This club history in brief form was extracted from the Secretaries' Annual Reports. Some secretaries were brief, others were not so. The year by year extracts therefore vary in content but give a picture of the Club's history .
Club membership in its first year – 107 men, 33 ladies, 20 officials. Feeling its
way, yet under the control of some experienced and enthusiastic officials, the club
competed at home and away with great keeness.
Winter training was held at the High School gym on Wednesday nights, while Saturday morning competition was also conducted. Ties with Sydney's Western Suburbs Club were established by a very successful summer training camp held at Huskisson. The first Nowra open meet was held at Nowra Showground.
A dramatic drop in membership – 57 men, 14 ladies and 14 officials. Bad weather caused many events on the 'home front' and away to be cancelled. Notwithstanding the club conducted its first ever State Championship – the road relays – and managed to send a successful group of athletes to the NSW Country Championships plus conducting another open meet.
Membership up a little – 80 men, 18 ladies, 16 officials. State Road Relay Championships were conducted again and yet another successful open meet in which Australia's best athletes competed. A Commonwealth High Jump Record was set by Michele Mason. World 880 yards record holder, Dixie Willis competed. So did Peter Vasella, David Prince, Bob Lay, Gary Knoke – all Australian representatives. Club and South Coast events continued with varied success in a generally mediocre year.
Membership still constant with the usual falling away of numbers towards the end of the season. For the third consecutive year the State Road Relays were hosted by Nowra, drawing praise from visiting athletes and officials. The courses were changed at the last moment due to floods affecting the original course. Nowra High School was the venue for all these State Road Titles. The Club's fourth Open Meet, was again very successful and the Club had its first State Champion – High Jumper, Sandra Rutledge. Her record was only broken in 1980. A senior male athlete, Bill Brookes, also featured by being selected to represent the State in the National Track and Field Championships in Melbourne. Bill was a long and triple jumper. This was the year the Club's founder and dynamo, Frank McCaffrey, left Nowra.
With new secretary, Wal Spinner and a group of new organisers taking over the Club following the departure of Frank McCaffrey (a hard act to follow), a slump in membership was the feature of the year. The usual Club events continued and the ever faithful helpers and competitors battled on. Even in a very quiet year Nowra could boast two Country Champions – Arnold Bowden and Graeme Thompson in Cross Country events.
Rod Gibb as Secretary for this year reported keeness of athletes. This was still very pleasing though numbers were down. The club was able to compete locally and away and still managed to bring home some South Coast titles.
Attendance was on the up again from athletes, was down from officials, but still the local events catering for the youth of the district were kept going and the faithful band of helpers were rewarded by a renewed keeness from competitors. The upsurge in interest saw another 'big' event. Though not a State title, the first King of the Mountain race, a 20 miler, from Nowra to Kangaroo Valley (the back roads) was held and was won by Olympian Dave Power. Another departure from Club activities by an 'original' and wonderful worker, Mrs MacMillan, ended the year somewhat sadly because through illness 'Mrs Mac' could not help as she had done. Mrs Macmillan fittingly was the Club's first life member.
A wet start to the track season did not deter competitors who came in ever increasing numbers. The Club got back into the 'big time' by conducting the South Coast Championships at the Showground thus ending a period where it had kept to itself simply providing athletics on the local scene.
Problems in organisation caused by ever increasing attendance was of some concern, but this was outweighed by eager competitors on the local scene and the success of the club at the South Coast Championships. Brilliant individual performances by all rounders Leslie Elliot in womens events and Les Bryant in mens events were highlights of the local scene. Paul Manuel was a Country Champion who gave the Club its first 'fame' outside the South Coast for some years.
The usual drop off of attendance after Christmas and Club finances were the only causes for concern in another year of increased attendance, local enthusiasm, South Coast and State level competition. Though the success away from local competition was nil the gold and black colours of the Nowra teams were seen at the South Coast, Country and State Track Championships and Cross Country events.
