The Prestons Junior Sports Association was started in July 1966 at a BBQ at the home of the Downes Family in Glen Margaret Ave Lurnea .The club was an idea from all the families within the area who wanted there children to play sport socially. It was decided that Mr Ken Small would be the first ever President , Mr Roy Downes would take on the role as secretary & Mr Bill Pullbrook would be elected treasurer. And with all the help of many parents acting as a committee the club was well on its way, but had to work out how to raise funds to buy equipment & jerseys.
Roy & Barry Downes would walk around the surrounding streets of Lurnea selling raffle tickets to try & raise funds, but more money was needed. After the first meeting was held at the home of the cook family, it was suggested that the club be called Greenhills, due to the surrounding areas & the inability to agree on a suitable name. The second meeting was held at the Prestons public school, and at this meeting it was suggested on this night, that the club be called Prestons sports club using the schools colors of maroon & gold.
One of the topics in general business was how do we pay for all the gear to get the club started, with the raffles providing some funds, but nowhere near what was required to get the club started, a local businessman from the back of the room asked how much do you need to get things started, when he was told 200 Pounds, he replied I will give you 400, and please let me know if you need anymore. When thanked by everyone present, he was asked for his name, my name is Bob Ingham he replied.
In its inaugural season the club had to find a ground to play at, and with the help of Greg Coleman from the Prestons public school, he introduced the committee to the headmaster at Lurnea high school Mr Munro, who allowed Prestons to practice cricket in the nets in the school playgrounds. Permission was also granted for the rugby league to train & play at Lurnea high school as well.
In the first summer of the Prestons sports club three cricket sides were formed, U/13s coached by Mr Mick Quinn, U/11s were coached by Barry Downes & both were semi finalists, but the U/10s were premiers & they were coached by the clubs first secretary Roy Downes. However 20 minutes later and more success was to come Prestons way with the U/8s softball team victory delighting coach Mrs Mary Dalton & manager Mrs Barbara Potter. Two premierships in its first summer as a club, what a start, and the news only got better after the U/12s Prestons panthers won the grand final in its first attempt at winter sport the 1967 going through the season undefeated.
Prestons were playing rugby league at Lurnea High School, Cricket at Webster Park & Softball at McGirr Park Miller. In the 60s they played in what was known as the Inter Village Competition, that involved teams from Prestons, Busby, Miller, Sadleir , Cabra Vale Diggers & Ingleburn RSL. The Club was getting stronger each year, with children from all around the surrounding areas of Lurnea, Prestons & Casula wanting to play sport for the Biggest Club in the Liverpool district. In 1968 the Amalfi Family kindly donated 8 acres of land in Reilly Street Lurnea to provide sport in the local community, but more importantly for the Prestons Sports Club to now have a place that they could call home.
As the Seventies arrived the Prestons Sports Club was a power house, with the official opening of Amalfi Park, and also with Hundreds of children not only winning competitions consistently throughout all types of sports, but more importantly enjoying & participating in sport & making new friends on a weekly basis. Presentation Days were now held at Amalfi Park, after the new clubhouse was built in 1971 mainly due to donations of building supplies & volunteers working hard in there spare time to give the HORNETS a multi purpose built room for canteen, meetings & presentations. This clubhouse served our club magnificently for more than thirty years until the council demolished the building in 2001 due to council regulations not being met. Or as it is commonly known a permit was not issued for this building to be erected.
The HORNETS have always struggled financially ,without a big club supplying grants back to them, and have tried everything from raffles,100 club, chocolate drives, BBQs, gambling & trivia nights, lamington drives, mens Smoko nights, and all these have served the club well over the years to provide funds, but the two most interesting fund raising events would have to be, the annual rugby league challenge matches, where Prestons ladies would play Cabramatta ladies & Prestons coaches & managers would take on the referees each year. A donation of a coin for entry was all that was needed, to see the prestons boys & girls give it to there rivals at Amalfi park usually played in front of a big crowd. The second fund raising idea that was unique was the annual walk from Amalfi park to Campbelltown to help raise funds for the club, boy oh boy some sort of walkathon, I think that you would all agree. Prestons in the late seventies, raised funds for a deaf Leppington breath stroke swimmer called Cindy-lu Fitzpatrick to enable her to go to Romania to swim, and eventually make the Australian Olympic team. What a great gesture from the club, to help a someone that wasn’t even a HORNET, congratulations to all that were involved in this effort to help out Cindy-lu.
