by DSR and WASF. A follow-up meeting clarified the situation and by September Page advised the Board of Management that a further meeting had been arranged with the Minister, the City of Stirling and the Department of Sport and Recreation to consider funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis. There was also the possibility that the federal government would inject funds. The City of Stirling was asked to attend to fencing and car parking as well as general landscaping. At the AGM in June 1989 Page announced that the Federal Government would contribute $100,000 to the complex.

Original concept drawing prepared by Peter Tilley

Tree planting to mark the commencement of work on the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka

Standing L->R: Stirling Council representative, Councillor June Copley, Kevin Smith, DSR Representative

Kneeling: Reg Page (WASA President), Honourable John Koebelke MLC

The combined funding from the WASA, federal and State government allowed for two diamonds with a further two diamonds on a share basis with the City of Stirling. These were arranged around a central hub which included change rooms, offices and storage on the lower level and a function centre, bar and canteen on the upper level. A facility grant was used to fund the lights.


Interstate reconnaissance

While Reg Page, Schneider, McKibbin and Lorraine Page had coached on the international standard diamonds in Queensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia, it was still necessary for Peter Tilley to see them. He and Reg Page went to Sydney and Adelaide to view facilities and gather product knowledge. The visit to Adelaide was particularly successful with Val Johnson playing host. One area that received special attention was the change rooms. Page stated that:

Most States [have] got small little change rooms and everybody gets changed. There’s water all over the floor and it’s always a battle to get in and out. If you’re in one game, the early game, the next team’s waiting to come in … that’s why we have eight change rooms. If there’s a national tournament or even any kind of tournament each State, each team, has it’s own change room and there’s no problem. Like a motel, you get a key and you go home.


Building Committee

In September 1989 a Building Committee was appointed comprising Reg Page, McKibbin, Graeme Rector, Lorraine Page, Bunting and Tilley to focus on the requirements for offices, change rooms, function centre and canteen. By December Tilley had negotiated with the City of Stirling to finance the reticulation. Bridging finance was arranged whereby the WASA paid up front and the City of Stirling would budgeted to pay in the next financial year. The Building Committee was given permission to spend $80,000. Derwent Construction successfully tendered to construct the building.



The new year saw the first visible signs of progress when WA Gravel and Paving commenced the earthworks on 5 February. A bore was sunk and Stage 3 reticulation started in March. Perimeter fencing was erected. In his President’s Report for the 1989-90 season Page referred to the start ‘of an era of a major step forward for Softball Western Australia’.  The start of construction was officially marked with a tree planting ceremony which is etched in Reg Page’s mind:

I think the day we came up here with the councilors – June [Copley], Kevin …., the Mayor, City Manager and Graham Edwards from parliament. We planted a tree over approximately where the front gates are now. To me that was the start of Mirrabooka. From then on that tree kind of grew a little

Hanging the original backnets

Gaye Eames painting the ceiling of the Function Centre

and so did Mirrabooka grow slowly … one of the greatest days was to come up and see tractors dragging tons and tons of sand all over the place and suddenly our little bit of bush became a great big pile of yellow sand. From then on it was a very impatient time, particularly for me and Peter [Tilley] because we’d come up and have a look, walk through the sand, look at the sun to see if was in the right spot for the diamonds and then next day we’d come up and there was a bit more sand shifted and then gradually the bricks arrived and cement trucks and things like that.



Monthly meetings now included progress reports but caution prevailed as Page cautioned there was still much to be done and that a lot of self-help was needed to save on costs. Jobs for the volunteers included planting turf on banks, constructing a ticket box at the entrance, planting trees and building the dugouts. Approaches were made to the Summer and Winter competitions for a work force. Rector, Vice President, became the co-coordinator for grass planting. At the Board meeting in September 1990 Page displayed a model of the building and called for trades people to help finish the interior.



The offices were occupied and a commander telephone system installed by November 1990 and in January 1991 the Board of Management held its first meeting at Mirrabooka. A Special Meeting followed in February to discuss the long-term plans. Among the items considered were the costs of running the stadium, hosting the Senior men’s national champion-ship, the possibility of one dirt diamond, use by as many as possible as well as the Summer and Winter competitions, the development of a State league, night competitions, the national Schoolgirls’ championship and a Match of Day feature. Rector emphasized that Mirrabooka should not be just for elite players but rather maximum usage as ground condition permit. Lower grades should also play there. Income was earned from entrance fees so the maximum number of players and spectators was essential. The aim was to make the complex self-supporting.  The diamonds had turf by February and the car park was underway. In the midst of all of this Tilley left WA to work in Dubai. His contribution had extended well beyond the design of Mirrabooka as he had also worked alongside Shirley Schneider as Assistant Coach to the Senior women’s team in 1989.


