In this latest ‘Our Club’ feature, sports editor Mike Parsons goes behind the scenes at Appleton Netball Club 

APPLETON Netball Club is a venture now enjoying the fruits of its labour.

I got a sense of the hard work, passion and commitment of the players, coaches and organisers when I showed my face at a training session at Broomfields Leisure Centre.

Sometimes youngsters’ levels of concentration and enthusiasm can waiver over an hour or two, despite starting out with best intentions, but I saw none of that.

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Although there was an intensity about the session, understandably to get the most out of the time slot in the hired facility, there were smiles on faces – and lots of them – from the warm up, through the skills drills and during the game play.

I was impressed seeing players from older teams, and one as young as 12, helping out with the coaching and doing a grand job of it too. That is all tied in with England Netball’s ‘Pass on Your Passion’ reward scheme for youth volunteering.

Warrington Guardian:

Mollie Gillibrand coaching Bernadette Kennedy

These girls clearly love their netball, they love their club, and take friendship and togetherness from it. No wonder it has a family feel too, with at least four sets of sisters involved along with a number of mother-daughter memberships.

Warrington Guardian:

Four sets of Appleton Netball Club sisters

The club has grown substantially in six years since co-founders Sally Hewitt and club umpire Annette Tyson set out on their journey.

Warrington Guardian:

Annette Tyson, left, and Sally Hewitt

ANC evolved from a few teams that were not part of a club but played in the Warrington Sports for All Centre’s Sunday league.

“We now sit with 11 junior teams plus a year four training only squad,” said club organiser Sally.

Charmingly, all the teams are named after birds – from school-year-five Swans and Swifts up to the year 11 Robins, all playing in the Sunday league.

Perhaps it is because they are flying high.

The club were the league’s most successful going into the recent winter league play-offs, based on the number of teams finishing in top-four positions.

Two teams have successfully progressed to elite level too, playing in the Cheshire Junior Netball League.

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And on the back of finishing second in successive seasons the under 13s Eagles have been rewarded with qualification to the north west regional league for the 2018-19 season.

The under 12s Hawks have made a great impact in the debut county campaign with a third spot finish seeming likely.

ANC are not just focused on winning though, development is a huge part of what they are about.

They have recently joined up with a new venture called Nellies Netball & Tots, which is a pathway programme into the club for players aged three upwards.

Two children have already progressed from Nellies Netball to ANC, a milestone which all concerned are proud of. Visit for more details.

Warrington Guardian:

Assistant coach Mollie Gillibrand, left, and Nellies Netball coach Lydia Hewitt, right, with Tilly Parker, second from left, and Alani Sims who started out at Nellie's Netball and progressed to ANC

ANC, like other netball clubs across the country, have seen a huge rise in interest since the England Ladies team won the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Australia last month.

The club’s chiefs have organised trials at the the under 11s, 12s and 13s age groups for those looking to get involved with the sport.

These will take place on Friday (May 18) at Broomfields Leisure Centre at 5pm. Contact for more details.

What the players say about the club they love:

THIRTEEN-year-olds Millie Evans, Emma Hornby, Ella Watson and Amelia Barker are all in the Eagles squad which finished second in the Cheshire League for the second year running, becoming the club’s first team to qualify for the north west regional league.

They all said Appleton Netball Club is fun to be a part of.

Millie added: “I recommend the club. It’s better when you start young but you can play at any age.

“Netball is something that will stay with you. All the skills that you learn you will remember for the rest of your life.

Warrington Guardian:

Appleton Netball Club training night. From left, under 13s players Ella Watson, Millie Evans, Amelia Barker and Emma Hornby with head coach Carolyn Gillibrand, centre

“I love the club because everyone is like your family. We train so much together.

“I like training here because I have friends here.

“There’s been some times when we’ve been getting beat but we’ve brought it back and now we’re winning all the time and it’s actually really great. We’ve not downed ourselves, we’ve redeemed ourselves.”

Emma said: “We all help each other along the way.

“So if somebody did something that made them feel down or upset then we’re all here to support each other.

“It’s more like family than just a fun get-together.”

Ella said: “It’s also a break from school. We are at school quite a lot so it’s a good chance to get out and do something apart from school work all the time.”

Amelia commented: “We’re all really a close part of netball.

“We’re a good team and have tried our hardest to get through to different leagues.

“We’ve come second and now we’re through to regionals.

“We train on a Thursday night for two hours. All the coaching’s really good and hopefully we’re going to do well.”

Mollie Gillibrand, 12, and Millie are two players who also assist with coaching younger ones at the club, which they do so as part of the ‘Pass on the Passion’ scheme via England Netball.

Mollie said: “I teach the young ones how to play netball, such as how to do their positions and warming up.

“Most of them respond to what I ask. If they don’t I just say you need to listen or you’re doing it by yourself.

“When I first started playing I was nervous and I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t know anyone. But there’s lots of nice people here. I play for the Starlings and Hawks and we’ve been playing quite well.”

Millie added: “Ever since coming here I’ve loved it. I like both playing and coaching.

“I umpire the little ones and I’m doing my umpiring course.

“With the coaching, it was sometimes difficult at first because you’re scared of doing the wrong thing and you’re always second-guessing your decisions. But I like it now and I’m better at it now.

“Everyone gets on very well together. Because I do ‘Pass on the Passion’ all the girls know my name and ask me for help. It’s nice because I get to be with the little kids as well.”

Watch the video below from our Appleton Netball Club training night visit:

Keep checking for more 'Our Club' features throughout 2018