It was decided that a meeting would be held on the 16th June 1968 at the Goonellabah Public School, to organise a club for the School’s Soccer Teams. The playing strip would be the school’s all white school uniform with black hoops on white socks. The club would support one Under 12 and one Under 10 team.
On the 21st June, 1969, the Goonellabah Soccer Club was formed.
At the next meeting the playing uniform was changed to White shirt and blue collar, blue shorts, blue socks and white top.
There were now three teams, one under 10 and two under 8’s. This was the first occasion that the names Tornado, Hurricane and Cyclone were used.
On the 14th February, 1970, the uniform again changed to an orange shirt with black arm bands and collar, white shorts, white socks with blue tops.
In April 1970, the club applied for registration as a non-profit organization.
Teams were now training on the Goonellabah School grounds and also on the top ground of Weston Park (No. 2). On the 15th October, 1971, the club adopted Weston Park as their home ground.
During April 1972, the Goonellabah Fire Brigade moved from an old shed that stood adjacent to the Tennis Clubhouse in Reserve Street, to their new headquarters in Rous Road. The old shed became our first Clubhouse and was now being used for meetings.
By 1972 the club boasted 14 junior teams and launched its first Senior Team in the Lismore District Second Division Competition. Gold and black playing candy stripe shirts were supplied to the under 15 team. The colour of the shorts was again changed this time from white to black. Women’s Soccer Teams for over 15 girls was established.
Serious work started on the bottom ground in 1972. Bill Prodger, who lived adjacent to Weston Park No. 2 ground, used his bulldozer to scrape out, move earth and rocks to form the basic shape of the ground, Jim Kelly provided filling from Council Works and supported with grading equipment. Extensive working bees were held, attended by all members, until the ground was completed to look much as it is today. Jim Kelly saw the ground available for use in 1974. Jim also channelled his energies to complete a junior ground, (Weston Park 3) this was completed by 1976. Members exhausted themselves in finding ways to raise funds. Eg raffles, Hoy parties, card parties, toffee apple sales, private home parties and barbeques, mannequin parades, wine tasting, fun fairs, club dinners and 100 clubs.
Goonellabah Hall was re-sited to Weston Park for the use as a Club House.
Discussions were taking place as to the feasibility of forming a combined sports’ group to include – soccer, tennis, softball and cricket.
Bruce Watson Motors’ sponsorship over many years outfitted many players with their playing strip often up to 30 teams.
Canteen committees provided valuable income. The first canteen was a tent.
Chook raffles were conducted on Friday nights at the Hilltop Hotel (now known as The Goonellabah Tavern).
In the years 1975-76 the number of Junior Teams was rapidly expanding, but there were some difficulties in filling Senior Teams.
By 1976 the expansion of the club (now 30 teams strong) forced the acquisition of a larger, more suitable clubhouse. A house along the Ballina Cutting needed to be removed so that the construction of the road could be completed the house was purchased and re-established on the present site of the club house. At the Annual General Meeting of 1976 Jim Kelly became President.
The soccer fields were named the Kelly Fields as recognition by the community, the players, their parents and administrators of the vast contributions Jim Kelly made to soccer and the community over the years 1969-76.
The first Special General Meeting was held on 13th December 1978. At this meeting an offer of an advance of $10,000 from the Lismore City Council was accepted and the Deed Executed. The club house was used by other bodies, eg Goonellabah Baby Health Clinic, Caged Birds Society, Cycle Club and The Boy Scouts.
The steps down to Ground No. 1 were now completed together with the block retaining wall.
The new canteen was first operated by Ena Pearce, and later by Ada Kelly, Meg Davis, Doreen Donnelly and Janet Summers (who later formed the Canteen Committee).
Weston Park was named after Ald. Eddie Weston, a member of the Lismore Sport’s Trust. He is best known for his operation of the old pie cart at the corner of Molesworth and Woodlark Streets and also Weston’s Saleyards canteen.
In June 1980, the club was awarded the Under 13 years State Titles. This was the first occasion that the club became involved in such a prestigious event.
The first Nippers Carnival was held in 1984. With Under 6 to Under 9 age groups.
On the 15th October 1984, at an Annual Meeting, a decision was made to extend the existing buildings. A committee was formed to oversee the extension of the club and that a licence was applied for at the appropriate time.
