1899 – 1999 : Woodville Lacrosse Club Centenary

Special credit goes to club historian Alex McLeod who spent countless hours researching the history of the club to publish the book “The History of Port Adelaide and Woodville Lacrosse Club 1899-1999”, from which this page borrows.

Origins of the Club

Lacrosse has its origins in the culture of the Native North Americans, and had been adopted, with modifications, as a game by white settlers, and thus, through the colonial era, found eager sportsmen to play the game in Australia. It was a vigorous field game, without boundaries, and two teams of 12 athletes competed by throwing a hard rubber ball into opposing goals. This is achieved by catching and throwing the ball with the crosse or netted stick. The game was introduced to South Australia by Professor Bragg and it followed that in 1888 the South Australian Lacrosse Association was formed, and the game grew in popularity in the small city of Adelaide and through the country towns. It has become a game without boundaries for age, gender, nationality and venue.

In 1899 Lacrosse in South Australia comprised of Senior and Junior Associations, differentiated by standard rather than age. In this year four new clubs were formed at Woodville, Semaphore, Sturt and East Torrens. Sturt and East Torrens (now East Torrens Payneham) continue to exist today and are also celebrating their respective centenaries. Woodville entered a team in the Junior B Grade competition that year. In their first trial game they defeated Semaphore 5-0 and their first game of the season resulted in a 7-0 victory over East Torrens. Woodville finished the season as premiers in their inaugural season and were promoted to Junior A Grade in 1900, in which they also dominated the competition.

“The game has been taken up with great enthusiasm at Woodville and the Semaphore. The clubs have secured the use of the Cheltenham Racecourse and an opening match will take place on April 29…”
(The Adelaide Observer, Saturday 15 April 1899)

Woodville were promoted to Senior A Grade in 1901, but struggled throughout the season, winning their only game of the season in the final round, a 12-3 victory over North Adelaide.

Port Adelaide Lacrosse Club Logo
Port Adelaide Lacrosse Club logo

Name Changed to Port Adelaide

On 13 March, 1903, at Woodcock’s Royal Hotel, Port Adelaide, the meeting decided that the name of the Woodville Lacrosse Club be altered to that of the Port Adelaide Lacrosse Club. The colours were deemed: “All white (knickers and guernsey) with a blue hoop and cap” (club minutes). The A Grade team was to negotiate to play their games at Alberton Oval, home of the Port Adelaide Football Club.

‘First class’ success came for the young club in 1904 winning the Senior A Grade Premiership (decided on a ten match season).

After the 1915 season the club went into recess due to the intrusion of the First World War into society.

Revival After the War

Port Adelaide Lacrosse Club was revived in 1921, largely through the efforts of Dr LO Betts (State Vice-C and Capt ’23, ’24), and GH Kennare. They played at Largs Reserve, and later, Hart Reserve, in an all white uniform. J Martin played several years in interstate competition from ’27, and was joined first by A Turner, R Kestel; then M Burnley, C Sutherland, A Kidd, R Perkins and K McLaren in the 1930s.

In 1928, due to the deplorable condition of Largs Reserve, the Club was playing at Medindie and the following year commenced renting the Woodville ground, on Oval Avenue for £4-4-0. This had been a time of rebuilding and club service from A Turner and R Sutherland was recognised in the following year, “for putting the club in a sound position”. Changes in 1930 saw “District” appear in the name, a club shed had been erected and an electric light installed by the Bowling Club fence. The team played in a navy blue guernsey.

The A Grade Premiership was achieved by the club in 1931 by defeating Goodwood, under guidance of coach and interstate carnival veteran L McVicar, and captain JT Martin. They repeated the success in 1932 again over Goodwood. The club showed strength in all grades.

