Club History by Peter Bayne

The earliest reference to water polo in SA is recorded in The Advertiser on Monday 21st November 1898, where it was reported that under the auspices of the SAASA, a game was held between City and Semaphore at Our Boys Institute Baths, Wakefield St. City won 4-0 after 2 seaside players gave up at half time.


The Advertiser on Saturday the 16th November 1929 reported the following: “A meeting of the Water Polo Association was held at the office of the Crystal Swimming Pool on Thursday night. Mr F. H.Saxton presided. It was decided that the AGM should be held on November 28 and that practice matches should be commenced on December 4. It was reported that six teams – Unley High School, Adelaide Teachers Training College, North Adelaide, Crystal Pool, SA Amateur Swimming Association and Henley and Grange were already in training and it was anticipated that a further 6 or 7 teams could be available for practice shortly.”


The Advertiser also reports that on 27 September 1951, a meeting had been held for a SA Water Polo Association to be formed and that affiliation with SAASA would be sought. Officers were Mr FJ Broomfield, Mr J Johnson and Mr H Colgan, The Advertiser reported in 1953 “Many people saw a close water polo game at the Henley Pool, the night was in aid of the Henley and Grange Hospital appeal. Two teams drawn from the State practice squad played a practice match.”

SA Water Polo Inc (SAWPI) records indicate that the first Henley & Grange premiership was won by the B Men in 1954-55. The club was promoted to A Grade and in 1958-59 were able to win the premiership, they were runners up the following season. The club was successful in winning the B Grade premiership in 1957-58 and 1958-59 but over the next few years, whilst the club produced a number of players who were able to make South Australian State teams, water polo was slowly phased out from club activities.


The recommencement of water polo at the club can be traced back to a conversation that

swimming club parents Laurie Leonard and Dick Fowden had with Allan Dowling at a swimming carnival in Port Pirie in 1963 where Allan had organised a water polo demonstration game.


As a result of this conversation Allan was invited to join Henley to once again form a men’s team and in the 1964-65 season Henley entered a B Grade Men’s team. This team comprised a number of the club’s and states champion swimmers.

The players who were part of the resurgence of the sport were:
Back Row: Robert Lindsay, Peter Leonard, Peter O’Shannessey, Phil Vockings, Michael Leonard,
Front Row: Keith Winter, Peter Bayne, John Thompson, Keith Turner, Allan Dowling and Geoff Baynes.

The progress of the team was quicker than we all expected with the club being promoted to A Grade for the 1965-66 season and, with recruits Brian Knevitt and John Davis from the Kensington Club, we were able to take out the A Grade premiership in 1967-68, Robert Lindsay also won the A Grade Best and Fairest award. While Allan concentrated on developing the necessary skills of the players and encouraging juniors to take up the sport, the Club turned to Brian Knevitt to develop team tactics and coach the A Grade players. In speaking with Michael Leonard he said that one year South Australia did not enter a State Team for the Australian Championships so Allan drove Ashley Heuchan and himself to Perth to watch the Championships and made arrangements for the two of them to train with the other teams. With more players taking up the sport the future was looking good and team success came in the way of winning both the A Grade Men and the B Grade Men competitions in 1968-69.


The Henley Community Olympic Pool was a key element for the development and ongoing success that H&G water polo experienced, especially from 1964 through to 1985. One must remember that there were very few indoor heated swimming pools in Adelaide during this period and of these none had deep water. Most water polo clubs of the day were aligned with the various swimming clubs. Apart from the City Baths on King William Street and later the Adelaide Aquatic Centre the Henley pool provided the only real deep water suitable for playing the sport. As predominately the sole user of the pool, Henley water polo had a start over the other clubs in that we could train when we wanted.


For a number of years the Henley pool was the home for the local state competition. On most Sundays during the summer, games were played at our home pool. This gave each of our teams an advantage as we were familiar with the surroundings and the often cold water and blustery conditions. Frequently large crowds would gather in the small grandstand above the change rooms. Being located very close to the referees a great deal of banter would eventuate, especially from the home supporters.


It is not that well known but the Henley pool was the site for a number of Australian Water Polo Championships. In 1957, 1961, 1967 and 1973 the best players in Australia played at Henley. In 2009 Tom Hoad, who is a leading figure within water polo both in Australia and at Fina level and who played at Henley in the 1973 Australian Championships for WA, spoke fondly of the pool and commented that it was one of the best pools he played in and it was a shame the pool had been demolished.


