THE late Dulcie Thomas devoted most of her life to the development of junior soccer in Wollongong’s northern suburbs, particularly at Bulli, writes Phillip Jordan:
In 1956 ‘Auntie Dulcie’ (as she was affectionately known) approached the Bulli Senior Club to sponsor a team of Under 10 boys she had gathered together. After a little persuasion the seniors agreed, on the condition that Dulcie looked after them, and so the Bulli Junior Soccer Club was born.
The extent of Dulcie’s coaching ability was immediately recognised when that same year her beloved Under 10s won the Gala Day knock out final. She often said that along with her life membership of the Illawarra Junior Soccer Association, she still regarded that first victory as one of her most treasured memories.
The next year, with the help of some dedicated parents, the Bulli Junior Soccer Club fielded five teams, the rest is history. Not everyone, however, was overjoyed with the idea of a junior soccer team in Bulli. A letter sent to Dulcie by the local schoolmaster of the time outlined the dilemma he was facing. He told Dulcie that… “with great difficulty he had managed to secure six or seven boys for the |Methodist Junior Choir”, which practiced after school each Thursday. The headmaster lamented that the boys had informed him that due to football training none of them would be able to attend choir practice any more. He then went on to ask Dulcie if she could change the training day so that he might have his choir back. Rumour has it that the boys pleaded with Auntie Duclie to keep Thursday for soccer training. For some reason she had the best-behaved team on the coast that year.
Dulcie Thomas died in July 1998 leaving a new generation of dedicated individuals carrying on her great work. The Bulli Junior Soccer Club is thriving today and has had a steady stream of local and state championship teams come through their ranks over the years. Ask any “old folk” who know their junior soccer out Bulli way, which was the best team they ever saw and the instant reply would be the 1956 Under 10s – “Auntie Duclie’s Boys”.