Over the 50+ years history of the Falcons Softball Club and its predecessor clubs, Ashwood Softball Club and Waverley North Softball Club, thousands of girls, women, and the occasional boy, have taken the field in pursuit of friendly, albeit competitive, recreation. The history of the club(s) has spanned the rapid development and maturity of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. The growth, then subsequent decline, in the numbers of people engaged in group recreation is evident in the following account. (Current as of 2008, recent account at bottom of page)
Girls from the Ashwood area first played softball in 1961 when a team from the Ashwood Girls Club played in the C Grade senior division of the newly formed Waverley Softball Association. The team played at Pinewood Reserve, Mt. Waverley. In 1962, this team, coached by Norma Allsopp, daughter of Arthur Allsopp, won the B Grade competition. The following year, players from the Melbourne winter competition joined the Ashwood girls to play in the first A Grade team. Members of this team included Norma Allsopp, Rita Guy, the Mallett sisters, Margaret Malone, Judy de Lacy, Margaret & Maureen Berry and Rhonda Boyd (who later represented Australia). Rita Guy coached the Ashwood Softball Club’s only A Grade premiership team in 1969/70.
In 1962, Chadstone Primary School joined the competition with a team styled “Chaddy Chimps” which was coached by Bob Flanagan. Two of the fathers who assisted with the Chadstone team were Max Scott and Les Mallett. Following a suggestion in 1965 by Ray Allsopp, Arthur Allsop’s son, the Chadstone team amalgamated with a team from Bayview Primary School. This enabled Ashwood Softball Club to field 3 teams by 1966.
Following a talk by Arthur & Ray Allsopp, Essex Heights Primary School entered a team in the competition in 1967. The team was managed by teacher Dorothy Reedijk and Joyce Houston. Arthur Allsop coached the team. The Essex Heights Club was organised by Betty and Denis Burt and, later, by Elaine Schultz.
Glen Iris Primary School adopted softball through the efforts of teachers Russell Armstrong (1970/71), then John Lynch. Mary McQuirk organised the Glen Iris Primary School team from 1973-1983 aided by Charles Shaddock, and Kim & Cathy Yarnton. Mary was highly successful both at Waverley and in inter-school sport, winning the Metropolitan competition several times. John Lynch started the Ashwood East (Camberwell) section of the club in 1982/83.
Jack Howell (Bayview Primary School), Carmel Godfrey (Solway Primary School), Chris Chugg (Ashburton Primary School) and Don Leishman (Ashwood Primary School) were others who fostered teams.
Waverley Softball Association moved its competition to Jells Park in 1971/72. During this season, Glenys Sadler (nee Brockley) coached a team from Waverley North Primary School. Some of those girls played for the Ashwood Under 14 team – the first amalgamation with Waverley North!!
The Club’s management evolved over the years to enable coordination of the numerous primary school teams comprising the club. The club managers, Leo Mallet, Max Scott, Denis Burt, Paul Doswell, Graeme Stevens and Geoff Mansfield served the club tirelessly. Their management had placed the club, which fielded 19 teams in the 1984/1985 season, in a sound financial position. The Club’s A Grade coaches, Rita Guy, Rhonda Boyd, Aubrey Kotz, Tony Bates & Barabara Bates, gave their time and talents generously to the club and many girls benefitted from their coaching. Many fine players played for Ashwood Softball Club and in representative teams for Waverley, Victoria & Australia.
Glenys Sadler was appointed as Ashwood Softball Club’s first Life member in 1977. Elaine Schultz was appointed a Life member in 1985. See the Life membership page for a more detailed account of their contribution to the club, to softball, and to the positive development of countless girls who passed through the Club.
The red, white and black colurs of the Ashwood softball Club were worn proudly by all of its members!
As a result of the Waverley North Primary School softball team winning the 1971 Waverley district schools premiership, a small group of interested parents were elected to a committee on 29 September 1971 to enter a team to play in the Waverley Softball Association competition. The committee comprised Don Eason (President), B Hopgood (Secretary), R Stewart (Treasurer), D. Bennett (Manageress). The general committee comprised Mesdames Burrows, Caddaye, Fenby, Stewart, McIntyre, Godwin, Pobjoy, Eason & Hopgood. Support for the new club came from Eric Shelley (Headmaster), Miss V. Shields (Waverley North Primary School), Peter Phillips and Dianne Barr (Syndal). The club uniform was a white tee-shirt with Waverley North Primary School colours, green knickerbockers and long white socks. The first team from Waverley North Primary School (Grade 6) played with Ashwood Softball Club in D minor 2 grade with Glenys Brockley as coach.
