Leaving behind a local legacy
IN THE Clarence Valley and beyond, the name June Allen is synonymous with hockey.
It is among those on the legends board in Grafton’s Fisher Park, and every year teams at the National Country Championships play for the ‘best and fairest’ June Allen Medal.
And for good reason.
For 50-odd years the sportswoman has contributed much to the game’s country profile, both through playing and managing younger generations on a local, state and national level.
Now, at the age of 75, she feels it is time to finally hang up the hockey stick.
Allen’s love affair with hockey started when she was in secondary school at St Mary’s College.
They only had netball at St Mary’s, so at 14 she played with a local team called the Vagabonds as well as playing her school’s preferred sport.
She first played in the Grafton representative side in 1958 and later with a team called the Terrors until 1963.
“I’ve always played defence,” she said.
“Although I did have the occasional game in forwards. I played centre half when I actually really played hockey and in the later years of my career I moved to the back.”
After carnivals or games, the teams would all crowd into Langley’s Café, where Mrs Allen worked after graduating from school, for a milkshake, before going to the showground barn for the Saturday night dances.
In 1963 she was married, and after the birth of her two children she returned to the Demons in 1965.
“My husband was not a hockey player, he was surf club, but he supported me,” she said.
“I couldn’t have done it without him; someone had to look after the kids.”
It was through the Demons that Mrs Allen met Dawn Scott, whose heavy involvement inspired her to take up an administration role. She completed a level one coaching program at Lismore and later took up several manager roles for teams including the National Women’s Hockey Team and the Australian Country Team for about five years.
They are roles which have seen her travel across the world.
“I went overseas to England for hockey with a cultural exchange team back in the sixties or seventies,” Mrs Allen said.
“It wasn’t a team based on player ability but people who had given back to the sport. And then I took the Australian Country team to New Zealand and Fiji. We’ve travelled all over Australia.”
In 1997, the life member of the Grafton Hockey Association took a tour of London and Scotland, and in 2011 she visited the Netherlands with a team of NSW country players in her capacity as a manager.
But one of her biggest achievements as a player was winning the Australian Masters Games in Newcastle in 2001, with a group of Grafton players.
Two players in particular, Dawn Scott and Brenda Forest, were her closest friends, and while their passing had no influence on her recent decision to quit, she said it was just not quite the same without them.
“(Hockey) hasn’t changed my life, but I think it’s broadened my life from all the people I’ve met over the years and the travel I’ve done,” she said.
“You haven’t got to be a good hockey player to achieve what I’ve achieved in hockey and I encourage people to get onto the administration side.”
“I’m still enjoying it, and I still wondered if I’d play or not and then I thought, no this is the year to give it away. I’m going out on a high.”