Annadale Hockey Club, formerly Annadale Grammar School Former Pupils, made its debut in 1968. Ken Bradbury (inaugural Secretary) was the main driving force in the formation of the Club, supported by Ronnie McNamee, Michael Graham (inaugural Chairman) and David Bennison.
The majority of the members had played for Cliftonville, and the close association then established between the two Clubs remains strong. Whilst Annadale is now an open Club, the bonds with Annadale Grammar school, now Wellington College, are firmly maintained through coaching and a warm welcome to school players.
The Club commenced with two teams which grew to seven teams at one stage in addition to its successful mini and youth squads. The 1st XI under the captaincy of Bowden Beggs won league and cups in their first season.
The First XI gained promotion and cup victories every year until 1974. In 1976, advancement to Senior League I was achieved. In 1977, the First XI won its way to the Ulster Section Final of the Irish Senior Cup, losing to YMCA, but later that year overcame Lisnagarvey to win the Anderson Cup under the Captaincy of Kenny McKeown. In 1984, Annadale reached the Final of the Irish Senior Cup, being narrowly defeated by Banbridge.
Annadale was the first Club, in 1982, to introduce a structured Youth Development Programme, initiated and managed by Ronnie Smyth. A number of players, products of this youth policy, have gained International selection at Under 15, 16, 18, 21 and Senior level. Chris Jackson, Andrew Smyth, David Smyth and Andy McBride gained honours at three levels. Peter Caruth represented Ireland in the 2016 Olympic Games and Iain Lewers represented Great Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Games. Michael Robson was travelling reserve for Ireland in the 2016 Games.
Ronnie Smyth has been the major influence in the club throughout the years as Club Captain and Coach. He has continued to develop the coaching programme which continue to attract 90-100 children aged 6-14 years every week during the season.
In 1975, Annadale’s Harp Lager Breakthrough Festival was launched as the pipe-opener for the season. This introduced Sunday hockey to Ulster and Ireland for the first time. This became the Harp Masters and continued to be the major invitation tournament in Ireland. For many years this tournament attracted teams from the South of Ireland, England, Wales Scotland and overseas.
On the social side, the Annadale Annual Dinner was one of the highlights of the season. The Club Dinner gained a high reputation for hospitality and the quality of the speeches. Representatives from the Irish Hockey Union, The Ulster Branch, Provincial Presidents and Clubs throughout Ireland were always welcome guests at the Dinner.
The Club has made a valuable contribution to Ulster and Irish Hockey in umpiring and administration. Michael Jackson, Alan Moore and Billy Stewart gained International umpiring honours, with other members gaining Inter-provincial appointments. The Club was proud when Michael Jackson was elected President of the Ulster Branch in 2006 and Billy Stewart elected President of the Ulster Hockey Union in 2013.
Ronnie McNamee was elected President of the Ulster Branch in 1988, which was a just reward for his tremendous contribution to Annadale and Ulster Hockey.
Ronnie Smyth has made an immense contribution to coaching and development in Ulster and Ireland and was Chairman of the Ulster Coaching Committee for many years. He has also held appointments as Coach to the Ulster Seniors, Ireland Under 16, Under 18 and Under 21 sides. Ronnie gained the prestigious FIH Badge which is the most top coaching award in World Hockey. Ronnie’s son, Andrew, the Club Senior Coach and Director of Coaching for a number of years also gained this award a few years later.
Ronnie’s outstanding contribution was recognised by Hockey Ireland when he was awarded Honorary Life Membership.
Michael Graham who was Treasurer of the Ulster Branch, Manager of the Ulster Senior Team, and Manager of Ireland Under 21 and Manager of Ireland in the World Student Games was elected President of the Ulster Branch for their Centenary Year 1996-1997. Upon the amalgamation of UBIHU and UWHU in 2009 Michael Graham was elected Chairman of the Ulster Hockey Union a post which he held for three years.
The Club celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Annadale at a sell-out dinner in 2018. A special presentation was made to Ronnie Smyth in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Club.
All Annadale teams have enjoyed some success both on and off the pitch from time to time. Of particular note was the success of the 1st XI under Coach Graeme Francey in winning five consecutive Premier League titles in the period 2003 – 07. In the same era the team won five Kirk Cups and five Anderson Cups. The 2nd XI also won four Junior League titles and five Irish Junior Cups.
To date – 2021 – Annadale players have continued to gain Provincial and International Caps at all levels from youth to senior. Eight players were involved at Ireland U16 to U19 level and Michael Robson, Callum Robson, Peter Caruth and Tim Cross at Senior Level. We wish all our players enjoyment and success in the future.
Website: History | (annadale.co.uk)
- East Antrim
- Newry Olympic
- South Antrim
FOUNDED IN 1895
Antrim Hockey Club was established sometime in 1895. From a report on a Club function in the 11th May 1901 edition of the Ballymena Weekly the Club President Mr HDM Barton stated that he and Mr H Armitage-Moore had responded to a Belfast Newsletter advertisement of 23rd November 1895 from the North Staffordshire Regiment for a game of hockey. Soon after that on a date unknown they had raised a team, had played and soundly beaten the North Staffs in that game. Despite extensive research the first recorded mention of Antrim appears in a Press report of a match against Ballymena on the 19th November 1896. So it looks as if the Club was formed in 1895 by Mr Barton and Mr Armitage Moore. Mr Barton was a Land Steward for Lord Massereene and Mr Armitage-Moore was head gardener at Bush House where Mr Barton lived. It is known that the Club was made up of professional gentlemen – landowners, linen barons, mill managers, solicitors and others. Those were the reasonably well off people who, at that time, had the influence to obtain a playing pitch and were able to provide or pay for transport to away games. Antrim sent Mr. Thomas Lyle McElderry and Mr. George Bromwell Parke as delegates to a General Meeting of the Ulster Hockey Union, held on 15th October 1897 in the Royal Avenue Hotel Belfast, where proposals were accepted to form an Ulster Hockey League along with League Rules, and to affiliate with the Irish Hockey Union. At the meeting on the 29th October 1897, Mr. John Kirk, J.P. presented the Ulster Union with the Ulster Challenge Cup (now the Kirk Cup). The Antrim Club is justifiably proud that this old prestigious trophy was presented by a local man. Antrim was a prominent Club from its beginnings and into the early 1900’s, when its two Club teams, won the Senior and Junior League and Cup competitions on several occasions. Antrim Seconds were beaten by Dublin Corinthians in the All Ireland Junior Cup final on 5th of May 1900 in Dublin. At the end of the 1907-08 season, in the scramble to play off postponed fixtures before grounds became unavailable at the end of April, the Press reported ‘ that the Branch Secretary refused a request by the Club to arrange a play off for the League with Malone, who were equal on points with two games to play. Antrim travelled to Banbridge played a draw, but won the game on a protest over Banbridge playing an illegible player. Malone finished second with one game unplayed. Antrim were ‘handed the Cup’ for that season’. These events must have been very controversial because Antrim withdrew from the Senior League in the 1908-09 season, claiming “ to have fulfilled their fixtures since 1897 in a way that compared with any other club. In the previous season, out of 17 games they played 11 away, and were not prepared to do a similar amount of travelling this year’’. Although Antrim returned to the Senior League for the 1910-11 season, many of their best players had left to join other senior clubs and including the four year break for the First World War they didn’t win the league again until the 1920-21 season. One year later in the 1921-22 season the Anderson Cup was won for the first time. For the next eight years the Club was very successful winning the Senior League three times, the Anderson Cup twice and the Kirk Cup once. The Seconds winning there League three times and the Braddell Shield once. Antrim have never won the Irish Senior Cup, losing in their first final to L.Y.P.M.A. by 2-1, at the Y.M.C.A. ground at Claremont Road, Dublin on 31st March 1928. Bitterly disappointed, a protest was lodged against one of the umpires, but to no avail. He was accused of throwing off his coat and tossing his hat in the air when the opposition scored a goal close to full time. (The team on that day was Burrows, John McKillop, D Quigley, Morrison, H Curry, A McKee, G Clarke, Wallace, L Campbell, J. Hannon and James McKillop.)
Through the thirties Antrim struggled to survive seldom being able to field two teams during this period. During this time Antrim played their hockey at various locations. First at the Bush, then the Agricultural Showgrounds before moving to a pitch which was then in the Massereene Estate below the Easter Hill, (now the seventh fairway of Massereene Golf Club). In 1922 a Clubhouse was built beside the pitch but because of its rather remote location it suffered from constant vandalism and was sold off in 1942 for £70.00 to David Rea’s Sawmill, Castle St. Antrim. After Antrim won the Anderson Cup in the 1938-39 season, the Second World War intervened and the Hockey Club didn’t restart until 1945. (Due to a misunderstanding over a Resolution not to reform the Club until the war was over, Antrim Olympic Hockey Club played the 1944-45 season !) By now, a new era had dawned, younger men had taken over, and despite the struggle to get restarted this period was to become one of the Club’s most successful ever. By courtesy of Lord Massereene the playing pitches were now located in the Castle Grounds, a magnificent arena, surrounded by high hedges. Access was only available, about an hour before bully off time, through a gateway in Castle Street. A large stone sink with a cold water tap was even then considered reasonable for cleaning up in after matches! The Second X1 moved up to the Intermediate League and a Third X1, formed in 1947, entered the Junior League. The Second X1 won the Irish Junior Cup twice in successive years – in 1947 beating Roscrea, from Co Tipperary by two goals to one, and in 1948, beating Pembroke Wanderers Seconds by the odd goal in five. The First X1 won the Anderson Cup four times in six years, between 1947 and 1952. In 1955 the First X1 lost another Irish Cup final to Dublin YMCA and in the 1956 Semi-Final lost again to the same Club. Prominent players at that time were Billy Jarden, Billy Allen, Bob Fawcett, Billy and Ronnie Ludlow, Bob Gordon, Billy Crawford, Bobby Peacocke, Tom Allen, George McBurney, Sam Wallace, Joe Lavery, Robert McNally, Stanley Young and Morris Hilland. In 1953 Paddy Marks joined the Club and with his abundant enthusiasm, hockey was started in Antrim Primary School where he was a teacher. With the help of other energetic members, the Club gradually grew in numbers, fielding a Fourth X1 in 1958 and a Fifth X1 from 1976 to 1982. The First X1 again won the Kirk Cup in 1966 under the captaincy of the late Billy Harkness and in the 1971-72 season shared the Kirk Cup with Instonians after two replays. Incidentally the Cup, which had been on display in Hall’s Hotel, survived a terrorist bomb, which exploded outside, severely damaging the building. In 1970 another pitch was acquired at the Lough shore on ground owned by the Club President, Herbie McCabe and in 1973 a new gravel pitch was available when the Antrim Forum opened. After protracted negotiations the Club joined with Antrim Rugby Club in 1972. An old stable in the Castle grounds was converted into a Clubhouse and the drive was on to realise the dream of our own pitches and premises at Allen Park, the site allocated for sport in the Antrim New Town Plan. Changing accommodation with three hockey pitches, two grass and one gravel, along with three rugby pitches were constructed and first used in 1979. Although the Ireland v Scotland International was played on the grass pitch in 1980, very little hockey was played on that surface and with hindsight the laying of another gravel pitch would have been more sensible. The building of a Clubhouse was completed in 1985, and for some the dream was realised. The Second X1 won the Irish Junior Cup in 1976, defeating Limerick PYMA. by two goals to one, in the final. The four Mailey brothers, Robert, Derek, Dougie and Stevie, along with Jimmy Gleghorne, Jackson Fleming, John McMeekin, Jimmy Orr, Michael Campbell, John McKee and Crawford Carson were the victorious team of that day. In 1961 the Antrim Six-a-Side Tournament was born. The brain child of Bobby Peacocke, together with Paddy Marks, Billy Crawford, Bob Fawcett, Drew Francey and with the strong support of all the members and their wives and girl friends, it developed and grew to become a permanent fixture in the Ulster hockey calendar. The First X1 survived three relegation Senior League play off’s, against Bangor in the 1963-64 season, Queen’s in 1982-83 season and Cliftonville in the 1984-85 season. In the 1985-86 season the First X1, built around experience players like David Haugh, Jimmy Orr, John McMeekin and Andy Gleghorne headed the League until well into the New Year, finally finishing third, behind Y.M.C.A. and Banbridge, with 22 points. They were very unlucky to lose 1-0, in extra time, to Banbridge in the final of Anderson Cup. With one of Antrim’s best-ever seasons behind them, tragedy struck on the 27th September 1986. In a horrific road accident, not far from the Club, Jimmy Orr, Colin Rainey and Harry Young, three of our First team players died. The loss to Antrim Hockey Club was immense but it was nothing compared to the loss to the families. A Memorial Fund was set up in their memory and contributions from the Fund still go to help the coaching and development of promising young players. Despite these very traumatic events, the Club struggled on, but with the loss of such talented players it was no surprise that the First X1 were relegated in 1988. Although Antrim have finished near the top of Senior League 2, the prize of regaining Senior 1 status remained elusive for the next 22 years. However, due to the coaching of Andy Gleghorne, and a loyal band of helpers down the years, a good supply of young players was coming up through the Junior teams. In 1987 there were enough players to restart the Fifth X1 and under the guidance of the late Vincent Campbell a place on the team was the starting point of many of our now more senior players. Despite playing for half the 1996-97 season, the shortage of players forced the Club to reluctantly withdraw the team from the league. In 1991 Antrim Borough Council constructed new sand filled artificial plastic pitch at Antrim Forum and the Club Annual General Meeting in June of that year decided that, in order to compete at the top level, all five of the Club teams had no option but to play as much as possible on the new pitch. The joint Club had incurred considerable debt in completing the facilities at Allen Park and although this was slowly being reduced, the strained relationship between the two sections over the years had drained the loyalty of most of the hockey members. At a Special Meeting in April 1995 the majority of those present decided that they should concentrate all their efforts and resources into hockey, and membership of Antrim Hockey and Rugby Club was not renewed. Meetings and after match socialising took place, firstly at Muckamore Cricket Club and then at various other hostellers and facilities around the town. At the start of the 1996 season the Committee appointed Gavin Rodgers as Player Coach and soon afterwards, with the full consent of all the members, it was decided to look for a young player who would add to the First team strengths to help in the push for promotion. With his South African connections, Gavin Rodgers persuaded Alun Kelly, a South African Under 23 International from Durban, to join the Club. His arrival in February 1997 meant instant success, and although they didn’t win promotion, the First X1 lost very few matches during his time with the Club. Alun coached the Club U16 squad and also helped to promote the game of hockey, with his infectious enthusiasm, in quite a few school teams around the district. Unfortunately Alan badly damaged his knee while playing for a South African Select team in a Glasgow Indoor Tournament in January 1998 and was unable to play for Antrim again that season. Lack of finance meant that the short flirtation with professionalism was over and neither man was reappointed. However with the strong South