1980-1996 Recollections from the Chair

Recollections from the Chair (1980 – 1996)

The following ‘recollections’ were written in 1995 by prior Chairpersons (Presidents) on the occasion of the Centre’s 25th Anniversary.

Bob Molloy (1980 – 1982)

The period covered by my Chairmanship was the early 1980’s, taking over from Kevin Dawes and handing over to Paul Reeves for the 1983 year.  I was previously the Treasurer and arrived late at an Annual Meeting when Fred Scott was presiding over the election of office bearers to find that I had been elected – I’ve never been late to an AGM since.

When I first joined St George Little Athletics, the meeting was held on a Sunday afternoon at Evatt Park, Lugarno.  The venue was subsequently changed to Kogarah Jubilee Oval on a Friday night.  The groundsman was probably the most uncooperative person I have ever come across.  The Council made the ground available from 6.00pm to 9.00pm and he would not open the gates until exactly 6.00pm and the lights went out at exactly 9.00pm and gear had to be collected and stored in the dark.  He was eventually prevailed upon to allow a group in before 6.00pm to set up the canteen and get the equipment in place so that things were in situ when he opened the main gate at exactly 6.00pm.  We could not use the oval for the full season and had to use McCarthy Reserve in Bay Street, Rockdale, the home of Rockdale Youth Club.  There was not room for a full 400 metre track.

The Jubilee Oval debacle forced a review of available grounds and we came up with the present Olds Park venue.  We always had a gear storage problem (members stored various gear components wherever – including a storage unit at the airport during the off-season) so we came to an arrangement with the St George Australian Rules Club to store in their clubhouse on the top of the hill.  This did not last as they wanted to extend their clubhouse and we had a few disputes over the use of the oval and who was responsible for watering and when, and we were back to the old problem.  This was when we joined with Penshurst West Youth Club to approach Council and the Department of Sport and Recreation for funds to build a new club house.  The cost of the original building was beyond belief and we had to scale back on the size so that it would fit our budget.  This was when we tendered for the distribution of the yellow pages phone books which we did for a couple of years.  The organisation behind this was quite amazing but there were members who devoted huge amounts of time and energy to organising the process.  We virtually begged borrowed and stole trucks to load the pallets of phone books.  This provided the income for the club house.

The lighting was not A1 and the Councils were successfully lobbied to provide lighting.  We had to arrange to have the lights re-focused each year as our needs did not meet the needs of our off-season partners.

I took a team to Preston-Reservoir for the annual competition and successfully kept track of all the competitors but lost the Assistant Manager on the return flight – he got lost on the way to the airport and I had to leave his ticket at the desk.

I officiated at Zone, Region, State and Australian championships as Chief Marshall, assembling the competitors and directing them to their respective events and came in contact with thousands of Little Athletics’s.  There used to be a “Top 12” meeting at Hensley Athletic Field – I think on a Tuesday night at which I officiated as well.  I sometimes hear a voice “hello Mr Molloy” and frantically try to remember who they are and when I find them at 6ft plus and 13 stone hope that I didn’t ever threaten them.

Little Athletics seems to be addictive – once you have been involved you never seem to lose contact with the sport and especially those people with whom you were associated.

Paul Reeves (1982 – 1984)

It gives me great pleasure to be asked to contribute to the 25 year history of the St George Little Athletics Centre.

In my time as President 1982/84 and other committee positions I gained a lot of friends and the support of volunteer workers was the best I have been involved with in 30 years of sports administration.

Prior to the commencement of the 1983 season, cement shot put and discus circles were laid and further additions made to the club house.

The 1982/83 season saw 692 registered competitors from Under 6 to Under 13.  Our first Gala Day was held in November 1983 with 16 Centres and 420 competitors.

Damien Bulian and Mark Lea represented NSW at the 1983 State Championships – St George won two gold, three silver and one bronze medal.

In my 1983/84 report I concluded by saying: “Congratulate the Winner.  Encourage the Loser.  Enjoy the sport for what it is.  If it isn’t fun….It isn’t Little Athletics.”

Ian Sheerin (1984 – 1987)

I was associated with the St George Little Athletics Centre for about ten consecutive years, eight or nine of which I served on the Centre Committee.  During my three years as Chairman my committees achieved the following:

  • Carried on and improved the good working relationship with Hurstville Municipal Council.
  • Established good working relationships with other Olds Park users.
  • Designed and constructed the dual long jump pits to IAAF standards.
  • Commenced negotiations with the St George Senior Mens and Womens Associations with the intent of creating a common venue and facilities such that our Little Athletes could have smooth continuity of their athletics from Little A’s to Seniors.
  • Organised the approval and installation of the shot put and discus areas flood lighting.
  • St George averaged in excess of 600 registered athletes with a maximum of 688 one year.
  • Organised the acquisition of extra high jump sets to increase the frequency of the high jump event.
  • Designed and manufactured the first telescopic hurdles.
  • Organised additional lights with the St George Australian Rules on their tall towers and on other poles near the competing areas.
  • Witnessed some tough debating regarding the continuation of the annual Preston challenge.