“Congratulations of the ‘A’ Grade Premiership and B Grade season were then read and received from kindred sporting clubs, and the SALA and Woodville Council” … (minutes 1932)

The 1930s was a time when the club reflected on its long road to success and recognised how well it had been served by dedicated members. These men had recovered the sport from the Great War losses and steered new directions for the game, to a community future from its colonial past. It was District Lacrosse and junior encouragement was significant with the first introduction of Schoolboys grade Lacrosse at Woodville Primary through Bruce Davis. Life Membership was given to F Weir, C Hutchison, S Branford, W Wilson, Dr LO Betts OBE, JT Martin and HM Plaisted.

“Only last year it was pointed out to you of the Club’s great record as regards to its fine sportsmanship and good fellowship. This fine record, this last year was more pronounced than ever before. The Committee have been proud to manage the affairs of such a fine body of fellows.” … (CB Newland, Secretary’s Report 1937)

The A side in 1937, captained by Dick Perkins had finished seventh, the Club boasted 64 members, Bill Simes top scored with 26 goals and defender Hugh Cormier was selected for State representation, followed by C Newland in 1938. Jack Lynch was Best & Fairest for Woodville High School, and K McLaren won the Club’s ‘A’ trophy in ’38.

Club Members Called to Serve in War

Like most clubs during wartime in the 1940s, Port Adelaide had difficulty in fielding teams, especially of A Grade standard, and relied on its younger players. In 1941 St John’s Ambulance officers were invited to attend games. By 1942 only 8 seniors and 13 junior players were available for Port Adelaide while 40 had enlisted in the Services for the war effort.

“Let us hope that the day is not far distant when victory will be ours and our teammates are back again taking part in the game, as they did in the days of peace.” (GB Luxton, Secretary’s Report for 1942)

Lacrosse competition continued through the war years, condolences flowed and activities were greatly curtailed. Ken Forrest, just 18, “ably led” the senior team, which was mostly juniors. Of the 60 members who had enlisted in the services for the war effort 10 had died. Another period of reinstating and rebuilding ensued as 40 players came back to the club. Ken Forrest regularly earned State selection, (by 1957 he had worn the State blazer six times). J Martin coached. Fundraising in 1948 took a special focus, for food parcels to be sent to the Hampstead Lacrosse Club in Britain as a nation suffered from postwar shortages. The A Grade best was awarded the Club Memorial Trophy, in line with points awarded for the SALA War Memorial Trophy (later shortened title).

A new generation of players was emerging, whom, with the returned experience, took Port Adelaide to the Premiership in 1949. The Club played in four Grand Finals and won three that year.

“Port Adelaide … unexpectedly defeated East Torrens (minor premiers) … (who) have the right of challenge and will meet Port Adelaide on Kensington Oval next Saturday in the Challenge Final.” … (The Mail, Saturday, 3 September 1949)

Coached by V Medlen, the club won A, C and Schoolboy premierships with Bs runners-up, and six State blazers (Parr, Woods & Forrest, P Van Tenac, B McCartney, F Townley). The Club received a notice of motion by D Green to change its name to Woodville in September ’49, but a subsequent meeting to vote was not recorded.

Next year B, C and D went top and the As, while finishing minor premiers, lost the Challenge Final to East Torrens (similarly did E grade). R Martin joined his State teammates. Don Woods was picked for ‘All Australian’.

A Golden Era

In 1952 L Clews was appointed commentator to Radio Station 5DN, to give a summary of matches.

By 1953 membership reached 76, and another Port powerhouse named Ralph Turner appeared in SA colours. Graham Lines joined the elite in ’54, heralding the rise of a champion, as he went on to win five Club Trophies from ’53 to ’58, with Graham Shaw chiming in for ’57.

The Premiership of 1955 was significant in a time of transition in the club personnel, and yet through this era the club maintained a high standard of finishing in the final four in 14 consecutive years. Van Tenac captained the side this successful year, Lines and Turner played for the State seniors, while Lionel Coggins (SA colts, and All Australian colt) and Bailey and Beatty represented the club in juniors.

Graham Lines won the Memorial Medal in 1956, played State again, and Ken Forrest earned his Australian selection, as Port lost the Challenge final.

