oxted hockey club history…….
Oxted Hockey Club started life as Oxted Women’s Hockey Club in the Congregational Church Room, Station Road East, Oxted on Friday 26th June 1936. The founding members were:
Miss W M Clarke, Miss B Douthwaite, Miss A Witney, Mrs L M Martin, Miss M Craven, Miss W Stafford, Mrs C Rice, Miss B Kimmings, Miss P Church, Miss A Hannan, Miss W Strange, Miss M Fell, Miss H M Brice, Miss E Burchell, Miss M Butcher, Miss E Jenkins, Miss E Simmons, Miss K Richards, Miss C Ward, Miss H Nunn and Miss P Stanley.
It is not known who was the moving spirit behind the formation of the club but Miss W M Clarke was elected Chairman and also made the first Captain and Honorary Secretary. The colours were to be navy blue tunic, white blouse, scarlet stockings and scarlet girdles! Mrs B Hoskins-Master was asked to be President and the first subscription settled at 10/6d. Matches were to be played at Master Park by agreement with Oxted Cricket Club. The early years were much concerned with the condition of the ground, lack of umpires, difficulties over teas, the high cost of charabancs to away matches and the unreliability of players!
The outbreak of war caused increasing problems over arranging fixtures but the club struggled on until 23rd March 1942 when only 3 fixtures having been played the previous year, it was decided that the club be suspended. Assets and equipment were entrusted to the cricket club and the hope expressed that an early resumption could be made after the war.
The same pre-war problems were still there, particularly as regards the pitch with consideration being given of a move to Bushey Croft (Old Oxted) or Mill Lane (Hurst Green) being first mounted in 1949/50 though both were dismissed as unsuitable. There were difficulties over changing accommodation with the Treasurer being commissioned to purchase “two tubs for washing”. All the pubs in Oxted seem to have been used at one time or another though The Crown was eventually settled on.
By the 1950/51 season a Men’s Second XI had been started and the Men’s and Ladies section moved closer together in some ways, it being minuted that the respective secretaries should see each other regarding their affairs! The Men’s 1st XI Captain was now Arthur Sutton and the Ladies Vice Captain was Mary Giradot. In 1951 the name of the club was changed to The Oxted Hockey Club.
The club continued to grow in the early part of the decade with both sections improving their standard of play and two pitches being used on Master Park. The ladies toured Holland in 1954 and entertained a Dutch side at Oxted the following year.
Major Seymour Hart became President in 1958 and by then problems over the ground at Master Park had become acute and the decision was taken to move to Mill Lane, Hurst Green. This proved to be a disaster. Changing facilities were even worse and the ground so wet it was barely playable. By 1959 it was so bad that home games had to be cancelled after adverse comments from visiting sides and umpires. Consideration was given to moving back to Master Park but terms could not be agreed with the cricket club. Maintaining two Men’s XIs was proving difficult and the 1st XI had lost 15 of the 16 games played in the 1959/60 season.
Matters were desperate in the 1959/60 season with the men’s section being reduced to 20 members and fielding a number of short sides. Of the 19 matches played, 16 were lost, 3 drawn and 97 goals conceded! At the AGM new and younger men were elected in an attempt to stop the rot. On the playing side it did not with a combination of lack of players and the state of the ground causing cancellation of men’s games from 22nd October 1960 to 28th January 1961. Administratively, however, good progress was made. The Ladies and Men’s sections were amalgamated as one hockey club and Mill Lane was abandoned in favour of Bushey Croft, Old Oxted.
From 1961/62 season the club started to grow again and the move to Bushey Croft proved the answer to the problems of earlier years. With the assistance of the council and National Playing Fields Association the ground and pavilion were improved. By the 1962/63 season some 2nd XI games were being played though the Ladies recovery took much longer. W H Williams became President in 1963/64 and the reconstituted Oxted Athletics Club also started to use the ground in 1964.
There were, however, still recruitment problems and a Men’s 2nd XI was not fully established until the 1965/66 season. A sudden influx of younger players such as Peter Armstrong, Bob Garton, John Ayling and Ian Cooper brought on a period of expansion within the club. Also in 1965 the idea of a Sports Association for the clubs using Bushey Croft was first suggested.
The club colours changed to their current red and white shirts, blue shorts and red socks in 1966 and a second pitch was laid out at Bushey Croft for the 1967/68 season. A bar was established in the pavilion for the 1968/69 seasons and a Men’s 3rd XI started. Plans for a Sports Association also went further, a scheme for extending the pavilion commenced planning and negotiations for a long lease of the ground started with the District Council. All these plans reached fruition in the period 1968-1972 culminating in a champagne reception on Sunday 9th April 1972 when the Chairman of the Council, Mrs Pamela Goodale, opened the new extension built with substantial contributions from Government, District and Parish Councils and the Men’s 1st XI played a game against a Surrey Invitation XI, Oxted losing 3-1. The Sports Association also started with 3 members – hockey, athletics and archery – but by the mid-1970s only hockey remained, the other two clubs having folded.
During the 1970s and 80s the club continued to expand, league hockey started in the 1972/73 season for the Men’s 1st XI and in 1984/5 for the Ladies.
Written by John Nicholson, former Honorary Secretary (25 years service)