The first AGM for the Waverley North Softball Club was held on 15 August 1972 in the Waverley North School Library. Mrs June Godwin was elected Secretary and Mrs Dot Stevenson was elected to the committee. Both played important roles in the ensuing years. In the Club’s first full year, 1972/73, 3 Femme teams (1 in C Grade and 2 in D Grade) and 4 Pixie teams were fielded. During the season the club had its first representative players selected for Waverley Softball Association’s Pixie All Stars team: Penny Burke, Elaine Clarke, Sally Dusting & Teena Jones. The Pixie B2 team, coached by Sue Burrows and Kerry McIntyre, won the premiership.
The 1973/74 season saw a new president, Mrs Storey, elected. The Club again fielded 7 teams, 3 Femme & 4 Pixie. The senior team was the Femme C1 team, coached by Mrs Hopgood. During the season Jackie Stevenson, Elaine Clarke and Jenny Hopgood were selected to represent Waverley in its Under 14 team.
Chas Holland-King was elected President at the 1975 AGM. The Club was growing steadily, fielding 5 Femme and 7 Pixie teams for the 1975/76 season. Jackie Stevenson was selected to represent Victoria in the State Under 16 team – the Club’s first State representative.
During the 1976/77 season there was some discussion with the Burwood East Softball Club about possible amalgamation in pursuit of A Grade status. However, it did not eventuate. Jenni Godwin, Jackie Stevenson, Sharon Holland-King and Chris Gregory were selected to represent Waverley. Jackie Stevenson was again selected to represent Victoria.
The 1977/78 season is notable as the year that, after much discussion and debate, Waverley North moved from being a social club to an “A Grade” club. A Waverley North team was entered the A Grade competition for the first time. President Chas Holland-King had negotiated with Blackburn North and several senior players from that club joined Waverley North after Blackburn North withdrew from the A Grade competition. Waverley North fielded 13 teams, 6 Femme & 7 Pixie, for the season. Chas Holland-King was elected Treasurer of WSA. He was Waverley North’s first elected representative on the WSA Executive Committee.
During the year, the Club held a winter camp at Mt Evelyn for players to improve their game skills. Vicki Gwynne was appointed to coach the A Grade side and took the time into the Grand Final. At the 1979 AGM, Hayden Elliott was elected President for 1979/80 succeeding Chas Holland-King who had served 4 years as President.
Waverley North fielded 2 teams in the VSA (Melbourne) Winter Competition: Under 17 and B1 Grade. After finishing the home and away matches with 12 wins from 12 games, in which the team had scored 271 runs (!!) to 9, the team played the Flemington All Stars in the Grand Final, winning 20-0. The B1 Grade team reached the Preliminary Final, against Diamond Valley/Montmerency, which it won but was nonetheless eliminated due poorer percentage.
The 1980/81 season was one of notable departures and arrivals. Arthur Allsopp, after 6 years as the senior coach, left the club in 1980 to join his son, Ray, at Burwood East. During his time at Waverley North, Arthur had concentrated on the development of players and coaches at the junior levels. In doing so, he helped our club have unparalleled success e.g., 4 successive grand finals for 3 premierships in Pixie A and, in 1978/79, 4 premierships. Arthur’s continuing contribution to softball after his time at Waverley North is commemorated in the name of the shield awarded at the U16 Boys National Championships.
United States pitcher Pam Stone came to play one season with Waverley North. Pam had toured Australia with the San Diego Trendsetters earlier in the year and had impressed with her ability. Ian Clarkson was appointed coach of the A Grade team. Sharon Holland-King was Captain of the A Grade team and coached th A Reserve team. A new club badge was designed. Two players, Lyn Clarkson and Gill Batt were selected to play in the Australian Under 19 team. The year saw new records for representative players with 26 being selected in Victorian and Waverley Softball Association teams. Uniform materials were available for purchase at $7.00 for Femme pants and $6.50 for Femme Tops. The pattern had changed, with the top’s square neck being replaced with raglan styled sleeves and an “action back”. Following an increase if fees by Waverley Softball Association, fees were set for the season at $18.00 for Femme and U14 players and $10.00 for Pixie players. Fund raising efforts included a Dinner at $15.00 a double including food & drinks.
In 1981, Waverley North appointed Midge Nelson, an outstanding national player and coach, who was a member of the International Hall of Fame, as club coach. Sharon Holland-King was appointed coach of Waverley Under 17 representative team. She was the first Waverley North player to have the distinction of coaching a Waverley team. The team won the Victorian State title that season.
