Basildon & District Netball League 50th Anniversary!
The League, which has always been an evening mid week league, was started by 2 local PE teachers, namely Mr and Mrs Sussex. Mrs Sussex was an avid netballer herself and coached good local school teams. 5 teams entered in the first year of 1966 and played on school courts at Laindon High Road School. Sue and Eddie Evans, (now Life Members), who lived in Laindon, were the driving force and took over the running of the league with a committee being set up. Rose Whitehead, also became very involved, using her family and friends to swell the numbers playing. Her daughter still runs a team in the league.
Mr and Mrs Sussex donated a trophy for a handicap rally and one for a league rally, hoping they would help to promote netball in the ‘new town’. As the league got bigger, the Council marked out 4 netball courts at Mopsies Park, which was really a tennis centre, but we had to play rallies at the local recreation ground, at weekends.
The league continued to thrive and with the help of local councillors, the Basildon Sports Council and England Netball, with funding from Sport England, we managed to get 12 courts built at Gloucester Park. They were of such high quality that England Netball and the East Region used them for tournaments. At this time, the league had 130 competing teams. With this expansion the League Committee had to expand to deal with all the administration and now there are 19 committee members. These courts were then sold for a housing development but 12 courts were reinstated at the north of Gloucester Park in the Sporting Village. This also has 2 indoor courts and a ‘show’ court across it. All lobbied for by the League Committee.
The standard of play was so high that we had teams from Suffolk, Essex Met and Thurrock join. Several players played for England Seniors, including 2 England captains, and for England U.21’s.
Because of the good standard of play the League insisted on qualified umpires, which now range from A award to Beginner. The league run regular umpiring and coaching courses for its members. It hosts ‘Back to Netball’, ‘Netball now’, Mavericks Junior coaching sessions and England Netball ‘Summer of Netball’ sessions.
They have competing teams in the East Region league and the Premier League.
Netball is still alive, ‘kicking’ (whoops) and thriving in the Basildon area 50 years on!
Jillean Hipsey, Former England Netball player played in 1st Division for the league for 20 years. She was also president of the league for 10 years and was in the Guinnes Book Of World Records for being England Netball's most capped player with 100 caps in 1987. She still currently plays netball and is an inspiration to all.