STAYING AS PRESTONS
We were approached in February 1994 by Mr. Bob Wright & Mr. Kim Delves to see, if we would be interested in merging with the JEVC Cricket club to form one big club. At the time they had a good A grade side, two lower grade, and 2 junior sides, we had 5 senior & 4 junior sides, which also included 2 mini teams, so while we had more sides we had an opportunity to obtain the two things that we had desired the most, an A grade side & financial security as the JEVC cricket club was in those days receiving $4000 per year in the way of a sporting grant from the RSL club. At our annual general meeting in May, ironically at the JEVC Memorial Club Liverpool on the 2nd Floor we had to make one of the biggest decisions in our clubs history, stay & struggle or give up our history, our name, our colours, but be financially sound for the future.
We had 26 people in attendance, a record number for an AGM, most of them there at the request of the committee to try and find a way to remain as Prestons. The meeting went well with plenty of healthy discussions both for & against, but in the end the two members who were against this merger the most, may have swung the room around with both giving passionate & clear views against this motion. The first was the secretary David Millott who spoke about his vision & direction that he wanted for the club, and after 7 years as secretary he still had unfinished business he had hoped to achieve with the club & wanted to achieve so much more history as Prestons not JEVC-Prestons.
STAYING AS PRESTONS
But if the room had any doubts after Dave had spoken so passionately about his beloved HORNETS, then they were in for a treat after hearing arguably the best 5 minute speech that a president has ever delivered when Phil Sutherland spoke about how he grew up in the area, played for the hornets all his life, and after being talked into becoming the clubs & probably the countries youngest ever president at 19 years of age by Dave only three years earlier, that if he could hold a presidents position at such a young age then surely ,fellow HORNETS within the room could strive to keep this great club alive. He suggested that it would take a lot of hard work from as many people as possible, to help Dave not only to keep this club surviving, but allowing his children and others the opportunity to play sport for this great club.
So on that night in May it was voted that the club shall remain as Prestons HORNETS cricket club, and that we will keep fighting. The decision was not totally welcomed but, a majority vote was good enough to defeat the proposal. Its also worth noting that in 2007/08 our cricket club is still going strong, so that night the decision on the vote by the Prestons members, I think has been more than justified. The netball club is still surviving on its own, after going away from the PJSCA banner in 1981.Rugby League was very strong for 11 seasons until its final year in 1978.Prestons had Soccer teams for only three years in the late sixties, We also had Marching girls for two years in the early seventies, Basketball was very popular in the late sixties & early seventies as well. Softball, while only played for 7 years was a very successful sport in the PJSCA. Also Prestons won the first ever indoor cricket competition in NSW at the Lurnea indoor cricket centre. That team was David Demetrius (Capt), Stephen Horn, Paul Griffiths, David Millott, Daryl Cole, Gregg Marsh, Floyd McIlvenny, Robert Maine.
THE DARK MOMENTS PT.I
The nineties saw three of the clubs darkest moments in its history, the first came in a semi final in 1993/94 at Hammondville oval when our D2 side played Cabra Vale Diggers. Prestons after winning the match by 4 wickets were stunned when the Cabra captain Bruce Oliver told our captain George Wright that CVD would be claiming a forfeit due to an error on the team declaration sheet. The so called error was that the name George Wright appeared on the team sheet twice, our captain told CVD that is correct as there are two players with the same name in our team. Usually our scorer Barry Dixon would write JNR next to the youngest George Wrights name just to identify the father & son correctly, this was done in good faith by Barry, and was certainly not a fixed rule that needed to be adhered to.
What followed in the next seven days would have an everlasting effect not only on this side and our club but the entire district. We were made to go to a protest hearing on the Monday night at Cabra Vale Diggers club to defend our club in a protest hearing that was that frivolous, it was almost laughable. We lost the game on protest, and appealed the decision the minute it was handed down. We were granted an appeal for the Thursday night, still dumb founded by this disgraceful decision, George Wright asked the Prestons secretary Dave Millott, how is this possible? Dave replied because there are two CVD people on an executive voting on a CVD protest, at a CVD club, its called political bullshit!
THE DARK MOMENTS PT.I
Confident of getting this decision overturned, Dave & George ventured back to the same venue on the Thursday night hoping to present there case to the appeals committee, but were gob smacked to say the least ,when after entering the room for the appeal, were looking at a table of five men, the same five men that made Mondays decision. There confidence soon turned to caution, as they realized they had no chance of getting this decision changed, by the same people who made the original ruling. The HORNETS presented their case, and after 10 minutes, Dave & George were called back into the room to hear the verdict, dismissed, was the ruling and with the semi final only two days away, the clubs options were limited.
After a brief discussion outside, Dave told George that he would not give up, and would appeal to Junior Union, there last chance, but George said to him don’t bother, its not worth it! Dave went through the next five days contacting Junior Union President John Russell, trying to get justice for the HORNETS, but time was not on his side. After finally being granted a Friday night hearing at Campsie RSL Club, Dave prepared his case, all along stated that this was wrong and that he was still confident that he could get this decision overturned. After contacting a lot of people within the SDCA, Dave was trying to get anything that might help his case, but the news kept getting worse, John Zybrands the SDCA Secretary told Dave, while I understand your worries with this decision, no club has ever won an appeal at Junior Union, Dave replied, let me be the first then John!