African connection now established Rowan Moran joined the Club in December 2003 during his holiday break from Durban University studies. He won his place on the First team and got involved in coaching hockey at Antrim Grammar School and Ballymena Academy during his three months stay. On his return to South Africa Rowan persuaded his fellow student Jodax Beaumont to follow him to Antrim the next season and he also played and coached for three months before going home. Returning from earning his Sports Degree in Scotland the former Antrim player Johnny McMeekin was appointed player coach for the First team at the beginning of the 2004/05 and with the exception of the 2007/08 season he has held that position for the next ten years. When the struggling Ballymena Club wasn’t allowed to play in the Junior League they reluctantly had to fold and their players were welcomed at Antrim with open arms at the start of the 2000-01 Season. The Fifth X1 was reformed and consisting mainly of players from Ballymena they played their home games on the new artificial pitch at Ballymena Showgrounds. This unique infusion of players benefited the whole Club and quite a few of them progressed through to play for the other teams. The 2001-02 season saw the Seconds win Junior League 2 with an unbeaten run of 25 wins for which they were awarded the prestigious Antrim Borough Council’s Team of the Year Trophy. The Thirds finished second in their league and won promotion to Junior League 3 and as well as competition against each other in the Strabane Cup final the Fourths and Fifths also won promotion into Junior League 6. Then when the Ulster Branch allowed Club’s First X1’s to play in the Junior Leagues in the 2006/7 season the players from Ballymena reformed their own Club and due to lack of numbers the Fifths team couldn’t continue. In that same year the Seconds were relegated into Junior League 2. The Fourths were relegated in the next season and the struggle to field a team over the next two seasons proved too difficult and they were reluctantly withdrawn from the league in the 2009/10 season. Off the field in this period of the Club’s history we sadly lost several of our prominent members. Alvin Carson who was a great ambassador for the Club took up goalkeeping as a teenager and he quickly excelled to be a key part of the Antrim team going on to be selected for Ulster where he held his place for many years. He won his first International Cap in 1970 against West Germany in Dublin and went on to play 91 games for Ireland and 10 games for Great Britain before his retirement from playing in 1983. He then took up umpiring and quickly became one of the best and most respected officials in the country. He was awarded the prestigious FIH Umpires Badge going on to officiate at 19 International matches before his untimely death in February 2005. Our long serving President Paddy Marks who had been the enthusiastic driving force from player to President and all things in between died in 2006. Bob Fawcett, another loyal member and Antrim man who was an integral part of the Club died in 2012. He stepped in to follow Paddy as President and had served as Club Captain and Chairman in the 50’s and 60’s. Bob brought honour to himself and the Club when he was elected as the President of the Ulster Branch for the 1973/74 season and then there was George Houston who joined our Club in the late 70’s and because of his interest he was quickly elected on to the Committee as well as becoming a key defender on the Seconds. A few years later he was forced to retire from playing because of a niggling knee injury. Paddy Marks, the then Club Chairman was elected as a local Councillor in the early 80s and because of his ever increasing responsibilities he reluctantly had to relinquish his day to day involvement in Club affairs. Thirty four year old George boldly stepped forward and volunteered to become the new 1985/86 season Chairman. Little did he know that just into his second year of office he would have to deal with the awful trauma of the tragic car accident which claimed the lives of First team players Jimmy Orr, Colin Rainey and Harry Young. George responded magnificently and with others guided the Club through that very difficult time. George held the office with distinction for six years before handing the reins on to Trevor Carson. In 1987 George was elected on to the Ulster Branch Hockey Council and his input over the next few years so impressed his peers that they honoured him and our Club by appointing him the Ulster Branch President in our 1994 Centenary Year. Incidentally, at that time, he was the youngest ever elected Ulster Branch President. George had many other interests and used his obvious talent in prominent positions in the Massereene Golf Club and Antrim Grammar School but sadly after a short illness his life was cut short and he died in February 2014. In the 2011/12 Season the Firsts finally claimed the Senior League 1 title winning it by seven clear points and promotion in to the Premier League. They also won the Linden Cup beating Bangor in the Final with Stuart McIlroy scoring the winning goal in extra time. They found the going tough in the next season’s Premier League and in the end were relegated on goal difference against Mossley. Since then the three Club teams have held their own in their respective league and cup competitions. The wind of change was now blowing its inevitable way through hockey in Ulster at Branch level when the Men’s and Ladies Branches amalgamated in 2009 and in Antrim two of their most reliable Club Officers stepped down. Match Secretary Darren Mulholland after 17 years of faithful service in 2014 and Club Secretary Andy Gleghorne after 32 years dedicated service ( more than a quarter of the Club’s life), in 2015. The loyal Club stalwart Paul Whiteside took over as Chairman in 2007 and relinquished that to become Treasurer in 2015. He held that office until the 2019/20 season handing it on to Andrew Heatley. The enthuastic Stuart Campbell took on the onerous job of Match Secretary in 2014 and added the Club Secretary’s duties in 2015 and since then he has guided and encouraged several of the younger Committee members to take on this onerous role. Dean Kane agreed to be Chairman from the beginning of the 2018/19 season, following one year spells by Greg Shirley, David Gleghorne and Andrew Heatley. For many years the coaching of schoolboys was organised and led by Andy Gleghorne every Friday evening at the Antrim Forum. Then in the 2014 season the Club’s Minis section for about 70 boys and girls was successfully added and co-ordinated by Jonathan McMeekin for four year olds to nine year olds. This has been expanded to include Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15 squads who are now competing in Ulster Development Leagues, with the boys coached and led by a group of energetic young teenagers under the direction of Andy Gleghorne, Stuart Campbell and Paul Whiteside. The girls’ coaching is led by Jonathan McMeekin with the assistance of Alan Mullan, Daryl Fulton, Tommy Monahan and Jonathan Wray. The desire of the Irish Hockey Association to form an all Ireland League was eventually realised in the 2016/17 season and losing four teams the Ulster Branch had to reorganise its complete league structure. In the 2017/18 season club first teams were allowed to play in the Junior Leagues forcing the Branch Competitions Committee to play the remaining 14 first elevens in the one Premier league. An All Ireland Division Two League was also formed in the 2018/19 season which will almost certainly cause further confusion in the Ulster League set up. Further reorganising saw the reformation of an Intermediate League and from the 2019/20 season two teams dropped into that league from the Premier League to restore some equilibrium in numbers and quality. Indeed it seems that hockey is in decline as the number of teams playing in the leagues have dropped from 104 just six years ago to just 73 in the 19/20 season. It looks like the long established format in Ulster Hockey has gone and with the more professional approach needed to compete many clubs are now struggling to stay interested.
The Club has had seven players who have played for Ireland :-
Armitage Moore – 3 Caps; 18/3/1899 against England at Richmond; 17/2/1900 against Wales at Llandudno and 10/3/1900 against England in the first ever international played in Belfast at Balmoral. Mr Armitage Moore inherited the Rowallen Estate in Saintfield, which was bequeathed to the National Trust after his death.
Thomas. L. McElderry – 1 Cap also against England on 10/3/1900.
Samuel Rea – 1 Cap, 8/3/1902 in the first ever International against Scotland played in Belfast at Balmoral.
John. G. Entwhistle – 1 Cap in 1904 against Scotland.
Francis. L. Robinson – 2 Caps – In 1914 against Scotland and England. He also played 11 other games for Ireland from 1908 – 1911 while playing for Malone H.C.
George. N. Clarke – 3 Caps – In 1932 against Scotland and in 1936 against England and Wales
Alvin. G. Carson won 91 Caps in a career, which began in 1970 against West Germany in Dublin. For many years he was a patient understudy to the great Harry Cahill before his opportunity came to take the leading role. The Irish goalkeeping position seems to have been occupied for many years by a combination of master and apprentice, and Alvin filled both roles excellently. Quiet and gentle off the field, he always seems content with his pipe and relaxed conversation. On the field he played many brilliant matches for Ireland, relying on his positional sense, keen anticipation and great bravery to earn applause from both friend and foe. Alvin Carson for a long time was the most capped Irish goalkeeper also made 10 appearances for Great Britain. His greatest tournament was probably the first Intercontinental Cup in Rome in 1977, where he was an inspiration to the Irish team. His greatest disappointment was probably in 1976 when as a member the Great Britain Team who waited in vain at London Airport for the call to take the place of Kenya in the Montreal Olympic Games.
On his retirement from playing in 1985, Alvin took up and quickly excelled at umpiring and was awarded his F.I.H. Badge in 1990. Alvin umpired in 19 International matches and is still highly regarded and respected as being one of the best umpires in Ireland. Alvin died on 25th February 2004 and is sadly missed by his many friends.
The now retired International players Mark and Paul Gleghorne, under the guidance of their father Andy, started their hockey career playing for the Club at the turn of the century, before their obvious talent and ambition took them on to play at a much higher level. Mark played his first game for Ireland against Wales in Dublin on the 25th June 2004 and went on to play 80 times winning his last cap against France on the 10th February 2008 after scoring 40 goals. Keen to play in the Olympics and the World Cup Mark decided he had to play in England and after a four years qualifying period he was included in the Great Britain Squad and played his first game for them against Belgium in Antwerp in November 2011. His dream was realised when he was selected on the Great Britain Squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics and went on to play 52 times and scored 13 goals. Mark was also selected for England playing his first game against India in Melbourne in December 2012 and went on to play 112 times and scored 32 goals. (Final total subject to confirmation). Paul played his first game for Ireland against France in Edinburgh on the 26th June 2009 and in a very successful Irish team he went on to play in the World Cup and the Rio Olympics winning 238 caps and scoring 21 goals. So this is a unique situation of two brothers playing for two different nations in International hockey competitions. In 2017 Mark, Paul and Mossley’s John Jackson were jointly awarded the prestigious Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Player of the Year Award for their outstanding individual performances as citizens of the Borough.
Seven Antrim Hockey Club members have served as Ulster Branch President.
George Hurst in 1900.- Mr. Hurst, from the South of Ireland, the serving R.I.C. D.I. based in Antrim was the second ever elected President of the Ulster Branch.
William Heney from 1911 – 1920. Mr. Heney a Dunadry mill owner played a very active and important role during this difficult period in Ulster hockey. He was also the President of the Ulster Cricket Club for some of this time.
Robert H Coulter in 1924 – Robert was an Antrim man. Records show that he was a very important and influential man in Ulster and Irish hockey for many years. Branch Treasurer from 1920 – 1950, he was the driving force behind the charity donations of significant magnitude made mainly to the Royal Victoria Hospital during his time in office. He also found time to be Irish President in 1934-35, the only Antrim man ever to hold that high office.
Nathaniel M. Clarke in 1938.- Lord Massereene’s Land Steward and a very influential member of the Club at that time. An active member of the Branch Council for many years and his son George eventually served on the Council at the same time as his father.
W.R.J. (Bob) Fawcett in 1973 – A lifelong Antrim man, first elected to the Council in 1952 he played an active role as a player, selector and as coach to the Senior Ulster team. He also became a Senior Umpire on his retirement from playing. Taking a great interest in Club affairs he held the Offices of Chairman and was the President at the time of his death in 2012
Francis Baird in 1980 – Francis was a member of the Antrim 1st X1 for many years and indeed in 1955 was the first ever R.B.A.I. pupil to win an Irish Schoolboy Hockey International Cap. Francis first came onto the Council in 1966 and his contribution to Ulster hockey has been well documented. Before his untimely death on 25th September 1993, Francis had served hockey as a player, selector, administrator and international umpire. He will long be remembered as a dedicated Ulster Hockey administrator who had a deep interest in the affairs of the Ulster Branch. He criticised when the occasion arose, but was equally generous in his praise of a job well done. Francis was a character – a good friend – first and foremost a proud Antrim man and a true Ulsterman. His passing in 1993 has been a great loss to Ulster Hockey and Antrim Hockey Club.
George Houston in 1993 – Honoured in the Club’s Centenary Season, George was the youngest ever Ulster Branch President to be elected. Although a past player for Old Bleach and Ballymena his best years were with Antrim. Forced to stop playing through injury, George quickly became a top class umpire. But dedicated to the improvement of the Antrim Club he unselfishly took on the position of First team coach and then as the team Manager when Gavin Rodgers arrived. George was a great Clubman and continued to be fully involved until his death in February 2014.
Andrew (Drew) Francey – A long serving Club Committee member who held the Offices of Hon Secretary and Match Secretary was honoured by the Ulster Branch in 2008 in recognition of his loyal service to the Club and as a member of the Ulster Branch Council for over 30 years. He was their nomination for the prestigious CCPR Torch Trophy Award which he received from His Royal Highness Prince Andrew the Earl of Wessex at a ceremony in London on 19th November 2008. Forced to retire from playing after breaking his leg in 1966, Drew took up umpiring and over a period of 30 years officiated at most of the important domestic, Interprovincial and Ulster games as well as officiating at several International matches in the 1970.s.
There are records of Men’s Hockey being played in the Ballynahinch area back as early as the 1920’s and 1930’s, and later playing as Ballynahinch Recreation Club up to the 1960’s.
The present Club, however, was not formed until 1971 when a group of people who were playing their hockey outside the town mainly for Shorts in Belfast called a meeting. When twelve players and four previous players turned up they decided that a team should be formed. Their application to the Ulster Branch was accepted after much help from hockey stalwart George Blower, who was instrumental in helping the Club to obtain a pitch, and they entered Intermediate League II in 1971-72.
Home matches were played at Somerdale School in Belfast and in the first Season the team won their League undefeated, and gained promotion. As interest grew, a Second XI was formed and for two Seasons both teams travelled to Belfast for their home fixtures.
In 1974 the Club moved back to home soil when they were granted permission to play at the Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch, which was to remain their home until new playing fields were opened in 1977. The First XI continued to play in the Intermediate League, missing out on promotion on several occasions and also reaching the Intermediate Cup Final in 1985-86.
The first signs of school hockey in the area began at this time when the local High School started to play boys’ hockey and interest in the game at Primary level became apparent.