A name for the new venue

One issue that provoked debate was the naming of the complex. At the AGM in 1991 it was suggested that each diamond be named in honour of outstanding leaders: Diamond 1 Val Johnson, Diamond 2 Reg Page, Diamond 3 Nox Bailey and Diamond 4 Shirley Schneider. The motion was defeated and the diamonds referred to by numbers only. In the end simplicity was the safest choice with the State Softball Headquarters, Mirrabooka. As Reg Page explained:

Mirrabooka is an Aboriginal word which means Southern Cross. … when we opened Mirrabooka a lot of people wanted to name it after somebody or some person or a number of people. Whilst a lot of people had a lot to do to make sure Mirrabooka was completed and planned for, we felt that over many, many years of softball a lot of people had done a lot of things for softball so we decided not to name it after any particular person, so it’s Mirrabooka, State Softball Headquarters. As it means Southern Cross we all live and play under the Southern Cross, we thought that was the best possible name for it.


A home of our own

At the 1991 AGM Page declared:

Softball now has its Home. We can now attract teams locally, from the Eastern States, and in particular from overseas to play here. Courses can be conducted for Coaches, Players and Umpires, with facilities available at all times, twelve months of the year, which will only improve our standard of play.

While the WASA contributed significant funds, it also lobbied hard to get donations. Stacey Graham, State Umpiring Director secured a donation of 20 metres of carpet from Rockingham Carpet. Reg Page captured the essence of the approach:

Peter Nielsen’s engineering firm helped and contracted for the home run fences, the side fences we got from various places. Tube makers of Australia came to the party with the side fences and we were given the panels and we had to purchase the uprights which reduced the price of the fence dramatically.

Even the umpires pitched in with a donation of $300 towards the fit out of their room.


First matches

It had been hoped that at least the eastern diamond would be playable by March 1991 for the WASA to host the Senior Men’s national championship but persistent problems with the turf meant that the championship was played at Yokine Reserve. Planning was underway for the official opening in September 1991. The ASF supported the WASA by announcing the first two matches of a Men’s Trans-Tasman Series would be played as part of the opening functions. Fittingly, with softball still a female dominated sport, the first event to be held there was the Australian Schoolgirls’ Champion-ship in May 1991. The WA Government Schools Sports Association paid $100 per day to hire the venue. For Bob McKibbin and Connie Montgomery the reality hit:

I was in the commentary box when they played the State Schoolgirls there. It was a wet, dull day and somebody said, “We’ll turn the lights on.” Connie Montgomery and I stood there with tears in our eyes with the lights going on. It was huge.


Planting, painting and hanging the nets

Getting the turf to grow was problematic. The turf that was first laid on the east diamond did not knit and had to be pulled up and another $6,000 outlaid on a second batch which also failed. In hindsight Rector, Co-coordinator of Grass Planting, thought the problem was probably aggravated by the watering schedule:

… there was a lot of trouble getting the water and having new ground… it probably needed to be watered a lot more than what they did. They were hamstrung a little bit by the City of Stirling because they have their set rotations and I have some memory that just to water the grounds took some six hours or even longer and, of course, with the open ground, the wind blows through and it was only a very yellow sand so it created furrows. They sowed rye grass, the couch seemed not to take and the rye grass seemed to overtake it which was a bit unfortunate ….

Official Opening 21 September 1991

L->R: Jodie Merralls (Under 19), Bob McKibbin (Under 19 Coach), Sue-Ellen Luscombe (Under 19, partially hidden), Reg Page (WASA President),
Honourable Graham Edwards MLC (Minister for Sport and Recreation), unknown, Kevin Smith, Barbara Smith

WA fielding against NSW at the Senior Women’s National Championship in January 1992


In the end there was a mixture of different grass types. As Don Brooks recalled:

… the first game up there was Australia and New Zealand [men]. It was a Trans-Tasman Series. They’d mowed the grass and Reg Page says, “Oh, go out there, there’s odd stalks of grass,” which the real mower wouldn’t touch. He says, “Go and knock them with the slasher mower.” I said, “I can’t go higgledy piggledy,” so at one stage I mowed both diamonds with a 12-inch cut rotary mower. I think I used five tanks of petrol.