“I don’t suppose we could play perfect lacrosse all through the season, but why pick the last two (to fail)?” … (G Lines, Secretary’s Report 1956)

This disappointment was repeated in ’57, but Forrest (seniors), Lionel Coggins (colts), L Baillie & Evans (juniors) represented the club in SA teams. Fred Hansford arrived as coach.

Consistency under coach Hansford, and captain Lionel Coggins paid off for the 1958 Premiership. McCartney earned a State guernsey, with Lines and Turner. The club faced the possibility of losing the Oval Avenue ground and were given two options to consider.

“One ground which would have to be shared with the Baseball Club is at Reserve Parade, Findon; and the other which we consider the better of the two is alongside the Findon High School”. (D Hemson, Secretary, 1958 Report)

Findon Reserve eventually became the home ground in 1983, after Matheson Reserve (adjacent to Findon High). It took 25 years more to get there.

Outstanding clubmen, Clews, McVicars, McCartney, Luxton, Townley, Parr, Medlen, Van Tenac, Trembath, Martin, Coggins, and others, gave spirit to the Champions; Ken Forrest – six times State Team, Graham Lines Memorial Medal winner of ’55 & ’56 and Ralph Turner. G Lines and R Turner were both ‘All Australian’ in ’59 against the Americans, with Turner chosen as the Carnival’s Brady Trophy winner for ‘Best Player’.

The Premiership of 1959 was perhaps the zenith of the great era, and a fitting contest was provided. The final was drawn with Brighton after extra time had been played, and was replayed the following week.

“Port Adelaide proved its superiority by soundly defeating them. Our Captain Lionel Coggins threw ten goals before half time … which I believe could be a record. Much of the credit for our victory is due to our Coach Peter Van Tenac, in his first year of senior coaching.”. (F Coggins, Secretary’s Report 1959)

It was a year that introduced the USA Lacrosse Team to Australia. A domestic night lacrosse series was played at Norwood Oval where Port combined with West Torrens to be the Port Apaches, and went undefeated to win the American Cup. Club registrations peaked at 99 (including Parent Committee).

Credits for the year 1959 were as follows:

R TurnerSenior State Carnival (Vic), All Australian, SA team vs USA (Adelaide)
G LinesSenior State Carnival (Vic), All Australian, SA team vs USA (Adelaide)
M McVicarSenior State Carnival (Vic), SA team vs USA (Adelaide)
K McVicarSenior State Carnival (Vic), SA team vs USA (Adelaide)
J IngeSA team vs USA (Adelaide), Club Memorial Trophy
K ForrestSA team vs USA (Adelaide)
I MillerUnder 16 State team in Victoria
Gordon LuxtonLife Membership, 18 consecutive years service in office

This was to be the last ‘A’ Grade premiership for two generations.

The 1960s

Ken Forrest, in 1960 earned his last Club A Grade award fittingly, ‘Most Consistent’. The “Plaisted Trophy” for best U-18 was awarded to I Fox, and the best first year player, “JT Martin Trophy” went to Glenn Bowyer. Lyndsay Clews retired from office in 1961 and received Life Membership. Other changes in administration saw Coggins and Van Tenac bow out for Forrest and Turner in ’63, M McVicar coached the Club.

The Club noted the passing of stalwarts, R Trembath (player, Chairman), and L McVicar (Coach, Vice Pres). The venerable Gordon Luxton retired from office in 1965 and received a special function in his honour.

Ralph Turner confirmed his ’59 All Australian reputation with a string of three Club Memorial Trophies from 1961-63, State Captain ’63, coached and captained Port Adelaide in ’66, played State in 1967, and retired as Secretary and player (for a while) in ’68 aged 34.

Meanwhile, during this time, a young Glenn Bowyer asserted his skill in the game as he took home grade awards year after year, culminating in winning the SALA Memorial Trophy in ’66, ’67, (as the youngest winner and record votes), Club Memorial Trophy ’66, ’67, ’68, State Representative in ’67, ’68 and Isaachsen Trophy (the outstanding player for Australian Lacrosse for the season) – as highest vote scorer in Australia, (Club Minutes, May 1968). Bowyer then left the sport, aged 18 years.