The interest quickly paid dividends as the Second XI won promotion from Junior 6 to Junior 3 in consecutive, and in the 1990-91 the First XI gained promotion to Senior hockey for the first time in their history.
The Club were now fielding a total of four Men’s teams and at this time formed a Ladies’ section who gained promotion each year from their League until the 1994-95 Season.
The First XI have consolidated their promotion in Senior II and in 1995-96 the Second XI gained promotion to Junior I for the first time. Since 1993-94 the First XI have been playing on artificial pitches at various venues, hoping to encourage the youth of the area and at the time of writing plans are afoot to lay a sand-filled pitch in the Town.
Source: A. McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
- Civil Service (NICS)
The Ulster United Services Club became affiliated to the Ulster Branch at the AGM of 6 September 1923. Six days later, at a Special Meeting, they changed their name to the Civil Service Hockey Club. The First XI are recorded as competing in the Intermediate League in 1923-24, a Second XI entered the Minor League in 1925-26, and a further ten years passed before a Third XI was formed in 1935-36.
The Club’s first Trophy success was in 1936-37 when the First XI won the Intermediate League. The following Season they competed in the Qualifying League. During these early years FS Skillen represented Civil Service on the Ulster Branch Council. All hockey in Ulster was suspended on 12 September 1939 due to the outbreak of the Second World War but, for reasons unknown, Civil Service did not re-form when the War ended.
In the mid-1950s ‘Wanderers Hockey Club’ who played Senior Hockey off the Comber Road in Newtownards were about to fold. An approach was made to the Civil Service Sports Council to consider forming a hockey Club at Stormont. As about a dozen of the Wanderers players at that time were Civil Servants and the remainder school teachers, their request was granted. The players involved had the immediate use of a superb grass pitch and changing facilities with showers, (in the famous green shed). The First XI competed in the old Qualifying B League against such opposition as Old Bleach, Saintfield, Ballymena, East Antrim, Crossgar and King’s Scholars. The Second XI competed in the Junior League. Soon a Third XI was formed playing in the Junior League.
The year 1957 saw the opening of the magnificent Maynard Sinclair Pavilion which included modern, up-to-date changing facilities, TV lounge with function-rooms, bar and catering services. This new Club House was the envy of every local sportsman. In the early years, the Hockey Club existed financially by means of annual subscriptions and – incredibly- through the profits on the sale of Christmas cards, sold by members during November and December.
Originally, schoolboys were encouraged to play at Civil Service by Jimmy Parke – a dashing ‘Right Inner’ who taught French at Annadale Grammar School. A few years later Campbell College became the nursery for Civil Service through the then First XI Captain ‘Titch’ McDonald, who also taught at Methodist College.
The 1964-65 Season saw perhaps one of Civil Service’s best ever players emerge. A fifteen-year-old schoolboy, Norman Crawford, played for the First XI for two seasons. He went on to gain 42 Caps for Ireland as well as playing in the 60 Indoor Internationals and gaining, of course, numerous Ulster Caps.
During the mid-1960’s to 1970’s the numbers grew and Civil Service were fielding four teams on Saturday afternoons. In 1974 another rising star emerged – a fourteen-year-old schoolboy from Bangor named Stephen Martin who played for the Third XI before gaining his place on the First XI. Stephen then decided to join Bangor, and Service’s loss was Bangor’s gain! Stephen went on to represent Great Britain on 94 occasions, Ireland 135 times and to win Olympic Gold and Bronze Medals.
In 1975 the First XI were promoted from Intermediate League to Senior League II, and in 1978 the First XI won Section II, but unfortunately there was no promotion that year, due to Ireland’s participation in the World Cup. In September 1980 the superb new extension to the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion was opened, and continues to be one of the best of its kind in Ireland. Soon afterwards, in 1983, the Club laid its own ‘shale’ pitch at Stormont to complement the two existing grass surfaces.
On the pitch, the Club had a ‘rollercoaster’ ride through the 1980’s. After reaching the Anderson Cup Final in 1985 (losing 1-0 to Belfast YMCA), the Club had a disastrous Season in 1985-86 which saw the First XI relegated to Intermediate hockey. They won the Intermediate Cup in 1987 and the following year, 1987-88, recorded an Intermediate League and Cup double, and promotion back to Senior hockey. This achievement was made greater by the fact that the team won the League without dropping a single point (Played 18, Won 18)- the first and only time this has ever been achieved in Ulster hockey. NICS was also awarded ‘Ulster Hockey Team of the Year’ for 1987-88.
During this time, the Club was increased in membership and it now fields seven teams each week, with over one hundred playing members. Between 1988 and 1991, the First XI never finished outside the top three in Senior II, but could never quite achieve its goal of promotion.
In the 1990-91 Season of the NICS Prentice Indoor team finished runners-up in the Ulster League and reached the Semi-Final of the All-Ireland Championships. On the 3 September 1994 NICS officially opened its new £500,000 artificial pitch with a game between the Civil Service and Ireland. The new pitch beautifully complements the facilities at the Club and many finals and ‘show case’ matches are now staged at Stormont. The Club has a flourishing Youth policy with many teams and individual honours won during the early 1990’s. Over half of the First XI squad are now teenagers, and the future indeed looks bright for the Club.
Source: A. McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
- Cliftonville/CIYMS Men's
Cliftonville is one of the founding Clubs of the Ulster Hockey Branch, and it has had a distinguished record on and off the field. It has supplied many outstanding players and hockey officials, and despite losing its famous ground during the Troubles, it has shown enormous tenacity in not only surviving but in winning promotion back to the Senior League Section I in its Centenary year.
The first Annual General Meeting was held on 12 October 1986 but unfortunately the Minute books prior to 1903 have been lost, so the early details of the club are not available. However, the first recorded match was played against North Down at Comber in November in 1986 which Cliftonville lost 8-0! (Cliftonville only had thirteen members, but they all went to Comber with one acting as a linesman and another as an umpire).
For the first six years of the Ulster Branch, formed in 1896, John Moore of Cliftonville was the Honorary Secretary and other members of the club who have held this post since there were A Rose, DD Persse, AC Montgomery, J Wilton and HD Simon.
In 1897, quite remarkably, the Club reached the Final of the Irish Senior Clubs in Dublin but lost against Dundrum, one of the founding and leading clubs of the Leinster Branch. In 1898 a Second XI went to Dublin for the Semi-Final of the Irish Junior Cup, but having won, could not field a team to travel to Dublin to play in the Final seven days later!
In the early years of the century the membership of the Club increased sufficiently to run three regular teams and also a Zingari XI and this level of membership has generally remained ever since.
The Club was suspended during the 1914-18 World War when 31 members joined the forces, six of them losing their lives, and eight being wounded.
Following an informal meeting on 20 February 1919, the Club was revived but not officially until the Annual General Meeting on 24 September 1919. Mr JC Picken (a prominent Cliftonville Cricket Club member, later President of the Cricket Club and the Irish Cricket Union and the first President of the joint Cricket and Hockey Club) assisted in the re-starting of the Club, by helping to bring the goal posts from a timber yard in Corporation Street!
Until 1914 the colours of the Club were myrtle and maize, the shirt being myrtle with a monogram in maize on the pocket. On the revival of the Club, black, red, and green jerseys were worn but in 1925 the present shirts of black and red quarters with green sleeves were adopted.
During the 1939-45 World War when competitive hockey in the Ulster Branch was suspended, Cliftonville formed an Association to organise games on a friendly basis and in doing so helped to keep the game going in the Province. Jimmy Wilton, a stalwart of the Club as Captain and Honorary Secretary, took a leading part in this initiative. Between 1945, when competitive hockey resumed, and 1962, the Club did not win any Senior Trophies but was still one of the leading Clubs running four and on occasion five teams each Saturday.
In the Sixties hockey in Ulster began to change, with a more serious professional approach to training and tactics, and with an influx of new young players adding to the experience of the older members, Cliftonville, over the next twenty years enjoyed its best and most consistent period of success in its hundred years existence.
In 1963-64 the Second XI won the Irish Junior Cup against all the odds, beating very strong Lisnagarvey and Three Rock Rovers teams in the process. So far this is its only success in this competition. In 1966-67 the First XI were losing Irish Senior Cup finalists against Cork Church of Ireland but won the Corken Cup awarded to the Ulster team which went the furthest in the competition.
Between 1966 and 1976 the Senior League was won seven times including a hat trick of victories from 1966 to 1968, and runners up positions in1965-66, 1969-70 and 1974-75. The Anderson and Kirk Cups were also won in this period, and with the two successive Irish Senior Cup victories in 1974-75 and 1975-76 both leading to qualification to play in the European Cup Winners Competition, it was truly a golden era for the Club.
The only time the Club previously won the Irish Senior Cup was in 1931-32 when it was presented by President of the Irish Hockey Union Andrew Rose who was also a member of the Club. It was a unique coincidence that the next time the Club was successful in 1974-75, the Cup was presented to Des Simon another stalwart of the Cliftonville Club and also in that year President of the Irish Hockey Union.
The Eighties unfortunately did not yield similar success although the First XI made an Irish Cup Final appearance in 1982 against a very strong Banbridge team won 2-0 after extra time.
In 1985, the Club was relegated from Section I of the Senior League, for only the second time in its history after a play-off with Antrim. The previous relegation was in 1959 but they quickly returned the next year to the top section.
This time the stay in Section II was much longer and it was not until 1992 with again an influx of young players that the Club returned to Section I. Regrettably they were relegated again at the end of Season 1994-95, even though they performed well against the top teams but very poorly against the lower order. However, they returned to Senior I again in 1996.
Up to 1968, the relationship between the Cricket and Hockey Clubs had been as landlord and tenant although prior to the 1914-18 War, Cricket Club members would join the hockey club at reduced fees. Traditionally there has been a co-relationship between cricket and hockey at Cliftonville. However, it was not until 1968 that the two Clubs agreed to amalgamate for their mutual benefit.
Sadly in late August 1972 hostile elements in the area set fire to and eventually looted the club-house and then by physical intimidation prevented the members from entering the grounds. No assurances were forthcoming from either local or government authorities that the Club would be protected and assisted in the continuance of their sporting activities. As a result the Club had no option but to abandon the ground and take up a nomadic existence.
Ironically and by necessity the cricket and hockey clubs had to again become separate entities, with the cricket players using Council grounds at Mossley and the hockey players using the Girls Model School pitches at Dunkeld Gardens, the social facilities kindly offered by the Academy Club in Salisbury Avenue, and holding Committee Meetings in Castleton Bowling Club in Skegoneill Avenue.
The destruction of the JC Picken Pavilion in 1972 was very sad as it had been erected in 1959 on the site of the original pavilion destroyed by the German bombing in 1941 and replaced the Nissen huts which had served as a club-house since then. Today the ground, now the property of the Belfast City Council, is used by the local community but sadly not for cricket or hockey.
In 1981 the Club moved to Boucher Road Playing Fields and obtained the use of the changing facilities, social amenities and Committee rooms at the Queen’s University premises at the Dub.
Then in 1986, arising from the Belfast City Council’s objection to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Boucher Playing Fields were closed and once again Cliftonville was adversely affected by the political climate in Northern Ireland. They returned to the Queen’s University pitches until taking over the tenancy of Belfast YMCA all-weather pitches at Bladon Drive in 1987 when the YMCA Hockey Club left and re-formed as Holywood ’87.
In 1992 YMCA sold part of the ground for housing, and while the junior teams continued to play there for one more season before using the Queen’s University pitches, the First XI played on the artificial pitch at the Olympia Leisure Centre in conjunction with other Clubs under the auspices of the Ulster Branch.
While the First XI are still at Olympia Leisure Centre the Junior elevens are using the new artificial pitch at the Ballysillan Leisure Centre. This is an expensive operation but it is giving the players the opportunity to use a modern hockey surface.
The Club has a reputation for loyal and long-serving players and officials notable amongst whom are the present Honorary Secretary Dixon Rose in office since 1960 and the current Chairman of the Committee, Carson Rose, since 1977.
The Club has provided a steady stream of Inter-provincial and Intermediate players – Walter Dick (1926-34) with 32 Caps was the most most-capped Irish player well into the 1950s. Currently Gregg Sterritt has passed this number with 39 to date.
Cliftonville has supplied thirteen Presidents of the Ulster Branch – Rev Prof Dick, AM Adams, A Rose, A Lowe, AC Montgomery, JS Templeton, J Wilton, WP Jordan, G Edwards, HD Simon, FA Glasby, AD Rose and FDB Young; six Honorary Secretaries – J Moore, DD Persse, A Rose, AC Montgomery, J Wilton and HD Simon; three Honorary Treasurers – J Wilton, WH Mayes and GR Colvin as well as six Presidents of the Irish Hockey Union- A Rose, AC Montgomery, WP Jordan, HD Simon, FA Glasby and AD Rose. WP Jordan, HD Simon and FA Glasby have been honoured by the Ulster Branch with Honorary Life Membership.
These are the achievements of which the Club is justifiably proud and despite the enforced moves over the years and a somewhat nomadic existence the resilience and progress of Cliftonville are still very much in evidence.
Source: A. McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
The Club was founded in 1932 by A Jaye, J Bell, W Whyte and J Ferris (Snr). The Club played in the Minor League for many years and was successful in League and Cup competitions, winning both the Braddell Shield on a number of occasions and the Mulholland Shield.
Hockey was played on a pitch which is presently used by Kilmore Rec Football Club in the grounds of the monastery in Crossgar, and in a field belonging to a Mr Harris on the Kilmore Road until 1945! The Club was in a very good financial position, and it purchased land on the Downpatrick Road, where hockey was played until 1947. This was the year in which hockey in the village was brought to a temporary end by a sine die suspension placed upon the Crossgar Club. This was eventually lifted in 1967.
In the years between 1947 and 1967 some of the players were involved in the original suspension were allowed to play for other Clubs and as a result Down, Ballynahinch and Montalto benefited. In the early 1950’s, under the auspices of the local Church and its Minister, the late Rev Sam Finley, himself a former Lisnagarvey player, Lissara Hockey Club came into existence. They played hockey on what was the old cricket ground on the Saintfield Road, now a housing development (Lissara Close) and in a meadow in Kilmore owned by the late Mr John Patterson.
In 1967, when the Club was reinstated into the Ulster Branch, the original trustees handed the land and the accumulated funds to the new Committee chaired by Mr Jim Ferris, a son of one of the founder members. The land was very low-lying and the East Down Rural Council had been given permission to use the ground as a dump on the condition that it was reinstated as a playing field on completion of the infill. Unfortunately the dump was returned to the Club in an unsuitable condition. This was not rectified until 1985.
