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Mary Nairn

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Mary Nairn was responsible for introducing and fostering the game of hockey in Redcliffe.

Affectionately known as "Mrs. Hockey," Mary Nairn (nee Brown) was responsible for bringing hockey to the Redcliffe district of Brisbane in the early 1930s. She was an elite player and was known to be one of the best full backs in Queensland.

In 1931 she formed the Humpybong Girls Sports Club and sought Council approval to establish a hockey field on part of the Redcliffe Show Grounds.

The first game of hockey was played there in 1932. During the war, Mary coached both Australian and United States servicemen the game of hockey. To show their gratitude the American's gifted her a dog. She played hockey for Queensland against a US womens team.

1932 Beryl Manley and Mary Brown in Mary's yard. Bush in the background is where the hockey field now stands.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-001\001602

1930 - A group of girls all wearing shorts playing hockey on the lawn beside Seabrae boarding house at Redcliffe.

Photo :George Sampson - from the Moreton Bay Library Collection:RLPC-001\001661

Redcliffe Hockey Club in August 1945. Back row from left to right - Winnie, Gwen Evans, Isabell Simm, Mary Brown (Nairn) , Miss Wood, Phyllis Barry and Rene Kirkwood.

Front row from left to right - Dell Francis, Margaret G., Dawn Ruskelin, Esme Bevington and Thelma Thurecht. Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection RMPC-101\101158

1947 Redcliffe Hockey Girls - Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection:RLPC-002\002001

Redcliffe Ladies Team 1946-47.

Back Row: Audrey McMahon, Bella Sim, Ruth Porter, Gwen Evans, Mary Nairn, Ailsa West (Higham), Fay Bennett, Ruth Glasby (Murphy), Claire Thompson, Betty Johnson.

Front Row: Rene Kirkwood, Kitty McLeod, Joyce Maxwell, Del Francis, Meg Geddes, Irene Kassulke, Shirley Healy (Jones), Val Dawes, Thelma Thurecht.

Front Row: Florence Healy (Martin) and Shirley Houghton.


Composite Carnival Team of Redcliffe Hockey Players, on the ‘Girl’s Field’. 1954.

Standing, Left to Right. Rod Buchanan, John (Spotty) Howard, Ray ‘Pudden’ Gould, Bobby Prattle, Don Argus, Bobby Hall, Hughie ‘Grub’ Keir, Jim Large.

Kneeling, Left to Right. Ray Milner, Ernie Gould, Gordon Webber, Ronnie Kneen, Noel Downes, Stan Rosser, Arthur Twible.

Sitting, Left to Right. Arthur Knight, Kevin ‘Basher’ Stutz, Mary Nairn, Bryan Adams, Jim Fenwick, Ray Webber.

Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-001\001827


The Courier-Mail Wednesday 5th March 1952 - Page 7


Redcliffe girls won't be 'bullied' off field

"THERE'S trouble a'brewing down Redcliffe way. Hockey players, both lads and lasses, fear they're in danger of losing their playing fields to trotting horses, and they're not happy about it. The fields are on the Showground reserve, now vested in the Redcliffe Town Council. According to Mrs. Mary Nairn, coach of both the men's and women's teams, the hockeyites can't get access to their fields when a trotting meeting is held, and that has been about every fortnight. Men's officials, fighting mad, are breathing 'we'll play or else ...' talk, but the girls are confident wiser counsels will prevail. 'Redcliffe is a real hockey town.' says Mrs. Nairn. 'I think it will work out all right.' But what is burning up the girls is the fact that if it had not been for them, probably there wouldn't have been a showground. When their club was formed in 1932, the area was covered with wattle scrub, with a few forest gums, bloodwoods. and ironbarks thrown in for good measure. Hockey girls of the day raised the funds to have the ground cleared, levelled, filled, and fenced, and some of them weren't above getting on the end of a crosscut saw to help the work along. From the start they have provided the labour and the funds to keep the field in perfect playing condition, at no expense to the ratepayers."


Redcliffe Hockey Club c.1950-52 at Warwick. Photo:Jim Fenwick.

Top - Mary Nairn - Left to right: ? Bygrave?, Ada Rogers, Dot Hislop, Myrna Austin and Kitty McLeod.

It is, however, as a coach that she really excelled. As a testament to her coaching ability, Mary made history by becoming the first woman in Australia to coach an A grade men's team, a number of whom went on to represent Australia. Her coaching skills also extended interstate; she coached the Queensland women's team in 1955 and also acted as a selector for interstate teams.

In 1959 the Redcliffe Mayor Alderman Houghton Snr. officially named the Redcliffe hockey fields the "Mary Nairn Hockey Field" with a gate named in her honour at the entrance to the Redcliffe Hockey grounds.

1962 Redcliffe Hockey Team with James Houghton (centre back), Keitha Drake (centre left) and Mary Nairn (centre right). Photo from the Moreton Bay Library Collection: RLPC-001\001344

1966 A2 Redcliffe Hockey Men's team coached by Mary Nairn:

In 1971 was named "Woman of the Year" by the Quota Club for her outstanding work with Redcliffe's youth.

Redcliffe Hockey Team - Brisbane Hockey Premiers - Back Row: N. Browning, G. Browning, J Swift, L. Somers, Don Argus (Coach) R. Bullock, I. Barsby and V. Jensen. Bottom Row: G. Meyer, D McNulty, Mrs J. Nairn (founder) R. Somers, (captain) H.G. Drake (President) P. Doherty and D.W. Argus. The team came from fourth place to defeat Norths 3-2 in the grand final .

At the Redcliffe Hockey Club's fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 1982, as a testament to her hard work and passion for the game, Mary, also known as the "Queen of Peninsula hockey," received a standing ovation.

At the time of her death in 1989 the Redcliffe Hockey Club, which she had been instrumental in establishing, had grown from one women's team in 1932 to 19 men's, women's and junior teams.


Mary Nairn is listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:

A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.

For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post:

1 Comment

Marsha Waggoner
Marsha Waggoner
Mar 21, 2023

Mary Nairn was my and my brother, Jim Fenwick's hockey coach in the fifties. Everyone including us had the utmost respect for Mary Nairn and loved her.

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