Turner and Bowyer represented the club in interstate lacrosse, Jack Moseley was Coach, and John Forrest was awarded “Junior Sportsman of the Year”. He and Paul Fox were Junior State representatives. Frank Coggins was awarded SALA Certificate of Merit.

“(the) ‘A’ Grade Most Consistent Trophy shall be known as the Ralph Turner Trophy.”
(Winner: Don Paull, Minutes, 26 September 1967)

Woodville Men’s Club received new outfitting for season 1968 uniforms of green shirts with gold triangular emblem on pocket, white shorts, green and gold socks. The new coach was Brian Cherry from North Adelaide. V Peacock was a new face in the Senior State Carnival side, while G McCartney added to the Junior reps, Fox and Forrest. Life Membership was given to Ralph Turner, and on a very social purpose, interstate exchange trips commenced with the Coburg Club, Victoria. The club equipment, especially junior sticks, required regular maintenance:

“Secretary to write to Chisholm’s in America concerning catgut. Date to be fixed for repairing of sticks, next meeting.”
(November 1968 Minutes)

G Shaw commenced a seven-year Presidency, as K Forrest continued toward a nine-year Chairmanship.

As the club laboured to the end of an ordinary on-field decade, it was marching into another. While the Club always saw success in its wealth of juniors and noted their potential, the promise of a Senior Lacrosse future never arrived for most of them or the Club. A Salmon joined our SA Juniors.

The ‘generous’ club facilities were a weight set, ray lamp, a massage table and a training light. Women and guests had to wait out in the bad weather while male players changed and restored the room. Much Club focus and energy went into developing the Club’s facility, its management, and building the social aspect of the Club. A Best Clubman award was instigated, so that the efforts and time given by earnest workers for the club could be recognised.

Woodville Lacrosse Club Logo
Woodville Lacrosse Club logo

Changes to Club Name and Life

In December 1966 the Club had sent a letter to the Woodville Council expressing their concern of the future of the Oval Avenue ground. This was an anxious time as the committee had been developing plans for new clubrooms, and in a twist, new playing shirts had been procured (for the Blue & White uniform). The Council was to accommodate Woodville Football Club’s admission to the Football League, and Oval Avenue would be given up for its use.

The year 1967 began with three major changes:-

  1. On 18 April 1967, at a Special General Meeting held at the Club Shed, Oval Avenue … the name of the Club was changed from PADLC (Port Adelaide District) to WLC (Woodville).
  2. We moved to Matheson Reserve permanently.
  3. With considerable help from the Woodville Council, we were able to build and move into our new clubrooms on 1 July 1967. (Secretary’s Report, October 1967).

Women Take the Field

Mrs Salmon contacted Mrs B Forrest regarding the formation of a Women’s Committee. It was suggested that Committee members personally contact parents of all junior players informing them of our intentions of forming a Women’s Committee. (Club minutes, December 1966)

Women’s Lacrosse at Woodville made its debut in 1968 with Mr K Forrest as Coach, Ms A Cameron Captain, Ms P Canney Vice Captain. Some were sisters of the men/boys, but all were new players, and they quickly adapted to the game having been at close quarters to it for years. Their outfit was a green tunic over yellow t-shirt, with yellow socks. No protective equipment (not a mouthguard) was worn.

“I would … like to congratulate the Women’s Team for winning the ‘B’ Grade Grand Final. This is a remarkable effort as all the girls were new players. I think their coach, Ken Forrest, needs a pat on the back. Even more outstanding is their Captain, Anne Cameron, for winning the ‘B’ Grade Best and Fairest for the Association. Congratulations to Anne.” (R Pollard, Secretary’s Report, AGM 1968)

The conquering debutantes of Women’s ‘B’ Grade were elevated to ‘A’ Grade for 1969. This year there were visits from English and USA teams, and played against SA 1 (A Fowler) and SA 2 (M Fowler).

