Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Reminiscin­g about her playing days

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Ann Calnon was a regular on the netball court in her younger years.

She played in and around Melbourne, Bendigo and Echuca and was a member of the 1963 Victorian Tourers side.

She was forced to stop playing when she moved to Deniliquin with husband Barry in 1969, purely because there was no team.

But within a few years, Calnon was back on the courts after a group of local women forged what would become the Deniliquin Netball Associatio­n.

Ann joined the year after the DNA was establishe­d, and slotted right back in to her specialty role.

‘‘I was always very much a defender,’’ she said.

‘‘I was always goal defence or keeper, but if needed I could play wing defence too.

‘‘I started out with the Deniliquin Netball Associatio­n just as a player, and I played for quite a few years.

‘‘I then went on to umpire, and I was doing that right up until some time in the 1990s.

‘‘And I only stopped then because our sons were playing sports in Melbourne while at uni, and we thought we would like to go and watch them on weekends.

‘‘But then of course that didn’t really happen because we were so busy in the shop.’’

The shop, Deniliquin Showcase Jewellers, was another way the Calnons showed their support to DNA, as long time sponsors.

Calnon said she was a member of several different teams during her playing career with DNA, but played with the same people all the way through.

Because of the social aspect of the sport, that meant forging lasting friendship­s.

‘‘I played with the likes of Judy Barry, Lyn Sawtell, Val Keech, Francie Graham,

Rhonda Grant, and Marie Drennan and Eileen Edwards played with us at one stage too.

‘‘A lot of high school teachers would also play in my team.

‘‘I remember at one stage we were Blue & Gold, and Celtics, but we went under many different names.’’

While the overarchin­g rules of netball remain the same from when Calnon and her teammates played, Calnon said the sport seems so much different today.

‘‘It seems to be a lot rougher (now),’’ she said.

‘‘If we would bang in to each other, the game would be stopped.

‘‘I remember when June Laing would umpire, all she would have to say was ‘Ann, you know you can’t do that’.

‘‘It is still a good game though, and I would like to see more people getting involved.’’

Calnon said she remembers the days when there were scores of netball teams across all grades, which she said made for an exciting season.

She said the rise of netball competitio­ns within the Murray and Picola Netball Leagues saw numbers trickle away from the DNA competitio­n.

But she would love to see a resurgence. ‘‘I was only saying to Marie (Drennan) that I was sad I could not do more to help,’’ Calnon said.

‘‘At one stage we had 75 teams playing in the DNA, everything from the modified minis to seniors.

‘‘The netball was certainly not as intensive at the football clubs as it is today.

‘‘I forged a lot of great friendship­s from being involved in netball, so it has a great social aspect too.’’

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