Jane Morris was part of Fintry Primary School’s first netball team before going on to coach generations of youngsters.
Back in her playing days the Fintry PS girls had to dodge dinner tables during practice!
Jane credits her time at Fintry in the 1950s and 1960s, under deputy head Lorraine Davidson, for giving her a lifelong love of netball that continues to this day.
Jane (nee Giblin) is one of Dundee’s most well-known netball coaches and shows no signs of slowing down as she approaches her 70th birthday next February.
How did Jane get involved in netball?
Jane and her identical twin, Liz, were part of the original Fintry PS netball team under Miss Davidson, who was responsible for getting so many youngsters involved.
But what was it that made Jane first pick up the ball?
She said: “My goodness, in those days you just wanted to get out from the horrors of the classroom!
“But I always liked sport, anyway.
“I think Lorraine Davidson had set the scene pretty well – I saw all the older girls putting on the really nice netball kit and I remember we all wanted to wear it.
“That was probably what started it!
“I loved being part of a team, it was something you could do after school and make friends.
“And a teacher taking an interest in you made all the difference.”
Miss Davidson taught Jane and her team-mates to sew by making their own netball dresses to wear at competitions.
But Jane remembers the other facilities back then left much to be desired.
She said: “Back then the facilities were pretty poor. We were practising in the dinner hall with the tables still out!”
When they moved to secondary, they were the first pupils at Morgan Academy to get colours awarded for their services to netball.
It was always hockey that dominated until the Fintry girls arrived at Morgan!
Jane and her family left Fintry Mains in 1982 to live in Aberdeenshire, where her love for netball continued.
Jane said: “I lived in Aberdeenshire for 30 years.
“There were so many incomers to Aberdeen at that time from the oil industry, and that was great for its netball structure.
“There were so many new women trying to find their feet in Aberdeen and going to all these different sports clubs, but netball in particular is very, very popular in England.
“A friend and I tried badminton for a while, but we knew it wasn’t our sport. That was always going to be netball.
“So, me and her set up a netball club in Ellon, in Aberdeenshire.”
Jane played for the Ellon Netball Club at first, before she went on to get her coaching and umpiring qualifications and lead the club for many years.
During that time she also founded the Beacon Netball Club.
Jane later returned closer to home and moved to Brechin, her husband’s hometown.
She was soon called upon to coach a new team that formed in Arbroath, who currently compete as the ‘Antz’ in the Dundee senior netball league.
Word soon spread that Jane was back and Dundee City Council wasted no time in recruiting her to start the first Dundee District Netball Squad at under 15s and under 17s level to compete in the Netball Scotland Junior League.
Jane said: “When I returned, there wasn’t a kids’ district in Dundee for netball.
“I used to go to the district tournaments with Aberdeen and Dundee was never represented.
“I used to get quite upset about it. Every other district in Scotland was represented and I remembered how good netball used to be in Dundee when I was growing up, and I thought, why is it not represented here?
“When I came back to the area there was a Dundee league going, but it was adults.
“I contacted Leisure and Culture and they were really supportive for getting a district up off the ground.”
Back where it all started for Jane
The team was first named the Fintry District Squad, and before too long Jane was back playing netball on her old stomping ground: Fintry Primary.
She said: “When we first got the Fintry District squad set up, we started practising at Fintry Primary School.
“To go back after all those years was weird. I know it’s a different building but the atmosphere is still the same.
“Fintry Primary now has fantastic netball facilities.
“To see the facilities they have now compared to what we were practising with… I tell the girls now: ‘You better use the whole court! There are no dinner tables in your way!’.”
The Fintry District squad soon joined with the RFC and are now the Dundee District squad.
Jane added: “The girls are doing really well now. We’ve been all over. We’ve done Orkney, Shetland, Angus, Dundee…
“From not seeing them at district tournaments at all, they’re now there and doing well.”
As the first cohort then grew up, Jane supported them to set up a senior squad called The Weavers, which now also competes in the Dundee District squad.
But Jane said she’s had a lot of help in making the district teams so successful.
She added: “The Dundee Netball League Committee are so good now. They’re starting to grow and are hoping more teams will start in Dundee itself.
“We’re promoting netball in the primary schools now – if we wait until they’re at high school it’s too late, because the girls have already started with other sports.”
Netball has proved a family affair
To this day, Jane still coaches the under 15/17 squads every week at Disc, Caird Park and gives a massive amount to netball.
Jane passed her enthusiasm for the sport on to her daughter, Tila.
Tila said: “Over the years I have played netball for Fintry Primary, Ellon, Scotstoun in Glasgow and I am now a member of Biggar Netball Club, where I am the chairperson.
“It is no exaggeration that my mum has introduced hundreds of girls and women to the sport of netball.
“All those clubs she founded are still going strong and achieving great things. They owe it all to my mum.
“Although netball is dominated by tall people, my mum made sure all 4 foot 11 and a half inches of her counted in her netball career.
“She definitely deserves much more than any of the medals and trophies she’s gathered over the years.”
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