A brief history of our journey
by Brett Sowerby
SDAC proposed to be registered as a member of NSW Amateur Athletic Association as part of the Blue Mountains branch of AANSW (Amateur Athletics Association Of NSW)
SDAC formed under the guidance of Ted and Joan Edwards. At our AGM in 2011, our 50th anniversary year, Joan was presented with a special award in 2011 in recognition of the services of Ted and Joan in the formation of our club.
When the club was formed men’s and women’s athletics were run by completely separate state associations. It was frowned on that the both could compete at the same ground at the same time!
SDAC was different. It was a truly family club. Kids, adults (male and female) and oldies all together. SDAC became part of the Blue Mountains branch. Other clubs in the branch were Lithgow, Bowenfels, Bathurst, Oberon, Glenbrook. Katoomba was formed later by a group of SDAC members from upper mountains with the encouragement of SDAC.
SDAC home ground was Lomatia Park Springwood
Club in crisis. Falling membership, AGM and elections only made possible by getting secretary’s child out of bed to get a quorum. Half the people wanted to fold the club, half wanted to give it another try. New president and very small committee elected. Some of previous committee stayed on. Not many of us but we were committed to rebuild the club.
Springwood Little Athletics 1st registrations. Original ground for LA's was Summerhayes park. Due to mishap at Lomatia Park, the club was relocated to Gloria Park Hazelbrook. Lomatia Park was the hallowed home of Springwood cricket and was the only turf wicket on the mountains. In those days we used a mixture of sump oil and diesel, laced with weedicide, for line marking. Shortly after a fresh marking it rained heavily and you can guess how far the line marks spread. There was a 10m wide brown strip around the oval and SDAC were kicked off Lomatia.
Competitions were held at Gloria Park, Hazelbrook This was a diabolical track. 300m only, grass throwing circles (actually low depth mine sites) . Less than ordinary hand dug jumping pits.
In 1974, at the Springwood club’s annual trophy hand out and AGM, the local Mayor Peter Quirk came as the guest of the club. He was patron at the time. Peter suggested placing in an application for a new ground being built on an old tip site at Faulconbridge. After a fairly long and tedious process which included applications from netball and rugby league, SDAC won the rights to the new ground. Finally we had an oval at last but we needed to pay for and install all the facilities we needed for an athletics field. The club set about raising funds to do this. We wanted shot (2 circles) and discus of course ( 2 cages), jumping pits, with proper frames round them (2), pole vault (yes…..pole vault), steeple chase water jump. We were in for the long haul for everything.
1977, prior to Hunter Park, SDAC ran veterans comps at Gloria Park, SDAC club ran veterans only days including a day where they competed in 13 events. Yes that’s right 13! During one of these days the lady vets asked why they could not compete in hammer. There was no ladies hammer! The club arranged to have a 4kgs hammer made out of a 4 kgs shot, complete with swivel etc. They loved it! Shortly after wards a women’s vets hammer throw was introduced to the state championships. The 1st NSW Vet’s women’s hammer throw was won by SDAC club member Dorothy Zirn. SDAC may not be able to claim to have introduced women’s hammer in Australia but we were certainly one of the pioneers of this now Olympic event.
Tom Hunter Park was opened. It was named in memory of Clr Tom Hunter. The former Mayor of BM's. His widow, Joan Hunter performed the opening ceremony. The club held a HUGE open day. All ages, all events. The program was far too ambitious and last events were held about 8.30pm (no lights) It finished with a steeplechase chase event free for all. Kids, whoever wanted to be part of it. A team of us stood at the water jump fishing out kids who were a bit too small to be part of it safely. Many could not jump over the steeple of course so they were allowed to run around the side, just so they could run through the water. What a wonderful end to the day.
SDAC were a very innovative club (we still are).
We were one of the very first clubs in NSW to adopt a veterans (now Masters) competition. So all members of the club could compete on the same ground at the same time (sound familiar?) During this time the club ran full page athletics features in the Blue Mountains Gazette. One such feature ran for 5 pages devoted mainly to SDAC!
The year of the Seoul Olympics. An all time record 414 little athletes registered with SLAC. This followed the trend of increase regos for Olympic years but 1988 has never been beaten!
BMAC was formed as a result of decision by Athletics NSW (seniors) that a club could not register with them unless it had a minimum of 10 members. There were senior athletes from outlying clubs (eg Bathurst and Oberon and Lithgow), who could not meet this requirement so BMAC was formed to provide an umbrella to cover all ANSW athletes within the Blue Mountains branch.
SDAC introduced a special masters throws day at THP. This was originally done to provide an extra competition prior to the World Masters Games to be held in Melbourne that year. The event was a great success and continued for 11 years after that. It also raised about $8000 during that time for the club’s kitty. It was a highly regarded event which drew athletes from all over NSW. The best attendance saw 45 masters at the ground at the SDAC throws day.
AFL was granted co- use of Tom Hunter Park and SDAC still used it as before. A lot of reconstruction required, principally to move the long jump pits. Originally in the main field and reconstructed in the present location. An extra pit was installed in the area where LJ1 is now. These changes were all financed by AFL and part from BMCC. The AFL presence also provided the lights which we use today. Springwood Cricket Club subsequently joined the users of THP.
SDAC has another new lease of life yet again. Very family oriented, excellent committee, much improved coaching programs, fun events.