Still they come! More members and more success. Lack of senior athletes was the only problem but the youngsters made up for it. Nowra travels away too with great spirit and camaraderie. South Coast, Country and State Championships and Invitation Meets in Cowra all see the black and gold, and a big Open Meet, though threatened by rain goes off with a bang and gains plaudits from all visitors.
Still the numbers are up and all phases of winter and summer athletics are given good support. Some trends develop in the 'fall off' syndrome that occurs from time to time. The club introduced some modified orienteering into its winter programme but it was hard to organise although keenly contested by Club members and Naval College athletes. Some problems with not enough time being available to coach and conduct all the various track events arose but generally 1972 was another good year.
This season was described by Secretary, Kevyn Davis, as 'ordinary'. The winter events seemed to be more popular while the 'drop off' continued in track events. Though the numbers were down the Pointscore and Club Championship events were very keenly contested. The away side of Club life fell away and there was very little support of events outside the local Club events.
The Shoalhaven District's first "Fun Run" (the Circular 7), a great winter season including a win in the McCaffrey Challenge and a mediocre summer season is the nutshell version of this year. Problems from lack of officials was also noted by club Secretary Kev Davis, but the local enthusiasm was still very evident and the smaller band of workers kept on with their task of providing the sport of Athletics for the Shoalhaven.
Back in the big time with the State Road Relay Titles, the second King of the Mountain and the second Circular 7 showed a shift in emphasis to distance events. The club held on to the McCaffrey Challenge Shield in its local winter events while a new pointscore concept was the feature of the summer season which catered for another large increase in members. Another State Champion and a National champion. Lise Thompson was NSW Junior Champion over 800 and 1500 while Alan Hughes won the National Schools High Jump title.
A new Secretary, Steve Shaw, was the Club's fifth Secretary since the Club was formed and he noted in his report that there was another big increase in interest for winter running, more entries in fun runs, more in Branch, Country and State events and our athletes were picked in State Teams.
Still bigger and better things for the Club as it reached 19 years of age. Hosting a State Marathon, another King of the Mountain were highlights of a busy winter season. The Circular 7, now established as a good fun run to come to. On the track, Branch and Country Championships saw many Nowra athletes excel. The Club had another National Champion. Alan Ozolins was the schools 400 and 800 Champion. More of our athletes gained selection in State Teams.
The Club's 21st year saw the first woman Secretary, Mrs Annette Hodge, elected.
We plunged into another great year in which we become the biggest country Club in New South Wales. A record King of the Mountain run by Rob McDonald – 1 hour 51 minutes 12 seconds for 20 very tough miles! Another great Circular 7 won by a regular visitor and friend of the Club – Wayne Brennan.
Hosts to the State Road Relay Titles for the fifth time in the Club's history. Winter season attracted over 100 runners on eight separate weeks for cross country competition, 69 being the lowest attendance all season. Rod Gibb manages the State team to the National Cross Country Titles. The Naval College wins back the McCaffrey Challenge after six years in the wilderness. Sandra Ellis wins medals at the 'Transplant' Olympics in the USA.
A big track and field season got under was with a huge pointscore competition. The 'fall off' syndrome again with marked declines in away representation. Alan Ozolins was National Schools 400 and 800 Champion again and his record at State and National level made us all very proud of him. The Club's officials took a stop to ease the strain of work as the 21st year of the Club drew to a close. They held back to start of cross country season for a month. For years it has been fulltime athletics year round.
Rod Gibb handed over the reins to new Club President, Steve Shaw, as the Cross Country season again attracted big numbers; over 100 for the first time in the Club's history. The Naval College retained the McCaffrey Shield, the Circular 7 fun run was won in record time of 34.51 by Wayne Brennan. Track and Field numbers were up as well, though official numbers were down. Alan Ozolins continued to shine at State level in 400 and 800 while Alfred Trindall and Robert Sachett 'assisted' Alan in various relays at State and intra State matches. The Club's 21st birthday present from Shoalhaven City Council – a gear shed – was much appreciated by the equipment handlers.