Bob McKibbin laughed at his own lack of handy man skills:

We spent most Thursday nights out there on our knees either planting grass or cutting concrete … it was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life … I was doing things that I don’t normally do like drilling holes in concrete … My best one is I went downstairs one night and undercoated 10 doors. Laurie Prior came down and said, “I thought you’d be finished by now.” I said, “I just did all the undercoats.” He said, “You silly old bastard, they were already primed. You didn’t have to do undercoat.” He went away laughing. That’s how much of a trades man I am.


Laurie Prior tempted fate when he teased:

Lorraine Page and … Gaye Eames [who were] up on scaffold painting the blinking beams. I nearly wore paint ‘cos I told them they missed a spot and they didn’t see the funny side of it.

Reg Page also paid tribute to the painters:

Lorraine and Gaye Eames. The got up on the trellis, the big high trellis and painted the ceiling where a couple of blokes wouldn’t be game to get up there. And, [they] painted all the toilets, painted the change rooms downstairs.…


Fitting out of the function centre continued almost to the arrival of the dignitaries for the opening.  Don Brooks vividly remembered erecting the back nets was a particularly arduous job:

They delivered the back nets and they were just rolled up. Pete Nielsen got this wire and said, “You’ve got to thread this wire through every loop on the net and you’re not to miss one.” The net when it was laid out was only [1 metre high] and it ran from home plate to the home run fence and back again. I stood there threading all that wire through there … then he made me walk back the length of it to check that we hadn’t missed any … when we hung it up we had a cherry picker. It was sort of drooped over the cherry picker to lift it. Laurie Prior and Stephen were up there. I’ll never forget that night (and Bob McKibbin will tell you the same) Up the top of the cherry picker they [Priors] were having a fight. Bob was saying, “Bring them down, bring them down.” It was good fun.

Reg Page’s memory was more painful ‘I can still remember with a cherry picker putting the back net up and our hands were so cold from crimping on the black clips that hold the nets that we could hardly straighten our fingers’. When erected the nets were almost 10 metres high.


Liquor licence

In November 1990 the WASA applied for a Liquor Licence and nominated Reg Page as Manager of the WASA Headquarters. In the Minutes of June 1991 it was reported that the application for liquor licence had stalled as the authorities demanded the ceiling be installed. A Restricted licence was granted by August. The cost of the ceiling was $12,800. External lighting was still in the hands of City of Stirling.


Official opening

Mirrabooka was officially opened on 21 September 1991. Val Johnson was a special guest. Before a crowd which included all generations of WA softball players, Johnson expressed her pleasure at being invited to attend and speak:

… to represent the ‘have beens’ – many of whom ‘still ares’! … our dreams of having a ‘home base’ for softball come true …. I am sure we all hope this magnificent complex will assist in carrying on the softball traditions of sportsmanship on the field, comradeship between players and officials and personal friendships which have endured for a life time, many being cemented by adversity as well as pleasure.[xxxvii]


Senior women’s national championship

Work continued after the opening. On Saturday mornings volunteers prepared the second diamond. Brick paving had to be laid on the pathways. Inside there was plenty to do such as tiling the function floor, installing hand driers for toilets, fitting windows in commentators box and installing air conditioning. The tiling and the homerun fence were completed just in time for the the 45th Senior Women’s tournament in January 1992. Laurie Prior was in the thick of it :

… Even when we did the tiles upstairs we were grouting the tiles …. There was Reg, Jill [Prior], myself, Debbie Stevenson and my three kids were sound asleep on the tables; we were grouting the floor. It was about 3 o’clock and then we went back there the next day about 10 o’clock. The limestone warm up track was originally lawn and we cut that out and put it up on the bleachers where the seating is now … Stephen [Prior] would have been 14 or 15 when we cut the grass out and had the limestone put in. Wayne Lewis had a backhoe we used to put the limestone out. I hired from Coates Hire … a little steamroller. My Stephen was on that doing the limestone. When it was lunchtime he wouldn’t stop, had to go to the toilet he wouldn’t stop. No one else could have that machine … he thought it was just great.[xxxviii]

Don Brooks’ children gave he and his wife, Anne, tickets to the 1992 Hopman Cup (tennis) Final but his loyalty to softball took over:

We were putting the home run fence up. We were painting the home run fence. I think the [tennis] final was on Friday night and it [finished] about midnight. I said to Anne, “I’d better go up to Mirrabooka to see if they’re still there.” And they were. Midnight we finished the job and went back up the next day and we had a tournament at Mirrabooka. It was the Open Women’s.



