Wales Netball wishes Newport Netball Club which was formerly known as Newport Athletic Club, a very happy birthday as it celebrates its 50th year since its formation in 1966. Members, old and new, celebrated their milestone at a recent Celebration Dinner at Rodney Parade, where the Club started. The Club has over a hundred players with both Adult and Junior sections, and owns a rich history of netball growth and success.
The Club members are proud of their team achievements over the years, including overseas netball tours; league reigning champions and national success and many players have represented South East Wales (previously Gwent) and Wales. However, the Club’s fun and social ethos is also important. Former Head Coach Marilyn Bryan-Jones claims that this is why the Club has been so successful and popular across five decades.
“The reason why Newport has achieved this milestone is because there have always been committed individuals within the Club, who have worked hard to inspire and motivate future generations,” says Marilyn, who joined the Club over thirty six years ago.
“There has always been an ethos of teamwork which has served to keep the Club in existence.”
The Club has developed considerably since Marilyn joined: The Club now has an Adult Section and a Junior Section which includes U11, U13 and U15 teams. Marilyn now coaches the U13 and U15 teams. The junior side didn’t exist thirty six years ago. Marilyn has been fortunate enough to have coached over a hundred county players and over twenty Welsh internationals at senior and age group level.
Newport Netball Club boasted some high profile international netball players. In particular, Marilyn played alongside Les Owen, Sandra Connolly (nee Oakley), Andrea Madeley and Gail Allen. Glenda Riley and Jean Starr also had an enormous impact in the early years as well as Stephanie Hazlehurst in the latter years.
“The presence of these role models has had a huge impact on the Club as a whole,” says Marilyn.
“This reflected in the Club’s performance – we remained in the top position in the Newport and District Netball League, which is now known as The South East Wales Netball Association, for over two decades.”
The Club was also successful on a national level by winning the annual Welsh Inter-Clubs netball tournament on many occasions which resulted in being the top Club in Wales. For a few years this resulted in Newport Netball Club representing Wales in the ‘Butter Cup’ competing against the top Club in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Marilyn explains how the game as well as the Club has changed since she first got involved:
“After we left Rodney Parade we tried to ensure that we had first class training facilities to accommodate our growing number of players. Our new home is now at the new Llanwern High School.
“The game has become much more competitive and quicker and the use of the whistle has been significantly reduced. “The line between contest for the ball and contact is also a lot finer.”
“The central venue for the league has provided high quality facilities and the opportunity for good, consistent netball. So the youngsters of today will not have the pleasure of travelling to different places within South East Wales or playing outdoors in very cold conditions!
“I have seen the profile of the Club change and as a result the social aspect is now very different.
“It is my Netball Family and a really wonderful Club, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Back Row (Left to right)
Jenny Lloyd, Kay Morris, Barbara Beese, Margaret Evans
Wendy Redding, Lynne John, Gillian Travers
Back row, second in from right: Marilyn Bryan-Jones