Anne Taylor (Downey)
Anne (No 3 of the Downey sisters) had no option but to play netball from a very young age. And of course Anne went on to play in the New Zealand team for three years. At primary school Lesley and Graham recognised her talent and with their encouragement, parents who were sport mad, sisters who were both prominent netballers, Anne was predestined to be a success.
As well as attending Matamata College for four years, Anne returned home after gaining her Secondary Teachers’ Diploma of Teaching in Commerce and Physical Education from Auckland Teachers’ College. She joined the staff and taught from 1974-1978, took a break to produce four children and returned part-time in 1985 before gaining a fulltime position. Anne was a very influential accounting teacher and headed the department for six years. She was great with the students and had a major influence on many as Form 7 Dean for a number of years.
Upon leaving Matamata College Anne headed for Auckland and at the age of 16 played netball for Arahi, the top club team.
Netballers were “hardy” individuals in Anne’s day. All the club, provincial and nationals tournaments were played outside – in all conditions – including snow in Dunedin whilst playing.
While representing Auckland Anne was selected for the North team on two occasions which played the South team at the conclusion of the NZ Champs. The selection of these teams always caused great excitement among the players.
New Zealand selected an Under 24 team of which Anne was part, along with Matamata’s Rae Taylor (sister of the rugby playing Taylors) who captained the team. The team travelled to England where they were billeted, travelled by train and only came together before test matches! That team also had a six week tour of Australia, playing state champion teams. Again all games were outdoors and in Brisbane on dirt courts! This was the first team coached by the now famous Dame Lois Muir!
As a full NZ player Anne travelled and played in Singapore and England. (The fact the team lost one test to England was a memory that Anne has tried to forget!) All other games were well in NZ’s favour.
The World Netball Champs are held every four years and in Anne’s reign the Championships were in Auckland NZ in 1975. Prior to the World’s the NZ team travelled from Northland to Invercargill playing many of the regional teams. In those days Matamata Association was a 1st grade team and the NZ team was hosted here in Matamata and played the Matamata A Rep team. Her two sisters Claire and Faye were part of the opposition.
NZ finished third in those World’s, drawing with England and losing to Australia. The tournament in Auckland was the first to be televised both here and in some participating countries.
Anne was a stunning gaoler playing most of her netball in the GA position. She was the “Maria Tutaia” of the present regime.
Anne has remained in Matamata and with husband Phil, brought up four children who all attended Matamata College. Both daughters Carol and Faye, were members of College A netball following in their mother’s and auntie’s footsteps. Anne coached College A for a number of years and has had an influence on the “rise to fame” of Casey May Williams and Nicola Browne.