The new Crossgar Club played its hockey in a field belonging to Mr Tom Orr at Ballytrim. After this first Season in the Intermediate League, and as a result of the re-arrangement of the Leagues, Crossgar found itself in Senior Hockey for the first time. However, with four other Clubs in the district and no feeder schools, the Club remained small and it struggled. Sometimes in good years it fielded three teams, and in bad years it was barely able to field one team. It was eventually relegated from Senior to Intermediate League.
In 1995 the Club decided that it was necessary to move from the grass pitch to an all-weather surface to try to improve its standard of hockey. Arrangements were made to play home games on the Down High School pitches. It is hoped to continue this arrangement for the Second XI, but it is the intention to play all First XI matches in the coming Season on the new Astroturf pitch at Lough Moss in Carryduff.
Over the years hockey has been maintained in Crossgar by the sterling efforts of a few so that the game could provide a sporting outlet for the youth of the district.
Hockey came to Downpatrick in 1900, when it was played at Saul Camp at the Saul Road. In 1901 the Club was admitted to membership of the Ulster Branch of the Irish Hockey Union, together with Randalstown.
Down Hockey Club first made the headlines in the 1905-06 Seaons when they won the Junior League by beating Lisburn 8-5 at Saul Camp.
In 1910 Down had a remarkable victory, by defeating Lisnagarvey 7-1 in a Senior League match. However, ‘Garvey was not at full strength!
In 1911 JH Acheson played at left back for Ulster against Leinster, and a year later W McCormick played for Ireland against Wales. This was the only occasion in the history of the Club when a member played for Ireland. In the same year W McCormick also played for Ulster.
During the First World War hockey was not played in Downpatrick. In 1923-24 the First XI was still in the Senior League, but they had a poor Seaons, and were relegated to the Junior League A Section. The Second XI met with considerable success winning the A Division of the Minor League, the Minor League Championship and the Mulholland Shield. By now the Club was using the Asylum Ground and had also applied to use the cricket ground.
The Club was also £6 in debt – a not inconsiderable amount in those days and at the AGM there was a lengthy debate on ways and means of raising funds. Finally the Committee decided to run a ballot for a Golden Sovereign, the winner to be declared on the night of the dance – a very acceptable prize!
Next Season, 1924-25, the fortunes of the Club revived. The First XI had a lengthy tussle with CPA in the second round of the Irish Junior Cup finally losing after the third replay. However, they won the Braddell Shield – last won by Down Hockey Club in 1904-05 – when they beat Parkview after a replay and they also won the A Division of the Junior League but lost the League decider to Parkview (Winners of the B Division).
The Club’s next successful Season was in the year 1926-27, when James Clements was Captain and J Morrison was Vice-Captain. The First XI beat Banbridge in the Intermediate Charity Cup Final at the Downshire Hospital and they also beat Antrim Second XI in the Intermediate League Cup (Linden Cup). Unfortunately the night before the match Jim Clements was rushed to hospital for removal of his appendix! In the Irish Junior Cup the Club had an eventful match in Clones on 1 January 1927 when they drew 1-1 after two periods of extra time. On 8 January in Downpatrick, Down won 3-2. However in the next round Down was defeated by YMCA. The two Cups won by the Club were proudly displayed in McBride’s shop. RJ Morrison was selected for the Ulster Junior Inter-provincial XI.
April 14, 1928 was a black day for the Club. The First XI were beaten 2-0 in the Intermediate Charity Cup Final and the Second XI were beaten by Ards (the eventual winners) in the Semi-Final of the Irish Junior Cup.
In the 1929 Season the Captain of the Second XI was Mr Sam Cunningham and in that year Jim Clements was selected for the Junior Inter-provincial team and was also elected a member of the Council of the Ulster Branch.
During the early 1930’s the membership was small, but in the year 1931-32 the Club applied for re-admission to the Senior League. They were not accepted, but played with great success in the Intermediate League.
The Club became moribund with the onset of the Second World War when no League matches were played. On 9 September 1941, a meeting was called to revive the Club. Jim McClurg became Secretary, a position he occupied for 25 years with distinction. The hospital ground had been taken over by the Army and the cricket club kindly made their ground available.
In 1945-46 the Irish Junior Cup came to Downpatrick. The Club won 2-1 at Londonbridge Road, Dublin, by beating Craiguenamanagh of Kilkenny, after extra time. Immediately the match ended one of Down’s supporters, also a pigeon-fancier, sent the result back to Downpatrick by pigeon post!
After major ground improvements in the mid-Forties, Down returned to Senior Hockey and over the next few Seasons a good team drew large crowds to Strangford Road to witness many thrilling ‘battles’ with senior opposition, including Lisnagarvey, Banbridge, Cliftonville, Portrush and Antrim.
For the next few Seasons the Club remained in Senior League II, and the Third XI won the Minor Cup in 1958, but once again the ground developed drainage problems. In the early 1960’s, following relegation to Intermediate hockey, the Club played matches at Ballykinlar, where the ground was outstanding – but the support for hockey seriously diminished as many supporters could not make the journey there.
Miraculously however, the Club has been fortunate enough to have had had good officials, who have kept hockey going in Downpatrick and have also contributed to the Ulster Branch , and numerically the Club remains strong.
Since 1953, Down have won few trophies, although the Second XI was their League in 1972-73 and S Connor was selected for Junior Ulster.
From its 75th Anniversary to date, Down has remained very much in business. It maintained close links with Scotland, and with the Ayr Club in particular, who also made a number of reciprocal visits.
A milestone in the Club’s history was the opening of a new ground in 1979. The Club purchased land at Strangford Road, Downpatrick, from Lord Dunleath for £700. This was a rare achievement as very few hockey Clubs owned their own ground.
That year also the First XI returned to Senior Hockey, after an absence of 20 years- also an achievement as few Clubs make it to Senior Hockey without the aid of a school as a nursery. A grass pitch was laid, due to the efforts of life time members, Jim McClurg, Eddie Malone and Bob Law. The new ground was officially opened on 21 September 1979 by the President of the Ulster Branch Division Dixon Rose with a match between the Ulster President’s XI and a Down team, strengthened by three Internationals. It ended in a 1-1 draw.
On the field, the Club performed steadily. In 1983 the First XI won the Intermediate Cup, and came close to winning promotion to Senior II. Two years later it won the Intermediate Cup for the third Season in succession, and the fourth time in the previous few years. In 1983 Down also won the Bangor Six-A-Side Tournament. In 1989 a Fourth XI was entered in the League, and the Second XI was presented with the Braddell Shield at the Ulster Branch Dinner.
A number of individuals also gained distinction, including Eddie Patterson and Stephen Malone who were selected for the Junior Irish squad in 1983, as was Alex Burgon for Junior Ulster in 1985. More recently, in 1992, John Torney played for Ulster U-18s and won an Irish U-18 Cap. Over the years a member of former players and Club administrators passed away, including former Chairman Bobby Law, Eddie Malone, after whom the Club’s ground was named in 1987, and Jack Brown, the Honorary Treasurer for 45 years. Eddie Malone began playing for Down as a schoolboy, becoming Vice-Captain of the First XI in 1931, Captain when Down won the Hospital Cup, and Captain of the League-winning team in 1952. In 1994 work began on the laying of an all-weather pitch, and in 1995 it was officially opened by Eddie Malone’s son, a Down player, and his sister Thelma.
- Friend's School Old Boys
On 15 March 1944, the Lisburn Old Scholars’ Association visited Malone Training School, Balmoral, and it was there, just before the curtain went up, that Robin Bell, one of the players, remarked “What about this hockey club?”
The inquiry stimulated the debate which had been simmering for some time and the idea was further debated at the LOSA Annual General Meeting later that month. By now, a sufficient number of people had indicated their enthusiasm and as a result the first Meeting of the Club took place on 4 July 1944, with the result that the Lisburn Old Boys’ Hockey Club was formed. The First XI was entered in the Intermediate League for the 1944-45 Season and early enthusiasm was typified by a letter received from North Africa from Colin Doak expressing his wish to join ‘on the cessation of hostilities”.
The first match was a friendly against Co Armagh Club Laurelvale, played on the 16 September 1944 at Friends’ School, with a 1-0 victory for the home team.
Following this heady start, competitive games in League and Cup took priority and, although not threatening to collect any silverware, in the early years the ‘Lobs’ gave as good as they got. The Club owed a great debt in its formative and later years to J Arnold Bennington, schoolmaster and first Club Chairman. His enthusiasm and support were an inspiration to all the members.
Encouragement and inspiration were surely needed. The first success for the Club did not come until the 1964-65 Season when promotion was won in Senior Qualifying League B. That the Club survived this twenty year period is a tribute to the dedication of those members who turned out week after week, on many occasions with fewer than the permitted allocation of eleven players and played the game purely for the pleasure of taking part.
The lack of success for the Club did not reflect the quality of the schoolboys being produced by Friends’ School. The School First XI regularly won the Burney Cup but the boys seldom joined the Old Boys on leaving school. Over many years the annual pipe-opener to the Ulster hockey Season, was the Friends’ School Old Boys v Ulster match. For these matches the ‘Lobs’ could select (and then view) all the talent they had missed.
However, the 1964-65 Season all that, and was the start of a period of success which was to last some twelve years with promotion to Senior Qualifying League B for one Season, and promotion to the A Division at the end of 1965-66.
Success bred success. Schoolboys started joining the Club direct from school and established Senior players were attracted from other Clubs. In 1966 the name of the Club was changed to Friends’ School Old Boys. Probably the high spot in the Club’s history came on 9 March 1968 when, as a Qualifying League A side, the First XI became the only non Senior League team to win the Corken Cup (the Cup for the Winners of the Ulster Final of the Irish Senior Cup).
Success was gained at the expense of favourites Cliftonville who were beaten 1-0. Unfortunately this success was not continued and the provincial play-off Semi-final was lost by the same margin to Railway Union from Dublin.
After three years in Qualifying A, promotion was gained to the Senior League at the end of the 1968-69 Season. Further success was achieved that Season. In a highly emotional Anderson Cup Final (for both players and spectators), Lisnagarvey were beaten 1-0 by FSOB in what was a ‘local Derby’, played at Banbridge.
However, it was not only the First XI which was successful – Junior teams had their moments of glory, being promoted up the Junior Leagues and also gained some Cup successes.
A number of Seasons followed in the top division but at the end of the 1976 Season the Club was relegated to what had then become Senior II. Sadly, at the end of the 1994-95 Season, due to a lack of playing members, the Club was left with no option but to withdraw from the League.
Down the years, a number of members brought fame to themselves and the Club by gaining representative honours, while others honoured the Club by their years of unstinted service. However, the list of people deserving of recognition in either category would be too long to include here.
Former hockey writer Theo Snoddy noted in his booklet ‘The Story of the First Two Years’ published in 1946… “let Lisburn Old Boys’ play hockey in such a sportsmanlike manner that when they lose even the opposition will be sorry.” The feeling was not always reciprocated by the opposition but this general attitude to the game was the main reason, many feel, that playing hockey for The Old Boys was always an enjoyable, if sometimes a forgettable experience!
Source: McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
Holywood 87 was formed in 1987 when the members of Belfast YMCA decided unanimously to relocate to Holywood and form a new Club. The reaons behind this move were financial. Over the previous years the central YMCA had been reducing its financial support for the grounds at Bladon Drive, with an increasing financial burden falling on the sports Clubs. Restrictions imposed by the ethos of the YMCA organisation made fund-raising very difficult and there was also the threat of development of the grounds for housing, which has since taken place.
The decision to move was made with great regret in view of the long and successful history of Belfast YMCA Hockey Club, and also because of the fact that Bladon Drive had in years past been the home of many representative matches – although this has changed with the advent of non-grass pitches.
Thus the history of Holywood 87 Hockey Club is inextricably tied up with that YMCA, although the link becomes more tenuous as times goes on. It is appropriate therefore to take a brief look at the YMCA story.
The first minuted meeting, the fourteenth AGM, took place in 1934, so the YMCA Club can be assumed to have been formed in 1920. In 1935 the Senior team was entered in the Qualifying League with members including Cecil Pearson, John Stirling and George White. In 1937 Goalkeeper Jack Carroll became the first YMCA player to represent Ireland. In 1944 the Club entered the Senior League and shortly after this George Blower, who over the next 45 years was to contribute so much to Ulster and Irish Hockey, joined the Club from England.
YMCA won the Senior League in 1955-56 at which time the great Harry Cahill was in goal, playing with fellow Internationals Ian Rouston, Tony McMillan and Robin Baillie. Subsequently, in spite of fielding five Internationals and several Inter-provincials, the only success on the pitch was a win in the Kirk Cup in 1960.
Harry Cahill went on to represent Great Britain in the Rome Olympics in 1960, and in 1961 YMCA won the Senior Cup for the first time, and this was followed by the Senior League in 1963-64 and the Anderson Cup in 1967-68. However, this team was ageing and the Club eventually slipped into Section II in 1971.
The situation started to improve again in 1972, with the laying down of a new all-weather, floodlit pitch and these excellent facilities were vital in attracting seven players from the Queen’s University team that had won the Senior Cup in 1972. In this year George Blower also umpired his first International match, and Cecil Pearson retired.
Promotion back to Division I was achieved in 1974, and this was followed by a successful period for the Club. In 1975 the Ulster section of the Senior Cup was won convincingly, but it had to be forfeited on a technical ruling. However, in 1977 the Irish Senior Cup was won along with the Kirk Cup, and in the following ten years the Irish Cup was won three more times, the Senior League five times, the Kirk Cup two more times and the Anderson Cup twice. The Second XI also won the Irish Junior Cup in 1981. In 1984-85 the Club achieved the first modern day ‘Grand Slam’ of domestic competitions.
In the Seventies Terry Gregg achieved great success for both Ireland and Great Britain, receiving his one hundredth Cap for Ireland in 1981. Other Internationals were John Clarke and Stewart McNulty (who both captained Ireland), Norman Crawford, and Philip Anderson. In the late Seventies and Eighties these Internationals were joined by Billy McConnell, John McKee, Sam Martin and Kenny Morris, and Billy McConnell went on to become the most-capped player in Irish Hockey until overtaken by Martin Sloan. Along with Sam Martin he represented Great Britain on numerous occasions, winning a Bronze Medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
YMCA also represented Ireland twice in the First Division of the European Cup, a competition of the very highest standard. On both occasions relegation to Division Two was the result, though finishing sixth out of eight in Utrecht in 1986 was a satisfying achievement.