Cross Country got under way in what turned out to be a wet season – real Cross Country weather. It was noted that more Mums and Dads were starting to run with their children thus swelling the numbers. Our athletes represented in South Coast teams for State Winter Championships. Rod Gibb continued to manage State teams to National Titles and assist as 'higher levels' as a State Selector. The Circular 7 was again successful with the Club phasing out of organisation in favour of the Apex Club of Nowra. The McCaffrey Shield was retained as the summer season commenced with seniors being prominent again. Rain interrupted several nights of the summer pointscore but performances were of high standard and this followed through to Country Championships where 72 medals were won by a big Nowra contingent. Alan Ozolins, now in senior level, performed well at State and National Championships. Steve Shaw was appointed to team managerial duties for State teams to add to our admin success.
Nowra's 25th year, an Olympic year, saw everything get bigger and better. More winter runners, a new concept of Club Relays on a day set aside for fun and team running. The McCaffrey Shield stays with Nowra and family participation continues to grow. The summer season overshadowed the winter by vast numbers of quality performances, State Championship and National qualifiers and a National Championship. Alan Ozolins won the State 400-800 and, in the opinion of many, repeated the effort in the Nationals in Canberra. Records show he was pipped in the 400 but it took an hour to decipher the photo. His win in the 800 was clear! What a thrill for us all.
The winter strength continued and the upsurge in winter competition over recent years was responsible for many Club members representing their various schools at District, Zone, Regional and State levels in the Schools' competition. The second staging of the Club Relays proved more popular while the McCaffrey Shield stayed home. The Circular 7 continued to feature great support from Club members. Track and Field commenced in September and continued with great performances at home and overseas. Alan Ozolins, now an international, ventured overseas to tune up for the World Cup to be held in Australia and trials for the 1986 Commonwealth Games. He made the World Cup team competing for Oceania in the 4x400 relay but missed Commonwealth Games selection by a tiny margin. On the way to these feats he again won the State 800 and defended his National Title successfully. Another young start began shining in the NSW Titles – Paul Greene won the under 14 Long Jump and placed second in the 400 metres. Nowra's veterans also began to shine brighter than other seasons and State and National Titles came their way. John MacHugh, a thrower, was the National Title winner. Steve Shaw and Rod Gibb continued their State Team managing duties while a group of promising juniors attended the State coaching camps.
Bigger, bigger, bigger – Club membership increased, athletes performed amazing feats at Schools, State and National Championships and Open State and Nationals in this year when Athletics NSW celebrated a hundred years of existence. The usual Highlights continued to burn brightly in the winter season. Club Relays, McCaffrey Challenge, Schools Cross Country and State Road Relays hosted again by the Club for the 6th time. Track and Field likewise provided great success prompting Club Secretary, Jan Gibb, to salute the great effort of Club coaches Andy Ozolins and Pat Greene in her Annual Report. The Nowra Track and Field squad were doing great things. Paul Greene took out the Australian All Schools under 15, 400 title among many other State and National top performances. Dean Seager, Tracey Gibb, Karen Schreiber, Heather Ogier were worthy medallists. Branch Relays and Championships, Country Championships also produced great results. Veterans also continued to be noticed. Rod Gibb was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Australian Schools and Open Track and Field Titles thus his local input for this year was less than normal but he was heard to crow about Nowra's athletes on his regular trips to Sydney.
Cross Country really big these days. 4 different courses to run on, good handicapping and family participation a feature. McCaffrey Shield, Club Relays, State Road Relays and good schools performances at Cross Country. A wet start to Track and Field but a big pointscore competition still held. Huge representation and success at Schools, Country and Open Track and Field events. Greene, Ozolins, Schreiber, Tan Dixon, Seager, Abbott, Jones, Maher, Condon, Bennett were names to star at State and National level from all age groups through to Veteran. Rod Gibb was appointed Manager of the Australian Cross Country Team for the World Championships.
