By Pat Meadows, Essex Met Chair 2020
From the archives of Essex have come to hand some early records of Committee meetings and AGM’s. What was noticeable by the Secretary of Essex at the time is that much of the discussions had ranged over the same topics and problems that we can relate to today - for example lack of finances. Unlike today, there was also difficulty in holding enough courses for coaching and umpiring to cater for the demand of netballers in Essex.
The early beginnings of Essex owed much to the members of the staff at the then Plaistow Secondary School - then Plaistow Grammar School then Cumberland Comprehensive School to present day Sixth Form College. This formed the nucleus of interest, and it must have been their enthusiasm that got the Association off the ground - it must be supposed that the level of the game played both by the staff and pupils were responsible for this.
The inaugural meeting of the E.C.N.A (Essex County Netball Association) was held on Tuesday October 28th 1930 - some 33 representatives attended, and the Chairman reported that as the All England Women’s Netball Association had been formed for four years the time had come to organise the Counties. It was from here that the Essex County Netball Association was born. It should be noted that Miss Rose Harris (MBE) was the first Essex Secretary.
Six months later the first AGM was held, but only eight people attended. It was reported that 59 players attended the Essex County trials, three teams had been chosen and the County uniform was to be black tunic and white blouse.
The treasurer reported that there was a balance of 9 and a 1/2 pence (91/2d) in the funds. It is interesting to note here that of the expenses 19 shillings and 9 pence (19/9d) was postage book, a minute book 1/9d and typing expenses 6/- (shillings).
By the third AGM things looked a little better for Essex, the financial aspect was sounder, membership had increased and Essex had won the Inter County Tournament. The first ever County rally was held and fifteen teams had taken part at a cost of 1/- (one shilling) per team and the winners were the Westhamions.
In 1935 and again in 1936 Essex were the All England Netball Champions. The 1936 tournament was held in Leeds and the Secretary reported that several members of the team had to leave home at 5.00am - it certainly did not affect their enthusiasm.
With the outbreak of World War 2 the Association was disbanded until further reports in 1943.
At a meeting in July 1943 held in order to reform the County Association Miss Rose Harris was elected President and Miss Trotter the Secretary. It would appear that things were both difficult and slow to get underway, but it was possible to organise the inevitable rally in 1944.
At the AGM of that year Miss Elsie Sanders, our late President was elected Chairman and much discussion was held concerning fees. It was agreed that the fee for a club would be 5/- (5 shillings) divided between Territory, All England and County. It was also decided to organise Schools and other Leagues.
In 1954 Miss Wilks took over the Chair and Miss Mellor became the Secretary. It would appear that finances soon became difficult, and the fees were raised to 7/- per club (7 shillings).
One interesting aspect of the notes is that once County teams were chosen, it could not be altered. This subject arose in connection with some County matter, and it was necessary to call an Extra Ordinary General Meeting at which the following resolution was adopted. ‘At the request of teams through their Captains or any member of the Committee - the three original Selectors or suitable substitutes, the first and second team Captains should be asked to review the teams and reserves again halfway through the season, provided all players concerned had been at trials’. The whole affair of playing for County was then much more controlled by Constitutions and Committee procedure - I think I prefer the next stage of County trials much more liberal approach, which had of course been more adapted to present day conditions at the time along with attitudes towards netball, an even more important aspect.
In 1947 Miss Sanders took over the Championship and Miss Nettleton as Secretary. This partnership was to prove an outstanding one lasting for many years and was no doubt responsible for the solid foundations upon which County netball was built. During this time another well known celebrity appears on the scene - Miss G Hopwood, as Metropolitan Area Secretary. Yet again the fees were raised to the sum of 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence) and County players were informed that teams would be selected but players liable for their own fares.
As a conclusion, I hope that no remaining family members have been offended from names mentioned above - these people were extremely important to getting our County the recognition it deserved and to where it is today.