Prestons got a very fair hearing, and after hearing from both parties, adjourned to make a decision, it took 30 seconds to give there verdict, upheld was there decision and although Dave was overjoyed with this great victory, he still had one more request left, to try and stop the grand final from going ahead unless Prestons were playing in it.
THE DARK MOMENTS PT.I
John Russell was scathing on George Taylor & his committee for such an unprofessional & totally bias decision making process, that needed to be seriously over hauled immediately & hopefully situations like these will never be heard of again by Junior Union ,otherwise there will be massive consequences to SDCA.
Sadly Junior Union could not stop the grand final from going ahead, so Prestons D2 side finished semi finalists, robbed of there chance to play in there first senior cricket grand final due to politics, had a moral victory with the protest being upheld, but it meant nothing as this team was lost from cricket forever from our club, with a couple of the boys playing again some years later, captain George Wright retired and never played again after being a former President, coach & player with our club for 7 years was lost from the game forever.
THE DARK MOMENTS PT.II
The second dark moment was in 1994/95 when we had two of our junior sides poached to the Liverpool Catholic Club, as they tried to start up their cricket club, after looking me in the eye at the presentation 6 weeks earlier and assuring me that the rumours were not true, former manager Ian Neal & Warren Shuttleworth from Mounties went about ripping sides out from there former clubs to start their own club, not caring about the promises that were broken or the consequences that were caused along the way.
Two years after this ugly debacle took place, both the above mentioned poachers had moved on to other clubs, leaving a trail of destruction along the way in particular that effected our club for years to come, in one savage poaching attack we went from three junior sides to one, and sadly that one remaining side was the only junior team that Prestons had again after we won the U/16s Competition in 2003/04. We still remain hopeful that the HORNETS at some stage down the track will field a junior club again.
THE DARK MOMENTS PT.III
Liverpool Council chambers at 7pm on July 14th 2001, Was the third moment that will always remain a landmark night for the HORNETS in its history. Rumours had been spreading around town and newspaper articles in the Liverpool Champion were advertising the fact that the Liverpool Robins Soccer Club would be moving to Amalfi park, due to the new extension of an arm of the M5 going right through there current ground, Raine park. Tired of all the stories of the above, our club secretary David Millott organized a meeting with council to discuss the Amalfi park takeover. It was at this meeting that Dave told the two member panel that we should not lose our ground (Amalfi park ), as the land was donated by Mr Andy Amalfi and his family to Prestons for them to play sport within the district.
When one of the panel members Greg, offered a brand new ground to Prestons near by, Dave told him thanks, but no thanks, give the ground to Liverpool Robins and all this fuss will go away. Greg couldn’t believe that Dave had turned down a new ground and asked, why Dave, what so special about Amalfi?, Dave replied its our home ground & we call the ground THE HOME OF CRICKET and I can’t see the point of ruining two clubs history, for a road that surely can be diverted somewhere else. In summary Dave told the panel that to take away Amalfi park from Prestons after 35 years of history & memories, would be one of the worst decisions ever made in the Liverpool District, And would have an everlasting effect on all the members of the HORNETS, both past, present & future, the entire community & lastly the effect that this decision would have on the Amalfi family, as an amazing gesture like a donation of 8 acres of land would be taken away from the Amalfi family due to again Political Decision making without thinking about the repercussions. Gladly, two months later a decision was made to cancel the extended road, and allow the history of the two local clubs to remain.
2008 & BEYOND
In June, 28/06/08 Prestons Junior Sports Association celebrated 42 years of history & memories which culminated in the first ever club reunion, at the Cabramatta Bowling Club in which 235 great HORNETS people gave up there time to make this night a memory that will last for ever. Today as at July 2008 the HORNETS are still going strong in cricket & netball and after 42 years as a club we have won 24 Senior,29 Junior Cricket competitions, including 4 seven a side K/O’s. Softball won 3 grand finals, rugby league won 10 grand finals & netball 6 premierships that I’m aware of, but when more information is passed on, the stats will be adjusted.
Prestons have produced some amazingly talented sporting individuals over the years that have gone on to bigger & better things in a variety of sports. Including Mark Bosnich( Soccer), Darren Bannerman( Hockey), Chris Ashenden(Deaf Cricket), And Jason Krejza( Cricket) who took Man Of The Match on his debut in India with Twelve Wickets, we are so proud of all these players. We must also not forget the incredible hard working efforts of all the committees over the years that have contributed to the HORNETS surviving all these years. Its incredible that for such a small club in the Liverpool area, that the HORNETS could produce some many talented people and have so much success in such a short history.