Joy Bailey’s passion for hockey has lasted a lifetime
When Collie resident Joy Bailey first set eyes on the game of hockey as a teenager she was supposed to be playing netball.
Joy said she was entranced by the skill of the game and quickly fell in love with the sport which eventually took her all the way to the other side of the world with the national team.
“I didn’t like the netball so I was walking past the high school where they were playing hockey,” she said.
“I thought to myself that looked fun and ended up sitting there for three hours.
“A lady came across to me after a while – Pat Campbell I think it was – and asked ‘Would you like to play hockey?’ and I told her I’d love to.”
Joy was ready to start training with the players she had been watching after quickly learning the basics, but she also continued to go above and beyond.
“I fell in love with the game straight away – from then I never took a hockey stick out of my hand,” she said.
“I would run to Minninup Pool and back every morning and when I got home dad would have a copper full of hot water so I could have a bath then get ready for school.
“When I came home from school I would bash, flick and pull the ball against the soak well – I was always in the yard doing something until I was called in for meals.”
Within a couple of years (1955) she was selected in the State side as a 16-year-old.
Her dad drove her two hours in each direction to regular training sessions in Perth before she started living in the State’s capital on a more permanent basis.
“He took me up and back for one season but I thought that was too much for him to do at his age so I wanted to go to Perth and play if they would let me,” Joy said.
“That was a monstrously big move to leave my family.
“I went up in the summer to adjust, played hockey in the winter, went home next summer, was back up again for the next hockey season and then stayed because I was a little older.”
She made her national debut in 1959 and went on to play 10 games for Australia, including on a tour of Holland.
There were more opportunities to play overseas but she could not afford to pay her way at the time.
“Having to come up with your own money was hard to do and I just couldn’t put that on my parents,” she said.
“I’d set my sights on two things though – to play for the State and to play for Australia, I did everything I tried to achieve.”
Along with her playing achievement she considers returning to her home town and giving back as among the best highlights.
“I loved teaching kids,” she said.
“When they are playing and enjoying it, they didn’t even know they were improving.
“The kids in the bottom stream, at the grass roots, are the ones you need to take care of in order to keep the sport strong.”
When Joy returned to Collie she placed an ad in the paper calling out for juniors interested in playing the game as she was concerned by low numbers.
She was inundated by more than 40 players and called on the boys coaches to help her out.
“That was a bit hard for me to handle by myself so we broke them up into four teams and made a competition of it,” she said.
“We always trained together in a group though each weekend because we wanted it to be fun.”
Watching her four daughters – Karen, Glenys, Deanne and Krystina – play the same sport for WA was something else that gave Joy and her husband Gordon particular pride.
“I never pressured them and it was all about what they wanted to do,” she said.
At the weekend Joy was inducted into Hockey WA’s Hall of Champions.
She is also a member of Collie’s Sporting Hall of Fame and has previously been named in the team of the century at Perth hockey club YMCC.
Joy said she was proud to be recognised for what she had done, but she never played with things like that in mind.
“I played for the team and for my parents,” she said.
“I think I learnt a lot about the game quickly, had a passion to work to hard and that got me through.
“I was always just another player, just a part of a team.”
As for how the sport is played now she said she could hardly recognise it.
“I don’t understand it, I think we had more skill,” Joy said.
“It’s all just hit and bash and crash now while running around in a circle. I’m not sure if I would have fallen in love with the game if it was played the way it is now when I first saw it.”
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