In 1961 it is recorded that the first Women’s games were played in South Australia but it was not until the 1966-67 season that Henley & Grange first entered a team. Success at State level was slower than the men as the first premiership was not recorded until the 1972-73 season. Some of the inaugural premiership team were Jo Chartier, Jo Courtney, Kaye Stewart, Vicki and Debbie Niblock and the team was coached by Ray Marshall. In the years leading up to this the club was well served by Sue Jaensch and Sandra Stevenson who were regular members of the South Australian State Team and were instrumental in the development of the younger players who were soon to leave a lasting footprint on women’s water polo in South Australia that is still evident today.


The 1972 -73 season was a very successful one for the club as it won both the A Women and A Men premierships and the following players played at the Australian Championships; Michael Leonard, Ashley Heuchan, Brian Knevitt, Jo Courtney, Jo Chartier, Debbie Niblock and Kaye Stewart.


The 1970’s and the early 1980 s were a golden area for the club with the men winning six SAWPI premierships and the women eight.

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This photo is of the 1977-1978 A Men premiership team:-
Back Row: David Forrest, David Martin, Gerry Ryan
Middle Row: Gavin Clarke, Peter Bayne, Brian Knevitt (Coach), Chris Wybrow, Garry Goodwin, Lynn Martin

Front Row: Uldis Meiers

The 1978-79 season for the women was a breakout year and was the start of six consecutive premierships, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1983-84. To this day the achievement is still a record in South Australian Water Polo. As you can see Henley women were the dominant team for many years, six premierships and narrowly losing the 1984-85 grand final.

1980 - 1981

1982 - 1983

1981 - 1982

1983 - 1984

This photo is of the 1983-84 A Women premiership team:-
Back Row: Vicki Manning, Lyn Kaesler, Geraldine Kearney, Deb Schollar, Jill Glastonbury, Sue Kennedy, Andrea Griffin and Jo Bayne
Front Row: Mandy Heinze, Deb Gill, Sue Capper, Peter Bayne (Coach) and Pauline Hill

The nucleolus of the team over the six premierships were Jo Bayne, Mandy Heinze, Lyn Kaesler, Deb Schollar and Geraldine Kearney, with the following playing in 3 of the premierships; Jo Martin, Jill Glastonbury, Deb Gill, Sue Kennedy, Andrea Griffin, Pauline Hill and Vicki Manning. I must also acknowledge the important part the that following played, Delma Shooter, Marg Smith, Debbie Lanyon, Mary Thompson, Nareeda Martin, Debbie Niblock, Jan Sutherland, Sue Capper and Helen Boodnikoff all of whom played in a premiership during this successful period.


You would have read elsewhere in this book the circumstances surrounding the closure of the Henley Pool in 1983 and about the following year when the club had sole use of the facility on a limited access basis. The year the club had the pool coincided with the closure of Adelaide Aquatic Centre whilst a roof was installed. To allow the 1984-85 water polo season to take place all participants of the SA Water Polo competition became members of the Henley Club, to overcome the limited access restrictions. The influx of members and the running of the kiosk on game days contributed a significant amount to club funds which later contributed to the creation of the Thebarton Aquatic Centre. In order for the club to conduct its activities (including swimming training, Sunday time trials and water polo), Peter Bayne gained his Pool Operator’s certificate. Most Saturday and Sundays during the summer saw Peter and Jo at the pool by 7.00am to ensure it was in tip top condition and for the day’s activities, be it swimming or water polo and they would not leave the pool until well into the evening.


Jo Bayne (1983) and Peter Bayne (1984) were awarded Life Membership of the Swimming Club for their services to the club as competitors, coaches and administrators for both swimming and water polo.