Victories are Elusive

In 1970 G Lines stepped in to relieve B Cherry as coach for a year, and won the Club Memorial Trophy in the process. T Salmon threw 140 goals, a very noteworthy achievement, by one of the most penetrating and intimidating goal shooters at that time, and Peacock was still gaining SA selection. HM Plaisted celebrated 50 years associated with the sport. Ken Forrest and Frank Coggins attained Life Membership.

Focus turned to the talented squad of juniors, the repeat ‘D’ Grade Premiers of ’70 and ’71. The Max Turner Memorial Trophy for most improved ‘D’ Grader (inaugurated this year), went to Rob Potter. Other outstanding juniors of the time were D Wright, G Canney (SALA Sandery Trophy – U/17 Sportsman of the year), P Smith, S Cameron, P Coggins, B Arnold and G Maguire. The Senior ranks contracted after the disappointment of losing some players. They improved to be ‘almost’ successful in 1972, as the As finished fifth, and C, D, and F Grades lost their grand finals.

However the Women’s Club were successful as they kept winning their way in A Grade and consistently making the final four, but not gaining a premiership. Some of their number whose skills stood out were; Lyn Forrest State Team (71, 72); Anne Fowler (Cameron) and Meredith Fowler, both State Team (’71, ’72) and Australian World Cup (London ’72) campaigners. Another young talent was Julie Forrest who played State Juniors (’72 to ’76) and Seniors from 1974, (and Australia, whilst playing for another club).

The Women’s club members worked enthusiastically off the field as well, door knocking the local areas to recruit juniors for the game.

The Men’s game had changed much during the past decade due to amendment of rules to boundaries, centre draws, etc and now more changes were written into the game: Stick repair nights became irrelevant as plastic and nylon crosse heads fitted onto wood or aluminium handles, and;

“All ‘A’ Grade players must wear a helmet and gloves.” (Minutes, April 1972)

Men’s ‘A’ Coaches, V Peacock, B Neill, B Cherry and M Colquhoun, through the ’70s, struggled with the volatility of a developing squad, resulting in a lack of depth of Senior talent. Junior Teams, and ‘C’ Grade were defeated in many Grand Finals, while a few were won. Achievement and disappointment were partners in these years, and ‘A’ Grade couldn’t win a game for about three seasons.

“Everything was set for this team (G grade) to take out the final … these lads finished second on the ladder and beat the opposition quite comfortably throughout the season. However, on the day of the Preliminary Final, all members of the Team were away on school holidays and had to forfeit.” (Secretary’s Report 1974)

Graham Shaw was honoured as Life Member in 1974, as R Turner, 40, returned for another Club Memorial Trophy. Three halogen training lights were erected on poles along Buccleuch Avenue boundary, and plans were being developed to extend the clubroom which was sublet to Rechabite Cricket Club in summer. Woodville Lacrosse Club became Incorporated in 1975.

Young ladies showing promise, L Finn, K McLeod, D McCartney and J Shaw had been selected in Junior State teams, and H Donaghey in the Seniors. In the mid ’70s, the women’s team was changing as some of the experienced players retired from the game. The advancement of the Women’s Lacrosse skills outpaced those of the Woodville Team, which returned to Reserves grade, before its first decade was over.

In the late ’70s, renewed impetus was given to Junior recruitment. The men’s senior team (considering relegation to ‘B’ grade), with new Coach, M Colquhoun, were given new look uniforms, at a special presentation in 1978 by football legend Neil Kerley, who addressed the gathering. The result of the junior push was the nomination of three senior teams and five junior teams.

Life Membership was given to Graham Lines and John Swann. The Women awarded the first Life Membership to Anne Fowler (Cameron).

Era of Rapid Change

As Woodville turned the corner into the ’80s, the Seniors were winning some games, but not yet consistently threatening the top four. Stuart Cameron was elevated to State ranks, as well as M Gillett (All Australian U/16), C Manning and A Vivian (Colts and Juniors).