Cross Country season a little quieter than usual but plenty of action at home. Those who went away did well. Rod Gibb added Anzac Marathon Management to his Team managing jobs and was also away a lot. Nowra distance runners were starting to take an interest in the City to Surf with some good results. Pat Maher placing second in her Veterans age group among the thousands that took part. In subsequent years Pat won her age group several times. Track and Field started as usual with pointscore in the Pacific Schools Games year. The venue was Sydney and Karen Schreiber, Tracey Gibb, Robert Tan and Paul Greene were in the team. Robert took out the 200-400 double in his age groups. Paul went one better and added the 100 to make a treble in his age group. Success followed in Country, State and Australian Championships. This young squad of athletes continued to shine.
The club is thirty years old and John Morris takes over as Club President. The winter season picked up from last with success at State Road Relays by our young brigade. Our runners also continued to support the City to Surf, Anzac Marathon and Southern Half Marathon. Rod Gibb is appointed an Australian Selector and to the Australian Running Commission. The Track season began and it was realised this is Commonwealth Games year. The season was very wet and the Showground was unusable for some time. We moved to Bomaderry Sporting Complex for a while later in the season but before this the usual great performances at all levels were recorded. Nowra Athletics won State Relay Titles for the first time as Club Teams. Under 16 men and Under 18 women were the champions. Our people were also involved in the Commonwealth Games Trials and International meets. Rod Gibb was Ground Manager for these two meets and Jan Gibb was in the admin office. Through all these lead up meets the question arose "would Paul Greene be good enough to make the Commonwealth Games Team amid controversy about team numbers?" - He was! And he made the 200 metres final – you beauty!
The winter season again proved to be very well supported, the weekly turn out of families exceeded 100 each week of the Pointscore. The Club Relays again were very successful and members represented their various schools with great success. With 7 State Road relays, 2 marathons and 1, 25 kilometre State Title behind it, the Club hosted its first State Cross Country Title at the Headquarters Course at Cambewarra. Nowra's success in the City to Surf continued with Bill Broughton and son Bill taking out the Father and Son section while the Aitken, Cush and Richardson families placed in their various categories. Pat Maher won her category, the first of several wins. Linda Jones won the Australian Veterans 10 kilometre Cross Country Championship. The Track season was highlighted again by brilliant performances and good weather for the summer pointscore. Club members represented their schools at State and National level. Paul Greene brought home 5 gold medals from the Australian Championships in Hobart in his final school year. His performance later in winning the Australian Open 400 metres Championship in Sydney was witnessed by many club members who got a great thrill from this amazing run which was our highlight for the year of highlights.
The winter season was as usual busy and full of great performances by athletes and officials too. Apart from the highlights which have become usual the Club added to its list of achievements with the staging of the Australian Cross Country Championships at Jan and Rod Gibb's Willandra property. A first for the Club and the first time these Championships had been held outside a capital city and on private property. The Barcelona Olympics seemed to be the motivation for the Track and Field season with 43 more records broken. 46 Country medals won, State and National representation achieved by a cross section of athletes in a cross section of events including Steeplechase! Julian Wicks and Tamlyn Mathiske won Australian Schools Championships in Perth over 3000 metres. What a double! At the end of the athletic year Club membership was at record levels.
The Club secretary reported that membership of the Club was over 360 making it the largest in New South Wales. But where were the High School age athletes in this number? This caused some concern for the future of the sport. Veterans and youngsters were in abundance, teenagers too few. However those few high schoolers who were active achieved great things. Tamlyn Mathiske was selected in the Australian Junior Cross Country squad. While Katie Choice and Mitchell Hudson took out the State Cross Country Titles on their home course at Willandra so did Pat Maher in the Veterans category. Track and Field also featured State performances from all age groups through to Veterans. John Morris and Larry Wicks were involved at State level in Team administration. We sadly lost two faithful Club members during the year. Mrs Lillian McMillan, our first Life Member, was one of the originals who worked so hard for the Club in the early days. She was an honoured guest at many of our presentation nights until ill health prevented this. Steve Shaw died suddenly at a young age. Steve was Club Secretary, President, Branch President, Team Manager and a keen competitor. He packed a lot into a short life.
