Chapter 2 - Governance

Chapter 2



The AWSC was a council of delegates from the State associations with the Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer elected from them. The AWSC did not have a president. The Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the national championships was chaired by the president (or nominee) of the hostess association. In preparation for the First Women’s World Championship it was decided that Esther Deason (Vic) would act as President from 1964 until the completion of the championships. Following the championships and Australia’s very active role in the ISF, the AWSC realized that it needed an elected president. Esther Deason was elected in 1967 and held the position until 1981. 


The AWSC became a federation in 1967 – the AWSF - and in 1972 deleted ‘women’ from its title to become the Australian Softball Federation (ASF), a move designed to align it with the ISF. Incidentally, the change created the possibility of men’s softball in Australia. In 1975 the constitution was amended so the Honorary Secretary and Umpire-in-Chief (UIC) no longer had to be State delegates. Together with the President and Honorary Treasurer, they formed the Executive while the meeting of delegates retained the title Council.


With the addition of the Under 16 (Junior) championships in 1970 the workload of the volunteer office bearers-cum-administrators increased substantially and gave rise to the need to separate Council meetings from the national championships. The first tentative steps were taken in 1971 when the meeting commenced at 1pm on the day preceding the opening of the Senior women’s championship. Deason urged the State Associations to heed the needs of the national federation in dealing with the ISF and to make decisions free from parochialism. While not denying the States their right to appoint their own delegates, she realized there needed to be continuity of representation to move discussions forward. By 1975 the ASF completely separated its meetings from national championships and held its Council meeting in October. Over time meetings of the emerging specialist personnel such as State/Territory association managers, coaching directors, scorers and umpires were held in conjunction with the Council meeting.


The rate of change to the ASF administration began to accelerate in 1979 with two major decisions. First, with the help of a federal government grant of $10,000 the ASF employed its first Executive Officer, Mr Kai Roland. Tentative steps were taken to transfer the secretarial workload to the paid staff. Secondly, as befitting an organization handling large sums of money, the ASF became an incorporated body. The position of Vice President resulted from a review of the Constitution in 1980. Rosemary Adey, a former South Australian and Australian player, was elected in early 1981. Further changes to the Constitution in 1982 saw the ASF change from an Executive and State/Territory delegates to a Management Council. The first elections for this new body were held in October 1982. Rosemary Adey won the Presidency with Esther Deason elected Vice President. The following year Deason withdrew from the ballot for Vice President bringing to a close almost three and a half decades of continuous voluntary service to softball in Australia.


In 1984 the office bearers formed the Board of Management which met on a regular basis throughout the year while each State/Territory association had one delegate on the revamped Council which continued to meet annually in October. The first Long Range Plan was implemented in 1984 and subject to frequent revision. One outcome was a new name, Softball Australia. More recent changes have seen Softball Australia become a company with a Board of Directors who manage it in conjunction with a raft of professional staff. Their activities cover administration, financial management and technology. Specialists focus on the technical components of the game such as coaching and umpiring. To emphasise the unity of the sport across Australia, each member State/Association has adopted the same trade name and logo as the national body using its own abbreviation and colours Hence, softball in WA is under the trade name of Softball WA with the logo in black and gold.


Governance of softball in Western Australia has had three distinct formats which have reflected the changes at the national level and in the sports community of Western Australia. The formats were reflected in the titles used:

Council/General Committee


Management Committee


Board of Management


Throughout their duration each of these has been subjected to constitutional review in an endeavour to provide the best service possible to the softball community.


Captains and administrators

The minutes from the 1948-9 season were originally titled the W.A. Women’s Softball Association but “Women’s” was roughly crossed out and Women’s Section added after Association indicating that the sport was still under the original WA Softball Association.


            Val Johnson                             Heather Asquith                             Joy Rippin (Marsland)                   Shirley Roberts                             Flo Ireland

1949-52, 1953-55,1956-61                            1950                                                  1952-53                                1955-56, 1961-62                              1962-63




Sister Wheatley                                     Colin Smith                                         Dick Watters                                 Shirley Schneider

    1963-64                                         1964-1968                                             1968-1971                                         1971-1975


As women took charge they continued to draw on the expertise of two men who were closely involved with the original association: Carl Renshaw and Frank Silva from the American Club. They were ex-submariners who had been stationed at Fremantle during the war. Renshaw was secretary of the American Club. Silva became the Official Umpire for softball and the first male to hold an official position in women’s softball in WA. At a meeting in October 1948 it‘was moved and accepted that, until the General Meeting in December, a Council consisting of the Captain from each team and one other player act as a General Committee’. As well there was a Secretary, Treasurer and the Official Umpire making a total of 15 people. This was adequate because the Section was simply focused on conducting a six-team Saturday afternoon competition.


The General Meeting was eventually held on Friday 21 January 1949 when it was agreed ‘that a circular be sent to each member of the Association advising that a General Meeting would be held on the following Friday, the 28th January, for the purpose of electing Officers’. The dates suggest that one week’s notice was adequate for the circular to reach members. Presumably most would have received it at the matches on Saturday 22 January and that they would be readily available on the Friday evening. The meeting on 28 January 1949 was deemed to be the Annual General Meeting of the WA Softball Association (Women’s Section). Elaine Johnson (Flying Club) and the Section Treasurer chaired the meeting. The officers elected were:

President Val Johnson(Flying Club)Vice President Margaret Hegney (Wembley)Secretary Irene Pumfrey (South Perth)Treasurer Elaine Johnson (Flying Club)

They were to hold office until December 1949. Towards the close of business at the General Meeting on 11 March 1949, it was formally moved and carried that henceforth the Association would be the W.A. Women’s Softball Association (WAWSA).


Val Johnson was a pragmatic leader. Discussion of the Constitution was postponed until winter. Attention was focused on matters requiring immediate decisions such as a forthcoming trip to Northam, exhibition matches to promote the sport, authorisation of umpires to suspend players who ‘bring harm to the Association’, plans for winter training and socials, an injury fund and plans for the grand final to be held on 26 March. The Constitution was dealt with pragmatically. At the meeting on 20 May 1949 ‘the President said a Council would have to be appointed to go through it and pick out points not applicable to a Women’s association, and to take their findings back to a general meeting’. After some deliberation it was moved that‘a notice be sent to each Captain telling her when the meeting would be held and asking her if she could have a couple of representatives from her team there, also a notice be sent to all social members asking them to be present at the meeting’. The group met some time prior to June at which final details were resolved.



Life Member: 1952

Hall of Fame: Inaugural Inductee: Umpire: 2007 (posthumous)

…we just called a meeting of any women that were interested in forming a women’s softball association as such … we elected a committee and I was, you know, sort of President.


Flying Club

State Teams

Player Senior Women: 1951

Manageress Senior Women: 1959

Scorer Senior Women: 1956, 1958-1961

Australian Team

Scorer Senior Women: 1960


President: 1949-52, 1953-55, 1956-61

Vice President: 1955-6

ASC/NFC Delegate: 1953-54 to 1960-61

Delegate: 1951, 1956-1961

Publicity Officer: 1958

Convenor, Umpires, Scorers & Coaches Sub-Committee: 1974-1976

Convenor of State Championships: 1975-76


Chief Scorer: 1955

Chairman of Selection Panel: 1955

Umpire: 1956, Australian Badge: Number 17

1976 International Badge: Number 88

Val Johnson was WA’s first and youngest President. Elected in January 1949, she was 17 years old. Even in later years she still considered it somewhat of a mystery why she was the chosen one when there were a number of older women involved in the sport. Most likely these women recognized that Val was enthusiastic and willing to work hard for what had already become a passion for her.  Val began her softball career in about 1946 as a spectator watching her older sister, Elaine, play for the WA Women’s Flying Club in social matches organized by the American Club. She was eventually called on to take a place on the diamond and there was no holding her back. In her second season she captained Flying Club. She won the Best and Fairest player in the WA Women’s Softball Association for the 1948-49 season and was presented with a silver tray. She turned her hand to coaching as well. Flying Club won the first two premierships of the WAWSA.


When it became apparent that the competition organised by the American Club principally for men was going to fold, Val was amongst the group who convened a meeting to form a women’s association for the 1948-49 season. By January 1949 Val was President. Flying Club was a member of the Associated Sporting Committee, an adjunct of the National Fitness Council and Val was entitled to attend the various courses it ran. She honed her administration skills, public speaking and knowledge of meeting procedures as well as learning to operate an 8mm film projector. To ensure that the new softball association was eligible for registration with the National Fitness Council, the Johnson sisters borrowed £50 from their father. Mr. Johnson had to stand as guarantor since in the 1940s the age of consent was 21 and both his daughters were still minors. 


Val was strongly committed to the National Fitness Council. She pushed the softball association to become part of the broader sports community, especially the Associated Sporting Committee (ASC) of amateur sports for which she was the delegate:

Here I was, this 20-year-old brash sort of person thrown among people like that [Maud Matthews from netball and Pat Goodrich from women’s hockey] … debating things at the Associated Sports Committee. We are women’s softball and we’re going to be tops …

She believed that it was crucial for the WAWSA to be seen as an active member of this organization to gain benefits from projects like designing a standard walking out uniform for all WA teams and participating in courses to improve sports administration. As well Johnson was registrar for the Association of National Fitness Leaders for 1953 and 1954.  At the same time in 1949 Val began her nursing career. Fortunately she was encouraged to maintain her sporting interests. Her 44-hour working week was broken into four-hour shifts with lectures and study in her own time. She was also secretary of the student nurses’ association. Val arranged her shifts so that she was free from mid-afternoon Thursday to 6pm Saturday. That enabled her to attend to the administration of softball and play on Saturday afternoons.


In 1951 she attended her first national carnival in Adelaide. Initially she was selected as coach but when it was realized that WA’s pitching was not strong, Val became pitcher and George Wenn, a baseballer, took on the coach’s job. She was WA’s a delegate to the Australian Women’s Softball Council meetings held in the evenings after the day’s play. With her ‘expertise’ in meeting procedures she challenged some of the long-standing delegates from other states on points of order. After one meeting she was asked if she realized who she was challenging, the implication being that a 19 year old from Perth should defer to the older, wiser women from the Eastern States where softball had been played for a decade. Val cemented her place in Australian softball when she realised that according to the rotation system established by the AWSC she had to ‘volunteer’ WA to conduct the 1952 carnival or miss out until at least 1957.


When the team returned from Adelaide Val was rostered on alternate day then night shifts nursing poliomyelitis patients at the Infectious Diseases ward at Shenton Park Annex of Royal Perth Hospital. By the end of June 1951 Val was a patient. She had been exposed to a new strain of the disease and was not immune as had been thought. After she recovered from the most acute stage, she directed the organisation of the 1952 national carnival from her hospital bed with others like Shirley Roberts and Heather Asquith becoming her ‘legs’ to do the running about. Val was discharged in early 1953 and became a day patient attending for therapy for her legs which had been paralysed. Despite being bedridden Val had earned the respect of the WAWSA which awarded her its first Life Membership in October 1952. Somewhat deprecatorily Val later remarked that ‘… they gave me the Life Membership because they thought I was going to die … shortest length of service to a sporting organization to get a Life Membership’. Her nursing career had been put on hold much to her frustration. As she told a reporter from The Sunday Times the ‘Worst part about it is, it’s been so much waste time – time I could have been occupied so usefully looking after others’.1


The Sunday Times was intrigued by Val after she had contacted the office to inquire about a competition being run by the airline TAA to name its new planes. First prize was a trip to any capital city in Australia. Val entered hoping it would get her to Brisbane to watch WA defend its national title. Despite her pleas not to be made a heroine in her battle with polio, The Sunday Times did just that. In the article reference was made to Val’s generous request that the WAWSA instead of buying her a trophy as the winner of the 1951-52 Queen competition put the money towards the 1953 team. The Executive opted to recognize Johnson and refused her generous offer. Val did not win the trip and did not go to Brisbane but WA did win the Gilleys Shield for the second year in a row.


In the lead up to the Brisbane tournament Hugh Schmidt wrote a feature story for the weekly publication the Australasian POST. Schmitt was based in Perth and his informant for the article was:

… the girl on crutches, who judging by the instructions she was calling out, seemed to have a fair idea of the game. Having explained some of the finer points of softball to Schmidt the girl on crutches … excused herself. She was the umpire. She hobbled over and took her place behind the catcher. Up came the first batter. The pitcher stepped onto her mound, the umpire yelled, “play ball” and down came the first pitch. The batter fanned the air, the girl on crutches called “strike one” and the ball game was on.

Schmidt asked one of the coaches who the umpire was:

“That’s Miss Softball,” he told us.

“Val Johnson, the girl who organized the first women’s softball team here six years ago … The association’s only Life Member – only 21, too. Made softball here though. Association President for years.2


During the 1950s softball became a favoured summer sport for WA women. The Perth competition grew rapidly from the original six teams to an average of 50 per season. One of the major strengths at the time was a strong bond between the senior and junior teams. The weekly draw for matches ensured that the juniors were always able to watch the seniors of their club and that the seniors were able to coach the juniors. Laughingly Val commented in later life that ‘the Flying Club juniors used to follow me around like I was god’.

Over time Val regained her strength and by 1959 was back amongst the top players in the State. She:

…nearly made the WA team again ‘cos I went from pitching to catching because we were short of catchers. I trained another pitcher … I was catching very well … I was batting well. I think that year I took off the batting average. If they’d been taking 14 players they would have had to consider me as the fourteenth player. I caught for TheRest when they played the State side before they went away. I had to go as an Australian umpire. Icouldn’t go as part of the team because if WAdidn’t send anAustralian umpire they got fined and we wouldn’t have had enough money to pay the fine.


From the outset Val had understood the crucial role umpires played. To her advantage she had what she considered to be a photographic memory and could picture images of the rulebook. She scored very highly on the theoretical exams and topped the nation. She was equally adept at applying the rules in practice and set about obtaining her Australian umpire’s badge. Val passed the theoretical assessment in 1953 but was not able to travel to the national championships in Melbourne in March 1954. Val was unsuccessful at the 1955 championships in Sydney. There was some suggestion that she was unjustly penalized for wearing slacks, necessitated by her polio, even though the AWSC Minutes allowed women umpires to wear slacks. The following year she was successful with a mark of 961/2 and was awarded badge Number 17. She then also became involved in helping to prepare the Australian Umpires’ theoretical examination.


Johnson became scorer for the State team. In addition to umpiring at the 1955 championship she was Chief Scorer and presented the AWSC with a detailed statistical analysis thus helping to set standards for all scorers. As well she chaired the Selection Committee of Ruth Preddy (NSW) and Dorothy Tanis (Qld) to select an Australian team. In 1989 she was one of eight WA scorer’s awarded retrospective Level 3 accreditation when the ASF introduced its accreditation system for scorers. She nominated for President and Vice President for the 1952-53 season but Joy Rippin and Heather Asquith gained the positions. Val returned as President for the 1953-54 season and continued until 1961 with the exception of the 1955-56 season when Shirley Roberts won the election. Val was Vice President. In 1957 when WA hosted the national championships for the second time, Val chaired the Championship Committee. She also chaired the organizing committee when WA hosted South Africa in 1961.


Johnson continued to spread her passion for softball. Besides President she fulfilled a number of other roles including Chairman of the Umpires’ Board, AWSC Delegate, and Scorer and Manageress of the State Team. She was particularly passionate about her role as delegate to the Amateur Sporting Committee of the National Fitness Council, the respective forebears of the WA Sporting Federation and the Department of Sport and Recreation. She believed that it was crucial for the WAWSA to be seen as an active member of this organization. She ensured that WA softball was in good hands by recruiting people to the administration. By 1961 she was in need of a change and she left Perth to nurse in country. She did, however maintain contact with the WAWSA as can be seen by her seconding a motion by Rona Trotter to nominate Flo Ireland for Life Membership. Val also had a short period in Adelaide where her daughter Kylie was born in 1967. She returned to Perth in 1969 and by 1970 was drawn back to softball to help the umpires. She convened the Umpires, Scorers and Coaches Sub-committee from 1974 to 1977. In the 1974-75 Annual Report she described herself as a “full time” umpire who was not attached to a specific club. She made herself available to assist at club, state and national tournaments. Her assistance embraced a diverse range of tasks from the obvious on the diamond umpiring to many off the diamond such as overseeing theoretical and practical examinations of umpires. She was available to conduct clinics whenever asked but was often frustrated when her offers were not quickly taken up. When possible she umpired grand finals for country affiliates and held umpiring clinics in the evenings. She arranged for a room to be set aside at Yokine Reserve for the umpires to use each Saturday afternoon. She was also instrumental in establishing an umpires’ traveling fund to assist WA umpires to attend intra- and interstate competitions.


Not one to rest on her laurels, she regularly sat the Australian Umpires’ theoretical examination obtaining scores in excess of 95%. In 1976 she obtained her international umpiring badge when she was selected to umpire in all three Test matches between Australia and Canada. She was awarded Badge Number 88 by the International Softball Federation. Her approach to encouraging umpires was similar to that she had used previously when encouraging juniors to pursue their softball dreams:

We used to do it with the juniors … I was older, I wasn’t brash enough to think that I was god [but] I thought well, maybe there’s some people around that think that people that have achieved something are god, so maybe the same psychology is still there … what I tried to do with the umpires … I’m a West Australian and I’ve got an International Badge … and if I could pass the exam … I’m no sort of real brain or anything like that … there’s got to be people among you who can do the same thing.