The link from Belfast YMCA to Holywood 87 is through the last President of YMCA, George Blower, who became the first President of Holywood 87. George, who had contributed so much to hockey for forty years, as President UBIHU in 1978, President IHU in 1982 and Fixtures Secretary for many years, actually developed a fresh enthusiasm which was vital for the new Club’s success. Virtually all the members of YMCA moved to Holywood and the Ulster Branch showed great understanding by allowing the four existing teams to retain their status in the Ulster Leagues,
The launch of the new Club was heralded by an Opening Gala with a match between a Holywood 87 XI and a Kaliber International XI at Holywood on 12 September 1987, followed in the evening by a Reception at the Folk Museum. The aim was to achieve sporting excellence, and this was given substance when the TSB presented a beautiful cut glass trophy in memory of Frank Green who was a member of the YMCA First XI in its last years, and who had died tragically at an Irish Indoor training session. This trophy is presented each year to honour sporting excellence.
Holywood 87 achieved success in their first Season under John McKee as Captain winning the Anderson Cup. However, even with players of international quality such as Stephen Martin, Billy McConnell, John McKee, Kenny Morris (Ireland and GB), Mark Burns, Norman Crawford and Philip Anderson (Ireland), success was limited to Kirk Cup victories in three consecutive years, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93. Unfortunately for many of the more important matches, the Great Britain commitments robbed the club of top players.
However the achievement of Stephen Martin in winning a Gold Medal as part of the Great Britain team in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, brought great honour to the Club, and many people believe that Billy McConnell should have been part of that team as well.
The Club membership increased with the move to Holywood and soon a Fifth XI was being fielded. This team has won leagues twice as it moves up the junior ranks. The Second XI produced the first all-Ireland success winning the Irish Junior Cup in 1990-91 and then again in 1991-92. In 1992-93 with Norman Crawford as Coach the Club finally won one of the major competitions – Senior League I. However this success will always be tinged with sad memories – on the afternoon when the First XI beat Lisnagarvey at Olympia Leisure Centre to virtually win the League, George Blower collapsed and died from a heart attack at the side of the pitch. George’s moment of delight as the final whistle went, just before he collapsed, showed how important Holywood 87 Hockey Club was to him, and how important he was to Holywood.
Recent years have been involved with re-building, and under the guidance of John Clarke as Coach, there are hopes that the Club will continue to aspire to sporting excellence.
Source: McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
The first records of a Kilkeel Hockey Club can be traced back to the 1920’s. Indeed the Northern Whig newspaper, in their edition of 23 September 1924 announced: “At the Annual General Meeting of the Kilkeel Hockey Club, Mr JB McKeown presiding, the following appointments were made: – Captain – Mr M Healey, Vice-Captain – Mr Smyth, Secretary – Mr TH Ferguson, Treasurer- Mr RJ Ferguson, Committee – Messrs McKeown, Givens, Hanna, Russell, O’Riodran, Walsh and Dr Henderson.” Unfortunately, current research into this early Kilkeel Club has been unable to shed any more light on the formation, structure and success of this Club.
Kilkeel High School Old Boys’ Hockey Club, today commonly abbreviated to Kilkeel Hockey Club, is one of the younger Clubs within the Ulster Branch. The ‘current Club’ had its Inaugural meeting on 10 September 1971 in the gymnasium of Kilkeel High School, to determine whether there was sufficient support for the formation of a competitive hockey Club in the area. An early affinity with the local High School, from which the Club has taken its name, has continued through the Club’s history and is still as strong today, with the vast majority of past and current players having come through the ranks of the school.
At the Inaugural meeting, the local headmaster, Moore McCauley, was elected President – a position he held for 16 years, CR Boyd, a past member of Lisnagarvey Hockey Club and the Sports Master responsible for the development of hockey in Kilkeel High School, was elected as Chairman, with B McMullen and J Charleton (both of whom are still associated with the Club) taking the roles of Treasurer and Secretary respectively. SC McBride accepted the role of Captain for the Club’s Inaugural Season 1971-72. It was significant that one of the founder members of the Club was Chris Harte from Bangor, more famous for his exploits at cricket. However, Chris’ membership did not last long, as the early Club Constitution only allowed for ex-members of the local school to become members of the Club.
In their Inaugural Season, Kilkeel finished runners-up to Michelin in Intermediate League II and gained their first piece of Ulster Branch silverware when they won the Mulholland Shield. The early years were a period of consolidation rather than immediate success. Throughout the Seventies, Kilkeel rarely featured for promotion to Senior League II, but continued to hold mid-table respectability in most Seasons. For a brief spell, the Club flirted with a Second XI, but initial interest was poor and the Second XI folded after two years. It was resurrected more successfully in the 1980’s, when it began to climb the Junior League tables at regular intervals, until the team had reached Junior League I during 1993.
It was not until the mid-Eighties that Kilkeel began to prosper and develop, both as a team and a Club. When the Second XI providing a larger team base than was available during previous years, Kilkeel’s fortunes took an upward turn, with the Club finishing runners-up in both the 1984-85 and 1985-86 Seasons. However, the ambition to attain Senior status was finally reached after a successful 1986-87 Season, in which they went undefeated, by winning 18 and drawing 2 of their League matches and eventually finishing five points clear of the second-place team.
The Club’s first Season in Senior League Section II was successful, in that their objective to be in the top half of the table was achieved, finally finishing in fifth, with 23 points. This early success, coupled with the continuing climb up the tables by the Second XI and the success of the GB Hockey team at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, saw an increase in the interest in hockey in the Mourne area. Such was the demand from the local population to play regular and competitive hockey that the Club had to form a Third XI and Fourth XI to satisfy demands from an increasing membership.
At present, Kilkeel fields four times, with the Second XI maintaining their Junior League I status, and the Third XI now looking forward to their first Season in Junior League 3 after a successful promotion campaign during 1995-96. The Fourth XI is more focused on youth development, rather than geared to winning trophies. It is the Club’s hope that the Fourth XI will produce the players who will provide the nucleus for Senior Kilkeel teams in future.
In 1995, a decision was taken to invest in a synthetic pitch, subject to the availability of capital assistance. At present the application is with the relevant funding bodies for decision. The AGM, in May 1996, gave approval for the creation of a Junior Club, aimed at 8-14 year-old schoolchildren in an attempt to develop their skills and enthusiasm for the game at an earlier stage than present. It is hoped that the development of a synthetic pitch, the creation of the Junior Club and increased commitment and ambition of players will see Kilkeel push for Senior I status within the next few years.
Kilkeel has produced players of exceptional ability, namely Irish Internationals Kenny and Ivan Morris, plus Club stalwarts Clive Russell, Trevor Russell, William Quinn and Ashley Stevenson – undoubtedly all players who could have easily played at a much higher level, only for their loyalty to their local Club. Kilkeel’s development plans should ensure that players of exceptional talent do not feel that they must leave to develop their personal skills, but rather strive for Senior I hockey through their local Club.
Hockey was played in Larne in the early 1900’s, but there is little record available until the 1940’s. At that time, the Club played regularly at Greenland Park, now the grounds of Larne High School, where the Second XI and Third XI play their home games. The Club then faded until it was re-formed in 1963, with the first competitive game being played against Dunmurry on the grass pitch at Sandy Bay.
In 1964, a Second XI was entered in the Minor League, and in 1968 Larne was promoted to the Intermediate League and reached the Semi-Final of the Intermediate Cup. In a successful Season, the Second XI played in the Semi-Final of the Minor Charity Cup and finished third in their League.
The late Mr William Long, Postmaster of Larne, chaired the Club for ten years, until his retirement in 1973, while William Young (Senior) has served as Secretary, Umpire and player and is a Past President and Life Member. His son Billy, and grandson William are players in Club teams. The current Club President, Michael Telford who played in the first 1963 match, still turns out for Larne Third XI in Junior League 8.
Larne players who made their mark at Senior League level include David Hull and Wilson Lilley who moved to Mossley in the 1980’s. Both returned to play for Larne, gaining Intermediate Cup Medals in the 1993 win over Saintfield, and in 1994 against Wanderers.
The Club made great strides in 1993, when Kieran McGoldrick re-joined as Captain and the First XI began to play its home games on the astroturf at Mossley Hockey Club. This, combined with an emphasis on Junior coaching, has enabled a young, talented team to emerge.
Several Larne players have represented Ulster Hockey at Junior Inter-provincial Level – Seamus Agnew, David Hull, Leslie King Jnr, Leslie King Snr, Kieran McGoldrick, Michael Telford, Billy Young and William Young, while Larne Manager, Ronnie Blair, has been Ulster Junior Manager since 1993, and he and Noel McAlister are members of the Ulster Branch Council. Ronnie Blair and Kieran McGoldrick are graded Irish Hockey Union Badge Coaches.
With its three league teams and thriving Junior coaching, Larne is in a healthy position and should be able to build on the advances made in the 90s well into the new century.
In September 1901, three young Lisburn men met in the local Temperance Institute and talking about starting a Club. They canvassed support and it was decided to form Lisnagarvey. The three founder-members were RC Bannister, who became Captain, EE Wilson, the Honorary Treasurer and WS Duncan, the Honorary Secretary. The annual subscription for playing members was five shillings, and the original colours were light and dark blue. Thus began the history of one of the most illustrious hockey Clubs in these islands.
‘Garvey, as they are known universally, began with friendly matches, and the first competitive games took place in the 1903-04 Season. The next year the club won its first trophy, the Mulholland Shield. During this period ‘Garvey played at different venues, and eventually found premises off the Antrim Road. Members themselves built a pavilion complete with toilet facilities.
From 1905-10, Lisnagarvey played Junior hockey, reaching the Final of the Irish Junior Cup, but losing the replay 5-0 to Monkstown. They also won the Junior League and the Braddell Shield. Their steady progress was confirmed by admission to the Senior League, and in 1908 Fred Hull won an International Cap – the first by a ‘Garvey player. During the First World War, 43 club members served with the armed forces, of whom four were killed and four wounded. Four others received the Military Cross for bravery.
After the War, the membership increased to over 100 by 1922, and in the Season 1924-25 Lisnagarvey won the Irish Senior Cup for the first time, beating Limerick PMYA. The captain JL Alderdice gave each member of the team a suitably engraved miniature cup. In 1926-27 ‘Garvey again won the Irish Senior Cup, under the captaincy of RTS Bailey. This was the era of the famous Gregor McGregor, an international player who was described as “the most dangerous forward in Ireland”.
A lean spell followed, but this was offset by the introduction of fifteen-year-old Jack Bowden who began a most distinguished International and Club career, and his partnership with ‘Garvey’s Brian Raphael was outstanding. During the Second World War competitive hockey was suspended, not least because Clubs found travelling difficult due to petrol rationing. The post-war period heralded a new era of success for Lisnagarvey, during which the Irish Junior Cup came to Lisnagarvey for the first time – incidentally ‘Garvey has won the trophy 15 times, more times than any other club, since their first win in the Season 1954-55.
The Fifties was a significant period in ‘Garvey’s history. The Club moved to its famous Blaris pitches under the shadow of the huge BBC transmitter, and the club won 9 out of 14 trophies in 1957-58. In the decade 1950-60 ‘Garvey won 43 Trophies. There was also great individual success, with Steven Johnson playing with the British Squad at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, but there was also personal tragedy, with the death of club stalwart Jimmy Corken in a drowning accident at San Remo in Italy. The Corken Cup was instituted in his memory in 1958. It is awarded to the Ulster team which reaches the furthest stage of the Irish Senior Cup. In the first three years it was won by Lisnagarvey, who have held it 19 times to date.
The decades from the Sixties to the mid-Eighties witnessed most commendable achievements by the Club both on and off the field. During the 1961-62 Season ‘Garvey recorded their third ‘Double’ by winning the Irish Senior and Junior Cups. The next Season Brown Shaw and Wally Mercer won their first Irish Caps, to maintain a long tradition of international success by Club players, 39 of whom have been capped so far. Indeed Wally Mercer had the distinction of leading Ireland to success in the Home International Championships of 1968, the first time they won the series since 1949.
Meanwhile Michael Bowden, a mercurial winger maintained the close family link with ‘Garvey, and – not surprisingly – gained International honours.
Off the field, the ‘Garvey back-room helpers worked ceaselessly to establish for the Club an enviable social and financial base. They included people such as John Kennedy, the first Chairman (who became President of the Ulster Branch in 1986-87), David McClements, Jim Lappin, Billy Lowry, Ronnie Jess, Bobby Richardson, Jim Clarke, Howard ‘Howdy’ Clarke, Jim Reid, John Waring and many others. Bobby Howard was the first ‘Garvey man to become Ulster Branch President in 1977-78, an honour richly deserved. Bobby went on to become President of the Irish Hockey Union, in 1989-90, and he had the unique honour of presenting both the Irish Cups – Senior and Junior – on his ‘Garvey colleagues during his term of office.
One of the hall-marks of ‘Garvey has been the length of service undertaken by Club officials and supporters. For example Bobby Totten captained the Third XI from 1948-57, and was a committee member until 1965. Ken Hood, who wrote the Lisnagarvey history was Honorary Secretary from 1949-65, which was another record. The lack of space prevents a mention of all who helped, but clearly the success of ‘Garvey on the field has been underpinned by first-class financial guidance, and a good social network – for example, the establishment of a Lisnagarvey Social Club (the brainchild of Bobby Richardson) not only gave ‘Garvey a reputation for good hospitality, but also helped the finances as well.
The Club made various structural changes to their premises at Blaris, but in the mid-Eighties they took a quantum leap by establishing a new artificial pitch complex at a completely new venue nearby, and set the direction for others to follow. This significant move was made possible by the sale of ‘old’ Blaris grounds to a private developer, Marks & Spencer.
The transfer to the new premises and the building of a splendid pavilion led the way for a remarkable resurgence of Lisnagarvey’s success on the field. Under the guidance of Coach Terry Gregg and others, a formidable squad virtually dominated Irish hockey for several years, and achieved the unequalled (and probably unsurpassable) record of winning the Irish Senior Cup seven years in succession. When ‘Garvey approached Terry Gregg in 1987 to take the position of Coach, the Club had not won the Irish Senior Cup for 17 years, despite reaching two Finals and two Semi-Finals. The next years witnessed a glorious chapter of success overall which few if any other Irish clubs will emulate. As well as seven consecutive Senior Cup victories, ‘Garvey won four consecutive Senior League titles, seven Corken Cups, two European B Division trophies, sixth place in the A Division of the European Cup in Frankfurt, plus one Anderson Cup, one Kirk Cup, two All-Ireland League titles, and two All-Ireland Flood-lit Cups. As well, the Second XI won two Irish Junior Cups, two McCabe Cups and four Junior League I titles.
