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  1. May 2024

    1. Sat 25

      NetSetGO Wk 6

    2. Sat 25

      Fixture Round 3 - Juniors, Inters and Opens
      Round 6 - Moddies

    3. Sun 26

      BNA Junior REP Carnival

      8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  2. June 2024

    1. Sat 01

      NetSetGO Wk 7

    2. Sat 01

      Fixture Round 4 - Juniors, Inters and Opens
      Round 7 - Moddies

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History

THE HISTORY OF THE B.N.A.


The Formation:

Sir Henry Newbolt’s words epitomize the drive behind the formation of the Brisbane Netball Association.However, it would not be an understatement to record that the Brisbane Netball Association evolved from a revolution.

Prior to the formation of the Brisbane Netball Association in 1971, Downey Park, Windsor, was the only centre for netball in Brisbane and fixtures were controlled by the Queensland Netball Association (QNA).

While the ladies who administered the QNA may have had the best of intentions, their goals did not include development of facilities, playing standards or coaching or umpiring programmes.

Besides running fixtures, QNA selected State teams to compete in All Australia interstate titles although on many occasions, the State team travelled without a coach or umpire.

At Downey Park, all games were centrally timed without any injury time and due to overcrowding, games were shortened to 4 x 10 minutes or 2 x 20 minutes and fixture times were only available for two weeks at a time. It had been obvious for years that Downey Park could not cater for the existing number of netballers let alone future development, but decentralisation was not on the QNA’s agenda.

The adjustment required for the players at interstate level was overwhelming.

This was the environment for a series of events.

Lorraine Decker was a State and All Australia schoolgirls player who advanced through the ranks to be a senior state player from 1964 to ‘70.  After seeing the facilities in Perth at the 1967 World Netball Titles she was inspired to emulate them in Queensland.

Di Potter was also a state representative and was frustrated by the Queensland team’s poor performances due to lack of coaching, playing facilities and administrative support. 

Irene Timothy played ‘A’ Grade in Victoria and in NSW which led to her coaching the NSW State Team. When she and her husband were transferred to Brisbane in 1968, QNA immediately co-opted her to coach the Queensland state team. Irene was incredulous when told that although she was the state coach, she could not wear a Queensland state blazer at the interstate titles because she was not a Queensland state player and had not earned the right!

It was therefore natural that these three and other members of the state team formed an alliance.  They were given strong support by swimming coach icon, Joe King (now decd), who coached Goldwings Netball Club (the premier club of the time) and whose players dominated the state team.

They questioned the QNA’s administration and ideals and why the sport could not be de-centralized and why facilities and coaching programmes were not provided. The group called for ‘radical’ improvements some of which included all weather courts, quality floodlighting, first class amenities and an indoor stadium. QNA responded by stonewalling every approach and claimed that nothing could be done as there was no money.

This led to volatile times with the disbursement and management of the QNA’s finances under scrutiny. It did not seem unreasonable to expect audited accountability and a professional administration which had development plans.

‘The Rebels’ tried for 12 months to change and improve all facets of the QNA from within its framework without success. Unfortunately, the minutes of meetings with the QNA were often ‘adjusted’ to protect the QNA’s position and did not reflect agreements which had been reached.Consequently, ‘The Rebels’ distributed pamphlets to players at Downey Park calling on them to question the disbursement of finances and lack of facilities.

This drew an overwhelming response with the main identities being former state player and president of Ace Netball Club, Sandra Bates, the president of Norths Netball Club, Merle Kimmins and the University Club which was led by Mary Hawkins. Goldwings nominated Thelma Gordon to represent them and Jacki Black, the PE head at Kelvin Grove Teachers Training College, put their weight behind the cause as did Souths Club for which Irene, Di and Lorraine played.

A sizeable contingent attended the QNA’s 1971 AGM believing that the weight of their numbers would force the QNA to ‘come screaming into the 20th century’ and this meeting proved to be the turning point. While it is now amusing to note that the Queensland Netball Association refused to provide a financial report to its members, stating that it was not their policy, it was frustrating and provocative at the time and the group were further frustrated when, half-way through the AGM, members were denied voting rights and subsequently speaking rights by the chair, QNA President, Mavis Martin.

