HARPENDEN HOCKEY CLUB: A HISTORY
Harpenden Hockey Club can be traced back to 1939, when a group of keen hockey players in Harpenden decided to form a club. A ground and site for the pavilion were found in a corner of Rothamsted Park but the outbreak of the Second World War prevented a match being played.
During the late 40s a mixed hockey team played regularly on Sundays, comprising members of the Harpenden Ladies Hockey Club, who had reformed after the war, and Harpenden residents who were members of neighbouring hockey clubs.
At a meeting on May 4th 1949 the male members of this mixed side decided to form their own club under the Presidency of the pre-war President Dr Donald McLean. The Club became affiliated to the Herts County Hockey Association in that year and two sides were fielded on a fairly regular basis.
Throughout its existence the club has never had its own headquarters, but despite this it has thrived. In the early days the teas produced at Mary Ellen’s Tea Rooms were renowned throughout Hertfordshire Hockey, while for stronger refreshment the club had spells at The Railway Hotel (now The Harpenden Arms), The Cock, The Queen’s Head and The Cross Keys. It was at the latter hostelry where the club spent many happy years in the 70s before the sheer growth of the club necessitated a move to larger premises. So, in 1980, the club’s social base moved to Harpenden Cricket Club on the Common where many successful social events have been held since.
The advent of astroturf has changed the game significantly. Where once all teams would play at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, congregating at 5ish to talk about their games over a jug of beer, today’s hockey is played throughout the day and the early evening beers at the Cricket Club are a thing of the past. Now we host our socials in a variety of venues around Harpenden, all enthusiastically attended as is the nature of such a social club.
The hockey club is the last sporting club in Harpenden to retain links with our German twin town, Alzey. This relationship was forged in 1963 and many visits have been exchanged since, most recently when a party of nearly 20 embarked on a Tour to the Alzey Wine Festival in September 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the relationship. Apparently it was a tremendous weekend, although no-one can remember it…
Summer 2004 saw Harpenden (Men's) Hockey Club and Harpenden Ladies Hockey Club finally merge, becoming Harpenden Hockey Club, representing the beginning of a new era for both.
The club now fields five men’s and three ladies teams on a Saturday, Junior teams from U8 to U16 on a Sunday, Vets teams and a mixed side throughout the summer. Home fixtures are played at Woollams, Venue360 (also known as the Theatre of Dreams, the Venue of Destiny and, at times, The Field of Woe), and at De Havilland throughout the season. Recent years have seen tremendous performances from all the teams, each of which have at some stage been promoted. Both the men's and ladies 1s are currently playing in East League Div.2. Click on League Tables on the sidebar to see how they and the 6 other teams are doing.
So that’s a brief rundown of the club’s first 70-odd years. Want to be a part of our future? If so please get in touch by emailing the Mens Club Captain Tom Bunbury or Ladies Club Captain Lisa Forsyth.