“Go Hunters”: this book celebrates the Centenary History of Glenhuntly Athletic Club: 1921 – 2021. The home of some of Australia’s greatest Olympic Stars
The history of Glenhuntly Athletic Club is worthy of being recorded as the Club has been at the forefront of so many initiatives in advancing athletics and has nurtured so many athletes who have achieved at the very highest level in our sport. I believe their contribution needs recognition and celebration.
When I started High School, among my favourite subjects were history and geography and being an Olympic Year (1960), we did some study on the origins of the sport and the Games. The 1950s was an era of John Landy’s amazing feats and when Herb Elliott was the talk of the time. His winning of the Gold Medal in the 1500m was an inspirational moment for many Australians. The exciting finish by Brenda Jones, a local girl, for an Olympic silver medal in the 800m, also brought much excitement and awareness of athletics as a sport. These events whetted my appetite for the sport. So, I began some training as a 13-year-old and eventually was invited to join the local athletic club, Glenhuntly, in 1961, by its secretary, Peter Colthup.
With Perth hosting the 1962 Commonwealth Games, I was glued to the television, the newspapers, and all the discussion around the sport. There was the further inspiration to be involved in the sport as fellow club members Trevor Vincent (Gold Medallist in Steeplechase), Tony Cook (3 and 6 Miles), Lawrie Peckham (High Jump) competed, along with many training partners from other clubs. It was an exciting time to be among the Caulfield Racecourse group and the Ferny Creek mob. The additions of Ron Clarke, John Coyle, and Pat Clohessy to these groups enhanced their depth and success.
Although heavily involved in the scouting movement as well, I chose to participate in athletics and did quite well as a junior distance runner. I served as junior captain and then team manager of junior teams. I was hooked. I found the acceptance by some of the state’s best runners to train with them an inspiration, and, while not reaching anything like their level of performance, I was encouraged to do my best.
The seeds to produce a book outlining the history of Glenhuntly Athletic Club were sown at the Annual General Meeting in 1969 as discussion centred on how the club would celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Apart from a celebratory dinner, it was proposed that a book be produced to honour the history of the club.
At this time expressions of interest were sought, and I put my hat into the ring, along with a parent, Bill Coupe. Little did I realise the enormity of the task ahead. There were few written records of the early days kept at the club and any that existed were generally in the hands of members. Many annual reports, committee minutes and correspondence were difficult to come by — even if they still existed. One significant setback was a fire that swept through our club rooms in 1958. Significant memorabilia, premiership flags, trophies, and written material were lost or severely damaged.
“Go Hunters” is the result of Bill and I working together to rebuild the knowledge of the club that was lost. Bill concentrated on visiting and interviewing past members and reading VAAA Annual Reports, while I sought to rebuild information from members by researching articles in old newspapers at the Victorian State Library and the City of Glen Eira Library. This took many years of research in the various libraries’ reading rooms, copying and finding photos. It also meant gathering memorabilia that past members provided. It was assisted by some members who had kept diaries of their careers which provided valuable insights into how athletics was supported and existed in the early sporting scene in Victoria.
By 1971, a book was produced and presented at the Celebratory Dinner held at Merrimu Receptions in Chadstone. It was produced in-house by typing onto a stencil and then printed on a fordigraph machine.
Following this production, I continued to research as much information about the Club as I could find. By the end of the 1970s, a set of club records had been created for seniors as well as juniors, and all-time ranking lists for the top 50 club athletes in many events had been developed.
In 1979, GWAAC celebrated their 50th anniversary and a history of the club’s first fifty years was produced and launched. Researched, compiled and written by Dorothy “Dot” Neal, it was a comprehensive document of the development of women’s athletics in Victoria and the significant role of GWAAC in its progress.
On entering the 1980s, the two clubs now had written histories. Following an amalgamation in 1995, thoughts of an updated written history book emerged as the club approached its centenary in 2021. Work began on rewriting the previous efforts to make it a more comprehensive record of our achievements as a club. It includes profiles on club personalities as well as provides a thorough record of various events in each of the decades of both clubs’ early years.
“Go Hunters” records the life of three clubs over 100 years. I have detailed my sources earlier, but some allowance must be made for gaps in the stories told here. In some years, club records were missing or unavailable (perhaps lost in our clubroom fire), newspapers may not have offered detail about our athletes; and indeed, I am indebted to Dot Neal for her thorough history of GWAAC’s first fifty years.
“Go Hunters” is always in stock. “Printed On Demand” in Australia by Intertype