The members at the Annual Meeting in 1980 moved to:

“Incorporate under the title of Woodville Lacrosse Club Inc., the Men’s, Women’s, Box and Soft Lacrosse Clubs, to provide a formal framework for each code to function in.”
(WLC AGM Minutes, 1980)

Mike Paul displayed his trademark consistent form that earned him consecutive Club Memorial Trophies, and went on to be awarded four in total.

Another bank of lights were purchased in 1981, Don Wright, former Woodville Colt, and University and Australian champion commenced a three year coaching stint. The Matheson Reserve Sports Club Inc was formalised to negotiate the extensions of the clubrooms, and this became an onerous task for our Club delegates, as progress faltered. Alan Gillett became the first parent “Best Clubman” since Jack Moseley in ’71.

As 1982 commenced so did a new feature in the game – Box Lacrosse players from Canada and USA playing for local clubs, which, “to the best of our ability”, the club would “find a job, housing and transport”. Wayne McAuley arrived, and won the Club’s Memorial Trophy. There were administrative complexities around his visa and its extension:

“As the five members absent at this meeting, were the only ones present at the previous meeting, the Chairman would not allow any motions to be put.”
(Minutes, 4 May 1982)

Charles Manning won the Plaisted Trophy for the third time in a row, V Peacock played for SA Box Lacrosse, A Reserves were Premiers, and Coburg (Vic) Lacrosse Club exchange visits ceased. Findon Reserve, home to the Woodville Baseball Club (mentioned earlier), became a focus of discussions with the Woodville Council in 1982 with a view to relocating the club. Later, the U/16 Australian Lacrosse Championships were staged there.

A milestone in the Club Record occurred when:

“The Club moved from Matheson Reserve to Findon Oval on 11 July 1983. The transfer concluded a long period of speculation during which time we were unclear as to whether we would have to expand the clubrooms at Matheson Reserve or whether we would have to move…We have been fortunate in our move. We have fine partners in the form of the Woodville District Baseball Club. They have been extremely cooperative and understanding…The grounds here are without equal in the SALA. The clubrooms hold us comfortably … there will be extensions just as soon as the whole act can be put together.”
(Secretary’s Report 1983)

Ironically, Matheson Reserve Sports Club, which the Club had left, received a development grant for which our committee and delegates had worked so hard for several years.

This new home was generous with its clubroom and licensed area, players had separate room but more would be added to service other teams, car parking was substantial, and the Lacrosse Association liked it as a venue for the Finals Series. The work within the Club seemed to grow as members recognised the efforts of Referees (4), Coaches (9), Grounds managers, Team auxiliaries, Club and Bar managers. This year’s representatives were S Elston, V Peacock (Australian Box); Bortoletto, Darling, Gillett, Manning (SA Colts no 1) and R Manning (Juniors no 1).

The question remained, now, well into its third decade;

“What does Woodville Lacrosse Club need to win premierships?”
(B Egan, Hon Secretary, 1984)

Consolidation and Development

Coaches D Inge, K Bemold, C Treloar and R Potter, J Ballerine and P Smith, from ’84-91, attempted to solve the question; but the talented players and committed fellows on the field were still unable to vault the team above mediocre season results. It would be for another generation to experience the consistency of team success in the League. A few older players enjoyed the 1984 ‘C’ premiership success.

In this year of ’84 Don Paull was awarded Life Membership, and the “Best Clubman Trophy” went to Mrs Sandy Coggins. Major club sponsorship arrived.

The Women’s team had K Schiller (’83), F Turner and J Feleppa (’84) in State Juniors as the Women’s Association was in hot debate over the Helmet issue. 1985 was a dispiriting year, as Woodville women struggled to field a ‘B’ team, then in 1986 they closed the books.

As the Senior Men languished low on the Premiership table, work continued in juniors, with Sofcrosse electives in Primary Schools, and 150 children participating in Carnivals in Findon.

