Thursday, September 30, 2010

Snappy September - Day Thirty - Alice

Yes, the mysterious tennis goddess first revealed to you on the sixth day of Snappy September - The Mysterious Mrs A Gooch - has a name.


Aged nineteen, 1955 at her friend Lorna's in Brunswick
Isn't she beautiful?

After ringing the secretary of the Parkville Tennis club and searching online, I reached Mrs Gooch's son first. He let me blather away first and promise to email him a link to this 'ere blog so that he could feel (partly) reassured that I wasn't an axe-wielding maniac looking for a new victim.

When Alice and I got to talk, I was struck at what a modest and lovely lady she was (is).

My guesstimate that she was twenty years old when she won her first club championship in 1957 was almost correct - she was twenty one (having got married to Keith two years earlier), which means that she was forty four when she won in 1980. That's an incredible achievement!

Alice grew up in Brunswick and from the age of eight she'd play tennis at a nearby asphalt court with her friend Lorna. She and Lorna grew up together and Lorna was one of her bridesmaids. They are still in touch today.

Check out Alice's groovy glasses!
And the legs on both ladies!

When she married Keith they moved to Glenroy, but Alice continued to play for the Parkville tennis club. She had four children between 1961 and 1966; and between her 1963 and 1970 club victories she played at a club closer to home where Keith also coached.

The Gary Ablett junior of her day, Alice was encouraged to venture back and play again for Parkville in 1970, winning again before then being invited to play for Hawthorn by now-club president Robert Payne. "He has a dark history, Kath. He worked at Cheeky Chaps in Brunswick as a stripper in his younger days." (whatever you do, don't Google 'cheeky chaps' when your daughter is in the next room).

Crikey - maybe Alice's association with such an unsavoury character was the reason she never made it to Parkville's Life Member board?

If fraternising with a male stripper wasn't enough, there was other dirt to dig up. During all her tennis glory days, Alice was....

... a smoker.....!

Sadly, Keith passed away due to a chronic obstructive airway caused by years of smoking and working in the munitions and ballistics industry in Maribyrnong. That was enough for Alice: "No smoking when Keith got ill. I've been pure ever since."

Now living by the sea, she still plays tennis at Rye. Alice and her friend Norma took out the gold medal for Doubles Tennis in the over-seventy division at the Masters Games. Seventy four and still a winner.

She's a dead-set Legend. I'll never be a champion in any sport, but if I can remain as active, friendly and happy as Alice in her eighth decade, I'll be very grateful.


Chestnut Mare said...

Jolly well done in solving the mystery Kath! What an interesting story, & what a champion Alice is.

drb said...

The reason why she wasn't made a life member at the parkville tennis club still remains a mystery.....

Anonymous said...


Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Chestnut - she is a champion and such a good sport about it all.

Drb - maybe it was a combination of fraternising with a male stripper and then being lured over to (the Dark Side) two different clubs? She later played for Glenroy near where they lived and her husband Keith's name is painted on the Life Membership board there.

Anon, if an athlete like Alice was around today, she'd have more than 'Go Gooch' - she'd have her own Facebook page, theme song, line of designer glasses, modelling contract ....

drb said...

If she didn't marry at 19, she may have become a pro tennis and have a tennis centre named after her..

Kath Lockett said...

You're right. Or she'd be running those "Brand Power" advertisements as a famous tennis star and mother of four children, sharing her dietary secrets: "Before a big match, I always stock up on Uncle Toby's meusli bars...."

There should at the very least, be a GOOCH STAND at the Rod Laver arena!

Vanessa said...

What a great story, I am glad you got to speak with her. Another amazing woman living in the background. But still happy I am guessing

River said...

"If I can be as active..."
Yes. Me too.
That's a great life story you've found out, and all from noticing a name on a board.
Alice certainly was a beauty, and those legs must be a metre long at least!
(I bet she doesn't have to cut 6 inches off the legs of any jeans she buys...)

Anji said...

This is real history ad now you've put it all together. Excellent post!

Kath Lockett said...

Yes Vanessa, she's still happy. I hope to meet her in person some day too.

River, Alice's legs probably meant that she had the opposite problem to you - ankle freezers! (were they popular in the fifties?)

Thanks Anji - this is the sort of nosing around that I really enjoy doing.

Deep Kick Girl said...

So good to find out who "A" is... and good on you for doing the digging work to find out about this fine lady.

Do you remember that little show Andrew Urban used to do when he'd stop people in the street and find out their story? Can't remember what it was called but I used to love it. Everyone has a story and everyone's story is wonderful and interesting and worth hearing.

helen said...

I think we should start an online petition for some recognition for this excellent athlete.

Went for a sedate horse ride with my daughter yesterday and I'm a cripple. No athlete, me.

R.H. said...

Deep Kick Girl (what a terrifying moniker) the show you're thinking of was called Front Up. I feel the same as you about it.