At a special General Meeting held on 23re September, 1985, it was moved that the Goonellabah Soccer Club become incorporated, to be known as Goonellabah Soccer Club Limited. It was also moved that extension of the club proceed and its Liquor Licensing be pursued. The incorporation of the Public Company, Goonellabah Soccer Club Ltd., took place on 5th December, 1985. Its first meeting was held on the 12th December, 1985, at which the Assets and Liabilities were transferred.
Throughout this period a host of voluntary workers, under the guidance of Col McLean, applied their skills and completed the extensions to the Clubhouse, and opened at the end of the 1986 season.
On 14th October, 1988 the Goonellabah Soccer Club became a licensed club, and in December 1988, poker machines were introduced into the club. The official opening of the Goonellabah Soccer Club was held on the 7th December, 1988.
Col Mclean then stepped down from his position of President and became an invaluable employee, a position he still holds today.
After a long absence of Women’s soccer teams, they were reintroduced in 1992.
A major grant received from the Federal Government’s Sporting Assistant Fund, allowed the club to light Ground No. 1, the lights were first used in August, 1993.
In 1993 a lease was signed with the Lismore City Council for 21 years, this was for the playing fields and club house. The Licensing Court required the Soccer Club to provide a sealed car park which was completed and available for use in 1994.
In February 1999 it was decided to begin Happy Hour at Club Goonellabah. This was well received by all regulars and visitors to the club.
1999 saw the first Rainbow Masters games held at Goonellabah Soccer Club. These are held every two years, where men and women’s teams from surrounding areas compete and party. Men’s teams consist of over 35’s and women’s teams are over 30’s. This is held over a three day weekend which begins on the Friday and finishes with the Grand Finals being played on the Sunday. Refurbishments to the club were completed just in time for our last Rainbow Masters Games which were held in 2007.
The year 2000 saw the removal of the glass/panel wall (affectionately known by regulars as the Great Wall of China) which divided the club into adult drinking area and children’s section. This opened up the seating area, although still divided areas had to be defined, we felt it made the club friendlier to have plants positioned along the dividing line. Chiller posts were also installed, and a big screen TV was purchased for patrons to watch many sporting events.
Goonellabah Soccer Club had another name change in 2001 and is now known as Club Goonellabah.
Keno was first introduced into the Club in 2002. Some patrons, lucky enough to win have been known to shout the bar a few rounds.
Another extension to the club was completed in 2002 and this was the addition of the covered veranda which runs the full length of the club and overlooks the main soccer playing field WP1. This has proven to be a huge asset, especially with the introduction of the no-smoking in the club law which was enforced in late 2007. Plastic seats were installed under the veranda for the comfort of our visiting spectators, but due to constant vandalism they had to be removed.
Once the cashing of cheques in Clubs became illegal, it was decided by the board (in 2003) to have an ATM machine installed in the Soccer Club, near the bar area. This was a great benefit to all members and guests.
The game of Bingo was introduced into the club by our present Bar Manager, Sue McCarthy in 2004. This has grown to be a great success with the locals (both men and women). Household groceries are offered as prizes and a lot of fun is had by all. Our Bingo players hold luncheons to celebrate Christmas, Melbourne Cup and Easter. The number of people playing Bingo on Tuesday mornings has now doubled in size starting with 20 and now boasting over 40 regular players (which is pretty good for a small club), but with plenty of room for many more to join in.
2007 saw new higher fencing erected on WP2 (top field) to alleviate the problem of soccer balls hitting cars.
The history of Club Goonellabah wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two of our favourite patrons “Dolly and Col”. Dolly (who turned 96 last year) and her fiancé Col (who will be 80 soon) have been frequent patrons of our club for many, many years. Usually visiting each day for a couple of drinks and a little flutter on Keno, they can be seen almost every Friday night (barring ill health) enjoying themselves and patiently waiting for the raffles and members draw to begin. They won’t be hard to spot, so please, when you visit our club, be sure to walk up and say “hello”, introduce yourself to them, you’ll never regret it, they are a very friendly couple and always ready for a chat and a laugh. Just one thing to remember though, you might need to speak up a little for Dolly to hear you, age has not wearied her but just make her a little hard of hearing.
A huge thank-you must go to all the past and present Directors, staff, volunteers, soccer players and patrons of the club, without them, their many hours of volunteered help and their visions of the future for soccer Club Goonellabah would not be where it is today.
2008 marks Club Goonellabah’s 40th year.
Many thanks to Fred Howard for researching the History of Club Goonellabah.
Written by Isabel Haynes-Riley
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