Messrs C Manning, C Savage, S Retallick and T Jaeger were commended for making their respective 1986 Texas Tour and State Teams. Brian Neil, Life Member at Brighton, earned Woodville’s recognition in Life Membership in 1987, as a long serving coach of 14 years of various grades in the Club. John Swann retired from Committee, ending 18 continuous years of extraordinary service to the Club as Honorary Treasurer.

World Cup for the U/19 Men came to Adelaide in 1988, so did Yale University which the club hosted. Our State players were C Manning and I Marchesan. The Grace brothers joined the State Juniors. While threatening improvement, the Men’s League team couldn’t break into the final four. Was this frustration creating an identity crisis?

“Should we be called Woodville Warriors, or Wolves, or Wizards, or Wallopers, or anything else?”
(Warriors Newsletter, May 1988)

Charles Manning stamped his name all over the 1980s. He commenced playing for SA U/16 in 1980, ’81, ’82, Colts ’83, ’84, ’85, Senior ’86, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92 and ’96; but missed out on big prizes of League Premiership, World Cup and Memorial Medal. Charles was a valued Clubman, and was recognised in the award of SALA Administrator of the year, 1986.

The legacy of M Southwell, S Darling and C Manning, with others, is the successful recruitment and nurture of Juniors, especially through St Michael’s College. Mark Southwell gained 1989 Life Membership.

Women’s Lacrosse was given a revival at Woodville with the enthusiasm of Tania Feleppa, and the Committee, who set about recruiting players, and in 1990 revisited the competition with a Junior and two Senior teams, under coach T Rice, followed by ‘International’ Cathy Flett in 1993. The team’s talent wasn’t able to maintain its presence in League, and soon dropped to Reserves until 1998.

Longevity in service and playing were appreciated in 1991 as Ross Pollard and Mike Hogan were honoured with Life Memberships.

New Outlook and Plan

In 1992 the Woodville Lacrosse Club decided to re-evaluate its methods and goals, particularly with respect to fostering the talented group of promising juniors. A five-year, tough commitment was drawn from a group of Senior players as a pre-requisite for success and the club put into place a business plan to cover the club for that period.

“The goal was to play in a men’s Senior Final in five years, which, in hindsight was very ambitious, but everyone believed in the endeavour.” (David Inge, March 1999)

John Carter, an astute coach and strict disciplinarian, was appointed to the on-field task, and enforced the rule of training three times per week for eligibility in League selection. The young players, successful as juniors, were kept as a unit and separate from the seniors until of the right age and experience. From that group, and the senior players, there was a nucleus of a premiership team(s).

In 1995, the Warriors were bundled out of the semi-finals, by Glenelg. That year Woodville had 5 men, 5 U/17; 2 U/21 women, 4 U/16 State representatives. Ken Forrest was inducted as a Fellow of Australian Lacrosse Council. A replacement was needed for Coach Carter, who had to meet other commitments.

Peter Brown arrived in 1996, as Coach of the League Team. It lost in the preliminary final, but with each year the players became more dominant and skilful. This was celebrated in the speedy and elusive centreman Peter Inge winning the Memorial Trophy. The Club’s depth of players and skill brought a Premiership to the Men’s Reserve side. While James Inge and Brett Howe toured as Australia’s Seniors, the U/19 Men’s World Cup ‘Internationals’ were Peter IngeAnthony Feleppa and Richard Feleppa.

Woodville hosted the 1997 Australian Men’s and Women’s Championships with skilful organisation to produce a high quality event. A feature of the night games was the spectators’ thrill at being close to the action.

Dominating the 1997 men’s season as minor premiers, Woodville played their best two weeks too early, and were badly beaten by West Torrens in the Final. Success came for the Reserves and the ‘B’ Grade, such was the burgeoning strength of the squads. The improving Women’s Team with Neil Parker as coach, were defeated in the Reserves-Grade Final.

James Inge earning the Memorial Trophy with his remarkable skill and constructive forward game, was a proud consolation for the Club.