Prior to the start of the 1982/83 season, the club visited Albury for pre-season games. Four teams made the trip by bus, staying overnight in Albury. A new uniform was adopted by the senior teams.
The uniform had a white top, trimmed with the traditional club colours. The Maroon knickers were retained with green socks. The Club participated in the inaugural club championships held at Waverley on the Anzac weekend, 1983. Coach Midge Nelson was appointed assistant coach of the Australian side which visited Hong Kong. Chas Holland-King, Lena Holland-King and Dot Stevenson were elected Life Members.
The 1983/84 season saw a significant reduction in the number of girls playing softball for Waverley North. Only 10 teams were entered in the regular competition at Jells Park. The Pixie C1 team was the only team to win a premiership that season.
The Club played in the Australian Club Championships in Brisbane and finished in a creditable 4th place. Lyn Clarkson and Gill (Batt) Johnson were selected to play for Australia. Eight players represented Victoria in Open and Under Age titles. The Club’s senior coach, Midge Nelson, was elected to the International Softball Hall of Fame – an exciting recognition of her very fine record of an Australian representative player.
Season 1984/85 was another notable year. Waverley North won the A Grade Premiership! The Premiership was won against Burwood East who had beaten Waverley North on the two other occasions that Waverley North had played in the A Grade Grand Final. Seven of the girls in that winning team had played with Waverley North since Pixie or Under 14 days. Our A Reserve team had also played in the Grand Final of the Summer Cup for the second successive year.
Individually, a number of girls performed with great distinction. Lyn Clarkson & Gill Johnson visited Hong Kong with the Australian Team. Sue Stobie went to china with the Australian Under 19 team. Five Waverley North players were members of the Winning Victorian Open team and one played in the Victorian Under 19 team which also won the interstate Carnival in Canberra. Sharon (Holland-King) Stocker again coached the winning Under 17 Waverley team in the Victorian State Championships. The A Grade team also travelled to Adelaide for the National Club Championships and again finished in 4th place.
The new uniform (white top, maroon pants, with green & white trim, was used throughout all open age and Under 14 club teams. The Pixies continued to wear the traditional marron top and pants with green and white trim.
Most significantly, during the season the club committee held formal discussions with the neighbouring Ashwood Softball Club and recommended amalgamation to the
Waverley North club members at the 1985 AGM. The spirit of entering a merger as equal partners was an exciting prospect readily adopted by club members. At the same AGM, Arthur Allsopp, Sharon Stocker and Bill Gobbart were elected Life members of Waverley North.
The merger of the Ashwood and Waverley North Clubs to form Northwood Falcons proceeded smoothly. The name of the combined club was chosen to preserve elements of the names of the 2 foundation clubs, with Falcons adding colour and depicting the spirit of competition. The players of the combined club took to the diamonds wearing a new uniform in aqua, navy blue and white colours. The previously appointed life members of both clubs: Glenys Sadler and Elaine Shultz from Ashwood; Dot Stevenson, Chas and Lena Holland-King, Sharon Stocker, Arthur Allsopp and Bill Gobbart from Waverley North, were automatically named as life members of the new club.
In The Northwood falcons first year, 12 teams made the finals with 4 playing in the Grand Finals. An Under 14 team won the combined Club’s first premiership. During Easter 1986, the Club sent a team of A and A Reserve players to compete in the Australian Club Championships in Brisbane. The team performed very well finishing 4th against the top club teams from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Lucy Casarez, an American pitcher playing with the Falcons that season, was named as MVP for that competition.In 1989 Northwood Falcons was one of 4 Victorian teams to be invited to join the newly formed national fast pitch competition and successfully competed until the competitions demise, which was due to excessive costs and continual travelling. In 1990, after participating for 6 years, we won the National Club Championships.
Six teams reached the finals at the end of the 1997/98 season: Pixie B, Under 13A Reserve, C Grade, A Reserve, A Grade & Monash League. The first four of these teams played in the Grand Finals with the Pixie B and Under 13A Reserve teams achieving success. The President’s Report presented at the 1998 AGM cited numerous club people for their dedicated efforts throughout the season. However, the perennial problem of having people show for umpiring duties was the only negative for what was an otherwise enjoyable season.
