Where it all startedHornchurch Hockey Club (as it was then) goes back to 1922.
We had two men's teams playing at the Fielder's sports ground in Cromer Road, Hornchurch. One of the locals Mr Fielder left the ground to us, with two 21-year leases before it reverted to the council. During that time the lady associate members started a ladies team. Games were also played at St Andrew's Park, which had no changing rooms. The council let the ladies go to the Old Cricket Ground at Billet Lane where the Queen's Theatre now stands.
In the late 50s with our men's membership spilling over to 33, Mike Edwards started to look for another ground. He wrote to the RAF station at Hornchurch asking to use their pitch. They said "yes", as long as they could play with us free of charge. We gained 15 players overnight, which gave us our 3rd team.
We lost the team when the RAF moved out not long after. Two people in particular, Paddy Logan and his wife, who both worked for the Air Ministry, became the first men's and ladies captains.
The hockey club's first bulletin started on September 12 1955. It went out to all members in the Sunday night post. It carried team selection which had been decided that lunchtime in the White Hart smokers' room and John Powell typed and duplicated it free
Later, Muriel and Ted Batchelor, ably assisted by treasurer John Court, played a large part in the running of the club at this time. Management meetings were held at their house where bulletins were typed and distributed (very often directions for games consisted of bus times and routes.) AGM's were held at this venue too.
The big move came in 1972. Havering Council asked the club to move to Harrow Lodge Park to play on what the Romford Recorder described as "Olympic Standard pitches". Those of you playing on them this weekend can judge for yourself…
It was then suggested by a Mrs E Gallant, then chairman of the council's leisure committee, that it would also be a good idea to change our name from Hornchurch to Havering. We went along with that and though we had initial troubles with sharing the cricket club pavilion, Havering at last had found a home with a proper clubhouse and Mrs Gallant became a vice-president.
Around the same time the Thames Board Mills club near Averley, closed down and we received another intake of players from the Ockendon and Grays area. It was the indefatigable Dave Atkins, with help from a certain Bob Thwaites, who brought a number of young players to the club. These included the Johnson brothers, Keith Etheridge and others who went on to become first team players.
HHC was the first club in England to start summer hockey.
Above is a picture of the Sunday A XI in a match against Suffolk Exiles at Felixstowe.
At that time some committee members remembered David saying that Havering would lift off as a result of their new move.
It took a lot of work, but Havering later gained promotion to division two and held their own in division one.
It soon became clear that Havering's pitches were little use in developing our game and our players and we had numerous meetings with the council.
One memorable one with the then secretary Stuart Pinnock went like this…
Council: "Before you tell us what is wrong with the pitches,
could you tell us what's right with them?"
Pinnock: "Well, they are green in places and the right way up."
All Change - again
It became clear nothing could be done but to switch to astro turf. All our teams took to their cars, travelling to Newham, Basildon and East London to train and play.
Mike Edwards fishing for money in Hornchurch's first carnival in the 1960s.
Clearly, having 'home' fixtures so far away caused major disruption to the running of the club, with games taking place from 10.30am in the morning until 4pm and many oppositions opting to go straight back to their clubhouses at the end of a match. Not surprisingly, the club began looking hard to get an artificial pitch in Havering.
Eventually the Coopers', Company and Coborn School in Upminster came forward with plans and in 1995 a new pitch was built. At a special general meeting the club endorsed a 10-year plan and made the very important decision to run training sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays - a big step forward for the club.
Ups and downs
There was also big changes in playing terms, our Ladies 1st XI just missed out on promotion, which was disappointing, while our men were relegated three divisions after a reorganisation of the league - a disaster!
The first team men's started the long haul back, undergoing radical changes with different coaches, but learning more about the game along the way. The most prominent player coach was Jagdis Barber who took the first eleven up three divisions in four seasons.
The men have managed to compete in the Premier B division, the mens two's are comfortable in division three and our men's fourth and fifth XI's won their leagues this season, the ladies are pushing hard for promotion in Division One and are increasing to four sides next season.
All good news, but some things never change - we are still waiting for the much-anticipated council-run astro turf within the borough, while we spend thousands of pounds a year with two other local authorities. It can happen with this new administration.... we hope!