The resultant boost to the Club’s national reputation has been enormous, and such continued success has inspired many younger players to try to emulate their elders – with a resultant range and depth to Garvey’s youth sides which augurs well for the future. Arguably the outstanding ‘Garvey player and role-model for the young has been Jimmy Kirkwood, Olympic Gold Medallist, and a modest and brilliant player and tactician.
Despite the Club’s remarkable record, ‘Garvey players and officials have carried their great success with a relative modesty and dignity that is itself impressive. On the field ‘Garvey are formidable opponents but off the field Blaris is a by-word for friendliness and hospitality.
The spirit of the Lisnagarvey Club was well-summarise by Captain Robbie Taylor in his speech after the memorable 1996 Final of the Irish Senior Cup which was won by Avoca. He quoted part of the 1909 Annual Report of the then Honourary Secretary RC Bannister, a founder-member, and said: “We hope to have a better Season than last, but whether good or bad, it is to be hoped that fair play and good sportsmanship may ever characterise the Lisnagarvey Hockey Club.” This most distinguished Club continues to be a winner, and in more ways than one.
The last 25 years in the history of Lisnagarvey Hockey Club has been nothing short of monumental.
Following the superb Irish Senior Cup run of seven successive victories from 1988 to 1994 and the grand slam of trophies in 1997, events off the pitch came equally as important.
In the mid 90’s the Club got the chance to again move their premises. It was approached by the giant supermarket chain Sainsbury’s to sell up and relocate beginning a long saga which involved no less than five chairmen and countless committees before the move was finally completed in 2005.
The new ground was the site of a vacant driving range on the Comber Road, Hillsborough, two miles from the previous grounds at Blaris, Sprucefield.
Not everyone backed the move but after much deliberation during which many alternative sites were investigated, the deal offered by Sainsburys and Snodden Construction proved too good to refuse and in April 2003, Garvey played their last game on the their once ground breaking pitch at Sprucefield affectionately known as New Blaris.
The new grounds were opened in September 2005 and offered two water base polyturf pitches with a clubhouse in between. 11 acres of land had been converted from a soggy golf driving range into a state of the art hockey arena giving Garvey one of the most prestigious sporting complexes in the British Isles at that time.
During the trials of the momentous move to Hillsborough, the Club had to find time to celebrate their centenary in 2001 and again, with a great amount of work, the committees put together a string of memorable events. A Dinner was held in the Island Centre and a Grand Ball took place at Newforge Country Club soon afterwards. Many other events were organised for the younger members of the club involving the feeder schools in the Lisburn area.
The Centenary was also celebrated by Ulster journalist Alf McCreay who penned the history of the club in his book aptly named ‘Blue is the Colour’.
On the playing side, the Irish Cup returned to Garvey in 2004 when they were without their own playing pitch; the Council grounds at Laurelhill and Dromore were used to complete their fixtures while Lisburn Rugby Club kindly offered their premises to facilitate Garvey’s social requirements.
The Men’s 1stXI also won the Ulster Premier League and the Kirk Cup on seven occasions each throughout this period.
Another development came about in 2015/2016 when the Irish Hockey League was instigated [EYHL] and Garvey had no hesitation in joining the other top Irish clubs in a new, highly competitive league with end of season championships. This unfortunately resulted in the club being barred from all Ulster Hockey domestic competitions, a decision which was thankfully reversed in 2018.
The EYHL proved to be a great success for hockey in Ireland with rising standards seeing a number of the Ireland Mens and Ladies squads eventually moving to play their hockey in Europe which further benefited the Ireland Squads. Garvey won the clean sweep of the league and championship finals day in 2016 winning the league by a large points margin and so qualifying again for European hockey. They once again won the EYIHL in 2019 after an incredible run of matches undefeated since before Christmas.
During this 25 year period, the Club have played in European competition travelling to Terrassa in 1998, Vienna in 2004, Zurich in 2006, East Grinstead in 2012, Amsterdam in 2013 and most recently to Eindhoven in 2017 as Irish champions.
Their latest triumph on the hockey field was winning the Irish Senior Cup in 2020 after a frustrating gap of 16 years taking Garvey’s total number of Irish Cup successes to 23, two of which were shared, a record for any Irish club.
Primarily, Lisnagarvey’s success has been built round the men’s section as the club. However, there are also four thriving Ladies teams which are highly competitive and this was proved in 2020 when they won the Irish Hockey Trophy. This was the second time in 9 years the Ladies 1st XI had won an Irish Championship. The Ladies 1st XI is now set steady in the Ulster Premier League with the aim of challenging for the top places rather than in previous years nervously looking over their shoulders. They gained promotion from the Senior League in 2018 playing out an unbeaten season in the league with 17 wins and one draw, while also adding the Senior Cup to their name that season. The essential background structures which the Men have experienced for so many years are now in place to allow the Ladies to strive forward and continue to develop to maximise the potential of the talent coming through the ranks.
The on-going success of the club also depends greatly on the younger members and on this score Garvey are second to none. Every week, all age groups are catered for by a large team of dedicated coaches as they filter the youngsters up through the various age graded sections and the youth set up continues to grow with membership continuing to increase. The Club benefits with having a Youth Charter in place as well as a Youth Committee to ensure the kids also have an early input into the Club.
The link with the local feeder schools, predominantly Wallace High School and Friends School, is closer than ever and with the help of the Garvey coaches a large number of young players progress to represent both Ulster and Ireland at all levels.
This progression is such that Garvey supplied no less than four members of the Irish Olympic team to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Both Jonny Bell and Timmy Cockram went on the join the elite list of Garvey players who have represented their county on more than 100 occasions and Jonny Bell has had the honour of captaining his country many times.
In 2018 the club took another large step when one of the ‘green’ pitches was re-surfaced with a modern ‘blue’ carpet of top specification providing the members and others with pitch facilities of the highest order.
Recently, during the Covid pandemic with little hockey being played, Garvey have used the time fruitfully to install a new LED floodlight system on the complex and are also in the process of renovating the clubhouse and surrounds with the view of progressing the club at every opportunity.
Mossley Hockey Club was formed in 1929 following a meeting of employees of Henry Campbells, Mossley. A few friendly matches were played including several against near neighbours East Antrim. The original ground was opened by Cliftonville, the top team at the time, and included quite a few players who had played for Ulster and Ireland. Gradually more experienced players joined the Club and it began competing in Junior Hockey. Regular league matches were played against Clubs such as Parkview, Crossgar and Duncraig from Cullybackey.
During the Thirties the Club enjoyed great success in the Intermediate and Junior League, and in 1944 History was made when Mossley became the first Club to bring home five trophies in one Season. With such talent the Club continued to flourish, and a Third and Fourth XI were formed. Soon the First XI were promoted to Qualifying League B, winning that section in 1951. In 1952 the first International honour came to Mossley when Bryan Gilroy was chosen to play for Ireland. During the following years, however, few Senior trophies came to the Club, the exception being the Kirk Cup in 1954; but the Second, Third and Fourth XI’s were still successful!
In 1966 the Second XI won the Irish Junior Cup with a superb record and socring 23 goals and conceding only 2. This surpassed the performance of the First XI who were beaten in the Ulster Final of the Irish Senior Cup in 1965 by Portrush. The Anderson Cup was won by the First XI in 1967 and this heralded promotion back to Senior status in 1968 where the Club has remained despite a few flirtations with relegation.
During the 70’s the team was built around Bert McBroom, a good old-style ‘centre half’, and John McKinstry, a most accomplished player who represented Ireland at Under 23 level.
The Burns family always played a leading role in Mossley, and when Harry Burns Jnr made his debut in the First XI in 1969 a new era had arrived. He became the mainstay of the Mossley defence and was the second member of the Club to gain full International honours, in 1978. He toured Australia in 1979 as a regular member of the team.
In 1973 Mossley made a second appearance in the Kirk Cup Final, losing to Lisnagarvey after a replay. Two Anderson Cup Final appearances followed that success, and in 1982 the Club won the British Club Championship in the Isle of Man. This was followed in 1983 by a third Kirk Cup Final appearance, again against Lisnagarvey. On this occasion Mossley won 2-0, inspired by the brilliance of Paul Cooke. Shortly afterwards, to no one’s surprise, Paul Cooke made his first appearance in the Irish Squad, along with two other Club members David Gordon and Richard Willis.
The Second XI were successful in the 1986 Junior Cup, defeating old friends and rivals Pembroke in the Semi-Final and Banbridge Second XI in the Final. Remarkably, the team was Captained by David McKinstry, who was also a member of the 1966 Cup winning team!
Another International honour worth noting is that of Harry McNeill, a successful manager of the Ireland team. Off the field Derek Watt was an able Ulster Branch President in 1985, and brought honour to the Club by his service to the Branch and in his year of office.
The old grass pitches at Mossley were abandoned in 1976 and the Club was forced to play at the City of Belfast Playing Fields at Mallusk. It was during this nomadic period that the Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1979. After a long and at times frustrating search the present site at The Glade was purchased in 1984, and in 1991 the Club installed a synthetic surface at a cost of approximately £250,000. This decision has been instrumental in attracting a large number of junior members, and in 1994 the Club won a prestigious coaching award in recognition of its work with young players. The Club continues to provide a service to the local community and, with plans for further development, looks forward to a successful future.
- North Down
North Down Hockey Club, based at The Green in Comber was founded on 24 August 1896 by members of North Down Cricket Club, and is one of the founder-members of the Ulster Branch.
The first elected Captain was Oscar Andrews, a member of the well-known Andrews family in Comber who have had a close involvement with both Clubs down the years. William Graham was elected as Secretary and Treasurer for the first Season and went on eventually to serve as President of the Ulster Branch for two years and as President of the Irish Hockey Union for sixteen years from 1905 until 1920.
During September 1896 the first hockey pitch was marked out at The Green at the Castle Lane side of the ground and, give or take a yard or two, has remained in the same position ever since. Unlike many Clubs which started in the years after 1896, North Down had the comparative luxury of a firm base from which to start – in that the Clubhouse, grounds and potential membership were already well-established.
The first Club match in Ulster was played in Comber against CLiftonville on 7 November 1896 in front of a large crowd of spectators with North Down winning 8-0. Oscar Andrews scored six of the goals.
Representatives from North Down and Cliftonville met in December 1896 to discuss the formation of an Ulster Hockey Union and the rules were formalised in April 1897. The first non-local visiting team to Comber was City of Derry who were beaten 8-2 before playing against Cliftonville on the following day. By the end of their first Season. North Down had won all of their 21 games, scoring 116 goals and conceding 23, and a Second XI also played some matches, mainly against sides from Cliftonville.
In September 1899 North Down supplied the first active President of the Ulster Branch in Herbert Andrews and in the same Season won their first two Cup competitions. In the only year when the Keightley Cup was played for on a knock-out basis, Antrim were defeated 3-2 and in the Kirk Cup Final Cliftonville were beaten 4-2. In the next twenty years the Kirk Cup was won three more times but the Club, by now with three teams, went through a poor spell in the 1920s before it was won again in 1928-29.
The Second XI’s 3-1 Intermediate Cup victory over CPA in 1931 was the start of the most successful period in North Down’s history. The star of the Senior team was James MacDonald, acknowledged as the finest centre-half in the Province, and the team was built around him. MacDonald went on to play 25 times for Ireland, eventually captaining the side, and he was also one of the finest cricket all-rounders ever produced in Ulster. His 159 runs not out in the 1935 NCU Cup Final is still an NCU record!
During the 1930s North Down won the Senior League five times in six years, and the Kirk Cup twice in 1935-36 and 1936-37 and would have possibly continued in the same vein had the Second World War not intervened in 1939.
The 1935-36 Season was the highpoint of North Down’s achievements. The Season started with JLO Andrews being elected as President of the Ulster Branch, the first time that this honour had been awarded to someone who was still playing, and James MacDonald was selected as Captain of Ireland for the first time. In addition, the Club retained the Kirk Cup, won the Senior League and reached the Irish Cup Final in Dublin. At one stage the cost of purchasing and engraving shields for the plinths of trophies put such a strain on the meagre resources of the Club than an unsuccessful approach was made to have this responsibility transferred to the Ulster Branch!
When competitive fixtures resumed in 1943-44, North Down won the Kirk Cup for the eighth and last time to date by beating Banbridge 3-1 after three periods of extra time. However, as they moved in the 1950s there was a gradual decline in playing standards. This eventually resulted in the Club being placed out of Senior hockey in a Qualifying League, following a restructuring of the Branch Leagues in 1958-59 to allow for promotion and relegation.
The nature of the Club changed permanently in 1961 when North Down Ladies were formed. The Ladies were simply assimilated into North Down without the formal creation of a Ladies Section and this arrangement has continued ever since. The arrival of the ladies had two direct results. Firstly, the already pressing need for additional playing facilities was now an immediate problem and secondly, greater emphasis had to be placed on fundraising and Club administration.
North Down were relegated to Qualifying League B in 1964-65 just when there was an influx of younger players into the Club. This eventually saw them win back their place in Senior hockey in 1968-69, at a time when there was a growing momentum in the Club both on the playing side, and socially.
The next ten years saw the completion of two new Council shale pitches in Comber, but on the field the competitive nature of Senior II saw the Club sometimes struggle to maintain its position. By now, with greater emphasis on coaching and the opening of a bar at the Clubhouse, the number of teams had grown to five, would soon reach six, and the spirit and morale in the Club had never been higher, despite the difficulties on the pitch.
In 1979-80 the Club had a Season in the Intermediate League but bounced back immediately and had several more good years in Senior II before again being relegated in 1988-89. Although again returning at the first attempt winning the Intermediate Cup in the process, the team went back down again in 1990-91 where they stayed for five long years until the 1995-96 Season, again winning the Intermediate Cup in their promotion year.
All First XI games have been played on the synthetic pitch at Glenford Park, Newtownards since 1994, and Centenary Year in 1996 was celebrated with a number of events, including a celebration game against Cliftonville at the same venue as that very first match in 1896.