Season 2002/2003 was a disappointing one for Falcons! Nine teams took to the diamonds for the season, with only 4 reaching the finals. The “bright spot” was that it was 4 junior teams who had fared well which bode well for the coming season(s). Three teams reached the Grand Finals: Secondary Division 1, Secondary Division 2 White and Primary A. However, only Secondary Division 2 White, coached by Sarah Logan & Nickie Marchionna (right) took the prize.Falcons President, Brian Cook, retired at the 2003 AGM after 14 years association with the club. In his report to the AGM, Club Coach Jesse Stocker, although disappointed with the season’s outcome praised his team of coaches for “holding the line”. He commented that the lack of assistant coaches for the A & A Reserve teams, in particular, contributed to the poor showing for those teams. He also praised the efforts of 2 players in particular, Laura Vitis and Chantelle Rocks, who played 47 and 40 games, respectively, for Falcons and noted that they also played numerous games for Waverley and for Victoria, possibly playing 70 games each in total!
Prior to the start of the 2004/2005 season, former Australian player Kellie Loughman was appointed club coach and charged with the role of implementing and managing the program to develop all players. Kellie was also appointed coach of the A Reserve team. The committee also advertised for a volunteer to refresh the Club’s website in an attempt to attract more people to join the club. Dan Cerchi took up the challenge.
The club fielded only 8 teams in the Waverley Softball Association competition: A Grade [photo], A Reserve, B Reserve [photo], C Grade [photo], Secondary Division 1 [photo], Secondary Division 2 [photo], Primary A [photo] & Primary B [photo]. Many club members played in 2, or more, teams. The A Grade team, supplemented by members of the A Reserve team, also played in the Ausport Classic competition. Falcons played strongly throughout the latter competition. The team also played an exhibition match against a visiting Japanese U19 Women’s team, losing by a narrow margin. In a tense showdown with keen rivals Eastern Raiders, Falcons won the Ausport Classic Grand Final when Sarah Hutchinson hit a sensational grand slam home run. Five Falcons representatives were subsequently named in the Ausport Classic Allstars team: Jesse Stocker (Coach), Amy Borbiro, Sarah Cerchi, Shelley Gwynne & Sarah Hutchinson. Shelley was also named as MVP of the All Stars team. Jesse, Sarah C. & Sarah H. were each presented with a certificate recognising their achievement at the annual Softball Victoria State Dinner [photo].
The 2005 AGM recognised Jesse Stocker’s very long association with the Club and his outstanding contributions in many ways to its success by appointing him as a Life member. The AGM also brought the change of several key positions on the committee for season 2005/06. Brian Waters, who had been both President (acting) and Secretary for several years, retired and was replaced as President by Rod Johns and as secretary by Selima Camara. Mid-season, however, Selima moved overseas and was replaced as Secretary by Dianne Otter and as Newsletter Editor by Lauren West. Lena Holland-King retired as registrar and was replaced by Sally Brincat. Grant Caldwell became Treasurer (again) replacing Sarah Logan who had joined the Victoria Police.Within the Waverley Softball Association competition, 6 Falcons teams (A Grade, A Reserve, C Grade, Secondary Div. 1, Primary A [photo] & Primary B [photo]) played in grand finals. Despite the valiant efforts of each of the teams, only A Reserve won a premiership. On a broader field, the club fielded 35 representative players for Australian, Victorian & Association teams. The club also fielded numerous coaches, managers & other staff for those teams. Three Falcons players played even further afield, for teams in Florida (Stacey Ward & Sarah Tutchener) & Italy (Shelley Gwynne).
In the lead-up to season 2005/06, the new committee worked energetically to invigorate the club. For the first time in several years, a T-Ball team was added to the Falcons playing list. The new team, after a shaky start with numbers initially supplemented from Primary B and other T-Ball teams, was able to field a full team in its own right. This was due to the recruiting efforts, particularly, of the Curcio & Passarelli families. Falcons fielded 9 teams in the Waverley Softball Association competition for season 2005/06: A Grade [photo], A Reserve, B Reserve [photo], C Grade, Secondary Division 1, Secondary Division 2 [photo], Primary A, Primary B [photo] & T-Ball [photo]. Falcons A Grade team also played in the Ausport Classic.
During the season, Chloe Fagan was selected to play with the Australian Under 19 team, “Aussie Pride”, which played in the Softball Australia Grand Prix series. Amy Borbiro & Sarah Tutchener were selected in the Australian University team, representing Australia at the Second World University Games played in Taiwan during July. The strength of the Club was also recognised by the number of players selected to represent Victoria (VSA, VIS and Primary and Secondary Schoolgirls) and Waverley Softball Association. Jesse Stocker again coached the Victorian U16 team and was Assistant Coach of the VIS for 2 rounds of the Grand Prix series. Sharni Arthur again coached the Victorian Secondary Schools team. The strength of the club on the diamonds was evident, with most of our teams sitting at, or near the top, of
their respective ladders throughout the season. Seven of our teams reached the top 4 of their respective grades at the end of the season. Five Falcons teams played in Grand Finals: A Grade, A Reserve, B Reserve, Secondary Div. 2, Primary B (Plate). A Reserve, B Reserve and Primary B each won their Grand Finals. For the A Reserve team, the win was the second in as many years.
