Jo Courtney

My first game, Hey you, don’t you play netball, and we know you can swim we need someone to play this afternoon in our team how about it. I said yes and in that first ever game I scored my first goal by swimming the ball past the goal keeper into the back of the net. I have small hands and the balls were the same size for both men and women and the girls had not shown me how to pick the thing up so they just told me to keep on swimming. From that first game I became a member of the Henley & Grange Water Polo Team.

Always sitting on the side giving great support and encouragement were the old brigade of Sim Barbary, Mac Chartier and my Dad, later on Brian Martin when we had talked the boys into playing, with the ref. MOST of the time being John Bird.

I remember one evening when John was refereeing and the ‘boys’ didn’t like a call and John pointed out that if they did not refrain from commenting he would evict them from the pool, to which Sim replied that if he did he would not only empty the pool but turn off the lights and lock the gate, and see how we got on then. [It was his pool]

Mum making our reversible caps, and later on State uniforms for the girls. Club and state training all took place at Henley as did all games. All club members would mix and mingle, and after games all head over to the Ramsgate for a drink winners and losers alike. players, parents and grandparents.

No matter the weather there was never a forfeit, we would all huddle under sleeping bags and rugs, play then watch all the other games, run to the fish and chip shop for minimum chips and a coke and everyone had fun. 

Unfortunately all that changed, Ethelton built a pool and we played games there and Elizabeth joined the comp so off to Elizabeth we would go but the great camaraderie that was Henley began to fade, as did the size of the competition as professional swim coaches were employed by clubs and they discouraged young swimmers from joining their club polo teams.

Henley remained strong mainly because straight after Sunday morning time trials, we would have a club learn to swim, with my greatest claim to fame was teaching an 85 year old gentleman to swim who had lived at Henley all of his life and never learnt to swim, so one morning he walked in, as learn to swim at the club was free for all, and asked me if I would be able to teach an old dog a new trick, saying yes I think so we then spent the next two months of Sunday mornings together and by the end he could swim unaided 55 yards, anyway I digress, so after learn to swim we would all then have polo training which finished with a free for all game boys [Under 18] against girls [no juniors back then for the women’s comp so we all played together] and then the A Men against the B Men.

Being selected in the ‘First’ touring Australian Women’s Polo Team was a great moment in my polo career, along with two other SA girls, Jill Glastonbury and Leone King. Only Jill and I went to Hawaii as Leone was unable to get the time off work I think. We had a training schedule given to us by the Aust Coach, it was winter and the only pool open to train in was the Maud St Pool at Unley so Jill and I would go twice a week and get a bit of swimming in around my netball and Jill’s basket ball commitments, then a week before we were to leave for Hawaii we had a training camp in Sydney just to get to know the rest of the team, organise uniform, bathers and a team structure, even the coach didn’t know the team’s strengths and weaknesses so all a bit of fun and hard work. We came second to a US college team, so not bad seeing as none of us had really trained much prior to the tournament. 

Peter Bayne's Note:

Water Polo in South Australia owes a lot to Jo and Lynn Martin. Both have been major contributors to the sport not only through their playing feats but over many years since they stopped playing. Lynn was President of South Australian Water Polo for many years and was instrumental in the formation of the Adelaide Jets which is the State team in the National League. Three of their sons, Daniel, Matthew and Nick have all been selected in Australian teams with Patrick making State teams over the years. Currently Jo is the Association’s primary time keeper of the Omega Timing Equipment at the new State Aquatic Centre for all National League and Australian Championships games.