A PROUD HISTORY
In 1946 after returning from serving Australia in World War II, a group of legendary East Fremantle footballers including Jack Sheedy, Freddy Bolt and Victor French came together with other passionate athletes to form the Melville Water Polo Club after being introduced to the game in the Pacific with the Royal Australian Navy. We grew out of the Melville Swimming Club as a water polo club in our own right in 1953. With the influx of migrants from Europe in the 1950s, the sport received an injection of expertise previously unseen in Australia. Hungarian Antal Bolvári joined Melville and showed us a new level of professionalism in training and playing.Tom Hoad was our first Olympic representative starting an Olympic tradition for the club. An eight time Olympian as player and coach, and long-standing FINA administrator, Tom began his career in the river – where he now banishes his young players if they play up at training. Tom Hoad came to water polo at the age of 14 through swimming. He set about creating the foundation link between our club and the sport,nationally and internationally.
Women’s water polo became an Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games after political protests from the Australian women’s team. Such demonstrations were rewarded when Australia won the gold medal match against the United States with a “buzzer-beater”last minute goal, taken from outside the seven-metre line. In 1975/76 Melville Water Polo Club entered its first women’s team into the West Australian competition setting the scene for the most successful women’s program in the country. David Neesham was the coach of the first team, which, unsurprisingly,included several siblings. David is one of the most successful Australian players and coaches competing at four Olympics, twice as Captain, and coaching both the national men’s and women’s teams. The women’s team won gold, silver and bronze in successive World Championships before the win in their first Olympics in 2000. Claire Finucane and Stephanie Clements were Melville Water Polo Club members of the World Championship gold medal winning team.
CONSTRUCTION OF BICTON POOL
Construction of the Bicton pool commenced in 1976, an ambitious project that took over four years to complete. The pool was heated in 1995 so we could use it year round. We believe in strong clubs as has been the case in Europe and having our own pool was a key to achieving it. Unlike most other sporting clubs we are fortunate to be self-sufficient in the real sense of the word. This venue is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, built by volunteers and we enjoy freedom and autonomy not experienced in other sporting organisations. This ownership has enabled us to independently deliver a premier community asset, great competitive results and outstanding service to our members and the community for the past 40 years. The club has always taken an entrepreneurial approach to lifting the profile of the sport. The 1987 Americas Cup Festival of Sport – McDonald’s Water Polo Series put the club on the map for staging international sporting events. The Tom Hoad Cup was introduced and was the longest running international water polo tournament in Australia running from 2003 to 2012, continuing in recent years as a junior tournament. This event delivered numerous firsts for the sport in Australia including televising the game internationally.