North Down has had a thriving youth development strategy for some years, now based on close links with local schools which has produced, and will continue to produce, talented youngsters for the Senior team.
For one of the oldest Clubs in Ulster, the future looks rosy indeed!
North Down Hockey Club was founded in August 1896 by local cricketers and for all of it’s existence has been based at The Green in Comber. The Club was a founder member of the Ulster Hockey Union whose various anniversary dates match those of North Down.
North Down finished their Centenary Year in 1996 on a high. Celebration games against representative teams and a replay of the first ever game between Ulster club sides, Cliftonville the opposition, had been a success. In addition, the first eleven having won the Intermediate league and cup double were back in Senior hockey. Brian Davis was in the middle of a long spell as Head Coach and was supported by Paul Johnston as Captain returning to the fold after a spell at Holywood 87. Playing home games at Glenford Park in Newtownards, the double act took three years before, in April 1999, an undefeated league campaign saw North Down promoted back to the top league after having been placed out of it in 1959.
This success, together with the second eleven winning the Junior Shield in the two previous years and winning promotion to Junior One in 1999 for the first time in twenty five years, saw numbers flourish and for the first time North Down could field seven league teams. Not to be outdone, in a three year period the thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths also achieved promotions from their respective leagues.
At long last in September 1999 the pitch at Comber Leisure Centre was converted to a synthetic surface, subsequently being re-laid in 2010, and the first eleven could return to Comber for home games. Relegation back to Senior Two two years later brought an end to Brian Davis’ first spell as Head Coach and the Club in a daring move appointed an ex Linfield footballer to take over the reins in 2001. Artie Hunter had only a cursory knowledge of the rules of the game but in his three years in charge achieved promotion in his first year, in the second which also saw the introduction of the Premier League he stabilised the league position with a four months unbeaten run and finished third in Senior One in his final year.
There was a notable date in the Club’s history in 2001. On 3 February the fourth eleven drew 1-1 with Instonians fifths on the grass pitch at The Green, this being the last league fixture played on the ground after 105 glorious years. At the time of writing it is still there. Following over a century of pitch markings, the layout of the pitch can be clearly seen during periods of dry weather. It could be used tomorrow!
In the following 2004/05 season under Cooper Duncan with Darren Rice as Captain, the first eleven had a strong eight win start to the season but this was abruptly halted by a 5-1 December home defeat at the hands of nearest rivals Kilkeel. With only one further defeat and three draws including with Kilkeel, the league finished with North Down and Kilkeel tied on points. In a closely fought play-off at Stormont, North Down secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time with a narrow 5-4 victory, the skipper scoring a hat-trick including the decisive winning goal. Much celebration followed!
However, the stark reality back at the top level was that the team were not ready as evidenced by only two wins and a draw in the following league season as they made a quick return to Senior One for 2006/07. The 2006/07 season however was the season that the second eleven, narrowly defeated in the McClements Cup final, were promoted back to Junior One and also the first on record that all North Down home games were played on astro surfaces.
2007/08 saw the return for a four year stretch of the Brian Davis and Paul Johnston partnership, this time as joint coaches with, also for four years, Richard Willis as Club Captain. They did make a quick impact but five league losses, four home and away to Antrim and Civil Service, put paid to a return to the top flight. Down the teams though, the fifth eleven, comprised mainly of North Down cricket members, were promoted from Junior Seven and won the Strabane Cup defeating their South Antrim counterparts 1-0 at Deramore Park.
2008/09 was a more eventful year with the fourth eleven winning promotion and the fifth eleven again achieving cup success, this time winning the Minor Cup by beating Instonians fourths 3-2 again at Deramore Park. Highlights of the year though belonged to the first eleven who defeated Antrim by the odd goal in an eleven goal thriller at UCD to win the recently presented Irish Trophy. Andy Forrest scored a hat-trick in the game and eventually rounded off the season with a still standing Club record tally of 63 goals. His efforts contributed substantially to a second return to the Premier League.
Off the pitch, 2009 saw the winding up of the Men’s’ and Ladies’ Branches to form the amalgamated Ulster Hockey Union. Cliftonville and North Down, being the initial proposers of the then Ulster Hockey Union in 1896, were the two parties who proposed and seconded the resolution to wind up the Men’s Branch.
2009/10 saw the opening of the astro pitch at Nendrum College and the first eleven manage to retain their Premier League status for the first time although it was a close run thing. They stayed up for a season after that as well before being again relegated to Senior One in April 2012. The second, third and fourth elevens backed up the relative success of the senior team in 2010 by all achieving promotions and in February 2010 the last home shale game was played on the pitch at Park Way between the fifth eleven and Bangor fifths. In fact the fourth eleven managed their third successive promotion in April 2011 having moved from Junior Leagues Six to Three seamlessly.
In May 2010 Jennifer Patterson became the first Lady President of the new Ulster Hockey Union and served with distinction travelling widely to carry out her duties.
One of the features holding together North Down is its status as a single men’s and ladies’ club, one of the season’s highlights being the Annual Dinner Dance and Awards Night held regularly at the La Mon Hotel and Country Club. Some fifteen months before the event, it was noticed that a likely date for the occasion was 14 April 2012. This coincided with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic whose Chief Designer Thomas Andrews had been a North Down member. The date was quickly booked before anyone else realized and Titanic themed plans were put into operation. On the night, there were different dress, catering and seating options for ‘first, second or steerage’ passengers. Everyone was provided with a boarding pass styled on the original and allocated an actual passenger’s name. On arrival, passengers were supplied with a welcoming cocktail with Titanic and iceberg ice cubes. At precisely 11.40 pm, the time of the collision, the house lights were dimmed and the dance floor spread with a large quantity of ice by Purser Peter Bond in a sou’wester much to the displeasure of the proprietors. An onscreen display was then turned on and passengers were able to find out if their alter ego had survived or not.
Away from the social festivities there were two cup successes in the 2011/12 season. Having lost home and away in the league, the third eleven defeated Civil Service thirds 2-0 on their home pitch in the Junior Shield final whilst the fifths defeated Down 2nds 3-1 in the final of a hastily arranged League Cup competition.
Peter Whyte and Andy Coates as goalkeeping coach were in the middle of a three year spell which saw the first eleven just fall short in successive seasons to get out of Senior One. Too many draws were not converted to wins and in 2013/14 they disappointedly lost 1-0 in a Premier League play off with Civil Service.
Growing numbers in the Club saw a re-formed sixth eleven in Junior Six and they finished their first season back with a 3-1 League Cup win in April 2013 over South Antrim fourths at Stormont.
July 2013 saw North Down formally take over the running of the Ards Borough Council Hockey Summer Scheme as the Council sought to divest themselves of this responsibility. In the years since, this two weeks event has proven to be very popular and has provided many new players not only to the North Down youth section but to other clubs in the local area.
Aaron Mills was appointed Head Coach for the 2014/15 season with Philip Wilson as Captain and in their first season in charge despite five league defeats, but with only one draw, they were back in the Premier League for the third time. The disparity in standards of league hockey had started to become apparent in the two previous season but this was the first time North Down had exceeded double figures four times in a campaign with one club shipping 31 goals in three league and cup games.
The second eleven meanwhile had been up and down to Junior One several times in preceding seasons and although 2014/15 was a ‘down’ year they did manage to beat Instonians thirds 2-1 to win the McClements Cup at Stormont.
October 2014 saw the opening of the excellent astro pitch at Regent High School and all of a sudden, after having to struggle to find enough astro slots, North Down were now spoiled for choice. The pitch at Glenford Park which had been a lifesaver for the Club gradually fell into disuse before in 2020 being demolished.
A reconstruction of the Premier League in Aaron Mills’ second season in charge saw the formation of the Irish Hockey League and a dilution of the standards in the top Ulster league. This meant that for Mills’ second season, an horrendous series of results in the first half of the season did not result in a loss of status as the ship was steadied late on. In fact, a strong performance in the Anderson Cup at the end of the campaign saw North Down lose on penalties to Kilkeel in the semi-final, the significance of this being that the Anderson Cup remains the only domestic senior trophy never won by the Club. The seconds meanwhile made it back yet again into Junior One!
In other respects, 2015 was a sad year for North Down. Within a few months we lost both Brian Davis and Terry Ritchie after long illnesses. Although Brian’s formal coaching role ended in 2011 he retained a close connection to North Down and was always available if an opinion or view was required. Terry had taken on youth coaching responsibilities early in his coaching career and for two years was also ladies Head Coach. He coached the second eleven in 2012/13 and 2013/14 until he had to call it a day through illness. They were, and still are, both sadly missed.
Gareth McKeown, redesignated as Director of Hockey, took over the reins in August 2016 with Ross Linter as skipper for a four year stretch. Although their league performance was at best average, they had a strong performance in the Irish Trophy scraping through on penalties in the semi-final in Limerick. Near neighbours South Antrim were the opposition in the final at UCD and for the second time North Down got their name on the cup with a narrow 3-2 win.
The 2017/18 season started with North Down heading the table for the first time and leading into mid November before three defeats put them back into mid table. A strong finish to the season saw them finish in their best Premier League position
The third eleven had a St. Patrick’s Day League Cup final 4-0 win over Newry seconds but North Down’s highlight of the season, and probably the entire 25 year period of this review, was the performance of the second eleven. Captained by Stephen Magee they started the season hoping to consolidate their position in what has always been one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in Ulster Hockey. By Christmas, with six wins and 18 points they were hopeful that the ever present threat of relegation was over. In the new year, a run in the Irish Junior Cup finished at home in a 4-4 drawn semi-final with Glennane seconds, losing on penalties. However, in the league the wins, and one draw, just kept coming. It wasn’t until April that Lisnagarvey thirds and then Instonians seconds in May recorded their only defeats and so it was that, come the middle of May, North Down seconds finished as Junior One champions! A fantastic achievement!
In May 2017 the Club made a subtle but significant change to its Constitution. Ladies teams had been formed in 1961 and they had simply been assimilated into the Club without the creation of a ladies’ section. A number were co-opted onto the General Committee and in the early 1970s the Constitution was further changed to mandate for equal representation on the sixteen strong body. In a move showing, we believe, the growing strength and maturity of the Club this clause was further amended to remove any reference to gender.
On the pitch, league promotions for the third, fourth and fifth elevens meant that when the 2019/20 season started, all four junior teams were playing in the first four Ulster Junior Leagues and the Club remains numerically strong bucking the trend in Ulster. In the Premier League, although the season was ended early due to the Covid pandemic, the growing disparity in standards even in this league was still apparent as North Down, having inflicted several substantial defeats on other teams, still incurred two heavy double figure defeats themselves.
With most teams having played a maximum of three matches in 2020/21, just one in our first eleven’s case, the season was effectively written off in October 2020. On the resumption of playing activities in May 2021, North Down opted not to take part in any of the Ulster Hockey organised fixtures instead choosing to run a five team in-house summer ‘Super League’. The competitive nature of this ‘fun’ event showed, if there was any doubt, that North Down are ready for the new season and their 125th anniversary celebrations!
Omagh Hockey Club or Omagh YMCA, as it was known in the early days, was formed in 1950 and played in the North West International League until 1954, before achieving Senior status in the North West from 1955 to 1961. During these years, the team won the North West Intermediate League and Cup in 1953 and 1954 and won the McAlinden Charity Cup in 1958.
Sadly, due to a shortage of players in 1962-63, the Club was forced to fold and after a gap of 20 years Omagh Hockey Club was re-formed to compete in the Intermediate League in the 1982-83 Season. The following Season a Second XI was formed and within 2 years had gained promotion from Junior 7 to Junior 5 before disbanding a year later due to lack of players.
The highlight of the Club’s history was its appearance in the Intermediate Cup Final, during the 1986-87 Season, in which the team narrowly lost to Civil Service.
Presently, the First XI is still in the Intermediate League, whilst the Second XI re-formed in the 1990-91 Season and is currently in Junior 8.
The Club always had placed emphasis on the social aspects of the game and has recently revived the North West Cup Tournament with a one-day format at the end of the Season. Invitations are sent to Intermediate and Junior teams within Clubs that are ‘West of the Bann’ and this has proved very successful over the last few Seasons.
Hockey was played in Portadown before the Second World War but very little is known about this era. The Club, as it is today, was formed in 1951. The men behind the formation of the present day Club were both Leinster players – Rev DC Jameson (Trinity College) and JTN McGaffin (Pembroke Wanderers). Other men with great enthusiasm for the game were Billy Graham and Charlie Lambe.
The Inaugural meeting was held in Thom’s café with fourteen intending members present. The Club colours were, as today, Royal blue and white. The Council had promised a pitch but little else! The fees for the year were 12/6, and the first Captain was Billy Graham, later to become Club President.
Banbridge proposed and Newry seconded that Portadown become affiliated to the Ulster Branch. A bank loan enabled the Club to pay affiliation fees and provide the raw materials for making posts, backboards and other equipment. The nets were made by a local unemployed fisherman!
The first competitive match was played on October 27, 1951 in the Junior League. The Club lost but in their first Season they had a successful record: runners-up in the League, beaten in the Braddell Shield Final, and beaten in the Semi-Final of the Junior Cup.
The Club gained promotion in 1961 to the then Intermediate League, under the captaincy of Ray McKay. Three years later with Jim Barriskill as Captain Portadown won Qualifying League B. This meant that Senior hockey came to the town, just one year before the Club moved to Chambers Park and the advent of a shale pitch, a far cry from the bumpy grass pitches of the Public Park and Lurgan Road!
In 1968 the Club was again relegated from Senior hockey and for many years were contenders for promotion. In 1976, Captained by current Club President Des Gregg, Portadown won the Intermediate title in a nail-biting 3-2 play-off with Raphoe to regain Senior status.
In 1981 Portadown became Senior II Champions under the captaincy of Fergie Cosgrove but unfortunately suffered relegation under the next Season to the Intermediate League.
A period of re-building then took place and this resulted in winning the Intermediate Cup in 1991. There was a notable League and Cup double the following season, under the captaincy of John Fleming, to regain Senior status.
Whilst the Second and Third XIs have remained in the lower regions of the Junior Leagues they have had their share of success with League, Braddell Shield, Junior Shield and Minor Cup titles over the years.
Off the field Portadown has in recent years provided two Ulster Branch Presidents in Bill Gillespie and Sammy Jones whilst several local players made their mark with other Clubs including Fergie Cosgrove (RUC and Banbridge), John Cosgrove (RUC), Trevor Burns (Banbridge) and John Fleming (Cookstown), now happily back with his home Club.