In addition to umpiring Val also took responsibility for organizing the Women’s State Championships held over the Labor Day weekend in March each year. As with her attention to umpiring, she thoroughly documented her experiences so that the WASA had sound reference points for future decisions. After her mother died in 1979 Val relocated to South Australia in 1980 but her affection for WA softball remained ever strong as WA teams visiting Adelaide can attest to her generous hospitality. She returned to WA as a special guest of the Association for the opening of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka. During her speech she paid tribute to “all who have worked so hard to make all our dreams of having a ‘home base’ for softball come true”. She drew comparisons between the magnificent complex and “the collections taken at the 1951 carnival in Adelaide for pennies so that the WA players could have a hot shower. The gas metre had to be fed! “

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to softball the women’s trophy for the WA State League commenced in 1992 was named in her honour. In her later years she suffered from what was eventually recognized as post-polio syndrome and her health declined rapidly. She passed away in 2000. When the WASA established its Hall of Fame in 2007 she was posthumously inducted in the category of official to specifically recognise her substantial contribution to umpiring.

The Annual General Meeting was to beheld in April each year. The Insurance Plan was to operate from the commencement of training in August to the Grand Final in March. A Selection Committee of Coaches and Umpires was responsible for the appointment of captains and vice captains of Association teams. The Junior Grade would consist of girls under 16 years of age.  The 1949-50 season began to take shape at the Council meeting held on 23 August 1949. Johnson obviously conducted brisk meetings. In less than two hours a great diversity of issues were covered in a somewhat chaotic order. 3


It was decided to publish 200 copies of the Constitution in booklet form at a total cost of £6 with a small fee charged for each purchase. Elections for the Executive Committee were held over. After an extensive discussion fees for junior teams were set at half those of senior teams. Grounds fees set by Perth City Council (PCC) were the same for juniors and seniors so the Association would carry a loss but this was deemed acceptable if it increased the likelihood of more senior players in the future. With an eye on finances, an approach was to be made to PCC to see if ground fees could be waived for the juniors. A punch board was being circulated around the clubs to help raise funds and a dance held been held in conjunction with Subiaco Amateur Cycling Club prompting the need to form a Social Committee to share some of the increasing workload of the office bearers. Attention then switched to the intricacies of the rules of softball with a discussion of the passed ball rule. Registration was changed from a team basis to individuals requiring the election of a Registrar and assistant. Miss Frances Morrison and Miss Joy Baker respectively were elected to these positions. Miss Baker resigned and was replaced in December by Miss Doreen Roberts. Miss Heather Asquith (South Perth) was elected Insurance Officer with duties commencing immediately. The final item addressed equipment including protection for the catchers. The Social Committee was subsequently referred to as the Dance Committee with its principal duty being liaison with the Subiaco Amateur Cycling Club for the conduct of regular dances and other social activities such as a river cruise. The actual funds raised were small but the seeds had been sown for a committee which was to become of increasing importance.


Council and Executive

The association now had 26 teams and the rapid growth was not without its problems. At the 27 January 1950 meeting a vote of no confidence in the committee was passed based on dissatisfaction with the way in which tasks were, or were not, being undertaken and fulfilled. An emergency committee of three people was elected: Mrs Watson, C Morgan and J Rogers. As well Mr B Wells, Miss H Asquith and Miss R Blunt were elected to the Protest and Disputes Committee. Heather Asquith signed the Minutes as Chairman. However, at a meeting on the 17 February 1950 a lengthy discussion of the legality or otherwise of the no confidence motion resulted reinstatement of the original committee and the rescinding of the minutes of the January meeting. On the recommendation ‘of one of the spectators… a member of the Council moved that the Executive Committee be elected tonight’. Thirteen people were nominated for six positions. Apparently not all successful candidates were present and they had to be notified by mail. In the interim one candidate sadly passed away and one withdrew so the next of the original nominees were appointed. Debate continued about the composition of the Council with a notice of motion given to amend the constitution to read that ‘The Council shall consist of … three delegates from each Club registered with the Association, one delegate being the coach’. This motion was referred back to the clubs for discussion and was defeated at the next Council meeting. It was generally agreed that if a club wanted its coach as a delegate it could nominate him for one of the two available positions.


The Association now had a two-tier structure. The Executive Committee made up of the office bearers and an elected committee attended to the day-to-day functions. The Council included the Executive plus a representative from each team. Meetings were monthly with the Executive Committee usually meeting the week before the Council.

The repercussions came at the Annual General Meeting in June 1950 when the office bearers submitted their resignations in writing. The results of the elections were:

Heather Asquith (South Perth) Vice President Barbara Webbe (Flying Club) 
Secretary N Johnson(Club  unknown)Assistant Secretary Joy Davey (Blue Jays)Treasurer J Henderson (Blue Jays) Executive Committee Misses V Johnson (Flying Club), E Johnson (Flying Club), I Pumfrey (South Perth), Messrs J Dore (club unknown), J Porteous (club unknown), B Wells (Blue Jays)

Further changes occurred in November 1950 following the resignation of Heather Asquith. Messrs Dore and Wells were deemed to have forfeited their positions on the Executive because they had not attended meetings as required. Johnson was re-elected President. Five men contested the vacant Executive positions with George Wenn (Fremantle) and Arthur Sladden (Nedlands) elected and Malcolm Blunt (Brooklyn Dodgers) filling the vacancy arising from Val Johnson’s election as President. Joy Rippin (Blue Jays) became the Insurance Officer. June Steinfield (Blue Jays) was the Registrar. As the Association grew lack of attendance by club representatives became a regular theme in the Minutes. Various penalty schemes involving monetary fines and deduction of premiership points were trialed with little success. Johnson’s frustration with the lack of participation in Association functions was evident when she moved that the 1951 AGM proceed whether or not a quorum was present. Her threats were heeded and 27 people attended the AGM.


More work, more committees

The workload expanded exponentially in the 1950-51 season due to an increase in the number of clubs fielding teams to 16 and the decision to send a State team to compete in the national championship in Adelaide in March 1951. The WA association had sought immediate affiliation - by telegram - with the AWSC during the Council’s 2nd Annual Meeting in Sydney in March 1950 and had been accepted. To this point the association had survived on meager funds generated by membership fees and fund raising activities such as raffles, dances and a punch board over seen by the Social Committee. Four hundred pounds ($800) was needed to send the team to Adelaide. The Social Committee was expanded to include a representative from each team plus parents of members and the Executive Committee. Among the parents recruited were Mrs Meloncelli (Victoria Park), Mrs Porteous (club unknown) and Mrs Blunt (Brooklyn Dodgers).


As well it was necessary to have a Selection Committee to determine which players could represent WA. While women controlled the Executive, the nominees considered for the Selection committee were all males plus Val Johnson. In January, George Wenn (Fremantle), Arthur Sladden (Nedlands) and Malcolm Blunt (Brooklyn Dodgers) were formally elected as Selectors. Two delegates were also required to attend the AWSC meetings held in conjunction with the national championships. Elaine Johnson and Irene Pumfrey were elected but did not go to Adelaide because of the funding shortfall. Instead Val Johnson represented the WAWSA.


With more teams playing on Saturdays it was inevitable that there would be disagreements on the diamonds necessitating the formation of the Protests and Disputes Committee. Initially it was thought that some baseball players might help out but it was then decided to approach parents and male supporters to make it impartial.

A secondhand typewriter was purchased for the Secretary as she communicated with an increasing number of personnel within the softball community, other sports and the broader community. Affiliation was sought with the Associated Youth Clubs, Amateur Sporting Committee and National Fitness Council, the latter providing much needed meeting venues and support with clerical tasks. Much of the deliberation during the season focused on ways in which to improve participation in Association activities and the quality of play on the diamonds.


An even greater workload confronted the incoming office bearers for the 1951-52 season. In addition to a further increase in teams, the WAWSA, through the foresight of Val Johnson at the AWSC Meetings, had undertaken to host the 1952 national championship in Perth. Johnson, recovering from poliomyelitis, led the Association from her hospital bed. Joy Rippin (Blue Jays) as Vice President chaired most meetings. Men continued to be hard workers as they were the selectors, umpires and scorer for the national championship. As hostess State for the national championships WA had financial responsibility and set about fund raising via raffles, concerts and dances. The hard work paid off with WA defeating Victoria to win the Gilleys Shield. (See Chapter 8).


In the local competition protests and disputes continued to be a source of friction. Three members of the Executive were selected to handle each dispute as it arose thus nullifying the suggestion from teams that they were not dealt with fairly and preventing any committee member passing judgment on their own team. The victory over the Victorians at the national championship was still being savored when the AGM took place in April 1952. Joy Rippin was formally elected WAWSA president for the 1952-53 season. An attempt was made to share the workload and a further 16 positions/committees were listed in addition to the Executive and Council. Special positions included Insurance Officer, Registrar, Property man, Solicitor, Auditor, Manager and Coach. Delegates were needed to attend NFC meetings in Perth and the AWSC meetings during the national championships. Committees were responsible for Fixtures, Grounds, Protests and Disputes, Emergency, Selection and Grading. Apart from the Social Committee not all appointments were made immediately and most of the administration remained with the Executive Committee. The task was made somewhat more difficult when the Secretary, Joy Davey (Blue Jays), did not attend meetings and the Executive was forced to seek her resignation. Bernice Dansey (Blue Jays) replaced her and selected J. Kinson as Assistant Secretary. Honorariums of £5/5/- each were paid to the Secretary and Treasurer. The daunting task of revising the Constitution was undertaken at the Executive Committee meeting on 25 August. A copy of the Constitution has not been located but from the minutes of the meeting it can be determined that the Constitution was now a substantial document with at least 48 items, most with multiple clauses, and ran to at least 22 pages.


The Insurance Officer was a particularly important position. From the outset the Association recognised that injuries incurred during training and playing carried not only pain and physical inconvenience but often a financial burden with medical expenses and, in worse case scenarios, time off work. The insurance levy was 5/- for seniors and 3/- for juniors. Claimants paid their own medical bills then sought reimbursement by submitting an application supported by relevant documentation. Fine-tuning the scheme took some time and in the 1952-53 season a 10-point plan was released. There was a major proviso that accidents had to be reported at the time of occurrence regardless of whether or not a claim was lodged. Umpires or coaches or a responsible club person had to sign the report and claims had to be lodged within 14 days. Later in the season following discussions with the Association solicitor, Mr. Solomon, the title of the scheme was changed from Insurance Scheme to the Accident Fund. Thus the Association avoided having to pay the Federal government £50,000. It did mean, however, that players had to attend doctors and hospitals nominated by the Association.


As reigning national champion, WA had to consider its future in the AWSC. After some debate it was decided to send the State team to Brisbane in 1953, thus committing the WAWSA to raising at least £1,000. Fortunately, the Social Committee had been active from its appointment immediately after the AGM. Its three members were Shirley Roberts, Gwen Roberts and Dennis Osborne. Among their initiatives were a Softball Queen competition and the most unpopular umpire, both to be crowned at a dance held after the Grand Final; catch cards; Melbourne Cup sweep; and a knockout competition. The catch cards were discontinued after a four-week trial. Of the other activities, the knockout competition received most support and part of the money raised was donated to the Orphans’ Christmas Fund conducted by The Daily News. It appears that being community-minded was seen as positive promotion for softball. Noel Symington, the State Member for Nedlands, generously donated a washing machine for the main raffle prize.


The hard work was rewarded when the State team won its second national championship in Brisbane. Upon its return home attention refocused on the administration of the local competition beginning with the 1953 AGM. The election of office bearers saw many members of the first two State teams seeking office and the majority came from the dominant Blue Jays and Nedlands Rookies teams. Success had intensified their commitment to the sport. Val Johnson returned as President with Joy Rippin as Vice President. Shirley Roberts and Norma Stone (both Nedlands Rookies) fulfilled the roles of Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Rona Trotter (Blue Jays) and Pat Tatham (Fremantle) joined the Executive committee along with four men: Bill Wells (Blue Jays and State Coach), Arthur Sladden, Ron Featherby (both Nedlands Rookies) and George Wenn (Red Sox and former State Coach). Wells was endorsed to continue as the Association’s Advertising Manager and to organise classes for umpires. Sladden accepted the responsibility of Auditor. Joy Rippin reclaimed management of the Accident Fund. N Lauren/Lawn became Registrar. Rona Trotter was Property Girl. Val Johnson and Shirley Roberts were appointed delegates to the NFC.


The Minutes for the 1954-55 season are brief and to the point suggesting the WAWSA embarked on a period of relative stability as office bearers were familiar with their roles and responsibilities. Few explanations of decisions were recorded. There was some shuffling of positions on the Executive and Council through to the end of the 1960-61 season. Shirley Roberts held the presidency for the 1955-56 season then Val Johnson took over until after the national championship in March 1961. The list of officers now included the Medical Officer, Auditor and Solicitor – all honorary appointments of men from outside the Association. The workload of the Honorary Secretary increased. In addition to the Minutes of Executive and Council meetings letters summarising the main outcomes were forwarded to club secretaries. Topics such as attendance of delegates at meetings, penalties for the non-appearance of umpires and forfeits were quite regular. Such was the efficiency of the operation of the Association that when WA hosted its second national championship in 1957 it was decided in mid-February not to hold any more meetings until after the carnival in March with a note in the minutes stating that ‘Members to act on their own initiative, but to keep in touch and get consent from other members’.


Johnson’s insights

Johnson’s own commitment to softball was clearly evident in the comprehensive six-page annual report she presented at the 1957 AGM. She summarised the season and offered insights into her own thinking about how the sport was developing. Johnson considered that ‘We are at the top of a hill and can pile our assets on top and climb higher, or let our adversities slide down on top of us and take us down the hill with them’. She saw positive development in schools and country areas, public interest in major events, a hardworking social committee, increasing press coverage and a strong financial position. There were, however, strong adversities including:

1. A selfish attitude by many members, their interest in softball seeming only to be what material benefit they, personally, can receive, with no thought of the game itself.

2. Lack of interest in General Association Meetings and functions which are an essential part of the Association.

3. Shortage of umpires and lack of interest in learning the Rules of the game. Even members of the State team show an alarming lack of knowledge of the finer points of the game and Rules.

4. The tendency of State and possible State players to combine in teams which are already strong, and so make the competition in A Grade most uneven. This is a main factor and if it continues will undoubtedly cripple softball. All players must remember that it takes more than 1 or 2 teams to make an interesting competition.4

Johnson repeated her previous calls to all players to become more involved and to think inclusively of teams, clubs and the association.


Constitutional review

The 1958-59 season revealed serious inadequacies in the Constitution and the wheels were set in motion for its complete rewrite. Archrivals Victoria undertook a similar exercise and WA appreciated Victoria’s generous offer to share their documentation. It would appear from later Minutes that among the changes was a loosening of the requirement for officer bearers, other than the President, to be women. Alf Bunting (Blue Jays) was elected Treasurer for the 1958-59 season followed by Max Kitchens (Bassendean Bombers) as Vice President for the 1959-60 season.

Despite national success Johnson used her concluding remarks in her Annual Report to chastise the broader WA softball community:

Western Australia, as the holder of the Gilley (sic) Shield, should take more interest in the administration of softball in Australia. This can only commence in the Clubs and State Association. Players must realize that it is not sufficient to play the game well, without umpires, organizors (sic) and other officials, a Club or Association cannot function or prosper. At the last Australian carnival Victoria had 5 Umpires officiating – W.A. 1. Many players thought this unfair, but what are you and your Clubs doing to remedy this?


Another organizational challenge confronted the WAWSA for the 1959-60 season when they offered to host the South African team en route to a Test Series in Melbourne. Matches were played between the State team and the visitors in Perth and down south at Collie. As well as planning these, the Association was also responsible for billeting the visitors, a situation which proved difficult as the visitors were used to having servants to attend to them in their homes.


The doldrums

The unexpected departure of Val Johnson to work in rural WA in mid-1961 was the beginning of the “doldrums”, a period characterized by changes in leadership and on the diamond.5 Replacing Val Johnson was difficult. Flo Ireland (Blue Jays) held the presidency from 1961 to 1963 including a unique double of WAWSA President and State team captain in 1963 when WA hosted its third national championship. To allow Ireland to concentrate on her playing duties during the national championship Pat Tatham chaired the AWSC meeting as per the prevailing custom of hostess State holding the most senior office. The Executive now only included four of the original State players-cum-office bearers: Marsland, Tatham, Roberts and Ireland.



Life Member


Hall of Fame

Inaugural Inductee: Administration: 2007

I used to just love standing on the mound and whacking the ball in and trying to strike the batters out.


Fremantle Rebels (founder)

State Team

Player Senior Women: 1952-54

Scorer Senior Women: 1962, 1971

Manageress Senior Women: 1963, 1969-77 Assistant Coach Senior Women: 1977

Australian team

Player Senior Women: 1952


Executive: 1952-54, 1966-74

Vice President: 1954-59

Secretary: 1963-65

Publicity Officer: 1969-87

Umpires’ Association: 1968-71


Australian Sports Medal: 2000


Pat struck not once but twice during the national championships held in Perth in 1952. In the round robin matches she struck out the highly regarded Victorian team which had only been beaten once previously in the Australian softball championships. Her jubilant WA teammates chaired her off the diamond. Her second strike out also against Victoria earned WA its first national title in only its second year in the championships. At just 5 foot 2 inches (157 cm) Pat was ‘diminutive’[i] but ‘I had a rising ball. I used to take a big step and the ball used to rise. Instead of coming straight across the plate it was a rising pitch. I think that’s the only reason I had success because it was harder to hit’.  Prior to the tournament Pat had not even watched interstate softball because in 1951 she was in hospital giving birth to her first daughter. Pat was rewarded by being the first Western Australian to be named in an All Australian team although she did not play in any international matches. She represented WA again in 1953 and 1954, the latter championship including a New Zealand team in the round robin so she did belatedly get limited international exposure. 