This resulted in our foundation members seeking legal advice and the ‘group’ was indebted to the Decker family’s contacts which resulted in the free advice provided from solicitor, Graham Gill (now decd.) and by Queensland’s most celebrated judge, Mr. Tony Fitzgerald QC who provided his invaluable opinion at no cost. 

As a result of Mr. Fitzgerald’s opinion and advice, our foundation members considered three alternatives:-

1.           To maintain membership of the Q.N.A. and thereby accept the system with no ability to effect any improvement

2.           To opt out (upon reflection this would have been by far the easiest but far less satisfying)

3.           To form a new association in which their ideals, ideas and aspirations for the sport could be implemented.

Fortunately, our founders opted for the third alternative.

A formation meeting was held at the Queensland Swimming Association’s rooms at the Valley Swimming Pool on 19th September 1971 and the Brisbane Netball Association was born.

The first Executive was:-

President:                       Merle Kimmins

Vice Presidents:              Sandra Bates & Lorraine Decker

Hon Secretary:                Mary Hawkins

Treasurer:                       Irene Timothy

Games Convenors:         Di Potter & Elizabeth Hatton

Publicity Officer:             Lorraine Decker

The Trustees were Thelma Gordon and Jacki Black with Kerry Potter (Di Potter’s husband) as Hon. Auditor and Graham Gill as Hon. Solicitor.

The Association’s colour was determined as Poinsettia Red and the Poinsettia flower as the Association’s floral emblem.

Seven of the original members, Merle Kimmins, Sandra Bates, Lorraine Decker, Mary Hawkins, Irene Timothy, Di Potter and Thelma Gordon each contributed $1.00 to establish a bank account in the name of the ‘Brisbane Netball Association’.  From this humble $7 the BNA has never looked back financially.

Naturally the structure of the Association and accountability to its members were extremely important.  Constitutions from every conceivable sporting body were studied and the best aspects used for the BNA’s first constitution.  This ensured that our foundation executive became ‘authorities’ on constitutional matters.

The founders also established important goals

  • that the optimum size of the Association should be planned so that quantity would not be substituted for quality
  • that the quality of fixture games should never be compromised by reducing playing time

To ensure the equable conduct of the Association, the founders also initiated a Complaints Tribunal which was a unique initiative in netball and a cornerstone of the values of BNA as it provided members with access to natural justice through an independent arbiter.

Initially, the formation of the association was the easy part - the real work had only just started.

Establishing Headquarters:

Finding headquarters was the first hurdle and the networking and support of business and community contacts was incredible.

President, Merle Kimmins enlisted the help of her friend, Brisbane City Council’s Lady Mayoress, Norma Sleeman and a strong relationship was developed with the BCC Parks Department. As a result, Ray Steward of BCC Parks Management became a strong supporter and initially, Annand Park at Chermside was proposed as possible headquarters.   

In the meantime, Meyers Taylor, a window manufacturing firm in Sandgate Road, Virginia, emerged as knights in shining armour.


Following an interview with Lorraine Decker, Meyers Taylor generously granted the Association the use of land they had purchased at 40 Robinson Road, Virginia, for their future expansion and agreed to allow it to be used free of any costs (which included power). This acreage was a former golf practice range and therefore had excellent facilities and an expansive floodlit grassed area which was perfect for courts although the grassed area was overgrown.

Our first Executive had seven days to get these grounds in playing condition so the girls and their families brought out their picks and shovels and lawnmowers. 


Wendy Young left, (BNA secretary 1979-82) & Lorraine Decker pictured at the entrance to the BNA’s first headquarters

Netball equipment was not commercially available and everything had to be manufactured from scratch. Second hand galvanized pipe was purchased for goal post and goal rings were manufactured and nets for goal rings were donated by prawn trawlers at Shorncliffe from their net off-cuts.

Sandra Bates’ husband, John (now decd), became the association’s honorary surveyor, planner and chief worker. He devised a system to accurately survey and ‘peg’ the courts and the girls and their families marked five grass courts with creosote and sump oil, erected goal posts and made the deadline through sheer physical determination.

