Club History

Club History

In the beginning…..

Aquatic polo was originally played in the Balmain Swimming Pool (Corporation Baths, White Horse Point) in the early 1880’s.. Teams were comprised of 12 players and the referee stood at the end of the diving board, over the pool, with a white and blue flag. Goals were scored by placing the ball in round lifebuoy.

Balmain won its initial NSW Championship competition in the 1895/96 season but was prominent in all competitions held by the NSWASA and won the 1st Grade again in 1898/99 beating the Balmain B team, 4 goals to 1.

The first Balmain water polo player to represent NSW was R R Craig in 1998/99.

The first Interstate Championship was the Regal Cup – played initially between NSW and Victoria in 1922/23. It was not until 1964 that all States participated in the first Australian Championships.

Photos of some of the many successful Balmain teams and individual representative players that have competed in tournaments over the years, can be seen in Club archives room.

The Black and Gold colours

On 30 September 1910, the Club’s official colours were changed from red and white to the famous black and gold!

The following story is believed to be the origin of the change: A few years prior to 1910, Bill Peach, a well known sculler for the Balmain Club, was to race for the World Sculling Championship on the Parramatta River. A visiting rower wore similar colours to red and white and Bill had to change. He decided on the colours as he trained on Blackwattle Bay where the foreshore was covered in wattle trees – black after Blackwattle Bay and gold for the wattle.

Peach won the race and was regarded as a World Champion. The publicity given to his win led other sporting clubs in the district to gradually adopt the black and gold colours.

Women’s Water Polo

Women were playing water in Australia prior to World War 2 but stopped during the war and didn’t resume formerly until the 1960’s.

Our women played as Birchgrove Ladies and won the first NSW Ladies competition in 1964. Birchgrove Ladies joined with the Balmain Amateur Swimming Club in 1965/66 to become a single club and our women’s teams and individuals have had great success every year subsequently.

Balmain Water Polo and Olympic Games

Australia first played water polo at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and Balmain players, Ben Dalley and Eric Johnston, were in the team.

Women’s water polo was introduced at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

There has been at least 1 Balmain player in every Australian Olympic water polo team since 1948 – 21 players to date with several representing in multiple Olympics.

Achieving the greatest success are cousins, Bronwyn Mayer and Taryn Woods, who were part of the Gold Medal winning team in 2000.

Of the men, Daniel Marsden and Guy Newman, participated in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Australia finished 5th at the these Games – the best result to date for a Men’s team.

Other Representatives

Many players have represented Australia at World Championships, at senior and junior levels, and at FINA World Cups. Indeed, Australia won the FINA World Cup in 1995 when we were represented by Bronwyn Mayer and Taryn Woods.

The most recent successes have been at Junior World Championships and are as follows:

  • Gold: Women’s in Messina 1999 – Jemma Brownlow and Elizabeth Simms
  • Silver: Women’s in Quebec 1995 – Yvette Higgins, Keli Lane, Rebecca Rippon, Rebecca Shepherd and Taryn Woods
  • Silver: Men’s in Kuwait 1999 – Nicholas Falzon and Dean Simmons
  • Bronze: Women’s in Trieste 2011 – Jayde Appel

Balmain Water Polo 1997

One of our club archivists and historians dropped over a document about the club from 1997.

Any of these names sound familiar?

Let us know if you have any stories or memorabilia you can share with the club.

View balmain_water_polo_club_1997 > [PDF]

Balmain Water Polo 2017

Balmain fields teams in the Men’s and Women’s National League, competing against teams from NSW and other States.

We play in the Sydney metropolitan competition in 6 grades in the men’s competition and 5 in the women’s. We also participate in Under 18’s, U16’s U14’s and U12's competitions for boys and girls.


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