Achieving “firsts” was a hallmark of Pat’s softball career. She established Fremantle Softball Club in 1949. She responded to an article in The Daily News inviting girls to Perth to learn to play softball. She coaxed some of her friends from the First Palmyra Girl Guides to accompany her. Val Johnson urged them to recruit a few more players to form a Fremantle team. Local baseball player, George Wenn, became their coach. Pat was initially placed on first base but was not really tall enough. When the original pitcher decided not to play Pat volunteered to pitch:

I just went in there to pitch and pitched my heart out and lost the first game. I thought that’s not very good because I’d said, “I don’t want to be in B grade, put us in A grade.” So, we go up and we lost the second game. I thought this is not very good, only small losses [but] then we got stuck into it and we never lost another match all season and won the grand final so I thought that’s a lot better.


George Wenn then formed another club and Pat took charge of Fremantle which added Rebels to its name in 1955-56 season. She continued to coach them into the mid-1980s. To ensure that Fremantle had sufficient players and to spread softball to as many youngsters as possible Pat also went to Palmyra Primary School each Friday afternoon and coached any girls who were interested. Several State and Australian players began their softball careers under Pat’s tutelage including Pat Brown, Faye White and Midge Nelson who went on to captain Australia and was the first Australian inducted into the International Softball Hall of Fame in 1983. Another was Joanne Doonan who became the first Intensive Training Coach stationed at the WA Institute of Sport.


After her playing career ended Pat continued her involvement with State teams as scorer twice, manageress nine times, assistant coach once and delegate to ASF meetings held in conjunction with national carnivals. Her mother was a strong supporter and cared for Pat’s two daughters when she was away with teams.

Pat also qualified as a State umpire and became a State scorer.

I didn’t mind doing it. It was just something you did. The year I started playing we had to stay and umpire the opposite game if we were early. Nobody wanted to do it, so I did it. I was umpiring straight away. I was scoring straight away. I used to like scoring, anything with pen and paper.

Pat got plenty of pen and paper work when she became involved in the administration of softball. From the outset she was delegate for Fremantle at the WAWSA meetings. For the 1954-55 season she was Vice President and held office for five seasons. In the early 1960s she was Secretary followed by a stint as President of the Umpires’ Association. She assisted with State Championships. As well, she visited schools and country associations to teach and umpire. Her dedication to softball was recognsied when she was awarded Life Membership in 1960 and when she was an Inaugural Inductee into the WASA Hall of Fame in 2007.


Her love of pen and paper came to the fore when she was Publicity Officer from 1969 to 1987. She had confidence in her ability because she enjoyed writing stories at school and had studied Leaving English ‘because that’s a breeze … I didn’t want to do anything I wasn’t going to be good at’. In the late 1960s the WAWSA needed a Publicity Officer and Pat offered to do it because ‘it’s only a matter of making up a story. I can make up a story at the drop of a hat’. She began by sending softball articles to The Sunday Times and The West Australian. Then ‘all of a sudden I got a very nice surprise, they started sending me cheques … It was a paid position that no one had ever known about’. Her predecessors in softball had not disclosed this. Later she added The Sunday Independent to the schedule. She capitalized on the draw which saw the early matches played at 1:00pm and the late ones at 3:00pm:

As soon as the early one was over I’d write the story and ring it through so that was alright. Now, Sunday morning for The Independent I’d do the first story but then I’d make it a bit different. For The Sunday Times I’d do the late match as the header … and it didn’t matter about the Monday because I had all day Sunday to think about it. In those days I had to take the story up [to Perth]. I wasn’t able to ring it through. I had to type it out and take it up on Sunday afternoon for the Monday morning edition [of The West Australian].


sporting interests extended to lawn bowls and she joined the Fremantle Bowling Club. She gained her State umpiring badge in bowls and became involved in the administration at State level. During a casual conversation with the Sports Editor of The West Australian Pat asked why men’s bowls received regular write-ups but the women did not. The Sports Editor offered Pat the chance to do it. For a while she covered both softball and bowls before concentrating on the latter. In 1984 she was elected to the Committee of the WA Branch of the Sports Writers’ Association, an honour which the softball association believed brought credit to it as well. While she continued to generate reports for the newspapers but she and the clubs were becoming increasingly frustrated that her reports were cut to fit available space. During the 1984-85 season irate supporters took their anger out on Grice through abusive phone calls. David Marsh, a sportswriter for The West and an accredited softball umpire, backed up Grice but there seemed little that could be done practically.

Pat’s dedication to Fremantle sport also earned her a place on Fremantle’s Sporting Wall of Fame.

When Pat married Bill Grice in the late 1970s softball gained another advocate. Initially Bill began scoring for Fremantle but soon found himself accompanying Pat to WAWSA meetings and then attending in his own right as a delegate. In the 1980s all delegates were required to serve on Committees and Bill was a member of the Sponsorship Committee from 1981 to 1986 then served as Junior Vice President for the 1987-88 season. At one stage Bob McKibbin said to Pat that he ‘thought Bill was one of the best things that ever happened to softball’. Bob recognized that Bill ‘used to think outside the softball square and he used to shake the crowds sometimes [but] when it came time for the work to be done you’d line up behind Bill because he was always the first one there’. Often only Pat’s name was listed in official reports but those involved knew that Bill was as much a part of the team as she was.

They were joined byaspiring players and coaches such as Greta Hall (Craig; Fremantle), Dick Watters (Hell’s’ Angels) and Jim Foxton (Southern Demons). On the diamond there was a decrease in the number of clubs and teams in the local competition. In the early 1960s between 16 and 19 clubs fielded between 45 and 50 teams. At the national championships WA was no longer a regular grand finalist. In a break with tradition, a non-player, non-West Australian, Sister Dorothy Wheatley was elected President of the WAWSA for the 1963-64 season. She had arrived in Perth in February 1963 to take up a position as a Tutor Sister at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. According to an interview in The West Australian she was a strong advocate of sport for young people.7 Sister Wheatley explained that she was not a softball player but had become interested in softball in  Victoria where she was a captain in the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps from 1958 to 1962. Her administration skills were recognized by the Victoria softball executive and she assisted it with advice on administration and organization, fund raising campaigns and the format of the examination papers for umpires. Sister Wheatley was ably assisted by Pat Tatham who was re-elected association secretary for the sixth successive year. Sister Wheatley’s major achievement was the establishment of an umpires’ association for which she was also inaugural president.


Sister Wheatley only served for one season. Finding a suitable replacement was difficult. Flo Ireland, Pat Tatham and Shirley Kennewell all declined nomination at the AGM in September 1964. Colin Smith (Hell’s Angels) was elected Vice President and fulfilled the duties of President. At the Executive Meeting after the AGM Shirley Roberts moved a Notice of Motion to formally change the Constitution and women’s control of softball in WA ‘In the event of no woman being nominated as President a man may stand for this office’. This was formally seconded and carried opening the way for a new vote for President. Smith defeated Jenny Browne (Royals) to become the first male president of the WAWSA. Subsequently Flo Ireland filled the vacant Vice President’s office and Barbara Groves (Blue Jays) became a member of the Executive.



Over the next five seasons Smith optimistically set about rebuilding the association. In the tradition of their predecessors, the 1964-65 office bearers took on multiple tasks. Smith was also the Property Man, a member of the Emergency Committee and Chairman of the Umpires’ Board. Joy Marsland continued as Trustee of the Accident Fund. Jim Foxton (Southern Demons) took on the onerous task of Registrar and each week checked team lists against the list of registered players. Public Relations became the realm of Pat Tatham (as well as Secretary) and Dick Watters. Flo Ireland chaired the Social Committee. Although Smith expressed some concern at the decline in attendance at Umpires’ Board meetings, the umpires sought to have two delegates attend Council meetings.


To streamline administration the Council meetings were held on the first Monday of each month and Executive meetings on the fourth Monday. The Executive usually met at the Ozone Hotel on the corner of Adelaide Terrace and Plain Street while Council meetings were held at the WA Cricket Association (WACA) ground.  In his 1965-66 President’s Report Smith attempted to balance the positive and negative experiences. Financially the Association was ‘in a reasonably healthy position’. The Association had just over $1,000 in the bank although Smith foreshadowed that ‘it can easily be seen that in the near future the W.A.W.S.A. will need to find its own grounds and clubrooms and therefore a great deal more money will need to be raised in the coming years’. The suggestion that the WAWSA search for its own grounds resulted from the deteriorating condition of the playing surface at Langley Park even though the Association paid almost one-sixth of its income in fees to the City of Perth for ground hire. Smith also expressed his concern that new initiatives – a cabaret at which the State team was announced and a Presentation Cabaret at the end of the season for the presentation of trophies - had not been well supported. Smith was disappointed that the clubs were not backing fund raising schemes but were leaving it up to individuals. An interesting attachment to the Annual Report was the attendance records for Council meetings. As to be expected the Executive members were conscientious while the 17 clubs made an effort to participate or at least forward an apology.


By the 1967-68 season both President Smith and Secretary/Coach Roberts noted that softball in WA was ‘now out of the doldrums’. Two strong influences appear to have been the commitment of the office bearers and Roberts’ leadership of the State team which was now back in the top three. The Association’s financial position continued to improve and $500 had been set-aside in an investment account.  Confidence had returned and the WAWSA moved into the 1968-69 season with a much clearer sense of purpose: growth in softball in WA and planning a major national role in 1970 by hosting both the inaugural Junior (Under 16) and Senior national championships.

At the AGM in mid-August 1968 Dick Watters (Hell’s Angels) replaced Smith as President. Marsland (Vice President), Roberts (Nedlands Rookies; Secretary) and Beckett (Hell’s Angels; Treasurer) remained on the Executive. June Zilko (Southern Demons), Val Prunster (Melville Saints) and Don Leyland (Blue Jays) joined the Executive with Pat Tatham (Fremantle), Shirley Boyd (Hell’s Angels) and Penny McKeig (Dolphins). Of these, Roberts was State Coach and Beckett was a State player. The club affiliation of these people appears to have raised concerns as an attempt was made – but failed – to limit the number of executive members from any one club.


The Executive, however, demonstrated their commitment as usual by undertaking multiple roles: Marsland as Trustee of the Accident Fund, Roberts as State coach and Chair of the Social Committee and Tatham as Publicity Officer, Chair of the Umpires’ Board and Manageress of the State team. Leyland and McKeig were coach and manageress respectively of the State Junior team. In addition, the Executive members were rostered for duty as ‘Advisors’ at a special ‘at Langley Park on Saturday afternoons during the 1969-70 season. Watters was keenly aware of the time the office bearers were giving to the Association and in addition to thanking them he also expressed his appreciation to their spouses. The investment fund grew steadily. Treasurer Peggy Beckett noted in her 1968-69 Report that the ‘original purpose of this investment was for use in obtaining our own grounds or the hosting of a visit by an International team passing through Perth and it is not the intention that this money be drawn for any other purpose unless absolutely necessary’. Hosting two national championships in one year required tight financial control.


At the September Council meeting it was decided that the 1968-69 Executive members would ‘remain in office until all 1970 Carnival matters have been finalized’. They were given the power to co-opt others as necessary. Given the championship focus the duties of Publicity Officer were allocated by media type. Pat Tatham continued with newspapers, Penny McKeig liaised with radio stations and Shirley Roberts negotiated with TV stations. The WAWSA’s confidence in its ability to host both national championships in 1970 was justified. On the diamond the Junior team showed great promise with its second placing but the Senior team could only manage fifth place. Equally important, as Beckett noted, the ‘Association came out of it all financially unscathed’.


Clubs had to be reminded that the business of the WAWSA continued during the winter months and Council meetings were held in May, June and July. The Police Traffic Branch Club pleaded ignorance in an endeavour to avoid a fine for non-attendance.

In his 1970-71 Annual Report Watters expressed concern about the participation of clubs in Association administration stating that:

…in some cases personal feelings have been allowed to sway judgments and I appeal to all members to think of the game first time every time and make decisions on these lines only. Club loyalty is great and necessary, but Association loyalty is needed for without it the Association and Executive will cease to operate as governing bodies of the sport.


Watters recommended that the Executive be expanded from 10 to 12 or even 14 members to share the workload generated by the increasing number of clubs. He also proposed appointing three Trustees to oversee the Association’s finances. The investment account had reached almost $3,500. Some careful juggling of accounts by Beckett ensured that the Association maintained a positive balance despite the cost of sending two teams interstate. Watters’ conclusion to his Annual Report implied that the ‘doldrums’ of a decade earlier had cost softball its status as a major women’s sport. The presidency returned to a woman when Shirley Schneider (Demons) took the chair for the 1971-72 season. The rest of the Executive retained their places. Alan Wedlake (Gee Bees) was subsequently elected Registrar to replace Schneider prompting her to comment in her Annual Report that he ‘didn’t realize what he was in for’ as the number of clubs and teams was undergoing a growth spurt. Nineteen clubs fielded 80 teams – 48 in the senior grades and 32 in the junior grades. Financially the Association continued to be in good shape. The investment account was renegotiated at a slightly lower rate because the Association anticipated withdrawing some funds as the first payment towards securing their own grounds at Yokine Reserve after several years of discussion with the City of Stirling. (See Chapter 17)


25th Anniversary

The 25th anniversary of the Association was celebrated during the 1972-73 season. A commemorative badge was struck to mark the occasion with special presentation made to Australian President Esther Deason and Umpire-in-Chief Marj Dwyer. The Social Committee arranged a ball with the highlight being the crowning of Miss Softball based on the amount of money raised. Proceeds were shared 50/50 between the Association and the participants’ clubs. Nominees paid a $50 nomination fee. The prize for Miss Softball was a trip with the Senior State team covering fares, accommodation and social activities. As part of the 25th anniversary it was decided to recognize people who had given 25 years of service to the Association: Joy Marsland, Shirley Roberts and Pat Tatham. It was initially proposed that a presentation be made to each of them but a special mention at the Trophy Presentation function was deemed more appropriate.


Incorporation and expansion of the Executive

As a sign of the times, on a motion from Dolphins Club, the WAWSA began investigating the need to become incorporated. Honorary solicitor, Mr J Manera, attended several meetings to explain the requirements and to answer questions. At the July 1972 Council meeting it was formally moved that ‘The Western Australian Women’s Softball Association seek incorporation under the “Associations Incorporation Act 1895-1969’’’. The legalities of administrating a sports organization now included paying Public Risk Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. These changes had implications for the Constitution which was reviewed by a committee Schneider (Chair), Marie Taylor (Melville Saints), Don Leyland and Brian Properjohn (Hell’s Angels). The increased workload prompted Secretary Taylor to move to have the Executive expanded to include an Assistant Secretary recognized in the Constitution as a fully-fledged office bearer. The Executive Committee was increased by one and Brian Properjohn was designated Assistant Secretary but resigned in August. Tommy Smith (Northern Suburbs) replaced him on the Committee.


Greta CRAIG (nee HALL)

Life Member: 1968

…must be the people, the friends … may be it’s the aggression you get out in softball, throw it as hard as you can, hit it as hard as you can.



Fremantle Rebels: Life Member


Player: Tip Tops: 1993-present

State Team

Player Senior Women: 1960-64, 1966, 1968, 1975,

1977, 1980


Treasurer: 1964-65

Executive Committee: 1959-60, 1965-66

State Umpire’s Badge: 1968

Umpires’ Association Secretary: 1970-71

Emergency Committee: 1959-60 Registrar: 1980-81 to 1986-87

Summer Competition Record Keeper: 1987-199

Social Committee Secretary: 1959-60

State Championships: 1983 to 1986

Canteen: 1986-87

Life Member Delegate: 1987-88


Australian Softball Federation Service Award:

1995Australian Sports Medal: 2000


Greta Craig decided to try softball following a visit by Val Johnson to Princess May High School in Fremantle. Greta played for her school team. ‘I loved it at school, I can remember being in the school team’. She then joined Fremantle Rebels as a 15 year old in 1956. Pat Tatham appointed her catcher. She played A Reserve and was prompted to A grade. Greta captained Fremantle Rebels when they won their second A grade premiership in 1975, 25 years after their first victory in 1950. By 1979 she had played her 300th game for the club and continued playing until 2005. She served Treasurer of Fremantle Rebels from the mid-1950s and ‘been there ever since, no one took it off me’. Greta is a Life Member of Fremantle Rebels. When Fremantle Rebels merged with Melville Saints to become Southern Strikers and play in the South East Metropolitan Softball Association, Greta became its scorer.


Four times during her career Greta was recognized as the Best and Fairest player in A grade.  She first stood for selection for the State team in 1959 but was unsuccessful. Undeterred she tried again the following season and gained selection as a catcher/outfielder. ‘I played a lot of games in the outfield because I could run’. Greta actually played international softball before playing her first game at the national championships because the 1960 WA State team of which she was a member hosted South Africa before heading to Melbourne for the nationals. She played in five consecutive State teams and then another five intermittently up to 1980. She generally batted in the top four for WA. She was Vice Captain in 1964 and 1980. The 1977 championships in Perth were frustrating for Greta because she broke her thumb in the first game and could not play for the rest of the tournament. Trips to Sydney and Brisbane were always special because Greta’s husband, Alan and two young children, made the trip too, to visit Alan’s mother in Sydney.  When the veterans’ competition commenced in 1993 Greta signed up as a member of Tip Tops and played in the Tuesday night competition and several Masters Games. During this latter period she also played regular club competition on Saturday afternoons.