Winter featured the Australian Cross Country Championships for the second time at Willandra. Huge numbers again came to the Winter Pointscore events and the usual great things happened as they seem to have been happening the last few winters. Track and Field standard was also the usual high. 32 records were broken in the summer pointscore nights at Nowra Showground. All age groups again featured at State and National level. Larry Wicks as Team physio looked after Australian teams in Japan and at World Cross Country. Paul Greene headed to Western Australia to train for the Olympics in Atlanta. While many of our youngsters 'grew up' enough to leave to work or study away from Nowra. They were missed.
This year the Club became the biggest in Australia. The things done in organisation of the sport for all the family attracted the big numbers of competitors. The Club Secretary in her Annual Report, congratulated all those whose participation in winter and summer competition, State events, as competitors and officials, International events, was the reason the Club has achieved its lofty status in Australian Athletics. The winter competition attracted an all time number of competitors and featured the greatest success at State level. In all, 8 State gold medals were won by individuals and relay teams from under 12 to Veteran, plus 7 silver or bronze medals. By contrast with the winter season the Track season experienced a decrease in numbers. However, as usual, the Country Championships produced great performances as did the Moove Games State Relays. Julien Wicks in his last race as a Nowra Athlete took out the State under 18 Steeplechase title event after a spectacular fall at the water jump. He will continue his education and running in Canberra.
The winter season was its usual big affair. Club membership nearly reached the 500 mark. In a briefer report than usual the Club Secretary highlighted Paul Greene's selection for 400 and 4 x 400 Relay at the Atlanta Olympics. Nowra officials were involved in the World Junior Championships held in Sydney. Rod and Jan Gibb, Andrew Ketteridge, Andrew Johnston, Leigh Johnstone, Larry Wicks and John Morris all put in some long hours to help with this event. Several long standing Club records were broken by future champions Naomi Berry and Tara Jones. As the Track season ended the Club said farewell to the Nowra Showground track which had been our home for 37 years. Next season the Track and Field athletes were to move to Shoalhaven High School where a top class grass track has been constructed with blood, toil, sweat, tears and finance from the Department of Sport and Recreation, Shoalhaven City Council and the two local Athletic Clubs.
Winter numbers were huge again and thanks was expressed to all those officials who set up the four Cross Country courses and made the weekly events happen. Track and Field sadly continued its decline due partly to bad weather and partly to change of Track competition day. Notwithstanding, Erin Meally, Tara Jones, Naomi Berry, Lennon Wicks achieved State and National representation while Cathy McCallum and Peter Dooley achieved great performances at Australian masters level.
Winter again was great. We continue to conduct State Cross Country events uninterrupted now for 10 years. Club members achieve greatness again. Heather Turland – Commonwealth Gold in Marathon, Lennon Wicks – Australian Team in World Cross Country in Ireland, Naomi Berry – Australian Champion again in Schools, Cross Country and Track. Veterans through to under 12 won several State Relay and individual Titles again. 45+ Women were NSW Winter Competition Champions. Track and Field numbers still cause the Club Committee some problems and plans are made to try something different in 1999-2000 with installation of lights on the Track. Hopes are high for a better forthcoming season. Australian titles came our way through the Ulladulla connection of Lauren Johnston and Scott Richardson.
The winter of 1999 was, as usual, full on. Success at State level Cross Country, Relays and Road Championships was enjoyed by all age groups. City to Surf results were again great – Neville Markham won his age division, Jill and Glenys Smith in Mother and Daughter section brought us fame, themselves too. Other Club Families gained Silver or Bronze. Country Track Championships were well supported and performances were great. Lauren Johnston won 2 silvers in the Australian Under 16 Championships. Scott Richardson took gold in Under 20 100m! Scott was named Captain of the NSW Team for the Pacific Schools Games to be held in Sydney in May 2000. Also in the Team are Chris McDonald, Emma and Aleesha Cooke, Lauren Johnston and Naomi Berry. Christine Suffolk was again Australian Champion over 5000 metres at the Multiple Disability Games. The Sydney Olympics are coming! Larry Wicks, John Morris and Andrew Johnstone have jobs to do at the Games – what a great experience that will be!