Canteen management fell to Lorraine Page:

I sort of took over Mirrabooka. I don’t know why … I would continue on because I was down at Yokine [and] that would involve Mirrabooka as well because they didn’t have anybody … so I used to finish at 6 o’clock at Yokine and the games would start at 6 o’clock at Mirrabooka so by half past 6 I was up at Mirrabooka then you would finish about midnight.

Despite the canteen at Yokine being a proven source of income, the design of the one at Mirrabooka was poor. There had been some expectation that the bar and canteen would function like those at the grounds used by the men in the Winter Competition with just a pie warmer and drink dispensers. This was to be a continual source of frustration to Lorraine Page.

We had no say in designing the facility at Mirrabooka. We had one little room and all that little section had was an urn and a pie warmer. Then we had to get a fridge but you were very, very restricted so for five years we kept on nagging that it wasn’t big enough, we should extend it … but it always fell on deaf ears and we ran carnivals just in that little area. You had to make sandwiches and everything else … you could only get about two people to work in there because if you had any more you fell over each other so you were very restricted in the number of people that could assist … Then [1995] they decided that, yes, okay, we had to extend ‘cos they probably got sick of listening to me … So it’s been very, very good, the extra area because then we could have a lot more facilities, a lot more equipment … and provide different kinds of food.

In 1997 when the Pages first retired from official softball duties, the WASA named the function centre in their honour.


New competitions

The completion of Mirrabooka provided the impetus for the creation of State League Softball. (See Chapter 6). But an unexpected development - veterans softball - grew to be a feature. Following a successful hosting of the softball component of the 1993 Masters, it was quickly decided that veterans softball could be played at Mirrabooka each Tuesday evening. (See Chapter 7)


Quit smoking

When the WASA accepted funding from Healthway it agreed to establish no smoking areas and initially the canteen staff bore the brunt of abuse from smokers who were asked to put out their cigarettes or move away because the no smoking area included the verandah area in front of the canteen.[xxxix] It took several years and vigilance by the Executive to enforce the smoking bans until January 2006 when the whole venue was declared smoke free.



With one operational diamond and the second under way, the WASA could see the possibilities at Mirrabooka and in April 1992 Reg Page undertook discussions with the City of Stirling to acquire the remainder of the surrounding land to have four diamonds at the complex. Again, it took more time than expected. In the 1997-98 Annual Report progress had been made. ‘Ground at the rear of the complex has been upgraded with fencing and lighting thereby providing two additional diamonds, to take place so that the complex with further development planned will have 4 diamonds available for use’.

Lorraine PAGE

Life Member: 1987

Hall of Fame: Inaugural Inductee – Administration: 2007

I think friendship, all the people that you meet over the years here, there, everywhere. That’s good.



Hell’s Angels




State Teams

Player Senior Women: 1964-66

Selector Under 16 Girls: 1976-1998

Assistant Coach Under 16 Girls: 1977-82

Coach Under 16 Girls: 1983-6; 1991-98

Assistant Coach Under 19 Women: 1988-90


Board Member: 1988-1994

Canteen Manager: 1984-1997

Junior Committee: 1976-86; Registrar: 1976-1984; Convenor: 1984-86


Level I Coach

Level II Coach


Australian Softball Federation Service Award: 1994

Mirrabooka Clubrooms R & L Page Pavilion: 1997

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

Life Member Hell’s Angels Softball Club

Life Member Demons Softball Club

Life Member of Legends Softball Club

Lorraine Page Medal for Best & Fairest in Women’s Veterans Softball

When Lorraine Laurissen went to work as a shorthand typist at Boans Department Store in central Perth in 1956, little did she know that it would also be the beginning of a life long passion for softball. Boans Social Club entered a softball team in the competition run each Saturday afternoon in summer on Langley Park. The team played in D grade ‘… they asked if someone wanted to be catcher and nobody came forward so I thought someone has to be catcher so I said I’d have a go at it not realising what it entailed and that was my first introduction to softball’.  After a season or two Lorraine transferred to her sister’s club Hell’s Angels and played in the A grade team in the outfield. She was a member of the Angels team which won its first premiership in 1961 breaking the stranglehold of Blue Jays and Nedlands Rookies. Lorraine continued with Angels until 1968 when a new coach declared that the club had too many ‘old’ players and refused to include them in the A grade team. With a number of other ex-Angels’ players Lorraine became a founding member of Demons Softball Club in 1968. The ‘rejects’ lead Demons to two consecutive A grade premierships in the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.