At presentation ceremonies held during Grand Final day, 2 young Falcons players took major awards for their consistent performances throughout the season. Anita Marchionna (left) received the Charles Holland-King Secondary Div. 1 MVP from Chas Holland-King. Melissa Lindsay received the Arthur Allsopp Memorial Award (Secondary Div. 2 MVP) from Norma Allsopp. Chas and Norma have both had long associations with the Club as well as with Waverley Softball Association.
After the dust had settled, Jesse Stocker announced his retirement as A Grade coach. Georgie Taylor also retired after 26 years on the diamonds as a player and as a coach. A Grade player, Sharni Arthur who had also coached 2 teams for several seasons also retired. Each will be missed greatly.
The 2006 AGM again saw several positions on the committee change. The committee lost 2 club stalwarts in Terry Rocks & George Vitis who had been active fund raisers for the club for several years. Dianne Otter became Secretary (minutes), assisted by Nickie Marchionna who was responsible for communications. Rob McIntosh took on the role of publishing The Falcon Flyer newsletter. Paula McGovern, a former Falcon, was welcomed back into the fold as coach of the A Grade team.
The start of the 2006/07 season was positive with more players arriving than departing. The Club was able to field teams in each of the grades, including T Ball, in which it had fielded teams the previous season.
The 2006/07 season ended on a high. Four teams played in Grand Finals for their respective premierships: A Grade, A Reserve, B Reserve & Secondary Division 1. Secondary Division 1 led the way for the day defeating Syndal. Next up were A Reserve & B Reserve. A Reserve won their third premiership in succession, defeating Glen Heights, whilst B Reserve were unable to repeat last year’s win, succumbing to Glen Waverley. Finally, A Grade won their final against Brandon Park, reversing the result of the previous year.
- Falcons continue to have Waverley and Victorian representatives throughout the years.
2010-11- Open 4 finally put everything in place and take out the shield, after some grand final hiccups the many years previous.
- Dale Stocker takes out the Peta Edabone award for Most Valuable Player in the Open 1 (A-Grade) competition 3 years running.
- In 2013 the Falcons turned 50! To celebrate the club held an event inviting all former players, coaches and personnel from Ashwood, Waverley North and Northwood Softball Clubs. The event proved to be the biggest in the club history and an amazing night was had by all. Guest speakers included Elaine Shultz, Glenys Sadler, Bill Gobbart, Chas Holland-King, Brain Cook, Jesse and Sharon Stocker, Rhonda Boyd and Rita Guy. Our Aussie reps were acknowledged and presented with gifts. Click [here] to read more about the night, and [here] to see more photos.
- 2012-13 season would see the retirement of Rod Johns from President, after 8 years at the helm. Geoff Norden and Cassie Liddy stepped up as Co-Presidents, Michelle Clyne took on the secretary position and Sarah Logan re-gained her Treasurer position.
- It was in sad news that in 2013 we lost two great stalwarts of the club
and the game- Bill Gobbart and Elaine Shultz. Both pivotal members in getting the club to where it is today, and they are, for some, the reason why we still play to this day. Our thoughts go out to friends and families of both Bill and Elaine.
- Falcons moved in to the 21st century with the implementation of Facebook and Twitter pages. As well as an iPhone and Android app that keeps everyone in touch with what’s happening around the club. The website and newsletter still prove popular with Lauren West and Ruth Caldwell taking on the responsibilities respectively. The club also gets re branded with a new logo designed by Erin Dunstan. New hats, jackets, training tops and hoodies become available.
- Open 3 (B Reserve) win 4 Grand Finals in a row, (and make it 5 from 6 years!)
- Despite player numbers being down, and losing our Division 1 and Division 2 junior
teams in 2013-14, we continue to field a Primary B team thanks to the recruiting efforts of Geoff and Nicci Norden.
- 2014 saw the very first Falcons Masters team consisting of members from Open 3 and 4. They debuted in D grade but unfortunately even with some great wins (5-0 & 17-1), the weather got the better of the weekend and they came 5th.