The swimming club moved to the Thebarton High School for its summer swimming and various shallow pools for the winter, whilst water polo training and games were restricted to the Adelaide Aquatic Centre. This divide caused the swimming and water polo components of the club who had enjoyed a successful relationship for over twenty years to slowly drifted apart. Water polo at Henley gradually declined and teams were no longer a force to be reckoned with. The A Men did not win another premiership until the 1989-90 season when Damien Fanning and Rod Jones were able to return from the AIS (a 11 year gap from their last one in 1978-79). The A Women remained a constant threat under the guidance of Jill Glastonbury and Natalie Hanson and were able to win 5 premierships - 1989-90, 1990-91 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95. Over these years the team comprised a number of players including the following: Susie Smith, Cathy White, Marg Smith, Annette Tonkin, Nikki Fidler, Natalie Hanson, Vanessa Hanson, De-Arne Smith, Angela Smith, Sue Kennedy, Deb Gill and Jo Gilbert to name a few.

This photo is of the 1990-91 A Women premiership team:-

Back Row: Melissa Parker, Renate Uzubalis, Vanessa Hanson, Lyn Kaesler (Coach), Sue Kennedy, Chantele Laroque

Middle Row: Stacy Mitchell, Jo Gilbert, Deb Gill, Natalie Hanson, Debbie Sewell

Front Row: Sally Steinhardt Absent: Jana Skilins 

Until the Adelaide Aquatic Centre was enclosed and heated in the late 1980’s water polo in South Australia was predominately a summer sport. Most water polo players played a winter sport with a number combining water polo and surf lifesaving during the summer.


Many Henley players were very accomplished athletes in other sporting codes, for example:

Geoff Baynes played over 200 SANFL League games for West Torrens and South Adelaide Michael Leonard played League football for West Torrens
Lynn Martin played League football for West Torrens
David Martin played football and was captain of West Torrens Under 19.

John Turner won the Bay Sheffield in 1987
Lyn Kaesler played State League Netball and represented SA and NSW in Under 21 & Open State teams
Jill Glastonbury played State League Basketball
Jo Courtney / Martin played State Netball.

During the last year of the Henley pool’s existence the Club Men’s team was only playing in Reserve Grade and not flourishing, membership was dwindling. Chris Turner and Paul Hadfield joined the club at this time and Chris was invited by the committee to coach the team and take it back into the A Grade competition. With major efforts from all involved the club was able to lift its performance and play in the A Grade Finals that year. 

Losing its home base and, over the years its diminishing connection with the Henley & Grange Swimming Club was a problem for water polo’s membership base.

Paul Hadfield’s ongoing involvement with St Peter’s College was a great source of recruitment of players into the club. Players from St Michael’s College have also been a feature of our club over the years. These two colleges have provided the majority of the junior men for the club from 1996 through to 2010 when the Eastern Saints which is predominately boys from St Peters College became a club in their own right.

Into the 1990’s it was becoming clear that for water polo to once again succeed it had to stand on its own feet. At the commencement of 1996 the Henley Sharks Water Polo Club was formed. The move away from the swimming club was undertaken with its best wishes, the club allowing the Sharks to retain the Henley name and the red and white colours of the swimming club.

Since the breakaway, the Henley Sharks have been able to maintain their dominance in the various State League competitions regularly winning premierships in all grades as well as a dozen or so players making Australian teams.

The following lists our Henley & Grange club members and the year they were first selected in an Australian team:

David Martin - 1975 Australian Junior Men’s team

Jo Courtney - 1976 Australian Women’s team

Chris Wybrow - 1977 Australian Junior Men’s team

Lyn Kaesler - 1981 Australian Women’s team

Damian Fanning - 1986 Australian Junior Men’s team

Susie Smith - 1989 Australian Women’s team

Rod Owen-Jones - 1990 Australian Junior Men’s team 

I have asked each of the club’s Australian representatives to contribute to this chapter by providing us with their memories of playing water polo for H&G and playing at the Henley Community Olympic Pool. To view their contribution, click on their names or by navigating along the top headings page. 

I take this opportunity to thank the following people who have contributed to this chapter: Bruce Ashforth, Allan Dowling, Michael Leonard, Geoff Baynes, Chris Wybrow, David Martin, Jo Martin, Damien Fanning, Lyn Kaesler, Susie Smith, Rod Owen-Jones, Jo Bayne, Mandy Chartier and Bryan Lindsay.

Peter Bayne 

Former Henley President, player, junior development officer, long time coach of men & women's teams, committee member for Henley swimming and Watepolo clubs , state coach & manager, umpire, official scorer/official for world champs in Melb 2007 and Henley Sharks Life Member.