Lorraine has played in the Summer competition for over 50 years. At the end of the 1999-2000 season she won the Best and Fairest award in Senior B1 grade. The sole Demons team earned promotion to A2 after winning the A3 premiership in the 2007-08 season with Reg as coach. With Reg Lorraine has worked hard to maintain a Demons team in the Summer competition. She and Reg are the last two members of the original Demons club. Demons as a single team club was a major contrast from its peak in the mid-1980s when it fielded up to 11 teams. A highlight of the softball calendar in the 1970s was an annual weekend at Corrigin with Demons. Lorraine also played in metropolitan teams in the State Championships when they were held out of Perth.  In 1964 Lorraine played in the State team. That year the national championships were held in Hobart. The WA team traveled by train to Melbourne then flew to Tasmania, the first flight for many and a scary one at that when they encountered a thunder storm. Lorraine was a member of the team in 1965 in Canberra and 1966 in Brisbane. Both trips took over a month as the team traveled by train both ways.

When Shirley Roberts formed a team to play softball at the Masters’ Games in Perth in 1993, Lorraine was one of the former State players who signed up and was delighted when Legends won its first Masters’ gold medal for the 45 and Over Division. Such was the enthusiasm of the “vets” that regular weekly matches each Tuesday evening in summer became an additional component of the WASA fixtures. Legends continued to take biennial interstate trips for the Australian Masters’ Games and by 2008 had amassed an outstanding record of seven gold and one silver medals. Lorraine is one of three original Legends’ players. The medal for the Best and Fairest player in Women’s Veterans softball was named in honour of Lorraine.  In parallel with her playing career, Lorraine shared her skills and knowledge with many junior players. She coached Demons junior A grade team for almost 10 years. This paved the way for her to become Assistant Coach to Bob McKibbin of the Under 16 Girls’ team in 1976, a position she held until 1983. In 1982 the Under 16s were runners-up in the national championships. Lorraine then took over as coach for three years including another second placing in 1984 in a drama packed preliminary final against New South Wales. The championships were played in Darwin and a tropical storm broke during the sixth innings, flooding the diamond and causing the abandonment of play. The match resumed next morning at 9am in the seventh innings. WA won and then had to back up and play Victoria in the grand final but went down 6-1. After such a demanding championship, Lorraine still had plenty to do in Darwin because she was a coach at the Australian Talent Identification camp held by the ASF immediately after the nationals. She completed the requirements for Levels I and II as soon as they became available and when needed lectured at accreditation courses.


After a two year break she became Assistant Coach of the Under 19 Women’s team, again with Bob McKibbin as Coach. In 1991 she returned as Coach of the Under 16 Girls’ team and stayed until 1998 during which time the team usually finished between fourth and sixth.  In addition to coaching State teams, Lorraine was a member of the WASA Junior Committee. She could be found at most camps and clinics and took on the responsibility of camp organizer from 1983 to 1985 and again in 1991. She also assisted with junior camps at Geraldton from 1980 to 1984. As well she was Registrar for the Saturday morning sub-junior competition held at Langley Park from 1976 to 1984 with her meticulous attention to the paperwork earning praise from Convenor Joy Marsland. When Joy retired, Lorraine succeeded her as Convenor until 1986.  After Lorraine finished at Langley Park on Saturday morning she then went to Yokine Reserve to play, coach and work in the canteen. Initially, the canteen was a fund raising activity for Demons. Over the years to help Demons with fund raising Lorraine and Shirley Schneider undertook a variety of activities including delivering ‘phone books throughout the suburbs and cleaning the change rooms at Yokine Reserve. In 1982 they decided to take on the management of the canteen at Yokine Reserve. Demons’ players were rostered to assist but after a couple of seasons the novelty wore off and Lorraine became the principle organizer learning the many skills and knowledge required to deal with suppliers who delivered at 8 o’clock Saturday morning, and the hungry players and spectators who sought food from 9am to late afternoon. During the long weekend each March Lorraine would oversee the canteen for the State Championships. When the State Softball Centre opened at Mirrabooka in 1991 Lorraine found herself managing the canteen there as well. With State League Softball played Saturday evening Lorraine would work at Yokine till 6pm then resume at Mirrabooka at 6:30pm!