Greta was keen to contribute to the sport as much as possible and was successful in achieving her State Umpire’s Badge in 1968.  In the late 1950s and early 1960s Greta traveled to WAWSA meetings with Fremantle Rebels captain Pat Tatham. When Pat held office Greta became the Fremantle Rebels delegate to WAWSA meetings and quickly found herself involved in a range of social and fund raising activities. During the 1964-65 season Greta was the Association’s Treasurer and in the following season was a member of the Executive Committee. Even when she was not a member of the State team she continued to assist with fund raising. ‘We used to do cake stalls and jumble stalls and sell tickets at the football, raffle tickets out the front, and bottle drives. Oh, they were filthy things … those big old beer bottles’. In 1968 her commitment was recognized when she became the tenth Life Member of the WAWSA. Greta took on the demanding challenge of WAWSA Registrar in the 1980-81 season and spent many nights manually checking scorecards to calculate the points and percentages for all teams in all grades and keep a tally of the points for the best and fairest awards. ‘I used to tick off the names [as I was] watching TV and then just give them a table to pin up on the board. I didn’t have a computer and I think it was better … I had them in a book and would do the points for the week’.

As well she had to check to see that all teams fielded registered players. During the early 1980s women’s softball reached its pinnacle in WA with an average of 100 teams registered each season. The senior competition had an average of 12 to 13 grades each season with up to 10 teams in some grades. Greta checked the score cards every week from mid-October to the end of February each season. When the Association restructured in 1987 Greta continued with the new title of Record Keeper for the Summer (women’s) competition for several seasons.

As well, Greta was part of the organizing committee for the annual State Championships in the early 1980s. Again she attended to the match results, often working under pressure as country players milled around her waiting to see who their next opponent would be. In more recent years Greta could always be found at the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka whenever the WASA hosted a national or international event as she took charge of the sales of memorabilia drawing on her many years of employment in the retail sector in record sales and groceries.

Her expertise was sought by the Fremantle Brave Baseball Club in its early years. Pat Tatham recruited some women for social fund raising. Greta became their Treasurer, possibly the first female treasurer in WA baseball.


With so much time devoted to softball Greta had little time for other sports but she did try her hand a badminton for a while until it clashed with softball commitments. After she retired from softball she was again recruited by Pat Grice (Tatham) to play lawn bowls with Fremantle.

The office bearers remained stable with another first for the Association: a husband and wife, John and Shirley Claxton (Nedlands Rookies), on the Executive, however, Shirley withdrew in September and was replaced by Don Smith (Nedlands Rookies). When the office bearers took up their positions after the AGM in June 1973 they knew that the season was going to be another demanding one for them and the Association. The major task was the hosting the National Junior Championship in January 1974 for the second time. Val Prunster agreed to be Convenor. In November the WAWSA learned that it also had the opportunity to host a team from Kamloops, Canada, immediately after the Junior Championship. Given WA players had so little exposure to international softball this was taken on board enthusiastically. Among the tourist activities proposed was a tour of the Perth Concert Hall which had opened 12 months previously. After nine weeks of preparation the excitement ‘fell flat’ as Kamloops visit was cancelled on the eve of their arrival. As well, the Executive was fully occupied with two new initiatives: the relocation of softball from Langley Park to Yokine Reserve, and a very substantial change in the structure of the Association.



Following discussions with their Queensland counterparts the WAWSA obtained a copy of the former’s constitution looking in particular at the function of a Management Committee in preference to the Council-Executive structure existing in WA. Don Leyland introduced a discussion on this at the Council meeting in October 1973. This provoked some discussion of possible scenarios regarding attendance by various representatives, mostly revolving around the number of representatives from each club and distinctions between clubs with predominantly senior or junior members. Given that the change had been precipitated by the lack of club involvement in association administration and fund raising, there was a certain irony in club demands for representation in any new model. It was also argued that a Management Committee would eliminate the need for a separate Council and thus reduce the number of meetings the leaders had to attend and the duplication of information in two sets of minutes. By February the idea had taken root. Bedford Youth Club (BYC) moved a motion seconded by Hell’s Angels that:

A Management Committee shall be elected at the Annual General Meeting each year and shall be constituted as hereafter: President, Vice President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer plus a minimum of eleven (11) members. Each Club shall have the right to elect one representative (other than Office Bearers). Any Club not represented initially may subsequently elect a Member. Two thirds shall constitute a quorum.

The amendments to the Constitution were passed at the 1974 AGM. The new management structure was lead by Shirley Schneider. After a short delay Nox Bailey (Gee Bees) offered to act as Secretary for the season, thus becoming the first male to hold that position. An Executive made up of the office bearers was retained and met monthly as well as attending to special events such as the announcement of State teams and the resolution of disputes. All clubs were still required to have a delegate attend the AGM.


ASF Delegate and a new name

By the end of the 1974-75 season the Management Committee was working satisfactorily and President Schneider remarked in her Annual Report that ‘the new system introduced as from June, 1974 makes meetings a lot easier to conduct and therefore we were able to discuss a great deal more business at meetings’. However, constitutional reform was continuous as the new Management Committee structure revealed its strengths and shortcomings. A new position, ASF delegate, was added to the Committee. ASF meetings continued to be held in conjunction with the National Senior Carnival and this new official relieved the coach or manageress from attending meetings during the evenings. The WAWSA’s preference was for the Association Secretary or an office bearer. In contrast with the ASF which had deleted gender identification in 1972, the WAWSA insisted that its ‘delegate must be a female’. Beckett was duly appointed to this role. By October 1975 WA had fallen into line with the ASF and ISF and deleted the word “women’s” from the Association’s name. to become the Western Australian Softball Association (WASA). Incorporation was again arranged. Securing a quorum to attend meetings to the update the Constitution proved very difficult. Eventually the Management Committee accepted written approval from 18 clubs and the changes were carried unanimously with the vote of the Management Committee.


WA Men’s Softball League

Tom Touchell (Nollamara) took charge as President for the 1975-76 season. A steady routine developed to deal with the regular activities of club softball, the Junior Camp and State team selections while new activities were embraced including softball teeball and a men’s softball competition. The latter was possible now the Association did not have a gender specific title. In March 1976 the Management Committee gave approval to Tom Touchell and Nox Bailey ‘to call a General Meeting and take whatever steps are necessary to get the Competition under way’. The WA Men’s Softball League (WAMSL) came into being in May 1976 and existed as an independent association until 1983. (See Chapter 4) Interestingly, Touchell foreshadowed in his Annual Report that ‘our Association must start to think along the lines of a small professional committee of about six people, with a paid part-time secretary to run this fast-growing Association’.


Government involvement

Schneider regained the presidency for the 1976-77 season amid consternation about who the members of the Management Committee actually represented – their club or softball generally. The changing nature of sport at State and National level can be gleaned from the list of correspondence dealt with at each meeting. Among letters tabled were ones informing the WASA of the formation of the Confederation of Australian Sport (although the ASF was the agency directly involved) and from the WA Community Recreation Council advising that the WA Sports Federation (WASF) had been formed. Regular correspondence was received from these bodies with less frequent contact by government departments such as the WA Department of Tourism seeking details of forthcoming events. In turn the WASA engaged with a wider community including letters to each of the political parties seeking restoration of travel grants for State teams. By 1978 changes in the broader sport community saw the Community Recreation Council (which had its origins in the National Fitness Council) became a fully-fledged government agency, the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation (DYSR).8


New office bearers

At the 1977 AGM John Claxton (Nedlands Rookies) was elected President having been nominated by Hell’s Angels and Nedlands Rookies. Roma Piercy (Apache) became Vice President. Beckett continued as Treasurer but Bailey declined nomination as Secretary for a further term. With no volunteers from within softball, the WASA advertised in various newspapers but drew no responses. By August two applications had been received and after some discussion of the workload both candidates were accepted. Peter Lynch (BYC) was Secretary of the Association. Piercy was Country Secretary dealing specifically with queries from country affiliates and liaising with them about the conduct of coaching and umpiring clinics as well as providing umpires for finals. Claxton served another term during which the legalities of incorporation were completed.

PRESIDENTS -1975-1988

                                                  Tom Touchell                                           Shirley Schneider                                           John Claxton                                                  Reg Page
1976-77                                                           1977-79                                                     1979-1997


The 1979-80 season heralded the election of Reg Page (Demons) for what would become the longest presidency. The Management Committee consisted of the office bearers plus club delegates with up to 35 people attending meetings. With office bearers facing an ever-increasing workload, Wendy Kitson was appointed Minute Secretary. The Management Committee structure gave full voice to the clubs which had their say during General Business when each was invited to raise issues. People holding official positions in the WASA such as a State coach reported to the WASA through their role as a club delegate and/or Life Member. To ensure attendance at meetings each club was required to pay a $20 bond from which fines of $10 per meeting were deducted for non-attendance without submission of an apology in advance. The Life Members continued to serve the Association with gusto and in Management Committee meetings were given the same standing as clubs, committees and affiliates like the WAMSL.


Roma MACKENZIE (formerly Piercy)

Life Member: 1986

… on the diamond it was kill and win. You won under any sportsmanlike way. Never cheated. Never vicious or anything but you played your heart out.



Hell’s Angels

Red Sox

Nedlands Rookies




State Teams

Player Senior Women: 1954

Manager Under 19 Women: 1979-82, 1989

Manager Senior Women: 1983-85


Vice President: 1977-83

Delegate to WASF: 1974-90

Country Secretary: 1977-80


Australian Sports Medal: 2000



Thirteen-year old Roma Mackenzie was invited by Doreen Hawkins to play softball with the YWCA in the 1950-51 season. Both girls lived in Nissen huts at the Air Force Camp in Wembley. Returned servicemen and their families were housed there when the men returned at the end of World War II and, in her father’s case, a German Prisoner of War Camp. Having played rounders at primary school and being a fast runner, Roma took readily to softball. When the YWCA team disbanded, Roma went to Hell’s Angels and Doreen to Nedlands Rookies but the two remained good friends. Two seasons later Roma moved to Red Sox and is thought to be the only player in Western Australia, and possibly Australia, for whom a transfer fee of £10 was demanded and paid. Later it was discovered that the fee was illegal but no action was taken. After two seasons with Red Sox Roma was urged by Shirley Roberts to join Nedlands Rookies where she played for 20 seasons. Roberts automatically transferred Roma and her daughter, Julie, to Apache, a club formed by Roberts, Peggy Beckett and Heather Asquith for the 1972-73 season. Roma spent 23 years with Apache which in the evolution of the State Softball League became Stirling Apache after a merger with West.Stirling. Throughout her time with Apache Roma wore their Number 1 playing top but this was denied in the merger. A year later she decided it was time to join Legends, a team formed to play in the 1993 Australian Masters Games held in Perth. Legends won gold at their first Masters. Roma played softball for 55 years.


Throughout her playing career Roma played A grade. In 1954 19 year old Roma was selected in her first WA State team as a short stop/outfielder for the national championships in Melbourne. To allay her parents’ fears about the costs involved. ‘I borrowed a uniform from people who’d been in the team the year before and weren’t in the team and I worked trying to sell raffle tickets to get enough money to go and borrowed money from mum and dad and had to pay them back’. She was also selected the following year but withdrew because she married Ron Piercy in December 1955 and could not afford the trip to Sydney.


On the diamond Roma, as a very well coordinated athlete, developed her skills to be able to play most positions. As well she umpired, coached and scored.  Roma umpired every Saturday preferring ‘the lower grades because they need good umpiring’. Roma strongly opposed payment of umpires:

I don’t agree with this paying for it. You’ve got to give back and every week I got something so I’d give back. I’d start picking kids up about 7 o’clock … then I’d get to the ground at 8, I’d get the diamond out and then the kids would start arriving about half past 8 and then have the first game at 9. I’d [coach] that game then I’d umpire a junior game then I’d go and play a game then umpire a game after that. So I would leave home at 7 o’clock on Saturday morning and I’d get home probably at 7 o’clock Saturday night.

In 1979 Roma was appointed Manageress of the Under 19 Women’s team. ‘I had done nothing for me for such a long time that I wanted to do something that I wanted to do. I loved the team. I loved the girls and I loved the whole atmosphere … I loved organizing’.

Ever willing to share her softball expertise Roma served as Secretary of the fledgling men’s softball association. As well she coached a men’s team that won premierships in successive years. However, she held firm to her belief that women’s and men’s softball should remain separate but cooperative entities. Off the diamond Roma was an active member of her clubs as a committee member culminating in President of Apache. When required she served as club delegate to the WAWSA and through that became involved in the running of the Association. Her first official position for the Association was as the delegate to the Western Australian Sports Federation, a task she enjoyed from 1974 to 1990. It involved attending Federation meetings and providing reports to the WASA. Roma thoroughly enjoyed learning about the overall plans for the development of sport in WA and over time understood the Federation’s position that delegates were to unite in advancing all sport rather than simply looking out for their own sport, a point that was at odds with the prevailing view in softball and other sports.


Under the guidance of Val Johnson Roma took on the challenging job of Country Secretary from 1977 to 1980. Johnson had envisaged substantial growth of softball in rural WA and realized that the amount of work would be too great for the Association Secretary. Peter Lynch, so had urged that the workload be shared. Roma became the contact point for all softball inquiries from the country be they related to playing, umpiring, coaching or administration. She in turn liaised with the relevant Board members to ensure that the country members received the best possible answers. The large demand for coaching clinics meant that the Management Committee continually sought people conduct them and represent the Association. In his 1978 Annual Report, President Reg Page specifically acknowledged Roma’s work. ‘With the increase in country centres the workload on Roma Piercy has virtually doubled and her liaison with the various country Association has to say the least been 1st Class. A very hard and tiring job and to you Roma I say well done’. Similar acknowledgement was made the following year.


In partnership with Barbara Corby, Roma traveled to Roebourne-Wickham and Kununurra several times to umpire, run coaching clinics and score. One umpiring clinic in Kununurra clearly demonstrated the pragmatic approach of its softballers. As Roma worked through the rule book with them, she became aware that there were black lines drawn across most pages. When she asked what they were for, she was told simply that, “We rule out the rules we don’t like.” Those rules that remained were those relating to five basics: balls, strikes, in, out and inflield fly.

However, in late 1980 the Board became concerned with her ever-increasing telephone bill. She was instructed to advise country centres that they must call her for replies to their inquiries.

Her abrupt departure from a Board meeting was misinterpreted as her resignation as Country Secretary and the Association Secretary resumed full responsibility for the country centres.

As well as attending to country softball Roma was Vice President of the WASA from 1977 to 1983 serving initially with John Claxton as president, then Reg Page. Roma stepped in when no one else would despite working full-time and by then being a single parent.

ike most Board members she was prepared to tackle any of the essential but mundane tasks such as cleaning up the grounds and working in the canteen. She served on numerous committees and was a delegate to the Yokine Reserve Advisory Council with Shirley Schneider. Her commitment usually meant two or three nights a week spent at meetings. Softball was a family sport for the Piercys. At first her husband, Ron, hated softball because it took so much of Roma’s time but eventually she got him to come and help as an assistant coach. He became equally passionate and involved at club and Association level beginning as Apache delegate and then a Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee. Together with Reg Page, Ron helped build the cool room in the canteen at Yokine Reserve. The Piercys later separated and Roma reverted to her maiden name of Mackenzie. Her daughters followed Roma into softball. Amanda felt she was overlooked and spent far too much time on the bench and so gave softball away as a teenager. Julie, however, represented WA in the Under 16, Under 19 and Senior Women’s teams and represented Australia at the First Youth World Series in Canada in 1981. A sizeable donation was made to her fundraising by Leigh and Rose Varis from Roebourne-Wickham Softball Association in appreciation of the time and effort Roma had given to them.


When her son began playing tee-ball, Roma became his team’s scorer ‘because they couldn’t get anyone and I was able to score softball’. From there mother and son progressed to junior baseball with Wembley Baseball Club. For many years Roma ‘was scoring three games on a Sunday, doing all the stats in my head and having the stats in by Monday morning to the League because they couldn’t get scorers’. She scored for baseball for 35 years, retiring in 2007. Roma was President of Wembley Baseball Club for several years and made a Life Member.

Her efforts for softball were recognized with Life Membership in 1986 and an Australian Sports Medal in 2000. While Roma committed an enormous amount of time and energy to softball, she worked as a housekeeper for a lawyer, Retirement from softball and work did not come easily to Roma. She gave up full-time work in 2007 but continued part-time. Ever an organizer she continued to take on activities like organizing the 60th reunion for her primary school. Despite family traumas Roma maintained a very positive outlook with softball having a key role.

It’s an outlet. Plus the friendships you get from these people helps you get through it because if I wasn’t involved as much as I was with softball and I was home all the time to think about it and to worry about it, it would be more major. It was major but it would have been more. Having the people around that have gone through the same thing, or even haven’t, that show you the compassion and the friendship and that is why you stay in there and why you want to help other people.


With 32 clubs fielding in excess of 120 teams and the Association entering teams in three levels of national championships, softball was becoming an increasingly complex sport to administer. This can be seen in the substantialincrease in funds passing through the Association’s books. Treasurer Beckett drew members’ attention to the fact that gross receipts had almost doubled from the 1977-78 season to the 1978-79 season from $38,600 to almost $71,000. The investment account had grown to almost $20,000 with $11,000 of that having been generated by the canteen at Yokine Reserve in just four years of operation. The Social Committee which Beckett referred to as the Finance Committee, retained responsibility for raising funds to send the State teams away. While Beckett commended the Committee on its efforts she was concerned that ‘it would appear that we have been very lenient in the area of levies over the past years, when comparisons have been made with other States’. She forewarned that for the 1979-80 season sending three teams away could cost $29,000 and urged support be given to the Finance Committee’s recommendation for ‘more onus to be placed on the Teams, by way of increased levies’.


In his Annual Report in June 1980 President Page stated that this had been ‘the most controversial season that I have been involved in since being a member of the Association’. Page considered the problems stemmed from the concentration by clubs on A grade and Seniors with little regard for the development of juniors who were not being taught the basics of the sport. Seniors lacked knowledge of the rules and were unable to cope with umpiring duties. Page recognized a culture of blame and challenged everyone to take responsibility.



