Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Anthea Stewart

 When the strong-running eighteen-year-old left-inner, in her first year out of Salisbury's Queen Elizabeth School, crashed home her fifth goal of the match, it was clear a new Rhodesian women's hockey Springbok had arrived.

That 5-0 win over Border climaxed an outstanding first South African inter provincial tournament for the tenacious Anthea Allin (now Stewart) in 1963 at Port Elizabeth, where Rhodesia finished third. The teenage sensation, as she was labelled by the Press, and a second Rhodesian, wing Marlene Harding, were chosen for the Springbok team to go to Towson, Maryland, in America for the 1963 International Federation tournament — the 'Olympics' of women's hockey with about 400 players from 24 countries participating.

When Anthea Stewart retired from big-time hockey after playing all three Tests for South Africa against America in 1974, she had played in 25 internationals — every Test possible during the years she was chosen. She had achieved every honour the game could offer her and she was unquestionably among the finest players in the world in her era.

But the success story of this bubbling personality did not end there, for in July1980 she played a significant role in the nation's biggest sporting fairy-tale when she was coach to the Zimbabwe women's team that won the Gold Medal at the Moscow Olympics. And because Anthea had played half a game against India she was rewarded by being presented with one of the magnificent sixteen Gold Medals — the first ever struck for women's hockey in an Olympiad.

At the International tournament at Leverkussen, the Springboks lost only one game out of seven and so brilliant was the young Rhodesian that she was chosen by all the hockey writers there as a member of their 'World XI'. This was not only recognition as one of the best forwards at the tournament but also as one of the eleven best women's hockey players in the world in 1976. Springbok captain Angela Harrison was also in that 'World' team, while among the South African team at the tournament were Rhodesian Yvonne Robinson and the former Rhodesian Enid Spence, who had moved to the

In July 1968 Anthea Stewart played a major role in the Rhodesian team's outstanding performance when they won the A Section of the South African inter- provincial tournament at Grahamstown — a feat comparable with Rhodesia winning the cricket or rugby Currie Cup (still unfulfilled dreams). Not only wasAnthea top scorer at the tournament, but she was one of only four players (out of almost 350) given an A grading. Yvonne Robinson's team clinched the title —Rhodesia's fourth triumph since 1933 — with a resounding 4-0 win over their closest rivals, Southern Transvaal.

Rhodesia's team at Grahamstown was: Denise Woodiwiss, Felicity Robertson (nee Hearn), Aileen Coetzer, Judy van Rensburg, Jill Morris, Robin Scott, Anne Esson, Beverley Forder, Georgie Lindeque, Diana van Zyl (nee Craig). Rosemary Southgate (nee Bevan), Yvonne Robinson. Anthea Stewart.

Then came 1969 — a grand year for Rhodesian women's hockey when the South African inter provincial tournament was staged at Salisbury Sports Club in June-July. It was only the third time the tournament had been held in Rhodesia, and the home team captained by Robin Scott (later Stewart), emerged thewinners. It was the second time Rhodesia had won the title two years in succession.

The team consisted of: Denise Woodiwiss, Felicity Robertson, Diana Fynn, Jill Morris, Robin Scott, Anne Esson, Aileen Coetzer, Rosemary Southgate, Diana Craig, Yvonne Robinson, Anthea Stewart, Cerise Lindeque and Beverley Forder with team manageress, Eunice Walls.

From the trials immediately following the tournament, Anthea Stewart and Yvonne Robinson were selected for the Springbok team which played Wales in South Africa in August of that year. Anthea was also chosen for the Springboks to play Australia in 1970, but had to withdraw for family reasons.

After a break while she raised a family, Anthea — who is married to Rhodesian diver Rob Stewart — returned to serious hockey in 1974 and played all three Tests in which South Africa made a clean sweep 8-0, 6-0 and 5-0 against America.

Fellow Rhodesians Denise Woodiwiss and Robyn Harley became new Springboks and also played in all three internationals, both excelling. Woodiwiss, who first played for Rhodesia in 1963 and gained her first Springbok trial in 1969, did not concede a goal in the series. She is also a Springbok softballer. Robertson scored in every Test and when the Americans drew 3-3 with Rhodesia at Salisbury she added another two goals to her Test tally of four.

After being world rated in 1967, it was mystifying that Anthea Stewart should not gain a place among the five finalists for the Rhodesian Sportsman of the Year award — won that year by Springbok Test cricketer Jackie du Preez. However, she was a finalist the following year, when motor racing champion John Love won the John Hopley Trophy.

Rhodesia has been one of the strongholds of Southern African women's hockey since first entering the South African inter-provincial tournament in Grahamstown in 1933, when Dolly Keey's team finished a creditable fourth. Women's hockey has been played in the country since the early 1900s, the first club being formed at Bulawayo in 1906. Rhodesia's Springboks down the years have been:

Rosa du Preez (later Hinde) — 1930 Empire Tournament in South Africa. Right wing.

Eileen Den (now McCluskey) — selected for the Springbok team to tour England in 1939. The team did not travel due to the outbreak of war and she never gained official colours. Centre half.

Sally Poole (nee Longbottom) — 1953 International Federation tournament at Folkestone, England. Left half.

Fern Dreyer (now Webster) — 1954 for Springboks in South Africa. 1956 I.F.W.H.A. in Australia. Centre forward.

Margot Boileau (now Oosthuizen) — captain of 1956 Springbok team to I.F.W.H.A tournament in Australia. Left back.

Joyce Gerrard — 1956  I.F.W.H.A. tournament in Australia. Right inner.

Joan Ringer — 1959 I.F.W.H.A. tournament at Amsterdam, Holland. Left inner.

Marlene Harding (nee Ferreira) — 1963 I.F.W.H.A. tournament in America. Selected for Springbok team to visit British Isles and Holland in 1965 but withdrew. Right wing.

Anthea Stewart (nee Allin) — 1963 I.F.W.H.A. tournament in America, 1967 I.F.W.H.A tournament in Germany. Played v. Wales in South Africa in 1969. Selected v. Australia in 1970 but withdrew. Played 1974 v. America in South Africa. Left inner.

Enid Spence (now Bush) — Toured British Isles and Holland in 1965. Selected v. Holland in South Africa in 1966. Centre forward.

Yvonne Robinson — 1967 I.F.W.H.A. tournament in Germany. Played v.Wales in South Africa in 1969. 1971 v. Holland in South Africa. 1973 v. New Zealand (2 Tests) and Germany (1 Test) in South Africa. Centre forward and right wing.

Elizabeth Chase — 1976 in South Africa v. Holland (3 Tests). 1977 in South Africa v. West Germany (2 Tests). Centre forward.

Denise Woodiwiss — 1974 played v. America in South Africa (3 Tests). Goalkeeper.

Robyn Robertson (nee Harley) — 1974 played v. America in South Africa (3 Tests).

Ann Grant (nee Fletcher) — played 1978 International Wanderers in South Africa (3 Tests).


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