Unfortunately, during the construction of Mirrabooka, the men overseeing it ignored the women’s recommendations thinking that it would be run like those at men’s softball with a focus on drinks and snacks. Several years later common sense prevailed and the canteen was extended to include the equipment needed to feed hungry crowds at national championships as well as State League. When the WASA restructured in 1987 the canteen was recognized as a specific portfolio and she became a Board Member. Having previously attended Management Committee meetings as a delegate for Demons, she was well versed in the administration side of softball. Throughout all of this Lorraine had a loyal band of assistants including Jill Prior and Connie Montgomery. Lorraine received an honorarium for her efforts. When Lorraine and Reg decided to retire to the south of Perth Shirley Schneider was given the honour of making the farewell speech at the 1997 AGM. She noted that:

In the last 3 years [1994 to 1997] the Canteen has contributed in excess of $30,000 per year which has been directly responsible for allowing the Association to keep the fees to the lowest possible. The Canteen job is not just a matter of being in attendance on the day concerned but many hours are spent ringing through orders and picking up stock from various suppliers.


Following the speech Lorraine unveiled plaque naming the clubrooms the ‘L & R Page Pavilion’. For Lorraine ‘I just thought it was a need for softball. Someone had to do it and it never worried me as to why or how or anything else, I just did it’.  When Demons needed a Registrar and a Secretary, Lorraine ‘did it’. When need be she also served as delegate to WAWSA/ WASA meetings and served on the WASA Board of Management from 1988 to 1994.  Lorraine was one of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to complete function room at Mirrabooka. The other volunteers remember Lorraine and Gaye Eames ‘painting inside the hall … They got up on the trellis, the big high trellis and painted the ceiling where a couple of blokes wouldn’t be game to get up there .…’ The blokes learned quickly not to tease the painters who had a vantage point from which to let an occasional drop of paint fall on a critic. When Mirrabooka was in need of maintenance in 2006-07, Lorraine and Reg willingly took to the paintbrushes and shovels once more.


As with all loyal club members Lorraine undertook her share of umpiring duties but never took out a formal qualification. She did, however, accept the challenge of becoming a ‘Green Shirt’ or trainee umpire for the 2008-09 season in an innovative scheme designed to help increase the number of umpires in the Summer Competition and she was 1 of 15 seen each Saturday afternoon at Yokine Reserve usually umpiring on the bases in preparation to becoming plate umpires in subsequent seasons. Theory sessions were also built into the scheme.  Lorraine met Reg Page at softball at Langley Park in 1956 and they were married in 1959. Their daughter, Susan, was born in 1961 and sons Raymond and Bernard, in 1962 and 1967 respectively. Softball was a family affair from the outset with Reg serving as baby-sitter while Lorraine played. Often Reg found himself with the Menner, Schneider and Roki children as well. The Page offspring followed their parents into softball and often found themselves either playing in the same team as a parent or being coached by a parent. At one stage Reg coached both Susan and Lorraine at Demons. Susan was selected in the Under 16 Girls’ team in 1977, the same year that Lorraine first became the Assistant Coach. Raymond and eight year old Bernard played with Reg in the WA Men’s Softball League with Demons. Bernard later transferred to Outlaws then to Mandurah. Raymond was a member of the State Men’s team. He relocated to Bunbury and was involved in the development of the Bunbury Blues which joined the State League in 1994. He played in the Men’s team and coached the women’ team. In 2008 Raymond was eager of the State Under 23 Men’s team. While Lorraine has continued to play both Summer and Veterans’ softball, Reg has coached her at Demons and Legends for their first trip to the Australian Masters in Melbourne. Lorraine and Reg have eight grandchildren. Susan’s sons – Luke and Aaron - began with teeball and progressed to baseball. Luke decided to try softball and represented WA in Under 16s, Under 19s, Under 23s and Seniors. Aaron persisted with baseball gaining a scholarship to study and play baseball at Winthrop College in South Carolina, USA.