After a thorough review during the 1981-82 season a specially elected sub-committee recommended the current Management Committee structure be retained with some minor constitutional adjustments. Clubs and affiliated members were entitled to one delegate each but there was still concern about the workload being carried by a relatively small number of people. The Secretary’s honorarium was doubled to $1,000 to recognize the increased workload since the work of Country Secretary was absorbed by the Secretary in 1980. Obtaining a balance between club and Association committee work was problematic. The Umpires’ Sub-committee was given the status of Associate Association.9


WAMSL Affiliation

A major change to the WASA occurred during the 1982-83 season when the WAMSL now totaling 46 metropolitan teams formally affiliated with the WASA. Securing full cooperation of the men was challenging and Nox Bailey had to convince them to purchase books and manuals from the UAA even though the UAA provided umpires for the men’s matches. Financially, the Association continued to move forward due mainly to the money raised through the canteen at Yokine Reserve and this money was invested at 10 percent or more. The Canteen did particularly well due the State Championships over the long weekend in March. The Finance Committee budgeted each year to break-even outcome and was delighted when a profit was recorded although it tended to yo-yo from season to season. A substantial increase was recorded for the 1982-83 season due principally to Travel Grants from DYSR for the Under 19 and Senior Women’s teams.


The frustration of long meetings and the increasing distance between members of the softball community were apparent at the September meeting of the 1983-84 season. The WASA delegates to the forthcoming ASF meeting needed to be directed on how to vote for various ASF positions. An attempt was made to refer matters to a sub-committee but under the existing constitution sub-committees had no rights. Details of the qualifications of various nominees for ASF offices were read to the people in attendance most of whom did not know (or care) about for whom they were voting. The September meeting closed at midnight. Further discussions eventually resulted in a successful motion for the two WASA delegates to meet with the Executive and State Senior Coach to discuss how to vote at the ASF meeting. The ASF negotiated a national sponsorship deal with TAA airline forcing all States/Territories to use TAA regardless of their own arrangements.


Paid staff

The increasing workload and professionalisation of sport became evident as the WASA began discussing the possibility of a paid Secretary/Administrator for the 1984-85 season. A previous motion to simply increase the honorarium paid to the Secretary lead to a realization that the WASA would become an employer. Discussions with DYSR revealed that a $2 for $1 grant was available, that is, DYSR would contribute $2 for every $1 paid by the WASA three years. The intention was to have the Secretary work 20 hours per week from October to March and 10 hours for the remainder of the year. During the season the Secretary would be at the office at Yokine Reserve on Tuesdays and Fridays and work from home for all other hours. The WASA consulted the Industrial Affairs Commission to confirm that the arrangements were legal. The WASA was required to take out workers’ compensation insurance. As well the Constitution required yet another review as it did not allow for the possibility of employees nor did it include job descriptions. After serious deliberation, the status quo was retained with the Secretary receiving an honorarium of $1,000.


The Executive was returned to office at the AGM in June 1985 but Wendy Kitson resigned almost immediately and Connie Montgomery (Morley Eagles) replaced her as Secretary. Montgomery attended the office at Yokine Reserve Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9am to 1pm. Her work was facilitated by the installation of a direct phone. Jan Beugelaar (Kalamunda) initiated the WASA’s move into the technological age when he obtained quotes for a computer system. The cost of almost $9,000 was offset by a grant from DYSR on a 50-50 basis. For Honorary Treasurer Beckett this signaled a major change in direction of the Association. After 21 years of consecutive service she advised the Management Committee that she was not seeking re-election.



Life Member: 1974

Hall of Fame: Administration 2007

Softball, softball was it!… I don’t know how anyone ever scores … if I’m not playing I can’t score because I get too excited about the game. I’m too busy watching what’s going on out there



Hell’s Angels

Nedlands Rookies



Legends: 1993-present

State Teams

Player Senior Women: 1964-70

Assistant Coach Senior Women: 1976


Treasurer: 1965-86


Delegate: 1975, 1977


Australian Sports Medal: 2000


Peggy began playing softball at East Victoria Park Primary School and loved it. When she left school at 15 she thought that was the end of her softball days until some friends at work took her along to practice and she discovered that there was a Saturday afternoon competition run by an association. Her first club was Hell’s’ Angels and she began in C grade progressively working her way up to be grade pitcher with Nina Menner as catcher. In her own words ‘I was not one of these whiz bang fast pitchers, I was an underarm, I’d say medium…and accurate. The biggest thing in my favour was that they couldn’t afford to stand and watch’. As well, she was also a handy outfield player. On her own admission she was not a big batter but she was a good bunter and could manage the occasional Texas leaguer. Opposing pitchers did, however, find her troublesome and Peggy recalled one saying to her, ‘Gees, I hated it when you came up to bat ‘cos I never knew where you were going to bloody hit it!’


Never one to promote herself Peggy had to be coaxed into attending the selection trials for the State team. She made her first team in 1964 and did ‘the complete round’, that is, played in all States before retiring from State in 1970. Her first trip in 1964 involved traveling by train to Melbourne and then flying to Hobart which she remembered vividly because it was her first flight and she was so scared that she thought she would break the arm of the manageress to whom she was clinging on to for dear life.  After she retired from the State team she found herself regularly sitting on the bench for Hell’s’ Angels, so she transferred to Nedlands Rookies for one season after which she joined forces with Shirley Roberts and Heather Asquith to form Apache. Peggy continued to play A grade until 1989, then filling in on a casual basis in lower grades but found the expectations on a former State player to be unreasonably high. Her retirement was brief as she was amongst the first recruited in 1993 by Shirley Roberts to form Legends veterans softball team to compete in the Masters Games being held in Perth. Playing veterans softball again saw Peggy visiting other Australian States until 2006 usually returning home with a medal.


Peggy’s introduction to managing the finances of the Association began when she was asked to manage the money the State team was raising by painting a driveway for a gentleman in Mt Lawley. At the Annual General Meeting in 1965 she was voted into office before she could get her mouth open to say, ‘No’. When she inherited the Association’s financial records they were simply stored in the bottom of a camera box. With only one State team and just the summer competition, the books were straightforward with the General Fund and the Contest Fund for the State team. In the 1967-68 season both these accounts became the responsibility of the Treasurer along with an interest bearing investment account. During the 1970-71 season the Association began selling soft drinks at Langley Park. When softball moved to Yokine Reserve a canteen was built thus generating far more cash to be reconciled each Saturday evening. By the time Peggy decided to relinquish the Treasurer’s duties there were multiple accounts. When Peggy began as Treasurer the Association’s financial transactions were either in cash or by cheque and Peggy often found herself spending hours counting cash in preparation to taking it to the bank.


Throughout her 20 years as Treasurer, Peggy was usually the voice of caution. She knew that growth was inevitable but always raised concerns about where the money was to come from to fund each new development. Her cautious approach paid dividends because in the long term the Association’s finances increased to the point where the establishment of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka was feasible. In the 1985-86 Annual Report President Reg Page wrote ‘My thanks and admiration for the years you have been in this position. Thank you does not seem enough, but it is all I can say on paper, your work, your support, has been of the highest caliber and I will miss you tremendously’. Peggy did not have specific training in accountancy but had expertise as a shorthand typist and worked as a personal secretary to a company manager. Such was the standard with which she presented the Association’s books to the Auditor that he regularly commended her work. Many people met Peggy during her 20 years as Treasurer because she was the one who manned the gates for the finals or when matches were played away from Yokine Reserve. Most people were happy to make a small donation but there were some who disputed the need for the Association to raise funds that way. Peggy’s quite determination usually won out.


The WAMSL continued to grapple with its autonomous status but it was becoming increasing clear that it would have to subscribe to the WASA’s constitution and procedures as the ASF recognized only one ruling body for softball in each State. The full integration of the WAMSL into the WASA injected approximately $89,000 towards the new headquarters.  A major review of the WASA constitution was undertaken aiming to bring the affiliates under its umbrella. Originally the review findings were to be presented at the AGM in June 1986 but the slower than expected responses from the affiliates meant that it was delayed till August. There was some concern that the WASA could face bankruptcy during the transition period. In April 1986 the WASA received $6,000 from DYSR for a part-time Administrative Co-coordinator. The WASA contributed $2,400 as part of the 4:1 funding arrangement for the first two years of its implementation. This was then to be reduced to 2:1 for another two years. In August 1986 Mary Andreotta was appointed Administrator Co-coordinator. In her report to the 1987 AGM, she listed the four main roles defined in her job description:

1. To market softball with the objective of obtaining sponsorship;

2. To administer the Softball Skills Programme;

3. To process computer data (registration, fixtures, results, etc.); and,

4. To perform day-to-day administrative duties as directed.

She clearly explained that she could not fulfill the first role because the Association lacked direction in the form of ‘goals and objectives against which results can be measured’. She did, however, manage to attract interest from Kalbarri Holiday Resorts. The ASF Skills Program proved to be challenging as the focus was on schools with clubs servicing those in their area. Unfortunately clubs did not receive copies of the kits. As with all softball initiatives the practical component was by far the most enjoyable and Androetta had to plead with the clubs for the paperwork to be completed so the WASA could fulfill its obligations to the ASF. Country affiliates enthusiastically embraced the scheme and picked up their kits at the State Championships in March. In total 212 schools participated. Andreotta’s frustration was well understood by Treasurer Nox Bailey who noted in his Annual Report that:

Mary Androetta has been a paid employee of the this Association for over 8 months now and during this period she has done very little in the way of the type of work for which she was employed. This is entirely our fault. (Underlining in original) She is a very capable girl with a Marketing Degree and if we do not channel her talents towards the promotion and marketing area very quickly, we will lose her and the past 8 months will have been a classic exercise in futility. To define her areas of work and to appoint someone to whom she is responsible will need to be the first priority of the new administration.


Montgomery continued as Secretary. The installation of the computer had an unexpected effect. It proved rather temperamental in the heat of Yokine office which necessitated the installation of air conditioning. Security of the computer was also of concern and eventually 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. Initially, Montgomery and Schneider (State Coaching Director) shared a very small office but gained a larger one when the Disabled Sports Association moved out to Victoria Park.



The major challenge for the WASA was restructuring via a thorough review of the constitution. A subcommittee of Shirley Schneider, Lorraine Malcolm, Connie Montgomery, Polly Rattray and Bill Grice worked on this. Other State sporting associations were undertaking a similar exercise with a number of different models emerging including one in which the State governing body did not conduct the metropolitan competitions, rather a new affiliate was created to do that. Financially, the WASA Finance Committee could not see a viable fiscal approach. Eventually it was resolved that there would be a Summer (women’s) competition and a Winter (men’s) competition under the direct auspices of the WASA. Winter was deemed to be between 1 April and 30 September and Summer between 1 October and 31 March. This in turn determined the dates for the payment of registration fees. As was becoming the norm in sport, the new constitution was also subject to scrutiny by lawyers providing a pro bono service via the WASF.




Life Member: 1988

Hall of Fame: Inaugural Inductee - Administration: 2007

I think it’s a great sport and I’ve also said, “It’s not a sport, it’s a disease.” Once it gets you, you are gone and there’s nothing you can do about it … I’ve had a lot of fun out of the game.


Hell’s Angels



Morley Magic

Convenor: 2002-04

State Teams

Assistant Coach Under 19 Women: 1981-1986

Coach Under 19 Men: 1989-1999

Coach Senior Men: 2001

Manager Under 23 Men: 2007

Australian Team

Coach Under 19 Men: 1993


President: 1979-1997, 2006-10

ASF Delegate: 1994-1997, 2006-10


Vice President: 1976


Level 1 Coach;Level 2 Coach; Level 1 Administration


Finalist Administrator of the Year for Sportsmen’s Association of WA: 1991, 1992

ASF Service Award: 1992

Mirrabooka Clubrooms R & L Page Pavilion: 1997

Demons Softball Club Life Member

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

Reg Page Veterans Fast Pitch Competition

Eighteen year old Reg Page caught the softball ‘disease’ in 1956 when fell in love with sixteen year old Lorraine Laurissen who played with Boans:

Those days it was a girls’ game and no man would play it and you went down just to watch the girls play … I used to go and watch her play netball as well … No ifs, buts, mays about it, no self-respecting bloke would play it. That was it, you know, and times have changed.

At school young Reg’s preferred subject was sport. ‘My mind was always out on the athletic ground, cricket ground, whatever at school’. After he left school Reg focused on hockey in winter with the Young Australia League (YAL) team and rowing in summer with the ANA Club. He was introduced to rowing by close mate, Ian Boyd.10 Reg and Ian were introduced to the softball ‘girls’ by good mate, Ron Baker.


Over time Reg progressed from keen softball spectator to a passionate advocate and promoter of it. When Lorraine moved to Hell’s Angels Reg became a social member and progressed to committee work and coaching. Reg and Lorraine were married in 1959. When their three children arrived the task of looking after them on Saturday afternoon fell to Reg when he wasn’t coaching. The Page offspring were often joined by the similar aged children of Nina Menner, Shirley Schneider, Rosie Rokie.and other Hell’s Angels players. Babysitting is not the usual route to the State presidency of a sports organization, or coach of a national team but for Reg Page it was a vital stepping stone. When Lorraine along with Shirley Schneider and some other players were told they were too old for Hell’s Angels they left to become foundation members of Demons Softball Club formed by John Claxton for the 1968-69 season. In 1972 Reg succeeded Claxton as President of Demons. He became Demon’s delegate to the WAWSA meetings.

In 1979 he took the helm as WA State President, a position he held until 1997 thus becoming the WASA’s longest serving president. He oversaw several restructures which increased the efficiency of the Association but did place very heavy workloads on a small number of volunteers. To his dismay, the WASA got into very serious financial difficulties in the late 1990s. Given his comprehensive knowledge of softball Reg was recruited to be one on the five “consistent” members of an Independent Review Committee facilitated by Trevor Howard from the Ministry of Sport and Recreation. At one stage a proposal was put forward to relinquish Mirrabooka to minimize expenditure. Reg could not believe that all the hard work he and his cohorts had put into fundraising and labouring on the grounds and buildings would be passed up so easily so he returned to ‘active duty’ and became President once more in 2006 with the slogan RIB – Reg is Back! It was, however, a very different organization structure. The Board now consisted of just seven members plus the General Manager focused on the WASA as the governing body for the whole State. He retired for the second time in 2010.  He backed up his experience by obtaining the relevant accreditations including a Level 1 accreditation with the Society of Sports Administrators. The WASA nominated him for Administrator of the Year for sport in Western Australia and he was a finalist in 1991 and 1992.


With softball established at Yokine Reserve Reg ensured that softball was fairly represented on the Yokine Advisory Committee of the City of Stirling as a delegate and Vice Chairman from 1979.  Reg was instrumental in securing the Mirrabooka site for the State Softball Centre and played a major role in its design and construction. This involved negotiating with local, State and federal governments to secure funding in the vicinity of $750,000. One Board Member affectionately described Reg as a ‘penny-pinching little bugger’ and acknowledged that this was why the WASA was able to forge ahead and at one stage was even able to loan the City of Stirling some funding to cover the City’s share of the cost of installing the light towers. It took almost a decade from idea to reality.

I think one of the greatest days was to come up and see tractors dragging tonnes and tonnes of sand around all over the place and suddenly our little bit of bush became a great big pile of yellow sand and from then on it was a very impatient time, particularly for me and Peter [Tilley – architect] because we’d come up and have a look and walk through the sand, look at the sun to see if it was in the right spot for the diamonds and then next day we’d come up and there was a bit more sand shifted …


Much of the labour was done by the softballers themselves. ‘I can 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 [30 feet above the ground] that we could hardly straighten our fingers there’. Such responsibility was not without its stresses such as:

waking up at three o’clock in the morning and looking at the ceiling and wonder what the hell’s going to happen the next day, particularly when you had a big cheque to sign for someone, and you know, you didn’t even have that much money yourself and you’re signing away a cheque for a lot of money and you think, my God, it was mind boggling …

To ensure that Mirrabooka was recognized as a world class venue Reg successfully lead the WASA’s lobbying of the ASF to secure the Australian-New Zealand Trans-Tasman Men’s Tournament played following the official opening in September 1991. When Mirrabooka needed extra maintenance in 2006-07 the Pages volunteered and once more cleaned and painted.

Presiding over softball in WA in the 1990s was tough. In 1993 the Board conducted an inquiry into the Senior Women’s team after it finished a dismal seventh at the nationals in Hobart. As President Reg had the unenviable task of informing long-term Senior Women’s coach and close family friend, Shirley Schneider, that the Board had decided to terminate her contract. The immense personal toll of this can be gauged when it is understood that Reg attributed his own rise through the coaching ranks to Shirley.


He began coaching juniors at Demons and progressed to Seniors. ‘Shirley [Schneider] graduated to A grade over a number of years and I kind of followed into A Reserve and we used to cooperate with one another and train together. I used to go down and assist her so I kind of became Shirl’s understudy’.  At one stage Reg coached both his wife and daughter – Susan - in A grade, and both made State teams: Lorraine in the Seniors and Susan in the Under 16s. Demons reached an all time high of 11 teams in the 1984-85 season but then like other clubs underwent a substantial decline. In 2007-08 Reg coached its sole team to the A3 Summer Competition premiership. This lead to promotion to A2 for the 2008-09 season. Lorraine continues to be a stalwart of the team. After 50 plus years in softball Reg finds that ‘coaching now relaxes me … [I] get more fun out of this’. Several senior players who have returned to play with Demons have noticed the change, too. They ‘declared that he has mellowed … if we had done that years ago we would have got a hell of a bollocking’. Reg gained great satisfaction from seeing the improvement in club players.


