Every October 25th our Club becomes another year older, for on this date in 1971 the foundation meeting of the Botany Bay G.F.C was held in a boat shed on the shores of Shipwrights Bay, near Tom Uglys Bridge.
How did this come about? During the early 70's two friends and keen fisherman, Bill Heyward and Phil Birdsall were gaining the enthusiasm and know how of game fishing onboard "Simone" a Port Hacking Game Fishing boat skippered by Bernie Smith, who later in life moved to Cairns and was a successfully skipper and charter boat operator. Bill instantly developed a passion for Game Fishing and saw an opportunity to start a Game Fishing Club running out of Botany Bay.
In September 1971 Bill along with eight others decided that Botany Bay was an ideal position for a Game Fishing Club so on 25th October, 1971 Botany Bay held its foundation meeting in a boat marina shed in Shipwrights Bay. Present at that meeting were the following members; Bill Heyward, Phil Birdsall, John Blight, Ron Young, Jim Brown, Merv Charles, Stan Faulkner, Bob Randell, Ray Archer, Ernie Way, T Burt and T Murphy.
The guests of honor were John McIntyre (then secretary of N.S.W. G.F.A.), David Vader (then secretary of Port Hacking G.F.C.) and Norm Chapman (then Vice President of Port Hacking G.F.C). During this meeting the committee was elected;
President - S Faulkner
Treasurer - J. Brown
Secretary - R. Archer
Committee - T. Burt, T. Murphy, B. Randell and E. Way
The next general meeting was set down for two weeks. In November 1971 the following resolutions were made;
- Membership fee would be $10
- Port Hacking constitution be adopted and if they would act as our sister Club
- Minimum length boat be 16', with a spare motor
- The Club be called Shipwright Bay Game Fishing Club, amended to Botany Bay Game Fishing Club
- 1st Tuesday in every month be the meeting night
- Bill Heyward would donate a 200lb set of scales
Throughout our first year the membership grew from 8 to 19 with 7 boats registered. Since then our membership has grown to an average of 150 and our boat register fluctuates around the 26 mark. Our Club, in its infancy had a unique ruling of only having active members. This kept the membership numbers down but helped to keep all members competitive, therefore no social members were allowed to join.
The first point score day was held on the 16th January 1972 with three fish being captured, none of which were weighable. Mario Fenick 20lb Hammerhead on 30lb, Mal McIntosh 28lb Yellowfin Tuna on 32lb and Bill Quill 7.5lb Trevalli on 30lb. The second point score day produced a 130lb Marlin on 30lb caught by Mario Fenick on "Lorna I" skippered by Ernie Way. This fish won the one and only trophy for the 71/72 season awarded for the heaviest fish, as it was the only weighable fish. The inaugural Presentation Dinner was held at the Ibbitson's Fish Shop and Restaurant near Tom Uglys Bridge now called the Bay Blu (previously the Oyster Shell & Atlantico's) on the 12th August 1972.
A huge improvement occurred in the 72/73 season. The membership grew to 48 and boats to 12, and captures were 2 marlin, 15 sharks and 11 O.G.F. a grand total of 28. The Club was on the move.
Trophy list & winners for the 72/73 season were as follows:-
Overall Club Champion - Phil Birdsall 24,642 pts
Highest Point Score Angler - Phil Birdsall 24,642 pts
Heaviest Marlin - Phil Birdsall - 148lb Black on 12lb
Heaviest Shark - Les Dee - 157lb Black Tip Whaler on 20lb
Heaviest O.G.F. - John Allsopp - 40lb Wahoo on 20lb
Highest Point Scoring Boat - "K-Mark" - Phil Birdsall 26,161 pts
Runner Up Boat - "Dulcie" - Vincent Chee - 8,657 pts
Highest Point Score Angler - Ernie Way - 930 pts
Heaviest Marlin - No Capture
Heaviest Shark - Ernie Way - 167lb Blue on 30lb
Heaviest O.G.F. - Bill Heyward - 38lb Wahoo on 30lb
Highest Point Scoring Boat - "Lorna I" - Ernie Way - 1,473 pts
Runner Up Boat - "K-Mark" - Phil Birdsall - 943 pts
Heaviest Shark - Pam McIntosh
Halfway through our second season, on 21st February 1973, Bill Heyward was elected President when the current President could not fulfill his obligations. President Bill Heyward remained as our leader for 13 years until his untimely death in December 1985. No one worked harder for the establishment of our Club than Bill. Towards the end of 1972 after many meetings, Bill arranged for us to become affiliated with the St. George Motor Boat Club (St. George M.B.C.) giving us a home that is second to none which is still our home today.
Bill was secretary of our Club prior to becoming the President. During his long term as President he also served as a Director of the St. George M.B.C for 9 years, 4 years as Vice President of N.S.W. G.F.A before serving another 6 1/2 years as President, Vice President of G.F.A.A for 2 years and had been elected as G.F.A.A President to take office as of January 1st 1986, just 3 days after he died. Never once did he lose sight of his beloved Botany Bay G.F.C. He willing gave a great deal of his valuable time to the sport he loved, helping many of us along the way.
Bill Heyward (Deceased), Joyce Heyward, Kevin Hegner, Grahame Williams OAM, Bill Heaton