When the children were very young, Lorraine was a full-time mum but she returned to the paid workforce in 1974 as School Secretary at St Gerard’s Primary School in Nollamara. Two days a week quickly became three. Twenty-five years later, Lorraine’s contribution to the school was acknowledged when the new administration block was named in her honour. She finally retired in 2007 after 33 years at St Gerard’s. When Lorraine and Reg retired to Golden Bay approximately an hour’s drive south of Perth they continued to play Veterans’ softball and to train and play with Demons A2 team in the Summer competition. For a couple of years Lorraine also continued on a one-day-a-week basis at St Gerard’s. ‘I never really analysed it. You would just get up, go to work, come home, feed the family, go to softball, go to training. You’d have to do the banking and everything during your lunch hour and that was just everyday…’.  In 1987 Lorraine’s dedication to softball was recognized by the WASA when she was made a Life Member. Subsequently she has received an ASF Service Award, an Australian Sports Medal. Her fundraising contribution to the WASA from her work in the canteen was recognized when she was an inaugural inductee into the WASA Hall of Fame in 2007.


It’s now a business

The establishment of Mirrabooka occurred when sport was changing from its traditional volunteer base to increasing employment of professional staff. Together these affected further development. Reg Page was acutely aware of this:

… for years and years we had a

challenge, and I’m talking about all softballers, they had a challenge that they wanted their own complex and everybody worked towards that final end of having your own complex but once you got it everybody kind of sat back and said, “Right, we’re there.” There was no really further challenges so a lot of people who had worked hard dropped off at the end and it was left to a few. Then, I think, once you start paying people to do various jobs, the volunteer base dropped off again because they’ve got to leave it to the paid people … I think the pressure of maintenance, the pressure of security and the fact that you cease to become really a sport, in a way you become a business.



With first hand experience of break-ins at Yokine, the WASA was well aware that security at Mirrabooka would have to be appropriate to the complex. A security firm checked the complex each evening and if anything was amiss, the agent telephoned either Reg Page or Laurie Prior to reset the alarms. Break-ins were rare but routine matters like locking the building or gates were not always done by those eager to get home after late matches or meetings. When Pages moved out of Perth, Laurie Prior became the sole contact and averaged about one call-out a month.


Ongoing maintenance and upgrade

A decade after its opening, Mirrabooka fulfilled its role as the headquarters for softball but proved to be a drain on the WASA budget. The Operational Review completed in 2002 recommended that more use be made of it by encouraging other community groups to use the function centre. A bridge club had rented it for a short time but the tables were unsuitable. There was a suggestion that groups such as young mothers be encouraged to play softball on weekdays. However, as a dedicated facility there was little room to manoeuvre.  The WASA entered into discussions with various government departments to investigate the possibility of an upgrade. In 2005 a thorough review was commissioned by the Department of Sport and Recreation which focused on the WASA’s core operations and the commercial management of Mirrabooka. A number of options were considered including the abandonment of Mirrabooka. The financial analysis revealed that only $8,000 per annum was available for maintenance while the review of the structural integrity and compliance with the Building Code of Australia tentatively estimated at least 10 times that amount was needed.[xl] This created alarm amongst those who had given so much to providing softball with its own home and Reg Page came out of retirement to take on the presidency again.


Through the constant efforts of Page and others like Shirley Schneider, the Department of Sport and Recreation was convinced of the merits of retaining and upgrading Mirrabooka with almost half a million dollars set aside. Work commenced in the second half of 2010 focusing on the grounds in preparation for Softball WA hosting Round 3 of the women’s national tournament in January 2011. Diamonds 1 and 2 were resurfaced with dirt or skinned infields. The twine back nets were replaced with a 45o overhang commencing at nine metres. This improved the safety of the spectators and deflected foul balls back into the diamonds thus reducing further denting of the roof leading to leaks. The side fences parallel to the foul lines were replaced with chain wire mesh and increased in height. Lighting was upgraded to the standards set by the ASF/ISF for international matches, a situation that has become more urgent since the ASF has abandoned the traditional roster of national championships and requires its member States to bid for tournaments. Detailed plans were released in late 2009 for the extension and upgrading of the office area, refurbishment of the change rooms and repairs to leaking roofs as depicted but have yet to be completed.


An excellent reputation

Mirrabooka’s reputation was summed up by Reg Page ‘… the Eastern Staters all say the only thing wrong with Mirrabooka is that it’s in Western Australia and it should be in their State …’.