From club softball he moved to coach Metropolitan teams in the State Championships from 1976 to 1979. His next step was to the position of Assistant Coach to Bob McKibbin of the Under 19 Women’s State team from 1981 to 1986 as well as serving as a Selector. This was followed by appointment as coach to the inaugural WA Under 19 Men’s team which finished fourth at the national championships in 1989. He continued with this team until 1999 with national championships in 1992 and 1996, three runners-up and no placing lower than fourth. Reg – and Bob McKibbin – are able to compare and contrast the men’s and women’s approach to the game ‘… the difference between the two sexes is that the men’s is more aggressive’. Sadly for Reg his faith in the Under 19 Men was abused when the team’s misbehaviour resulted in an official WASA inquiry, the upshot of which was termination of Reg’s and Bob’s positions. The irony was not lost on them as the pair of them had received their Life Memberships of the WASA in the same year in 1988. Reg appealed against his 12 month suspension as a coach to the WASA and lost and then appealed to the ASF which upheld the WASA’s decision. However, the Association was more than willing to welcome Reg back to the State coaching ranks in 2001 when he stepped up to ensure that WA had a team in the Senior Men’s national championship in Adelaide. Alf Bunting then came forward to be Manager. With extensive contacts in the sporting goods industry Reg was able to negotiate with sponsors to donate much of the clothing needed by the team and thus reduce costs which had been a major stumbling block to their participation. This was most fortunate for Nathan Jones who earned selection in the Australian team and retained his place ever since.


Reg became coach of the Australian Under 19 Men’s team in 1993. Having won the national Under 19 title the previous year was an asset Reg was the ASF’s preferred replacement after the original appointee withdrew. Reg had only six months to prepare the team and was assisted coaches in the home States of the nominated players. At its first venture into international softball the Australian Under 19 men finished fourth in their World Championship in New Zealand in 1993. The thrill of international success was tempered by the knowledge that one of  WA’s representatives in the team, Stephen Prior, was critically injured in a vehicle accident before he could participate in an event he had strived towards for so long.  With the introduction of coach accreditation Reg successfully completed the requirements for both Level 1 and 11 in the 1980s and followed up with higher levels when they became available. He was a regular contributor to the Coaching Development Committee. He willingly shared his knowledge as a lecturer in coaching courses in both the metropolitan and country areas. The ASF included him in their panel of coaches for its Academies for Under 19 and Senior men.


In 2007 Reg stepped in to be Manager of the Under 23 Men’s team at short notice. The coaches of the Under 23 team were ‘blokes that I’d trained and coached as Under 19 State players so they were coming back and were putting into the sport. When they said, “Come on, Pagey, you’ve been there,”’ Reg was happy to be involved. He did, however, consult his grandson Luke Bonomi to ensure that he was happy to have his grandfather in the same team. It proved to be quite a contrast from his previous State team experiences and for Reg it was ‘one of the best trips’. The team had fun teasing him about his skill as a bus driver and then to marvel at how he towed the luggage trailer all the way from Werribee only to have it unhitch as they entered the airport! Fortunately, the chains held the trailer to the bus and there was no damage.


When the WASA hosted national championships Reg was readily volunteered to be a member of the organizing committee. This brought him into contact with the officials of the ASF. He quickly realized that he would gain their respect if he stood up to them, in particular Umpire-in-Chief Marj Dwyer. At his first tournament he was responsible for having Marj approve of the bases. He took three sets to her for inspection. She examined them one by one, tossing each one over her shoulder as she claimed they were out of kilter. With only one set left Reg was not only frustrated but beginning to panic so he took the initiative and told Marj ‘that these are okay, I checked them myself’. Marj agreed that they were fine and didn’t even look at them!

As Reg became more acquainted with the operation of the ASF he made several unsuccessful bids to secure a national Board position, one of the most disappointing aspects of his softball career. Former ASF Secretary Margaret Pollard noted that Reg’s challenges to join the National Board were hampered by a perceived lack of experience at national level but she believed that it was healthy to have such challenges because they kept the person in office on their toes and as far as she could see, did not threaten friendships formed over many years of participation in national championships. Reg did, however, gain a seat at ASF Council meetings. In 1994 he replaced Lorraine Malcolm as WA’s delegate when it was realized that most other States were sending their President rather than a Board member. He resumed his duties as delegate when he picked up the reins again as WASA president.


While to many it appeared that softball was Reg’s life, he worked full-time mainly in the retail sector including 27 years with Aherns and thinks that he was the only person to have the distinction of managing every one of their department stores. In the mid-80s Reg decided it was time for a change and became a sales representative for Jim Kidd Sporting Goods specializing in schools and clubs. He believed his experience in a State Sporting Organisation gave him a great deal of  credibility. When thanking Reg and Lorraine for their remarkable service to softball when they ‘retired’ in 1997, Shirley Schneider pondered how close Reg came to losing his job because of softball![ii] When the WASA appointed its first professional General Manager a number of long standing softball members were dismayed that the Ministry of Sport and Recreation set conditions which precluded current officials from applying for the position. Many still believe that Reg would have been the best one for the job.


His leadership style had been strongly influenced by six months compulsory national military service in the RAAF, the Nashos, in 1958. He served in the aerodrome defence squad. This was followed by 27 years in the Army Reserves during which he attained the rank of Warrant Officer Class II. He was mainly involved with officer and cadet training. This gave Reg a strong sense of justice and a willingness to tackle anyone who threatened him, his family or colleagues. Indeed, when a gang of youths were heard breaking into the cars of members attending a meeting at Yokine Reserve in the mid-1970s, Reg was outside as quick as a shot. While some members were astounded and frightened, others understood that there was a deeper concern. Yokine Reserve offices were broken into in October 1981 resulting in the loss of stock and equipment and with implications for insurance policies and the value of burglarly cover. By sheer chance Reg Page was at Yokine Reserve when the fourth break-in occurred and was able to apprehend the offender. WASA minutes refer to Reg as ‘Our little Commando’. After four break-ins for the season Reg Page had an alarm system fitted in March. Reg’s wheelchair-bound mother had been attacked in her home by a gang of youths, and the attack at Yokine was not something from which Reg could step aside.


When softball became a sport for self-respecting blokes, Reg was quick to run on to the diamond and played for Demon’s men’s team in the inaugural season in 1976 with his sons Raymond and Bernard. He became Vice President of the Men’s Softball League which later became the Winter Competition of the WASA. Both sons - Raymond and Bernard - followed Reg into men’s softball. Raymond played with the Bunbury Blues State League men’s team and coached its women’s team. He became Manager of the State Under 23 men’s team in 2008. Grandsons Luke and Aaron Bonomi have become the third generation to play at the elite level. Aaron won a baseball scholarship to Winthrop College in South Carolina, USA, and Luke has played Under 16, Under 19, Under 23 and Senior men’s State softball.


Likewise when Veterans’ softball was introduced in 1993, Reg was quick to fetch his glove and play for Morley Magic/Eagles. His preferred positions were right field, second base and short stop. Summing up his passion he reckoned ‘it’s fun, I think, more than anything. You’re still doing something you started at 18 and I think that’s the whole thing’. His credibility as Under 19 Men’s Coach improved when they came to watch him at Vets ‘and give me a bit of stick. I was quite lucky one night, I caught a ball and they did say, “At least you can do it, Reg, so we are quite happy now”’.  Vets also provided Reg with the opportunity to play in the Australian Masters Games and his team has won two gold and one bronze medals. As well, Reg coached Legends (Lorraine’s) team in the Women’s Vets the biennial Australian Masters Games in Melbourne in 1995. He took over from Shirley Roberts who was unable to travel because of her failing health. From 2002 to 2004 he willingly took on the job of Convenor for the Veterans. Once more Reg was sorting out fixtures and organising umpires. ‘The hardest thing was getting the fixtures [right] so we gave the girls as much time on the two main diamonds as the back diamonds’. Reg firmly believed that since the ‘girls’ paid the same fees as the men, they should have an equal share of the facilities, rather than giving the big-hitting males preference.


When State League Softball commenced in 1992, the premiership shield for the men was named in honour of Reg. Most importantly for Reg his partnership with Lorraine was paramount. When they ‘retired’ in 1997 the WASA decided to name the clubrooms at Mirrabooka in their honour as the R & L Page Pavilion. ‘I was quite chuffed … that they did not just recognise myself on my own, they recognized us as a team, Lorraine and I, and I thought that was really great because we have been a team right through all our sporting career’. Likewise, he was equally delighted when he and Lorraine were inaugural Inductees into the WASA Hall of Fame in 2007, both in the category of Administration.  Following his retirement from Jim Kidd Sporting Goods, he and Lorraine relocated to Golden Bay, south of Perth. They traveled to Perth each Tuesday evening for ‘Vets’ and to train Demons A2 team on Wednesday evenings in preparation for Saturday afternoon matches in the Summer Competition. Retirement has also allowed Reg to rekindle his army affiliations and he has become fully involved in regimental activities including presidency of the RWAR association.  The AGM held in June 1987 was the last under the old constitution and considerable time was devoted to scrutinizing the new one. As Schneider explained on behalf of the sub-committee that had prepared it, it was based on that of the ASF with ‘a few amendments relating to our particular requirements’.



The Management Committee was replaced by a Board of Management which has subsequently undergone several overhauls.


1987 to 1997

The inaugural Board comprised of the President, Senior Vice President, Junior Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Summer (women’s) Co-ordinator, Winter (men’s) Co-ordinator, ASF Delegate, WA Sports Federation Delegate, State Coaching Director, Junior Development Officer, Director of Umpiring, Registrar, Life Member delegate (elected by the Life Members) and four Board Members. Thus the Board was smaller than its predecessor. Each member of the Board took on a specific task or portfolio. Clubs no longer sent delegates to monthly meetings of the Board but were required to have a delegate on either the Summer or Winter competition committees. These competitions remained under the jurisdiction of the WASA to provide it with finance from membership fees. Clubs, however, were still required to have a representative at the AGM of the WASA. Technically the clubs and Board comprised the Council. To ensure continuity and yet maintain flexibility the new constitution established Board membership for two years with half the members elected on alternate years. The inaugural meeting of the Board was held in June 1987. While the WASA retained its formal title, the trading name Softball Western Australia (and later just Softball WA) was being used more frequently.


After much deliberation and consultation Administration Officer, Mary Andreotta, delivered the Proposed Development Plan at a Special Meeting in April. This was also pushed along by the funding criteria set by DSR for the dispersion of the Sports Instant Lottery Fund (SILF). Obtaining funds from both the ASF and DSR was dependent upon the number of registered members, not just clubs and Associations. This resulted in more paperwork for administrators at all levels and the WASA continued in its endeavours to develop a functional computer database.


Even though the WASA had just undergone substantial restructuring there was a growing awareness that sport was now far more dynamic and that change would be ongoing. In September 1988 Bob McKibbin successfully moved to have a permanent Constitutional Review Sub-Committee with responsibility for the constitution, by laws and regulations so that ambiguities, errors and omissions could be addressed promptly and the requisite changes readied for the appropriate AGM or Special General Meeting. Board Member Brian Langley (Demons) was given the task of chairing this sub-committee and was later joined by Lorraine Malcolm and Roma Piercy.


The benefits of having an Administrative Officer were paying off as both Australian Airlines and Ansett Airlines responded to sponsorship proposals with the former being accepted as they were more amenable to flight requirements of the teams. Weaver and Lock provided sponsorship in the form of $2 rebate for every carton of drink sold by the Summer Competition (Yokine Reserve Canteen), Southern Districts Softball Association and South East Metropolitan Softball Association. Ian Bird Sports provided a voucher for $25.00 for the Player of the Week Award. Androetta urged the WASA to take a more aggressive stance to promotion showing examples of what other sports were doing in WA.


Relations with the Affiliates

The AGM in June 1989 provided a forum for discussion of the issues of concern to softball throughout WA. From the comprehensive Minutes it appears that communication was a major topic, especially how to get information past the gatekeepers (Secretaries) of clubs and affiliates. Representing and servicing country WA continued to be a challenge. The voting rights of the country associations and suburban affiliates were equal to the metropolitan clubs participating in the competitions organized by the WASA although the number of players and officials represented varied. A large metropolitan club like Morley Eagles with seven senior women’s teams was larger than some country associations yet suburban affiliate SEMSA was larger than both. As Shirley Schneider explained, the original intention in the updated Constitution was to have regional associations aligned to the regions designated by DSR but the country associations had opted to retain their own representation. Ironically, only a handful attended the AGM and the power remained with the metropolitan clubs. The country affiliates queried the need to pay what they considered to be high fees in return for meagre outcomes. Financing trials and teams did not feature highly on their agendas, nor did the ASF which demanded a registration fee, too. President Page pointed out that more money had been spent on various courses than had ever been gained from fees. Insurance was included in the fees paid to the WASA. The individual compulsory fee of $6.00 applied to the Summer and Winter competitions and affiliates but cover was null and void if an insured team played against one which was not as sometimes occurred in the North West Championships.


Late in proceedings of the 1989 AGM questions were raised about delegates’ commitment as many left after the election of office bearers and more left at the lunch break on the first day despite being forewarned that the meeting could last two days. Page expressed concern that the workload of the Association was still falling to a few dedicated members suggesting that even though the new Board structure was logical, it did not work to maximum capacity. As well, many of the Board members wore multiple hats. Reg Page was coach of the Under 19 Men, Shirley Schneider coached the Senior Women, Lorraine Malcolm was statistician for the Senior Women, Val Prunster managed the Senior Women, Lorraine Page coached the Under 16 Girls, Bob McKibbin coached the Under 19 Women.


Financial position

The Treasurer’s Report showed a very positive financial position. Since the 1986-87 season the total funds had grown from $246,210 to $491,492 by the 1988-89 season. Most of the money was being held in readiness for the construction of the WASA’s own headquarters at Mirrabooka. Government grants for teams and administration brought in $61,640. This was still less than fees which contributed $73,551 and out of which $21,474 was forwarded to the ASF. The WASA fielded five teams in national championships and along with umpires cost $84,000 with less than half ($33,605) raised by the teams and umpires through levies and fund raising. Wages for staff were under $7,000. Honorariums totaling $4,400 were distributed to the Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, State Coaching Director, Junior Development Officer, Canteen Manager and the Co-ordinators of the Summer and Winter Competitions.


During the1989-90 season the situation became critical when there was a lack of volunteers to take on the positions of Summer and Winter Tournament Coordinators including the State Championship for women and men respectively. No one volunteered to convene the Under 19 Men’s national championship to be played in Perth in January 1990 and initial the organization of the fell to the Administrative Officer. However, Mary Andreotta resigned in October 1989. Prior to replacing her, the position was revised to amalgamate Development Officer with Administrator. Wendy Driver was appointed in November. Clearances were one aspect of the workload that highlighted just how busy the administrators had become. At the August Board meeting Schneider noted that there were 250 applications for clearances in the Summer Competition and 170 in the Winter one, a large amount of paper work prompting an increase in the fee and the appointment of an office assistant with keyboard skills. Carol Hewson was employed on a part-time basis. These appointments enabled the WASA to open its office from 9:30am to 1:30pm weekdays. As well, the WASA, at the prompting of the Junior Development Officer, Bob McKibbin, began to compensate people for loss of salary/wages or paid holidays when they undertook clinics on behalf of the WASA. The fee was set at $50 per day, considerably less than that being paid by other WA sports associations as McKibbin’s research revealed.


By 1991 the Administration Assistant was employed for 35 hours per week with the office open from 9:00am to 4:30pm weekdays. The position of Secretary was terminated. Connie Montgomery was thus the last Honorary Secretary of the WASA. The Administration Assistant was required to attend Board meetings to act as Minute Secretary with an appropriate adjustment of her hours. Fortuitously for softball DSR decided to fund State Coaching Directors (or equivalents) across a number of sports. Thus after many years as a volunteer Shirley Schneider became an employee. She maintained a position on the Board as an elected volunteer member.


State Softball Centre: Mirrabooka

The highlight of 1991 was the opening of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka in September. Among those honoured to speak at the official ceremony was Val Johnson, the first President. The State Softball Centre, or Mirrabooka as it was commonly known, included a suite of offices so softball moved its administration across the car park out of the Herb Graham Recreation Centre. The large function centre became the meeting place for softball and President Reg Page was delighted to preside over the first AGM held there for the 1991-92 season.


After years of steady growth, the finances of the Association were spent on Mirrabooka although the usual set of volunteers had contributed enormous amounts of uncosted labour which allowed the Association to maintain about $100,000 in investments. The expectation was that Mirrabooka would generate sufficient income with a small profit margin to withstand the expenses associated with running such a complex. One valuable source of income at Mirrabooka was entry fees and the hosting of national championships was particularly important with interstate supporters usually opting for season passes.



Like all sports (and Arts) organizations in Western Australia, in late 1991 the WASA gained additional funding from the Health



Life Member: 1994

I was so proud of my kids when they made State teams but it’s all these other hundreds of kids that are playing the sport that you’ve got to look after … you have to give them something to work for. It’s keeping the sport going …


Postal Institute

WA Government Railways


Morley Windmills

Morley Eagles

State Teams

Manageress Under 16 Girls: 1985-90


Board of Management: 1981-90

Canteen Committee

Junior Committee

Fixtures & Grading

Secretary: 1985-90

Minute Secretary: 1990-91

Summer Competition Secretary: 1994-2003


Level 1 Scoring


Australian Softball Federation Service Award: 1995

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

Life Member Morley Eagles


Connie grew up in Byford, south of Perth and it was not until her family moved to Perth and she attended Perth Girls’ School that she began to play softball. When she left school Connie worked with the WA Government Railways in the Traffic Manager’s office and played softball for one season with a team from the Railways before spending several seasons with Postal Institute. She played most of her softball as Short Stop but would have loved to pitch. As a youngster ‘I used to spend hours at home pitching the ball against the brick chimney [but] I never got to play pitcher and that’s what I wanted’.  As was the custom in those days Connie left work when she married Alan Montgomery. She quickly had her hands full when she had six children in seven years – Neil, Ann, Robert, Gary, Darelle and Brett - followed by another two four years later – Glendah and Tanya. Alan worked as a land surveyor as was often away for several months at a time so Connie had to juggle her family responsibilities with her softball commitments. Later she spent 10 years with Ford Department of Conventry Motors.  Connie returned to softball when her daughters began to play with Bedford District Youth Club. After some disagreements with the coach at Bedford her daughters transferred to the newly formed Morley Windmills. With soccer well established as its main sport, Morley Windmills under the leadership of Leo Dollis began to expand to include other sports and warmly welcomed the softballers for the 1976-77 season. Connie held the positions of Secretary, Treasurer, Scorer, Sub-junior Coordinator and delegate to the WASA over a period of nine years. ‘I used to be at softball from 9 o’clock to after 6 on Saturdays’.