I had three children that competed for 25 seasons collectively at Olds Park.  The Centre enjoyed a great deal of success with many gifted athletes.  Our best performance was coming second at the State Championships one season.

The Centre thrived on its families.  The parents as qualified and unqualified officials and the children as registered members of the Centre.  The stickers were produced as quickly and as accurately as possible with a one week turn around.  The children were encouraged to keep their sticker books and monitor their personal best performances.  A Centre patch was given towards the end of each season to reward children who achieved a target number of events per age group, awarded on production of their sticker books.

Social functions were a high priority for our Centre.  The State Relay day, the Christmas breakup, the Gala Days, the Preston visit and the Centre Championships at the end of the season plus most Friday nights saw a great deal of frivolity and occasionally some very heated debates.

On reflection, they were good days with many good people and a lovely group of children.  It gives me great pleasure to realise that the St George Little Athletics Centre has continued to exist to benefit athletics and the current generation of athletes.  I wish the Centre continued success in the future.

Lindsay Watson (1987 – 1988, 1991 – 1993)

St George Little Athletics is not about producing champions (although we have produced more than our fair share of NSW and Australian champions) it is about helping kids to get satisfaction from personal best performances and building self esteem from gradually improving performances in a run, jump or throw.

Athletics is the basis of most sporting activities and Little Athletics is the foundation block, not only for improving athletic skills, but for making lasting friendships for children and parents alike.

The current 1995/96 season will be my family’s fourteenth consecutive year as members of St George Little Athletics.  I say family because I believe Little Athletics is a total family commitment – without the parents on Friday nights or at Zone, Region and State Little Athletics would cease to exist.

I was originally elected (pushed or firmly guided) on to the committee in 1986 as Vice Chairman!  Since then I have been on the St George committee as Officer for Championships, two years as Chairman firstly in 1987 and later in 1992, and as an extra member coerced for reasons known only to the current Chairlady!

I also had a three year stint on the NSW Little Athletics Board as Officer for Officials – this was enlightening and I hope advantageous to St George.

In my time with St George some of the many changes I have been involved with are:

  • Introduction of collapsible hurdles.  John Wallace, member of St George committee, constructed the first collapsible hurdle which eventually became the prototype for Little Athletics.  I presented the hurdle at the Little Athletics State Conference at Wangi and it was met with great enthusiasm.
  • Incorporation of the St George Little Athletics Centre.
  • The design and installation of the four synthetic run-ups and long jump pits with assistance in construction from John Clark, Des O’Connor and his son Paul over and above the call of duty.
  • Lights on soccer field (high jump), discus and long jump area (fund raising with the late Dick Deering and the Olds Park users group).
  • Extension to the current storage area and canteen.
  • Supply and construction of the discus cages.
  • Re-design and negotiation with Council for the positioning of the 1995 track.

During my 14 years, former St George Little Athletes to compete in the “green and gold” have been:

  • Dianne Holden – 100m and relay
  • Maree Holland (Olympic finalist) – 400m and relay
  • Michelle Dillon – Cross Country, Road Relay, 10km
  • Michelle Lillington – Junior 4 x 400m relay
  • Donna Collins – U/23 100m hurdles
  • Catherine Horder – World Juniors 100m and 100m hurdles
  • Keiran Gallagher – World Juniors 200m, 400m, 4 x 400m relay
  • Toby Watson – U/20 800m and 4 x 400m relay

There have been many State and National champions (too numerous to mention) at both senior and L.A.A. levels.  Currently [1996] Rachelle Quiggan and Alison Di Rosa are in the “OZ” Squad – junior development scheme.

Why after 14 years is my family still involved?  Simply one word – FRIENDSHIP.  Lara my youngest daughter, who is a member of the current U/13 group, last week rang her billet and friend Nicole in Preston, Victoria to wish her a “Happy Birthday”.  Tauri my middle child has friends from her old Little Athletics days all over southern Sydney and Toby competes at senior level against boys from his Little Athletics age group Australia wide, some of whom are his best friends.

As for Helen and myself our special friendship with other Little Athletics families – the Collins, Condrens, Berrels, Munro’s, Gallaghers, Clarks and numerous others has made us unashamedly fortunate and lucky.

I would be remiss not to mention the current [1996] committee of St George with whom it has been my pleasure to work – Barbara Lea (relentless persistence, but a lovely lady), John Dodson (line marker extraordinaire), Terry O’Neill (grumpiest field officer it has been my pleasure to know), and last but by no means least our Treasurer Alex Oh (perhaps Alex’s children were not the best performers at Little Athletics but they certainly have the highest IQ’s).


