The sport that was
1995 was a year to remember in West Coast Softball. It would be the first time the association had sent five representative sides away to national Tournaments and many would be named with honors.
PICTURED: U/14's Aaron Gardner, Nick Wafer, Patrick McBride and Anthony Harris.
Spare headed by the under 15 Boys side that came oh so close the previous year at the South Island U/14's Tournament in Nelson, going down 3-2 to Canterbury in the final. The team would not let history repeat, putting the hot favourite's away 2-0 in the semi a year later and dispatching their rivals 10-0 in the final to claim the South Island honors.
The situation could have been different with Southland nearly tipping up the Coasters leading into the finals. Trailing 5-2 with only one turn to bat in the last innings, something clicked with Colin Gibson, Patrick McBride, Nick Wafer and Matt Leadley all knocking home runs to slide home for a 6-5 victory. Others to score were Anthony Harris and Kirik Ah-Sam with Wafer taking 16 strike-outs.
Gibson, McBride, Harris and Wafer were named in the South Island side and coach and mentor Jill McBride was deservedly selected as Coach.
The under 15 Girls came fifth at their Tournament the same year and claimed South Island honors with Donna Hammond being selected manager of the side.
At the under 17 year old Boys nationals, Garath Cook would be selected in the New Zealand side after Coast placed ninth overall. Cook would continue to play among the best and found his way into the International Black Sox side with a successful career in the game.
West Coast Men's 1995-96 team.
More success followed with the 95-96 Men's side hoisting silverware, winning the New Zealand Men's second division.
“ This was the best side I ever played in, some amazing achievements and memories with some exceptional players” Said Wayne Russell on reflection today.
As 2000 approached, the second wave of skilled players came to notice. Greymouth High was hitting form, travelling all over the country. Funding was drying up and players were turning their hand to all sorts of community projects to raise money.
VIDEO: Flashback of Greymouth High fundraising for a National Softball trip.
Nowadays the sport is sitting idle in the district but the memories remain strong for many.