The first summer season commenced on 8th November 1971.  Fixtures were played on Monday and Thursday nights for 12 senior teams and 15 junior teams played on Saturday mornings.  Daylight saving in Queensland enabled the senior games to be played from 6.00pm to 7.15 pm in full daylight.

The first Winter Season commenced on 15th April 1972 and saw a total of nine grades with junior games played on Saturday mornings and seniors on Saturday afternoons.

Games were individually timed with injury time, nets were attached to the goal rings, fixture books for the season were printed and ‘byes’ were drawn in each grade to provide umpires for the grade below - all of which were considered to be revolutionary at the time. It is worth noting, although it is also a sad reflection, that even 20 years later, non-BNA players were still crying out for these ‘innovations’.

In addition to endless fundraising, general administration, grading, draws, production of fixture booklets, operating a canteen, playing, coaching and umpiring, every Sunday was taken up with working bees. The courts had to be mowed each week, re-marked with lime, the club house cleaned and grass and rubbish dumped - work even included catching and shearing two abandoned sheep which roamed on the property.

The Summer 1972/73 fixtures were played at Virginia from 18th October 1972 with the Grand Finals being played on 4th March 1973 on bitumen courts at the Aspley East State School.

Runners-up in the A grade Grand Final, Ace 1, are pictured at the Aspley East State School Courts on 4th March 1973

Back L to R: Sandra Bates, Lyn Holland, June Canavan, Merle Haggart, Gail Henderson

Front L to R: Barbara Kennedy, Cathy Hutinson, Paula Kendall, Lorraine Pearson


Myers Taylor have earned BNA’s eternal gratitude for their more than generous support for the initial two years as it allowed the BNA to firmly establish itself, however, the major goal was to establish permanent headquarters and negotiations with the Brisbane City Council for suitable parklands were intense.

The Brisbane City Council’s initial proposal of Annand Park, Chermside, was transferred to Bradbury Park and in 1972 the Brisbane City Council granted a lease of the current headquarters at Bradbury Park in Rode Road Chermside.

The area provided by the BCC, next door to the Chermside Bowls Club, provided a sloping site and the Brisbane City Council surveyed and graded 10 courts in tiers.

Due to the BCC’s outstanding support, four of these courts were bitumen and this was a milestone for netball in Brisbane.

After the construction was completed by BCC surveyors, BCC Parks discovered that courts 5 to 10 had been graded against an easement which was privately owned. Owners subsequently fenced their properties and this is why these courts have limited surrounds on their western side.

Facilities had to be built but the women found that the banks (the only lending authorities available at the time) would not lend money to women, let alone a woman’s sporting organization with few assets other than their determination and passion. However, a bank loan was finally secured by Lorraine Decker, who with her husband, John, and her parents, Nancy and Cyril Verney, stood as personal guarantors for the Association.

Fortuitously, the Queensland Government had established its first Department of Sport & Recreation and its first Director of Sport, Mr. Ron Leahy, was well known to Lorraine Decker in his former capacity as President of the Queensland Lawn Tennis Association.  Mr. Leahy became a strong supporter of the fledgling association and assisted the BNA’s initial and subsequent subsidy applications as well as regularly attending the Association’s presentation of trophy nights and other official functions with his wife.

In these days sporting associations were required to contribute equal funds to a subsidy grant and this initial state government grant and bank loan allowed the first clubhouse and two additional bitumen courts to be built.

Although the clubhouse was not a contender for an architect’s award, it was functional nevertheless and provided all the essential facilities for players and members with a compact dressing room providing toilets, wash basins and a shower for women, an external toilet/dressing room for men, two administration offices and a canteen.

Following a formal opening with a march past and team presentation, the first Winter Season Fixtures commenced on 28th April, 1973, at Bradbury Park with nine grades on 6 bitumen courts and 6 grass courts.

While permanent headquarters was cause for celebrations, members expanded their expertise as they became surveyors, court markers, landscapers, painters, concrete layers, drain cleaners, domestic cleaners and brickies’ labourers and at the same time they continued to be administrators, fundraisers, players, umpires and coaches.


A typical working bee cleaning drains