Progress may have described the Club aims in 1998. The Women took their step forward in their quest for a League Premiership by promoting themselves to League with Coach Rob Potter, however they found the transition difficult. Their squad was strengthened with recent U/21 and U/16 State representatives, Emma Hart, Natasha Vorrasi, Tracey Hogan, Nicole Mordowicz, Colleen Downey-Magor, Lauralea Schicker, and Krissy Wilson and Kate Threadgold, who toured the USA and Japan for the Australian Under 19 Women’s Team in 1998. Kate Threadgold is also a representative for the Australian U/19 Women’s World Cup Team for 1999.

Return to Victory

After the disappointment of ’97 a more measured approach by the men, maturing in the game, allowed the Club to cover the absence of the Inge brothers, James and Peter, to the Australian 1998 Men’s World Cup Team. American players were still a feature of local clubs’ make-up and defender Dan Arcenas made a return visit to Woodville. Among the five playing representatives in the 1998 Australian Championships, (Brett Howe [State Captain], Craig Schicker, Jason Vorrasi, Michael Santi), goalkeeper Aaron Sargent, achieved honour as the Championship’s Best and Fairest Player.

As Woodville finished second in the minor round to West Torrens, and lost to that club in the Semi Final, a most desperate challenge faced them as they met once more, in the Grand Final. The humbling loss to West Torrens in 1997 was still in the spectators’ memories, as the score blew out to 11-6 against Woodville during the last quarter.

“Woodville were not deterred and Brett Howe gives an indication of things to come with a big outside shot, which rips into the back of the net. Peter Inge picks up a rebound shot and fires it back past the keeper, and W.T. lead is cut back to 3. Brett Howe drives across top right and lets loose another cannon shot which brings Woodville closer … The ball bounces in (another) goal … Jason Vorrasi ties the game moments later and Woodville is beginning to look the goods … The crowd is going mad … chanting out ‘Warriors, Warriors’, and ‘Eagles, Eagles’, everybody is on their feet.” (Lacrosse SA Vol 5, Issue 4, September 1998)

Spectators, estimated about 600, were on an emotional edge. West Torrens replied with two goals which should have been enough to hold on to win, but replies from Brett Howe and Peter Inge equalised again, and great defence led the game into 8 minutes of overtime. President’s Medal winner (best afield), Brett Howe, scored the only goal of overtime to allow Woodville to hold onto the ball until the final whistle.

The joy of victory swept the past 39 years into a memorable warm embrace:

“We deserved to win. The team, the club, everyone associated with the Woodville Lacrosse Club was rewarded for their strong work ethic … We didn’t necessarily work harder, but smarter … Along with the arrival of the Premiership to this club, comes a far more valuable commodity – belief.” (Peter Brown, League Coach, Club Newsletter, October 1998)

It is a remarkable happening, but no fairy tale, that Woodville enters its Centenary in 1999 as reigning ‘League Premiers’.

Post Script

No lacrosse season is an isolated period, nor are its rewards its own. The lacrosse we participate in today is the culmination of the efforts of the past, and is a foundation for the lacrosse of the future. We are indebted to our predecessors, and are also obligated to carry our ‘crosse’ to benefit those who follow us.

Our rewards are in the pleasure of a very skilful vigorous competition, demanding mental and physical discipline, whilst developing cooperation, responsibility and enduring friendships. These rewards are found in winning and losing, and the endeavour to try again. They endear the game to us.

Attaining the Premiership is the goal for each season and may come as a result of planning through a number of seasons. It gives impetus to the competition, but Premierships are not the sole criteria for success. We have been privileged to be able to celebrate magnificent Premierships, rare and treasured ones in most grades of our sport.

Satisfaction should be a caution because it is a reflective view of something accomplished, finished. Some clubs, once deemed successful, no longer exist, and their success rests in fading memories, or hidden records and dusty awards.

The Woodville Lacrosse Club exists today, after one hundred years of changes, because its members have successfully played their part in its progress. As the whole is the sum of the parts, this Centenary celebration should echo back through the generations to HM Plaisted, Dr Betts, and then to CE Armstrong, and company.

Can we hear the cheers of our club in 2099?

A.N. McLeod
March 1999