top of page

Geelong Times Article: Geelong Central Netball Association Celebrates 100 Years.

From gravel courts to state champions, Geelong Central Netball Association celebrates a century of achievements!

100-YEARS-OF-NETBALL-Geelong-Central-Netball-AssociationGeelong Times article, Friday 15 March 2024, page 17
Geelong Times article, 10 May 2024

Geelong Central Netball Association will mark its 100th year in October with a celebration for the ages set to be held at Provenance Wines in Fyansford.

The venue is fitting given the association’s origins; starting in the 1920s when women’s basketball was played at the woollen mills, offering an opportunity for exercise and social engagement, particularly for the English women brought out to use the machines. Mill managers drew courts on the ground and games were played mainly at lunchtime.

By the 1930s, more and more girls were wanting to play, and two gravel courts were laid at Kardinia Park, on land previously occupied by a zoo and lily ponds.

In the 1950s, more courts were laid at Kardinia Park in the current location and summer basketball was introduced due to its popularity.

In 1958, the first court lights were installed to allow night games.

“The cost was 300 pounds, and the funds were raised in 12 months from street stalls, rummage sales and a garden party,” Geelong Central Netball Association secretary Liz Coles said.

In 1960, Geelong Unity was chosen as the only Country Association to host the visiting New Zealand team. “They played against three Geelong teams and were taken for a bus trip to Queenscliffe, then back to City Hall for a reception with the mayor,” Ms Coles said.

“They were also the first Country team to be invited to play in the Victorian Women’s Basketball Association in Melbourne, with our girls now being selected in State and State touring sides.”

One of these players from the 1960s, Ellen O’Shannessy, ended up as vice-captain then captain of the Australian team.

“Ellen grew up in Colac and moved to Geelong to attend Teachers College,” Ms Coles said.

“Having lost a bit of enthusiasm, she had decided to give the game away until Holly Carew, association legend who will celebrate her 100th birthday this year, tapped her on the shoulder in a shop in Geelong and said she was too good to stop playing.”

Ms Carew contacted Lionel Foster from the East Rovers Club and Ellen was soon back on the courts at Kardinia Park.

“Ellen was a very quick and skilful Centre,” Ms Coles said.

“She was a member of the Victorian State Team, captaining the team in 1966 and 1968. She was also selected in the Australian team as vice-captain in 1966 and 1967, and as captain in 1968 and 1969 but retired before the 1969 season began.

“Ellen has always loved helping out with junior players and is still involved at Cobden to this day.”

Today, the Geelong Central Netball Association offers programs and competitions for NetSetGo, minis, juniors, boys U12s and U14s, seniors, mixed, walking netball and all abilities, with more than 400 registered players all still based at Kardinia Park.

A “Save The Date” and further details of the official 100 Year Celebration will be announced via the association’s social media channels over the coming months.

Those keen to attend should mark October 13 at Provenance Wines in their diaries.

Attendees can expect an afternoon filled with history, stories and memorabilia plus an exciting panel of speakers.

For more information or to be added to the invite list, or if to share any memorabilia or stories in the lead-up to the event, get in touch at


Repost: Geelong Times, 10 May 2024

Geelong Central Netball Association Umpire Coordinator Cathie Jennings



bottom of page