We would be cock-a-hoop with your memories of 1990s netball in Hartlepool

Members of the English Martyrs Friendly League in 1993.
Members of the English Martyrs Friendly League in 1993.

Netball is a sport going through golden times in England at the moment.

After all, the nation took gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast this year after a historic 52-51 win against hosts Australia.

June Lahney and Gwen Hogan who inspired the English Martyrs Friendly League in netball.

June Lahney and Gwen Hogan who inspired the English Martyrs Friendly League in netball.

In Hartlepool, the sport is in good hands thanks to clubs such as Oaksway which has teams competing at county, regional and national level.

And 25 years ago, the sport got our attention in a feature about a netball league which sprung out of a group of women who met at a playgroup.

The English Martyrs Netball Friendly League had been built up by June Lahney and Gwen Hogan. As the Mail reported back in 1993, June and Gwen built up a group “which offers sporting and social opportunities for many women in the town”.

Gwen had never played the game at school but she was really keen to give it a go, and rounded up a group of friends with June’s help to form two teams.

While other organisations have shouted to the rooftops about their triumphs, the two Hartlepool women have quietly gone about creating a hugely successful sporting empire

Hartlepool Mail reporter 1993

From there, the women never looked back and within five years, 12 teams were running including two junior clubs. And all that had started after Gwen and others had met up at playgroup and thought it would be a good idea to get something moving.

Back in the 1990s, the teams played on Thursday evenings at English Martyrs School and “attracted women from a variety of backgrounds”, said the Mail at the time.

“Single young parents and older women play on teams with names like Belle Vue and Cuthies.”

June said at the time: “Word has just got round over the years and we have had more and more people wanting to join.”

It all proved so popular that a junior team started for 11 to 14-year-olds.

And for everyone who took part, it was a chance to meet, play sport and enjoy a great night out.

The Mail at the time added: “The women also organise tournaments and coach, fired by the enthusiastic teaching they initially received from Margaret Seed of Brinkburn School.”

Gwen was particularly keen at the time to highlight the difference the league had made to its players, especially the younger generation.

“The amount of confidence it has given them in the year since they started is amazing.”

Who can tell us more about the English Martyrs Netball Friendly League and its teams.

Were you a part of one of the teams back in the 1990s?

Is there another aspect of Hartlepool nostalgia you would like us to share. Is there a sporting moment in the town’s history yould like us to remember?

Or would you like to reflect on news events from the early 1990s. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk with your memories.