Spectators at Diamond 1 at the 1992 Senior Women’s National Championship

(Note: Canteen was entirely within the original building)


[i] City of Perth, Lord Mayor’s Report 1946-47, Complimentary Dinners, p. 7. A dinner was held on 31 January 1947 to acknowledge Councilor Langley’s 24 years of service to Perth City Council including his efforts in construction of Langley Park.

[ii] Stephenson, G. (1975). The design of central Perth: Problems and possible solutions. A study made for the Perth Central Area Design Coordinating Committee. Nedlands, WA: University of Western Australia Press. p. 7, 57.

[iii] City of Perth Annual Report 1936-37, p.11; repeated 1939-40.

[iv] Gregory, j. (2003). City of Light: A history of Perth since the 1950s. Perth, WA: City of Perth. p. 58.

[v] The car yard can be clearly seen in a photograph of the 1963-64 junior final in which Nedlands Rookies fielded both teams. the photograh is held by Don Smith, a coach of one team.

[vi] Heritage Council, The Post, 12 February 2000, p 14.

[vii] Reg Page, Interview, May 1996.

[viii] Basketball became known as netball in 1970.

[ix] City of Perth, Lord Mayor’s Report 1947-48, Gardener’s Report, p. 71.

[x] City of Perth, City Gardener’s Report 1 November, 1914.

[xi] Letter in Opinion, Daily News, Tuesday September 16, 1947.

[xii] City of Perth, City Gardener’s Report, 31 October, 1950, p. 69.

[xiii] Schmitt, H. (1953, March 12). “Hit it where they ain’t”. The Australasian Post, p.15-16.

[xiv] Gregory, Jenny (2003). City of Light. The history of Perth since the 1950s. Perth, WA: City of Perth, p. 108.

[xv] Davidson, R.E. (1967). Golfing at Yokine 1928-1967. Fremantle, WA: Western Australian Newspapers Limited, p. 11; Glavert, L. (nd) Provisional list of Aboriginal places and their meaning. Museum Perth. Archives Battye Library PR 342.

[xvi] Cooper, W. S. & McDonald, G. (1999). Diversity’s challenge: A history of the City of Stirling. WA: City of Stirling, p. 293.

[xvii] Stoddart, B. (1981). Sport and society 1890-1940: A foray. In C.T. Stannage (Ed.). A new history of Western Australia. Crawley, WA: Univeristy of Western Australia Press, p. 652-674.

[xviii] Eaton. Leonard A. (1971). Stirling City. Nedlands, WA: University of Western Australia Press, p. 65.

[xix] The Perth Road Board became the Shire of Perth on 1 July 1961.

[xx] Eaton, Leonard A. (1971), p. 104; the proposed road became Alexander Drive.

[xxi] Forest blaze a threat to homes. (Monday 8 December 1958). The West Australian, p. 10.

[xxii] Eaton, Leonard A. (1971), p. 106.

[xxiii] Plantation reserve (Thursday 15 November 1962). East Suburban Section, The West Australian, p. 1.

[xxiv] Mairs, Alec (29 January 1964). Scaddan will be 200-acre sports area. North Suburban Section, The West Australian, p. 1.

[xxv] Cooper & McDonald (1999), p. 419.

[xxvi] Foley, Neil (1990). The members of the Perth Road Board.

[xxvii] John Claxton, addendum to 1977-78 Annual Report.

[xxviii] Shirley Schneider, Interview, May 1992.

[xxix] Lorraine Page, Interview, December 1997.

[xxx] Don Brooks, Interview, May 2008.

[xxxi] Bob McKibbin, Interview, June 2008.

[xxxii] Laurie Prior, Interview, July 2008.

[xxxiii] Shirley Schneider, Interview, May 1992.

[xxxiv] Lorraine Page, Interview, December 1997.

[xxxv] Bob McKibbin, Interview, June 2008.

[xxxvi] Reg Page, Interview, May 1996.

[xxxvii] After her speech, Val Johnson gave her notes to the author for use in the compilation of the history of softball in WA.

[xxxviii] Laurie Prior, Interview, July 2008.

[xxxix] Lorraine Page, Interview, December 1997.

[xl] Department of Sport and Recreation. (6 September 2005). Review of the WA Softball Association’s core operations and management of Mirrabooka Centre. Perth, WA: Quantum Consulting Australia. (31.08.2005 DSR-WASA.doc).