Connie’s sons, Gary and Robert played for Morley Windmills while Brett joined Bedford to play in the newly formed WA Men’s Softball League. Connie stayed with Morley Windmills and ran the canteen at Walton Reserve. Robert represented WA at the Senior Men’s national championships in 1990.  A new president at Morley Windmills decided to return the focus to soccer and softball departed and amalgamated with Morley Eagles, assuming the latter’s name. This benefited both clubs as the WASA at that time had decided that all clubs with an A grade senior team should have at least one junior team. Morley Windmills provided the senior teams to complement Morley Eagles’ junior teams although the WASA took a little time to accept the merger as it happened during the 1985-86 season. Connie became delegate for Morley Eagles. Having served on a number of the WASA committees from 1981, Connie became its secretary for the 1985-86 season. Change was afoot as government funding was forcing all sports to become more professional in their administration. One of softball’s first steps was to set up an office at Yokine Reserve so the Secretary was no longer home-based. Connie attended the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 1:00pm allowing her to be home when her children returned from school. Connie still had to attend to some secretarial tasks at home especially as the Australian Softball Federation staff based in the eastern States usually forgot the time difference and called at 6 or 7am Western time.


Although she had been a club delegate and regular attendee at WASA meetings Connie found dealing with all the clubs and affiliates quite a challenge but was most fortunate that Shirley Schneider lived just across the road from Yokine Reserve and was ever willing to come over and help Connie till she found her feet. When Shirley was employed as State Coaching Director, the pair of them shared the office.   When computers became standard office equipment increased security was necessary so the WASA moved to the Herb Graham Recreation Centre at Mirrabooka and ‘we got this tiny little room at the end of the poolroom. Shirley and I were so thrilled. This tiny little office but it was an office’. The WASA gained more space when the Disabled Sports Association relocated to East Victoria Park. Connie drew on her skills as a shorthand typist to master the computer to compose minutes and correspondence.  In 1987 the WASA underwent a major restructure and much of the secretarial duties were taken over by the newly appointed Administration officer. Connie continued for a short while as Minute Secretary but was then employed on a part-time basis as a clerical assistant. This was not entirely satisfactory so Connie relinquished the position but continued as a volunteer helping Lorraine Page run the canteen. However, Connie’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport were sought by the Summer Competition. She became its Secretary in 1994 and continued until 2003.


In 1985 Connie was asked to stand for selection as a Selector and Manageress of the State Under 16 Women’s team. She was Manageress until 1990. Connie loved ‘being with the kids and making sure they were okay’. In her first year her eagerness saw her washing uniforms, earning her a rebuke from coach Lorraine Page who considered that the players should do it themselves to learn some responsibility. To complement her duties she also completed the requirements of sports injury courses conducted through the auspices of the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation. When Alan retired Connie decided that he needed an interest and the pair of them joined North Perth Bowling Club. After Alan passed away in 2000 Connie continued to bowl and volunteer as Secretary of the club. Her two youngest daughters, Glendah and Tanya, both played for WA. Glendah was a member of the Under 16 team in 1983 and 1984 and the Under 19 team in 1985. Tanya played in the Under 16s in 1985 and captained the team in 1986. Glendah married Steve Migro who played in the WA Senior Men’s team from 1988 to 1994. Ironically, daughter Ann’s second marriage was to George Jones, the coach with whom the Montgomery girls had clashed at Bedford. For Connie ‘softball kept our family close. Most of them had the same interest and my children are very close and I’m sure that softball had a lot to do with that because of them having the same interest’. Sadly Brett succumbed to cancer in 2006.

Promotion Foundation or Healthway as it became generally known. In 1991 through the Tobacco Control Act the State government set aside a portion of the taxation revenue raised from the sale of tobacco products to replace sponsorship funding from the tobacco industry and to promote good health especially among young people. The fund recipients had to guarantee to eliminate smoking from their premises and relinquish any association with tobacco companies. More money, of course, meant more work. Initially the WASA had to have a representative at various meetings at which the scheme was explained and then prepare detailed written submissions. Shirley Schneider prepared the WASA’s first application to Healthway seeking money for the newly created State Softball League (SSL), the schools program and country junior development. After more meetings the WASA received $159,000 over three years. In return, the WASA


added Strike Out Smoking as a preface to the titles of the Junior Development Officer and State Coaching Director; distributed Strike Out Smoking publications; designated most of Mirrabooka as smoke free; added Strike Out Smoking logos to equipment and clothing; displayed signage around the diamonds; disallowed officials from smoking or carrying cigarettes while in uniform and included the Healthway Logo on WASA stationery. Compliance with Healthway conditions proved testing since many members of the softball community were smokers. They did not readily conform to the restrictions resulting in conflicts with Board Members who took on the onerous task of enforcing the requirements. Healthway conducted random audits of both financial and site compliance with its terms and conditions.


More Constitutional changes

Changing the Constitution became increasingly complex as changes had to be lodged with Corporate Affairs. One addition to the Constitution was the definition of softball to cover the traditional sport as well as all variations and modifications. This was prompted by an ASF constitutional change. The WASA also found it necessary to have the President, two Vice Presidents and Treasurer form an Executive to attend to day-to-day issues with the President, Treasurer and Administration Officer designated signatories to all payments subject to verification by the Board. John McKibbin, brother of Bob, served as Administration Officer for approximately 18 months.


Intensive Training Centre

Early in 1995 a fourth staff member was added when Joanne (Jo) Donnan became the Intensive Training Centre (ITC) coach in WA. The ASF had established a State-based network of ITCs following its inclusion in the Olympic Athlete Program as part of the Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) preparation for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Having joined the AOC in 1991, the ASF had set up State-based Softball Academies voluntarily staffed by local State team coaches specifically appointed by the ASF. The ITCs were the next stage of development aimed at providing intensive training for a squad of young women who had the potential to represent Australia in 2000. The ASF funded the ITCs from a grant of $500,000 received from the AOC to prepare the national women’s teams for the 1996 and subsequent Olympic Games. Donnan’s softball career began with Fremantle Rebels after which she transferred to Nedlands Rookies. She represented WA in Under 16, Under 19 and Senior women’s national championships and played for Australia in 1983 and 1984. She was a qualified physical education teacher. At the time of her appointment as ITC coach she was a WASA Board Member. The budget for the ITC was just over $43,000 in its first year. Players contributed $4,000 in levies ($200 player). The WASA, with approval from Healthway, redirected $10,000 of its sponsorship and paid the coach’s travel expenses. The remainder came from the ASF. Two years later, building on the bronze medal performance of the Australian team at the Atlanta Olympics, softball joined the WA Institute of Sport with Donnan as Head Coach. While this was a most positive step for future players, the WASA bore a significant financial burden of $10,000 per annum for the duration of the program until 1999.


Pre-Olympic television

The Sydney Olympics provided softball with a major boost but again at a financial cost. As part of its Olympic commitment the ASF was required to provide television coverage in the lead-up to the Games. Even though programs were broadcast on ABC TV, the ASF had to pay all associated costs. To offset the costs each State/Territory association was levied according to its portion of national membership. For the WASA this represented about $20,000.


Bigger budgets

With four staff members the WASA’s total wages and superannuation bill was almost $57,000. Fifteen volunteers were paid honorariums totaling $6,700. Amounts varied from $100 each for the Secretaries of the Summer and Winter Competitions; $200 for Canteen Assistants; State League Chairman; $400 for Record Keepers for various competitions; $1,000 each for National Championship Convenor and Auditor; and $2,000 (Canteen Co-ordinator) with the average $400 for positions like Treasurer and Competition Convenor.


Overall the budget for the 1994-95 season included estimated expenses of $659,000 and income of $581,000. Expenses included $35,000 for extensions to the canteen and some maintenance of Mirrabooka. The three largest expenses were administration (including wages) at $174,000; Mirrabooka at $151,000 and six State Teams at $127,000. Mirrabooka was expected to generate the most income at $101,000 while State team costs would be offset by $64,000 in levies. Hosting the Senior Men’s national championship was predicted to earn $50,000. Government grants including Healthway funding were in the region of $46,500.


For several seasons, the auditor, G D MacMillan, had been urging the Board to be more precise in its supervision of the WASA’s financial statements. In his 1996 comments and recommendations he took the WASA to task for not acting on previous recommendations and its failure to ensure that all capital expenditure such as the canteen extensions were properly approved and recorded in the Minutes. Likewise the Budget needed to show actual performance against predicted performance. The bar at Mirrabooka was in urgent need of a stock take and control system and the register of physical assets needed to be updated as items were purchased. MacMillan also urged the WASA to write a set of guidelines for the maintenance of financial records by State team Managers. In retrospect it is easy to see that the WASA had developed well beyond the scope of an association that could be managed by volunteers no matter how dedicated they were. The WASA was a large organisation with over a million dollars passing through its books annually.


1997 to 1999

Revised Board structure

In 1995 WASA entered into discussions with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation (MSR) with a view to revamping the Board. At the AGM SEMSA recommended that the Constitution be rewritten to remove anomalies (not specified in the Minutes). The President called for nominations for the committee with the following elected from the floor: Geoff Shaw (Chairman), Derek Atkinson, Mike Ericson, Pauline O’Connor and Ingrid Smith. The committee met once and decided no changes were required. Subsequently at the 1997 AGM changes were effected to structure the Board along the lines previously recommended by MSR. The four principle officer bearers were the President, Senior Vice President, Junior Vice President and Treasurer. Five directors were elected to the portfolios for Competitions (State Softball League, Summer, Winter and Veterans), Tournaments (State Championships and National Championships), Planning (Player Development, Coaching, Umpiring, Scoring and State Teams), Sponsorship and Finance. The Board Member responsible for Competitions did not run these but rather liaised with the conveners of each and attended meetings when possible. Likewise with the Planning portfolio, the responsible Board Member worked with the people leading each of the sub-groups.

PRESIDENTS – 1988 to 2010


                                                               Phil Matthewson                                                     Kevin Fuller                                                         Reg Page

                                                                   1999-2003                                                              2003-2005                                                (1970-1999)2005-2010


General Manager

One topic provoking considerable debate at the 1997 AGM was whether or not the WASA should continue to appoint an Administrator or a General Manager. The previous Administrator, John McKibbin, had resigned in mid-1996 and not been replaced because the WASA did not have sufficient funds. It had not received its full request in its grant from MSR. The WASA had also been contemplating the combination of Development Officer with Administration but had not pursued it. While the difference between a General Manager and Administrator was a somewhat rhetorical issue, it was felt that a General Manager would be seen to be servicing the whole State while an Administrator would focus on the office and complex at Mirrabooka. MSR had indicated that a salary (including superannuation and holidays) of $50,000 would be appropriate, the WASA was reluctant believing that funds should be spent on the sport per se rather than wages.


In a strategy worked out in conjunction with MSR, the WASA appointed a General Manager with proviso that the appointee not be a member of the softball community, the argument being that an ‘outsider’ would be more objective. Not all softball administrators supported this line of reasoning believing the opposite would hold true, that is, a person with a strong softball background would contribute specialised knowledge and skills plus any expertise from their previous employment. MSR’s decision prevailed. It was consistent with MSR’s own changes whereby it was moving from development plan funding (annual) to business plan funding (long term). MSR provided funding for all State teams. To this end MSR also required that it be represented on the panel interviewing applicants for the General Manager’s position. Peter Jones was appointed. He was an accountant and had previously worked in public relations and for the Disabled Sports Association.


The biggest change at the 1997 AGM was the retirement of Reg Page from the Presidency after 21 years. Phil Matthewson (Carine Cats) became the new President. With Reg retiring, Lorraine Page stepped down from her work as canteen co-ordinator. In her place, the Association appointed a commercial group, Stumps Catering, to run the canteen until the end of the year. As well, an independent person was appointed to manage the bar. In his 1997-98 Annual Report, Phil Matthewson foreshadowed that:

In the administration area some changes have been made with a view to the future with the appointment of the General Manager and a Development Officer planned in the next few months. Changes proposed in the constitution amendments will result in a restructuring of the Board, where more emphasis will be placed on committee management as the future direction for the Association. Whilst Board numbers will reduce, specific portfolios will be allocated to the members. This should not detract from the performance of the Board but rather provide it with the mechanisms to be more effective and provide strength to the operations of the Association.


The WASA appointed Emma Griffiths as Development Officer. She was formally introduced to the softball community at the 1998 AGM. The volunteer position of Junior Development Officer was retained. With five staff members plus grounds men and canteen/bar workers the WASA’s wages and salaries bill was now in the vicinity of $130,000 per year with additional funds having to be set aside for superannuation, workers compensation and insurance. As well, staff had to be provided with standard office equipment and amenities.


1999 onwards

The changes foreshadowed by Matthewson became effective in 1999. The Junior Vice President position was discontinued and the Treasurer was replaced with the Board Member responsible for Finance (Jeff Wight). Six Board members took portfolios for Technical Development (Kym Pyke), Grounds (Laurie Prior), Policy Formulation (Lorraine Malcolm), Disputes Resolution (Pauline O’Connor), Competitions (including the Affiliates; Helen Edwards) and Sponsorship and Promotion (Darren Mouchemore). Vice President, Shirley Schneider took the Tournaments portfolio. The General Manager acted as Secretary to the Board. The President, Vice President, Board Member responsible for Finance and one elected Board Member (Lorraine Malcolm) formed the Executive. To promote efficient operation each Board member submitted a written report on their area of responsibility one week prior to Board Meetings. In line with the new ‘business’ approach most matters discussed at meetings remained confidential. Board Members received a full copy of the Minutes whilst a summary report was distributed to those entitled to receive such information (clubs, affiliates, Life Members). Every effort was made to complete Board meetings within a three-hour time frame once a month. Board Members were elected for two years with half retiring each year, in the first instance the Vice President and three Board Members held office for one year.


Peter Jones resigned as General Manager in November 1999 and was replaced by Angie Gottenburg in March 2000. A Canadian by birth, she had previously worked for the Perth City Council and Festival of Perth as a marketing expert. In May she was joined by Jo Donnan as State Coaching Director and Chantelle James as Development Officer. Like Donnan, James was an experienced State player and a qualified physical education teacher. Having updated the Constitution the WASA could not rest because the ASF adopted a new national constitution at its Annual Meeting in October 1999. WASA was required to undertake a further review to determine compatibility with the national one and then have the solicitors check it before submitting it to the Ministry of Fair Trading to ensure that the WASA acted within the terms of incorporation in WA. In November 1999 the ASF issued its confidentiality requirements.


Financial problems

The new WASA Board had little time to settle in before having to deal with a major crisis. Some accounts were discovered which had not been paid including an outstanding account for $45,000 with Qantas airlines for State team travel. The Board Member responsible for Finance was directed to make arrangements to correct the accounts and provide a thorough report for the end of year audit. The Board Member chose to resign. By June it had been determined that the WASA had a deficit of $50,000. There was no suggestion of misappropriation of funds, rather very poor accounting and reporting which the Board had failed to recognise. The General Manager reviewed all financial transactions from 1997 to 2000. The WASA had accumulated losses of $173,000. The principal causes were the sharp decline in investments, the costs associated with running Mirrabooka which was not generating sufficient income, changes to the insurance cover of members/players and the funding of State teams. Consideration was given to shifting softball from Yokine Reserve to Mirrabooka to vacant land adjacent to the Herb Graham Recreation Centre but this was rejected because the site was unsuitable and the WASA had invested considerable funds in the facilities at Yokine.


Life Member: 1997

I enjoyed umpiring, especially the children. I’d much rather umpire the kids on Saturday morning than the Seniors in the afternoon … they’ve got a different outlook on things. I enjoy that.


Apache/Yokine Apache/Stirling Apache


Deputy Convenor Summer Competition: 1987-98

Convenor Summer Competition: 1998-2003

Treasurer: 1991-2001


Australian Softball Federation Service Award: 1995

Australian Sports Medal: 2000

The man on the gate! Since the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka opened in 1991 Don Brooks has been a familiar figure to players and spectators entering the complex. His reputation has spread nation-wide. One parent of an interstate Senior woman player ‘came in and she said, “Were you here in so-and-so?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “I thought so. I’ve come over to watch my daughter” …. She said, “I can remember you from the Under 16s!”’ On another occasion the banter began with:

a voice from outside the gate said, “If that’s xxxx’s brother on the gate, pull your finger out and get a move on.” A bloke came in and said, “Are you xxxx’s brother?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I’m the butcher from Lismore in New South Wales. She said if I came over you’d probably be on the gate!”

How did Don Brooks come to be so well known?