The Club has struggled over the years in a rugby/football area, as hockey was not a recognised school sport – through this has improved in recent years due to the Club’s own youth policy. With a synthetic pitch for the 1996-97 Season, due in no small measure to the work of both the Men’s and Ladies’ Clubs, it is hoped the game will really take off in the area.
Finally, on an historical note. One of the annual Club trophies was donated by Portadown-born WJ Lynas who captained the Ulster Senior Interprovincial winning side in 1922. As a memento he was awarded an exact replica, in miniature, of the Leinster Regiment Cup awarded to the Interprovincial Champions. Now known as the Lynas Trophy, it is awarded to the player who has done most to further the name of Portadown Hockey Club both on and off the field.
Portrush Hockey Club was formed in 1909, following a meeting in the town’s Osborne Hotel on 29 September. The first President was F Audinwood, and the first Captain was RA Bailey, who chaired the original meeting. The Club achieved early successes, winning the Derry and Antrim League in 1913 and 1914, and the Kerr-Smiley Cup in 1912, 1913 and 1914. The Club’s success was mirrored by the individual achievement of the youthful James McVicker of Portrush and Queen’s who was capped for Ireland against Wales in 1914, winning 2-1 at Cardiff. That Seaon Ireland also beat Scotland 4-2 in Dublin and drew 1-1 with England in Birmingham.
After the First World War, during which hockey was suspended, the Portrush Club began playing again, and achieved success in 1922 by winning the Braddell Shield in the Final against Lisnagarvey Second XI, and winning the Intermediate Cup the next year – again by beating Lisnagarvey Second XI. Success continued in the Twenties, with Portrush winning the North-West Senior Cup in 1924, 1927 and 1928.
Further success was to follow, and with a new generation of players in the Thirties, Portrush won the Irish Junior Cup in 1932. One of their players that day was Fred Daly, who went on to become the Open Golf Champion. For the rest of the Thirties, Portrush played in the Senior Qualifying League, and towards the end of that decade they won the Ulster Section of the Irish Senior Cup.
Though hockey was suspended at the beginning of the Second World War, the all-Ireland Cup competition continued, and Portrush won the Irish Junior Cup in 1943, for the second time. Don Minihan, a member of that Cup-winning side, later played for Ireland. In 1946 Portrush again won the Irish Junior Cup, by beating Monkstown 2-0 in Dublin. It was reported that the winning team was greeted with bonfires in Portrush when they returned with the Cup.
Portrush played their home games at Randal Park from 1935-48, and since then at Seaview Park. Their first home ground, from 1911-35 was at Metropole.
After the Second World War, Portrush became a Senior side, and in 1947 won the first of the Club’s three Kirk Cup victories. They also won the Ulster Section of the Irish Senior Cup in 1947 but lost in the Final to Dublin University. One of the Club’s most noteworthy Anderson Cup successes was in 1949 when they beat the then all-Ireland Champions Banbridge in the Bladon Drive Final on Boxing Day. One of their outstanding players was young Howard Adams.
In the Fifties, Portrush won the North West Association’s Festival Cup, and in 1958 the Senior League B Division Championship. They tied the rest match 2-2 against First Division Winners Banbridge, and both names were inscribed on the Keightley Cup.
The regular supply of good young players from Bushmills Grammar School was a boon for the Club, and when Portrush beat Queen’s University 2-0 in the Anderson Cup Final at Blaris in 1962, it heralded a period of sustained success. In 1964, Portrush beat Lisnagarvey 2-1 in the Ulster Final of the Irish Senior Cup, but without schoolboy players Tommy Woods and Stan McCurdy who were on duty for the Ulster Schools XI, they lost the Final in Dublin.
The next Season Portrush won the Anderson Cup for the third time, by beating Lisnagarvey 4-1. They also beat Banbridge 2-1 in the Kirk Cup Final, and they again reached the Final of the Irish Senior Cup, in 1965; but after a 1-1 draw in Belfast against Dublin YMCA they were beaten 1-0 in the Dublin replay after extra time.
The halcyon days of the Sixties have not been repeated, though they won the Kirk cup again in 1970. The closure of Bushmills Grammar School was a heavy blow to the Club, as it cut off the supply of young players. Portrush were relegated to the Intermediate League in 1988, and won the Intermediate Cup in 1989, for the second time in their history. Unfortunately, they lost successive Intermediate Cup Finals – 1-3 to North Down in 1990, and 2-7 to Portadown a year later. However, Portrush’s recent history is more encouraging, and in 1993 they became Intermediate League Champions, with an unbeaten programme in which only six points were dropped and only seven goals conceded in regaining Senior status for the first time in five Seasons.
Over the years many people have worked hard to keep hockey alive in the Portrush area. As well as noted success as a Club, Portrush have had a number of outstanding individuals including in recent years Ronnie McManus, also of Queen’s, and the peerless Jimmy Shanks, both of whom played for Ireland.
A Men’s Hockey Club was formed at Queen’s in the latter part of last Century. The Belfast News Letter reported the Ulster Branch AGM of 19 September 1898, and recorded that “a committee meeting was held afterwards when Queen’s College Hockey Club was admitted to membership.” Queen’s was known as a ‘College’ until it was granted its Charter as a University in 1908.
The early Queen’s team struggled in the newly-formed Senior League, and during the 1900-01 Season the Club finished at the bottom, with only 2 points. The dismal record was: Played 11, Won 1, Lost 10, Goals for 5, Against 48!
Incidentally, Antrim pipped Banbridge by one point to win the League, with the other teams ranked as follows: Cliftonville, North Down, Lisburn, Ulster, Bangor, and, of course, poor old Queen’s College.
With a new generation of students, the Club’s fortunes improved dramatically, and in 1912 Queen’s won the Irish Senior Cup and the Keightley Cup. It may have been no coincidence that the University around that time boasted several Internationals, including (and mainly) the Rentoul family – AT Rentoul gained the first of his three Caps in 1909 as did JL Rentoul, also with three Caps, while RWR Rentoul won his single Cap in 1911. Yet another Rentoul, this time WW, won the first of his four Irish Caps in 1920.
There were three other Caps in those years prior to the outbreak of World War I – EM Dillon and E Purce in 1913, and S McVicker in 1914. Such evidence points to a University pool of good players who helped the Club to win the Irish Senior Cup, and the Keightley Cup in 1912 but as with all University teams, the students left and the continuity was lost.
After the War, Queen’s fielded other International players, including SR Malcolmson who 14 Caps with Queen’s and Banbridge between 1921 and 1930, and SC Courtney who won his single Irish Cap in 1926. In the Season 1927-28, Queen’s won the Priory Cup which was at that time awarded to the top team in the Wednesday League.
Queen’s won the Anderson Cup in 1935-36, for the first of three times – the others being in 1941-42, and again in 1956-57. Queen’s also lost 0-2 in the Anderson Cup Final in 1962 to Portrush.
During its long history the Club had some notable successes, and produced many first class players, but Queen’s – unlike most other Clubs – was never in control of its own destiny because students stayed at the University for only a few years, and then moved on – taking their skills with them. The list of Queen’s International players is extensive and includes, as well as those mentioned earlier, Philip Anderson, Robin Bailey, J Browne, WA Browne, JC Carson, John Clarke, Norman Crawford, Neil Dunlop, Terry Gregg, Jimmy Kirkwood, John McCartney, Billy McConnell, Ronnie McManus, Tony McMillan, Wally Mercer, Ivan Morris, Bob Poots, Reg Quinn, Noel Quinn, Ian Raphael, Ken Shooter, Ronnie Wilson, Frank Young, and many others.
Perhaps Queen’s outstanding achievement in recent years was in winning the Irish Senior Cup (and Corken Cup) in 1972, for the second time in its history and again in 1981 when the team was captained by Peter McCabe, later of Lisnagarvey. The Club literally lives from year to year and somehow manages to blend each batch of new undergraduates with more experienced campaigners, to form sides which vary from being ‘useful’ to ‘formidable’. None was more so than the 1972 team which beat Monkstown 3-0 in the Irish Senior Cup Final, with a goal by Philip Anderson and two by Terry Gregg including one characteristically brilliant solo effort.
Queen’s has rigorously maintained its standards for awarding Hockey and other ‘Blues’, which remain a prized possession. The Club has played its own significant role in Ulster hockey over the years, not only in keeping the game alive in University circles, but also in acting as a training ground and as an unofficial nursery for some of the best players in the history of Ulster and Irish hockey. Some old ‘Blues’ at times think of what it might have been like if a solid pool of former ‘Blues’ had been encouraged to form a Club down the years but that, unfortunately, is another story.
Queen’s Old Boys
The Club was formed in 1994 by students who had mainly played in the Queen’s Junior teams. The intention was to provide a vehicle for those who wished to maintain their connection with University hockey and were not committed to other Clubs or who might otherwise have stopped playing altogether.
They began playing in the Intermediate League and in the first Season 1994-95 they finished sixth and joint fifth the next year.
At present the Club is unable to field a Second XI but numbers are increasing. David Mitchell and Martin Scott have both represented Junior Ulster, as members of the new Club.
Hockey has been played in Raphoe since the early 1900s, with a few ‘breaks’ in between. At the start, Raphoe played in the North West League, travelling to places like Omagh, Strabane, Derry and Convoy.
Although there are very few records for the early years, Raphoe were reasonably successful in that period, with the team winning in the North West Senior League and the Charity Cup, in the mid-Twenties.
The Club continued successfully in the North West League (which was affiliated to the Ulster Branch) and the Season of 1945-46 proved to be one of its most successful, winning the North West Senior Cup, North West Senior League and the McAlinden Charity Cup. Their League record for the Season was – played 23; won 20; drew 2; lost 1; goals for 79; goals against 24.
Unfortunately this successful Season was just before the Club had its first major set-back. In the late Forties Raphoe failed to field a team for several Seasons, until in 1951 people like Jack Willoughby and Dr Wray and others re-formed Raphoe Hockey Club.
That team continued once again to be successful in the North West League and even in their first match back, they drew with RNAS (the Navy team) – a significant achievement. This team continued to play until the late Sixties, when the Club again ran into difficulty. The demise of the North West League forced Raphoe to stop, as the travel commitments were too much.
Raphoe formed for the third time in 1972 when the Club’s present Chairman – Uel Blair, Billy McConnell, Cairns Witherow and Jeffrey Vance got together to start the Club and to take on the travel commitments. They made a good start, and in their first Season Raphoe won Section Two of the Intermediate League, which became a single League the next year.
In 1974-75 Raphoe fielded two teams, for the first time. The First XI continued to do well, and in the 1975-76 Season they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Senior League, losing 3-2 to Portadown in the play-off. At their Annual Dinner Dance that year, the former Irish Hockey Union President, Mr Walter Dowdall described Raphoe as “a Club that arose out of nothing to what is generally regarded as the most forward looking, efficiently run and progressive Club in the 32 Counties.”
In 1976 Raphoe fielded three teams and won promotion to the Senior League Section II, and later continued its success, fielding four mens teams.
The 1978-79 Season was very successful, with Raphoe winning promotion to Senior I and reaching the last eight of the Irish Senior Cup, only to be beaten 5-0 by Dublin YMCA. However, Senior I proved too tough, and they were relegated in their first Season.
Hockey continued to flourish in the town with the opening of a new £30,000 all-weather pitch at the school. Raphoe consolidated over the next few Seasons, and in 1985-86 were promoted again to Senior I. Again, however, it proved too tough and they were relegated in their first Season. Sadly, hockey in the Club declined somewhat over the next few years and in 1991-92 the Club were only fielding two men’s teams.
Once again Raphoe showed that they were not a team to lie down easily, and fortunes started to rise. The 1993-94 Season proved as successful as any, with Raphoe being promoted to Senior I for the third time, and reaching the last eight of the Irish Senior Cup, only losing 1-0 after extra time to eventual finalists Banbridge. Their final League table position that year was – played 22; won 17; drew 5; lost 0; goals for 47; goals against 9. The 1994-95 Season proved third time lucky for Raphoe, as they stayed in Senior I, and are now about to enter their third Season there. This success proved fruitful for the Club as they now field five Men’s teams and two Ladies teams.
Under the circumstances Raphoe is a remarkable Club. Situated in the Irish Republic, but playing their hockey in Northern Ireland, they face round-trips of 180 miles on a Saturday, sometimes taking a bus with several teams on board. Travel can cost the Club in the region of £4-5,000 per year.
The Club has produced some fine hockey players, with several Irish Junior representatives, namely Don Caldwell, Richard Eaton, Billy Pearson, and Vincent Devenney, as well as a number of full-Ulster Caps throughout the years. Bearing in mind that the Club only draws players from the Royal and Prior School, the fact that Raphoe have continued to flourish is a credit to all concerned.
Wanderers Hockey Club was founded in 1985 and played its first competitive match in the Intermediate League in the 1985-86 Season. The Club was based at Larkfield Secondary School on the Black’s Road in Dunmurry. The original membership was 13 playing members and in that first Season one team was fielded.
The Club was soon able to field two teams, and in the 1986-87 Season a Second XI was entered in Junior League 5. The Club continued to expand and by the late 1980s a Third XI was formed. For a number of reasons including the need to use artificial surfaces, Wanderers have lived up to their name by rarely playing at the same venue for consecutive Seasons. The Club has played home matches at various locations including Larkfield, Boucher Road, Laurelhill, Valley Leisure Centre, Ormeau, Friends School Lisburn and Jordanstown. This illustrates the difficulties faced by small young Clubs that have limited resources and members.
Now in its eleventh year, the Club has two teams currently in the Intermediate League and Junior League 6 respectively. High points for the Club have been the First XI winning the Intermediate League in 1988-89, 3 Intermediate Cup Final appearances, an Irish Junior Cup Semi-final appearance in 1993-94 and an Irish Senior Cup 3rd round appearance in 1989-90, and for the Second XI a Strabane Cup win in 1989-90. Over the years the Club has provided a number of players for the Ulster Junior squad, including, William Redpath, Gordon Huston, Geoff Blakely, Stanley Dixon, Howard Quin, and Andrew Sullivan.
Source: McCreary, Going for Goal: a Century of Ulster Hockey 1896-1996, (W. & G. Baird Ltd: 1996).
- East Antrim
- Newry Olympic
- South Antrim
- Civil Service (NICS)
- Cliftonville/CIYMS Men's
- Friend's School Old Boys
- North Down