A Tribute to Gerry Kennett

Life Member Inlanders Hockey Club

Life Member Port Adelaide District Hockey Club

Gerry

Gerry first fell in love with the game while she was a student at Adelaide High School in 1937 and 1938, playing matches on rough fields on the South Parklands with pitches that had the additional challenge of fresh cowpats that needed to be avoided.

She described her first uniform as a long tunic, long sleeved blouse, tie and thick stockings.

From 1939 to 1941, she attended Presbyterian Girls College at Glen Osmond, today known as Seymour College, playing hockey at A1 level in the inter-college competition.

1942 to 1945 was spent in the Australian Women’s Land Army before attending the University of Adelaide between 1946 and 1948, playing with the Adelaide University Hockey Club.

She married Jack Kennett in 1949 and they moved to Alice Springs.

In 1953, women’s hockey started in Alice Springs and Gerry played with the Rovers Hockey Club from the outset. She continued for the next 12 years as a player or coach for Rovers.

As a player, Gerry was highly talented, captaining Rovers in the Alice Springs competition and leading Central Hockey Association teams in numerous tournaments.

In 1954, the first Centralian Hockey Association team was chosen to play in Darwin with Gerry one of the tour organisers and captain. In 1955, Gerry captained the first CHA team to play in the SA Country Championships, with the team finishing equal first.

Gerry represented CHS at the Country Delegates Meeting after the tournament, successfully advocating for rules to be changed to allow CHA to affiliate with the SA Women’s Hockey Association and for the selection of a SA Country team of the year. Gerry was one of eight Alice Springs players chosen for this team and was appointed Vice Captain.

Shortly afterwards, Gerry became the Secretary of the Centralian Hockey Association, initially raising money to help pay for the visit of the Indian national team in 1956 and then for travelling Association teams.

India won the first game 3-2 on the siren. The second game was a one-all draw, with Gerry scoring with what the Centralian Advocate described as a “cracking shot that gave the Indian goalie “no chance”.

In 1957, work started on the development of land near The Gap in Alice Springs. That land would become known as Traeger Park. Gerry was persuaded to become Honorary Secretary of the Traeger Park Trustees, a position she held for six years. During her time, Traeger Park transformed from 24 acres of bushland into the multisport facility it is today with grandstands, fencing, gates and the like. It was officially opened in 1961.

In 1964, Gerry was awarded Life Membership of the Centralian Hockey Association “in recognition and appreciation of her work for the Association 1953-64”.

At the end of the 1959 season, Gerry retired as a player but continued coaching Rovers until the family moved to Adelaide in 1965.

After moving down south, she was approached by Division 1 club Sans Souci and played left inner for the A grade team for a season at the age of 43.

She served on the SA Women’s Hockey Association Country Committee from 1965-1975, including 8 years as Secretary with duties including the organisation of the the annual country tournament.

In 1966, Gerry founded the Inlanders Hockey Club. It was set up to help girls coming to Adelaide from Alice Springs and other outback areas to continue their friendships through hockey, especially indigenous girls, who had always lived in the NT and had no contacts in Adelaide.

Inlanders started with one team in C3 grade. At its peak, Inlanders had become a powerhouse of the competition with teams in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and Under 17 grades.

Gerry, or Mrs K as she became known, was central to the club filling the roles of President, coach, selector, driver, organiser, social secretary, uniform and equipment officer and any other position that needed filling. Hockey consumed her life.

In 1976, Gerry was awarded her second Life Membership – this time of the South Australian Women’s Hockey Association.

In 1986, she was awarded Life Membership of the Inlanders Hockey Club.

In 1986 the Inlanders met with the Port Adelaide District Hockey Club at Port’s request and subsequently agreed to amalgamate. For Port Adelaide, which had only one woman’s team in B3 grade, the merger provided them with seven strong women’s teams, including sides in A1 and A2. For Inlanders they gained access to a home ground, an artificial pitch and clubrooms. Initially the women’s teams in the club were known as ‘Port Inlanders’.

Gerry retained her position as Manager of the Port Inlanders State League team. The agreement worked extremely well with Port Inlanders winning their first A1 premiership in 1993, quickly followed by titles in 1995 and 1996. Although the Inlanders name was dropped as time passed, the club remains the powerhouse in women’s hockey in this State.

In 1989, Gerry was awarded Life Membership of the Port Adelaide Hockey Club and in 1990, her contribution to the sport was again recognised when she was awarded Life Membership of the South Australian Hockey Association – her fifth Life Membership for the one sport.

Hockey played a tremendous role in Gerry’s life and she gained a lot of enjoyment and friendship from it.

However, on balance, it would be fair to say hockey in Alice Springs and Adelaide benefitted from Gerry Kennett even more.

PADHC acknowledges and thanks Martin Penhale (nephew), Peter Haynes (son-in-law) and Robyn Francis (goddaughter) for providing the detailed history of Gerry’s amazing contribution to hockey.

PDF version available here.