Terry White (1989 – 1990)

My period in office was from 1989-90.  During this time I was lucky to be able to draw on other people in the Centre who had more experience than me, which made my time easier.

The Centre was just moving into a period of great change where the Constitution had to be altered to allow for the clubs to be affiliated because of insurance reasons.  There was talk of amalgamating all the clubs into one which has now happened.  The new storage facilities were on the drawing board and are now finished.

During the 12 years we had in St George Little A’s my family and I made many good friends which we still have today.

I urge all families that are thinking of joining Little A’s to do so.  You will have many years of happy family involvement.

I would like to wish St George all the best on their 25th Anniversary and hope they carry on for many years to come.

Mike Low (1990 – 1991)

On a personal note, my year as President of the St George Little Athletics Centre started off in a rather unexpected way.

I went to the 1998 AGM with the intention of volunteering for a position on one of the sub-committees, as up to that stage I had only been an age manager or other official such as timekeeper. After a number of people had been nominated for the position of President and all had declined, the situation had become rather embarrassing, particularly with all the people from other centres and the Association in attendance. Then someone had a clever or perhaps desperate idea. He nominated me! So I found myself going home with the news that not only was I on a committee, but President.

Somehow I stumbled through the year, and hopefully the Centre has recovered by now.

More importantly the 1990/91 season was quite a successful one, with the Centre having 489 children registered, 32 children progressed to State and of these, 21 won 38 medals between them. Six State records were either equalled or broken by St George athletes and Brooke Malcolm and Clinton Pelham were the champion girl and boy athletes that year.

On the minus side, we managed to lose the annual challenge against Preston by 311 points to 309.

Several innovations took place in 1990/91, the most significant being the disbanding of the clubs within the Centre. Previously there had been four clubs (Rangers, Rockdale, Blakehurst and Lugarno) and each had their own members.  From 1990/91 St George was just one Centre.  Other innovations were the use of an electronic starting gun and digital stop watches.  One thing hasn’t changed – Alex Oh was Treasurer then and has been ever since.

The Centre Championships that year were held in December at Sylvania Waters on one day, while the State Relays were held at Narrabeen. The Centre’s main social function was a disco held just before Christmas.

One of my final acts for the year was to ensure that each position on the Executive for 91/92 was covered before the 1991 AGM.  I didn’t want to go home with any more surprises.

Barbara Lea (1993 – 1996)

Over our 25 years the Centre has grown from a very small beginning to the large successful Centre it is today.

After many venues in the early days our home ground has now been firmly established at Olds Park where over the years our members have worked very hard so that we can have the best facilities available, i.e.

  •           Installed lights on the main oval
  •           Built the existing Clubhouse and extensions
  •           Synthetic long and triple jump run ups
  •           Concrete Shot and Discus circles
  •           Floodlighting over the Shot and Discus areas
  •           Working bee to make first collapsible hurdles
  •           Discus safety cages

These are just a few of the improvements our fundraising and workers have achieved.  The only improvement now needed at Olds Park would be a synthetic track and maybe in years to come we might see this happen.

We have also enjoyed a very good working relationship with Hurstville Council over the years and this continues today.  This season Hurstville Council surveyed and marked our new shape circular track and marked the straight track.  This has been a tremendous help as it is very difficult to mark the track with cricket all day Saturday and Sundays.

We now also have a Park Users Group who meet every three months and work together for better usage and sharing of the park.

Our visits with Preston from Victoria are still continuing after 23 years and this in itself must be unique for any club to have such a competition.

We have included St George Seniors in our Friday night competition hoping that this will encourage our athletes to continue in the sport and as a transition into the senior club and their interclub competition.

Over the years the Centre has produced many excellent athletes, some of whom are still competing and others have gone on to different sports where they also represented in State and Australian Championships.

Our relay teams have always been very successful and have provided some very exciting racing.  Our March Past Teams have won more times at State Championships than any other Centre.  We have had many athletes selected in NSW State Teams and I am sure with some of our younger children coming through we will have a lot more representatives.

When we first started at athletics the age groups went from U/7 to U/12.  Today we have from U/6 to U/15 and to get through the events we do on Friday nights requires a lot of effort from everyone.

I have been involved with the Centre for some 17 years and have been on the Executive for 15 years, the last three as President.  Some of my highlights include our weekend trip to Bathurst which included a stay at the Sheep and Cattle Drome, Bush Dance, and some very unusual competition the following day – a great weekend.  We have been involved with Preston and had lots of fun.  When the Championships were held at Narrabeen we would all go and camp for the weekend (the kids also enjoyed this), Trans Tasman in New Zealand, Gala Days, Cross Country and Centre Championships.

Over the years my family and I have made many good friends through our involvement with athletics and enjoyed many great times together.  We wish the Centre every success in the future for many more years to come.