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Clark, Annie Evelyn (Anne) (1903–1983)

by Tracy Taylor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Annie Evelyn (Anne) Clark (1903-1983), netball administrator, was born on 16 August 1903 at Waterloo, Sydney, third of five children of Victorian-born parents George Cornelius Clark, sewerage labourer, and his wife Martha, née Doidge. Anne, as she preferred to be called, attended Redfern Superior Public School, leaving aged 14. From 1919 she worked at the W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd cigarette factory, becoming a welfare assistant (1938), and then assistant to the personnel officer (1940). Participating in a range of sports, she was very involved in the company’s physical culture `Vice Regal Club’ from 1921, which she served as president for twelve years. After breaking her ankle in her first season of women’s basketball (netball), she decided to concentrate on umpiring and coaching. She joined the Sydney City Girls’ Amateur Sports Association in 1924. When this organisation changed its name to the New South Wales Women’s Basketball Association (from 1970 New South Wales Netball Association) in 1929, she became a vice-president. She lived with her parents in Waterloo until the late 1930s.

During World War II, a member of the Women’s Australian National Services, Clark used her sewing and knitting skills for the war effort. She assisted with many charities throughout her life. On 29 September 1941 she enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force but she was discharged on 12 November on compassionate grounds. Her mother died that year. She returned to W. D. & H. O. Wills, and worked as a welfare officer until 1963. After retirement she fulfilled her wish to live on the North Shore.

From 1950 to 1979 Clark was president of the New South Wales Women’s Basketball (New South Wales Netball) Association, as well as manager, coach and selector for State teams. She advocated acquisition by the association of its own premises and encouraged in 1968 adoption of a new constitution which established district associations throughout the State. She was required to step down in 1979. The termination of her twenty-nine-year term as president signalled the end of an era of amateur leadership and the beginning of a more businesslike and strategic approach to netball administration. Clark was five times (1955, 1960, 1966, 1972 and 1978) concurrently national president of the All Australia Women’s Basket Ball Association (from 1970 the All Australia Netball Association).

Through her training of umpires, Clark had made a major contribution to women’s basketball and netball. She conducted numerous umpires’ camps beginning at Lithgow in 1949. Keen to help with the development of the game in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, she made four umpiring tours there, the first in 1966. She was an international umpire, officiating at world tournaments in 1967 and 1975.

Nicknamed `Little Anne’, she was a diminutive but stalwart figure, who believed that netball taught its participants the essentials of teamwork, which translated into lessons of good citizenship. She was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1975. Her many honours from netball included the All Australia umpire badge (1931) and service award (1964). She was granted life membership (1968) and named patron (1979) of the State association. The Anne Clark service award was established in 1975 and the Anne Clark centre, New South Wales Netball Association headquarters complex, was officially opened on 11 October 1980. Unmarried, she died on 12 June 1983 in Singapore while attending the Sixth World Netball Tournament and was cremated in Sydney.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Hyland, `Little Anne’ (1987)
  • J. Dunbar (compiler), 1929-1989: 60 Years of Netball in New South Wales (1989)
  • M. Duncan, Conversations with Netball Players and Administrators (1994)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Aug 1972, p 19
  • series A9301, item 92516 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Tracy Taylor, 'Clark, Annie Evelyn (Anne) (1903–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 24 April 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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