Don’s interest in softball can be attributed to living adjacent to Yokine Reserve. During a Sunday bicycle ride around the Reserve in September 1978 Don’s twin daughters, Alison and Jillian, had a chance encounter with John Ridley who was training Apache. Yokine Reserve was not Apache’s normal training venue, it was Reader Reserve. Arriving home Alison and Jillian informed their father that ‘there’s some people over there playing a game called softball and the man says if we can get some friends together, then he will put a team in’. Ridley followed up that evening with a telephone call to Don to confirm the earlier conversation. Alison and Jillian wasted no time and by Monday evening had recruited about eight other interested girls from Coolbinia Primary School. Following yet more telephone calls with the girls’ parents it was decided that a team would be entered in the sub-junior competition held at Langley Park each Saturday morning from October to December. The Headmaster agreed that the team which now included a couple of girls from Karrinyup and Bullsbrook could train at the school but they competed as Apache. Such was the enthusiasm of the youngsters that they convinced their parents to take them to Reader Reserve to watch the Apache senior teams train. ‘They were quite good. They (sub-juniors) used just run and pick up the balls. They were always given a chance to bat afterwards against the A grade pitcher’. Their commitment paid dividends. In their first season they won the premiership for their grade. The following year with just a couple of team changes they were runners-up. The core of the team stayed together as they progressed through the grades to A Reserve in the senior competition. Alison played in the WA Senior Women’s team in 1990 and was the pickup player for Tasmania in 1992. Karate became her main sport and she reached international level. Jillian played grade softball and coached in the State League.


As his understanding of softball grew Don took up umpiring but did not complete the requirements for a badge. As well as umpiring up to four games each Saturday, Don willingly gave his time to other worthwhile events such as the Anna Suschenko carnival conducted at the start of each season by Morley Eagles and since 2000 has helped Mercedes College and Carine Cats.

Don joined the Apache committee in 1979 and accompanied Nina Menner to WASA meetings as a club delegate. Next season Don was President of Apache, a position he held until the late 1980s when a change in personnel occurred with which he disagreed. As a club delegate Don found himself also serving on a number of WASA committees including the Canteen Committee and helping out at the State Championships. In 1991 Don took over from Nox Bailey as Treasurer and held the position for a decade. Having worked in the R&I Bank Don had relevant experience. When he was retrenched by the bank, Don virtually became full-time Treasurer and continued to maintain tight reigns like his predecessors Nox Bailey and Peggy Beckett. ‘… being an honorary person I’ve always found that you’ve got to take more care of it [money] than if it were your own’.


As Treasurer Don took on the role of gateman beginning with the Trans-Tasman Men’s Series held at the opening of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka in September 1991. With good lighting at Mirrabooka the WASA established the State League competition which initially played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. In 1993 Veterans began playing on Tuesday evenings so Don was on the gate four nights a week for which he was paid a token sum. This meant that the gate money along with the bar takings and any other income had to be counted and banked the following day so Don became a very familiar face at the R&I Bank at Mirrabooka Shopping Centre. Initially, Don also had to pay the staff each Friday until electronic fund transfers became the norm. Don gave up gate duties when some State League players became abusive because they had to pay an entrance fee. Also, since he does not drive a car, he found riding his bicycle home after the matches became increasingly dangerous as the volume of traffic increased.


While he was at Mirrabooka, Don would also do what ever was required in terms of ground maintenance. The Trans-Tasman Series stands out for him because WASA President Reg Page was not happy with the state of the diamonds after they had been mown and sent Don attack them. To get the required smooth surface Don ‘mowed both diamonds with a 12 inch cut rotary mower. I think I used about 5 tanks of petrol!’ The WASA employed Don to mark the diamonds at Yokine Reserve. Usually straight lines were no trouble but the was the odd distraction that gave rise to some variations. ‘Someone said to me one day. “What happened to that line?” Once you 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!’


When the WASA restructured in the late 1980s Laurie Prior was appointed Convenor of the Summer (women’s) Competition and Don served as his Deputy. In 1998 Don took over as Convenor and stayed until 2003. His main role with the Summer Competition was to arrange the fixtures. For three years, Don’s wife Ann, was Secretary of the Summer Competition, as well as being an accredited Level III Statistician for Apache. During the peak years of the Summer Competition in the late 1980s there were between 80 and 90 senior teams plus juniors. One crucial part of arranging the fixtures was to ensure Senior A grade, A Reserve and Junior A grade were offset so that the juniors could watch (and learn from) the seniors and the seniors could lend their support to the juniors. Twenty diamonds were marked each Saturday at Yokine Reserve and another eight at Langley Park.

As Don has relinquished his variety of softball tasks he has readily replaced them with travel, cruises with his wife and travel to India.


Operational Review

The Board responded at its meeting on 19 July 2000 by establishing an Independent Review Committee comprised of the President, General Manager and three other people but no further Board Members. Former President Reg Page joined the Committee along with Kevin Fuller (Southdale Spectres, SEMSA) and Janette Spencer representing MSR. Angie Gottenburg acted as Secretary for the Review. Concerned that progress was not as rapid as desired, the Committee approached the Ministry to seek the assistance of a facilitator. In August Trevor Howard joined the committee on the recommendation of the Ministry of Sport and Recreation. His role was to facilitate the review and determine the process, timeline and presentation. The Ministry expected the costs to be minimal and considered them part of the overall annual funding to softball dependent on a positive outcome. As well the Committee was increased to include two representatives from the Affiliates: Ingrid Smith (SEMSA) and Bernadette Miller (Southern Districts Softball Association). The intent was to review the operations of the WASA, hence it was referred to as an Operational Review focusing on Finance, Governance and Management. As well the Committee was charged with the task of preparing a strategic plan addressing five main areas: Governance and Management; Sport Delivery; Learning and Development; Finance; and Marketing Awareness and Promotion. To garner support and information from the softball community a survey was distributed. In August Kevin Fuller joined the Board to fill the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of the member responsible for Finance. He had experience in financial modeling, management and financial planning and was a licensed financial broker working currently as a director of management and finance business.


So dire was the situation that on 21 July the Executive advised staff that the office would close at 12pm that day. Staff could continue/return as volunteers if they so wished. Administration Assistant Ev Harvey immediately volunteered. The following Monday the Executive met with MSR. The latter expressed its alarm and stated that maintaining the staff and keeping the office open was a top priority. An interim advance of $10,000 on the 2000/01 Operating Grant funded this. In a follow up letter the Ministry expressed further dismay that individual Board Members controlled budgets and sternly warned the WASA that further funding was dependent upon a positive budget position for 2000/01 showing cash flow and a three-year plan for finances and strategies. The letter emphasized that financial management was the responsibility of the executive officer (General Manager) acting on guidelines set by the Board. The General Manager, to the annoyance of some Board Members, took the initiative of speaking with Ferrier Hodgson Chartered Accountants which dealt primarily with insolvency. Its major recommendation was that a 90-day moratorium be set up to give the WASA ‘breathing space’.


As well as dealing with its precarious financial situation, the WASA like the entire Australian population, also had to adapt to new federal government taxation scheme, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 percent. The WASA had to teach its members about the application of the GST to softball because it was payable on membership fees, merchandise and canteen sales and purchases. The WASA was fortunate that President Phil Matthewson worked in the financial sector and was able to conduct several seminars on behalf of the WASA. The WASA was also required to submit monthly Business Activity Statements (BAS) to the Australian Taxation Office.

Among the creditors of the WASA was the ASF to which registration fees were owed. Given that these were paid to the WASA at different stages of the year from the competitions a payment plan was proposed whereby the ASF would be paid in four monthly installments. Of the creditors the ASF was the least compassionate, probably reflecting its own tight financial status. At one stage the ASF threatened to declare WA unfinancial and therefore not eligible to vote at the 2000 AGM.


The Review proceeded swiftly and by October 2000 Howard presented a report to the Board. Its principle recommendations were comprehensive:

1. State teams to be self-funding for the foreseeable future.

2. Board to review full fee structure.

3. Auditor’s recommendations to be followed, and proper financial recording systems instigated.

4. The Board accept and endorse only those financial reports that clearly reflect an accurate position of the Association.

5. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to be responsible for the preparation of the Budget and subsequent reporting to the Board with assistance from the Finance Committee.

6. The advice of the solicitor acted on for a review of the Constitution and associated documents.

7. The WA softball structure be reviewed to provide equal representation for its members at all levels.

8. The review of the Constitution provide for more frequent meetings of Council.

9. All Board positions allocated a portfolio to have a duty statement prepared.

10. All other positions be reviewed to determine whether they are required and if so, should they be elected or appointed, and by whom with the Constitution amended accordingly.

11. All required (employed) positions to have a duty statement prepared.

12. The Constitutional review should pay particular attention to ensuring there are appropriate authorities for the CEO.

13. Investigation be undertaken into the benefits or otherwise of the Summer, Winter and Veterans competitions becoming self-sufficient.

14. Investigation be undertaken to establish whether or not the State League current form of operation provides the benefits an elite competition should, and whether as an elite competition it should be managed by Softball WA.

15. Immediate advice be sought from qualified people as to the optimum usage for the existing playing surface and that all fixturing be reviewed to maximize the use of Mirrabooka.

16. A facility management plan be developed for the Mirrabooka complex to spread its use to as many users, internal or external, as possible.

17. Yokine Reserve be retained at all costs.

18. A Marketing Committee be established (with external share holders) to formulate a marketing plan for softball.

This document was distributed to all stakeholders for feedback in preparation for a Special General Meeting (SGM) in November. Prior to dealing with the Review there was an intense discussion at the SGM of the need or otherwise to elect a Board member who would be responsible for Affiliates. It was resolved that a need existed and Ingrid Smith of SEMSA was elected. The SGM then focused on the Operational Review, the Financial Report and the Budget for 2000/01 followed by an Open Forum. While trying to be as transparent as possible those conducting the meeting were often on the defensive simply because the Review had raised issues to which they had no answers other than the need for further investigation. The detailed Minutes hint at the ongoing ‘us and them’ mentality as the Affiliates queried what they got for their dollar and why they should pay to re-affiliate if the money was used to pay off debt rather than provide them with services. They did not see the financial problem of their making and were concerned that the WASA was still very much a metropolitan organisation specifically for the Summer and Winter competitions. An evaluation of the SGM confirmed this. It subsequently emerged that some key issues had not been included in the Minutes circulated following the SGM including whether the Board should stand down and details of Constitutional amendments. A circular to Board Members after the SGM also suggested that the “us and them” stand-off was occurring in the Board with tension between long-standing members and those new to the Board along with different modes of communication (phone, fax and email) that required different levels of effort.


Throughout all of this the Board continued to address the perennial issues such as State teams, maintenance of Mirrabooka, insurance, clinics and liaison with the ASF.

By December 2000 it was possible to look objectively at what had been done in the past six months. The recommendations were collated in three groups. The first group included recommendations which had been implemented such as State teams taking responsibility for their own funding, reviewing the fee structure and securing Yokine Reserve. Changing the funding of State teams was a major break with the past since up to 2000 the WASA had covered approximately two-thirds of the costs and was the most generous of the State/Territory associations. The second set of recommendations required the Board to seek guidance from appropriate professionals. Trish Doe was appointed for 30 days full time to oversee the accounts and then worked on a needs basis. The third set required the establishment of six sub-committees: Finance, Governance, Management, Sport Delivery – Review of Competitions, Mirrabooka Facility – Review of Management and Use, and Marketing and Promotion. For the sake of efficiency at least one Board member was appointed to each and the Board appointed a co-ordinator for each sub-committee. One Board member, Colin Thomas, took overall responsibility for the review process. A realistic timeline was set with the aim of having a draft ready for distribution at the State Championships in March and a working version for the 2001 AGM in July.


Angie Gottenburg resigned as General Manager in March. Robin Lynch was appointed on a 12-week contract. Subsequently, at the AGM, the position was re-named Chief Executive Officer and the salary increased in the hope of attracting an outstanding leader. Peter Brophy was appointed in October 2001. His previous employment had included managing a football club in Mandurah.  Finance and Management were combined into one committee which first met in April 2001. Its Mission Statement focused on ensuring the financial affairs of the WASA were capably managed and controlled to protect members’ funds; and, that management of the WASA was efficient, effective and productive for the benefit of all members. This “business speak” direction was consistent with the approach to funding outlined at a Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) seminar in February 2002. Forthwith funding from the Sports Lottery Fund would be by way of an assessment and the amount determined by how well a state sporting association performed against a set of criteria which included Planning (Strategic and Operational), Leadership, Profile, Sport Delivery, Participation, State-wide Delivery, Management and Finance. Despite the financial woes by the 2002-03 season the WASA had it highest ever number of paid employees with CEO (GM) Peter Brophy, State Development Officer Andy Ross, Financial Administrator Judi Smith, Administration Assistant Ev Harvey and Grounds man Steve Hicks who was also the Bar Operator. Of these people Ev Harvey had the most extensive background in softball having been the statistician for the Under 19 Men’s team since its inauguration in 1988. Her position also included Competitions Liaison which required her to maintain results. Andy Ross came from soccer and held a degree in Sports Science.


The WASA came under further government legislation in 2002 when the Parliament of WA passed two acts to protect volunteers: Volunteer (Protection from Liability) Act 2002 and the Civil Liability Act.

Kevin Fuller succeeded Phil Matthewson as WASA President at the 2002-03 AGM. In his 2003-04 Annual Report Fuller wrote:

The WA metropolitan catch phrases of “it’s the Board’s fault”, “the Board or the Office Staff did that”, “the Board or the Office again made the wrong decision” etc, are wearing thin, and most probably go a long way towards us being in the position where at this years AGM we more than likely will not be able to fill the vacant Board positions.

Similar occurrences and a similar trait are also being experienced throughout our competitions and appointed WASA positions, where criticism and complaint is frequent but again when nominations are called very few step forward to offer their time and services.  … Too much is being left to too few, and then without support or thanks.

Fuller tendered his resignation in October 2004. His wife was Manager of the Open Women’s team. Fuller considered that a change in principles of team selection confirmed his frustration with the way in which the WASA operated. However, he was persuaded to stay on.


Another review

The WASA did not fully recover and in 2005 DSR commissioned a further review of the WASA’s ‘core operations and commercial management practices of the Mirrabooka Centre’. This was lead by Quantum Consulting Australia, a chartered accountant firm.


In the 2005-06 Annual Report President Kevin Fuller expressed relief that ‘finally [we] have the review of softball up and running’. He also noted that the WASA had no permanent paid CEO since Brophy left in December 2005. The replacement was delayed to save costs but also to review the position with the intent of making it more in keeping with the needs of softball than an embellished title. At the end of 2006 Shirley Schneider was encouraged to take on the position of Acting General Manager for a couple of months which became just over two years. This time DSR did not object to a softballer holding a key office, perhaps because it was an acting position. Schneider’s approach was very pragmatic and she is credited with saving the WASA over $50,000 per year to put it back on a sound financial footing. However, Mirrabooka was in need of substantial maintenance and upgrades for which the WASA did not have the resources. Among the options considered was for the WASA to divest itself of the Centre and relocate competitions to metropolitan grounds. Such a proposal was so abhorrent to those who had invested so much of their time, energy and personal finance in its construction that Reg Page returned to the Presidency determined that Mirrabooka would be retained by softball, especially since it had a lease from the City of Stirling of 21 years from 1990 to November 2011 plus a 10 year extension to 2021. Eventually, persistent negotiations with DSR and the City of Stirling resulted in provision for all necessary upgrades including extensions to the cramped office space on the ground floor.


A further outcome of this review was the divestment by the Board of the Summer, Winter and Veterans competitions which were overseen by their own committees. The Board was then able to take a broader perspective on the management of softball statewide while retaining responsibility for the State teams and conduct of national championships. A very positive outcome was equitable voting at Council meetings with one vote for each club whether it be metropolitan or country.

Twelve months later Jump Marketing and Business Solutions conducted a Stakeholders’ Forum. This was an opportunity for stakeholders not identified in the previous reviews to express their concerns and to workshop their possible solutions. In addition to five key people – President, Vice President/CEO, Board Member responsible for review, CEO Softball Australia and a Senior Consultant from DSR – 55 people attended. Five areas were workshopped: Marketing, Structure, Player Development, Volunteer Development and Facilities.


By the 2007-08 AGM President Reg Page stated that:

… it gives me a great deal of satisfaction that Softball Western Australia has recovered from some of the problems of the past few years. I put this down to some very dedicated members, who had the strength to stand up and put the sport of Softball (our sport) back on track, people without ego’s [sic] or personal agendas, just members working for Softball.

In early 2008 Craig Hamer-Mathew was appointed General Manager. He came to softball after working in sport management positions in the Pilbara. His contract was not renewed in March 2010. Jen Edmonds held the position until February 2011. Board member Trevor Schorer then took it on in an acting capacity. Trevor Howard followed Reg Page as President in 2010 with Schneider as Vice President until she resigned in February 2011.  


The context in which softball is played and governed has changed markedly since the WAWSA was formed in 1949. The enthusiasm of the volunteers has been overtaken by the jargon and practices of business. Change is ongoing and Softball WA is continually challenged to keep apace.


[i]The Sunday Times, (1 February 1953). “Wonderful” to walk a few yards. p.29

[i]Schmidt, H. (12 March 1953). Hit it where they ain’t. Australian POST. p.17-18.

[i]The sequence of topics has been retained in the paraphrasing of the minutes to demonstrate the diversity of topics and rapid switching between topics.

[i]Val Johnston, W.A. Women’s Softball Association President’s Annual Report 1956/7, p.5.

[i]Colin Smith and Shirley Roberts referred to the end of the doldrums in comments about the 1967-68 season.

[i]computing glitch

[ii]C Pummer, ‘New official says sport can save youth, The West Australian, 19 September 1963, p. 42.

[ii]Since its inception the Department of Youth Sport and Recreation has undergone numerous name changes including a period as the Ministry of Sport and Recreation before returning to department status. Correct titles were not always used by sports organisations.

[ii]An Affiliate may conduct competitions whereas as Associate Association may not.

[ii]Ian Boyd married Shirley Kennewell who played with Hell’s Angels in the 1960s.