Chapter 2: Introduction and Acknowledgments

The idea of this publication was conceived in September 1991 during a period of reflection whilst crossing the North Sea from Harwisch to Esberg.  Initial research indicated that it was premature to celebrate our centenary for several years but the interest remained and the project was duly launched some four years later.

It is right that the centenary of the Club should be celebrated in style and the opportunity grasped to record in some detail the first one hundred years of the history of the East Grinstead Mens Hockey Club.  As befits our sport, this book is the result of the dedicated efforts of a small group of enthusiasts supplemented by the assistance of a number of others.

Those whose assistance has been invaluable in providing information have included the East Grinstead Town Museum with photographs and personal assistance from Michael Leppard and David Gould and the Hockey Association who have allowed us access to their extensive library at Milton Keynes.  Without this latter data it would have been impossible to have compiled the detail of the early years of this club.  John Scott's advice with this early research was also most helpful.

The East Grinstead Courier have been especially helpful in providing photographs and allowing us to reproduce both pictures and narrative.

Collectors of information are fundamental to a research project and the contribution of Tony Blunt, Roger Dakin, and Alfred Nathan in this context has been invaluable.  Each had a library of information so that the problem became what to leave out rather than what to include.

Others who have made information and photographs available are Mrs Major who kindly provided the photograph on Page 9.  Gwen Place supplied the picture of Geoff for the Presidents gallery.  Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

I would also like to thank all those who have produced articles for this journal, namely Janie Champness, Roger Dakin, Frank Farrell, Alan King, Richard Leman, David Luckes, George Pitcher and John Skilton.  The main burden of the task however has fallen on a small group and I have been fortunate to have such a dedicated team.

Brian Poole and Owen Hill (ably assisted on occasions by Betty) have done much of the research and have also provided articles which I believe give an excellent reflection of the times about which they write.  David Sumpter, who joined the group later, has contributed to the production phase and wrote the article on umpiring.  I would like to thank especially Maurice Tester for his scholarly contribution, for reviewing much of the text and being a major participant to the original research as well as writing one article and editing another.

To convert these efforts to print required word processing skills, which  left in my hands would have resulted in this publication being further one hundred years in production.  I am therefore particularly grateful to Lisa Faulkner, my PA, who has processed these words to efficiently.  This gratitude also extends to Lisa Felton, another member of the Crystal Palace team who has contributed to the front cover design and to the index page.

This publication was originally printed by GJ Office Services whose principle Geoff Tompkins has contributed enormously to its style and quality.  his professionalism and patience when dealing with a group of amateur authors has hopefully resulted in a final product to match the quality of our club.

On a personal note, I hope that the results of these efforts will be enjoyed by many and that readers will be forgiving of any omissions or errors they may detect.

I set out to produce a journal which would encapsulate both the success and the spirit of the Club, of which members are so rightly proud.  If this publication has succeeded in capturing that spirit which has achieved so much in the first hundred years, then surely it will also be an encouragement to those who will follow in the second century.



John Harris

Chapter 1: Forward

Predident's Foreward

David Allen

President, East Grinstead Sports Club


To be asked to write a forward is an honour in itself - to be writing one for a history of the (first) hundred years of a highly successful Hockey Club is a privilege as well.

Probably the first main readings of our book will occur during the few weeks after publication while the next will be around 2096 when a few dedicated members will be absorbed with plans for a book describing the second hundred years,  It follows, therefore, that, in our first centennial history, we need to record accurately, objectively and completely not only the interest of present readers but also for the compilers of "The Second Hundred Years" as well.

I believe that we have achieved these goals.  I congratulate our contributors on their painstaking research and diligent attention to detail.  In particular, our most grateful thanks go to John Harris who, while pursuing a busy professional life, has found time to edit the book and encourage the authors to provide material that combines historical value, reader interest and sufficient, but not tedious, statistical detail.

Our thanks to all concerned and may East Grinstead Hockey Club advance with enthusiasm and success to our second centenary.





David Allen

President, East Grinstead Sports Club

Chapter 3: The Early Years 1897 - 1915

In a letter to the East Grinstead Observer in June 1932, Jury Cramp (born 1846) wrote that in the 1860's "Good Friday was the hockey day, played in the High Street as an institution, till removed by he tradesmen's protests to the Brewhouse Lane (Hermitage Lane) much to the annoyance of Messrs. Pearless & Sons, solicitors, who then lived in The Hermitage".  Presumably this was only an opportunity for local lads to let off steam on one of the rare public holidays and although we do not know how long the custom survived, we can no doubt assume that it did not presage the formation of the Hockey Club !

According to an article in Hockey World on 23 January 1925, the East Grinstead Hockey Club was formed in 1893 as a "mixed club".  Early Club records are no longer in existence, so that early history has to be gleaned from desultory repots in local newspapers and hockey magazines of the period.  Reports in the E.G. Observer date from 1899 and consist of match reports and a report of the Annual General Meeting on 3 October 1899 at the Victoria Hall, which read as follows:

"Mr C.R. Miller was in the chair and there was a good attendance.  Mr C.W. Edwards was elected Hon. Secretary and Treasurer in place of Mrs R.A. Dendy, resigned and the Rev L.H. Dahl, Captain of the club for the ensuing season.  The following were elected as a committee to carry out the arrangements for the coming season:  Mis Sommerville, Mss M. Thorp, Mr C.R. miller, Mr F.s. White and Mr J. Sommerville.  A hearty vote of thanks was tendered to Mrs Dendy for her past service as Hon Secretary.  The first practice game will take place today (Sat.) at 3pm on the Club's ground in Imberhorne Lane.  From the remarks about Mrs Dendy resigning we can deduce that the club was certainly in existence for at least two years prior to 1899.

Not inly "mixed" matches were played; both men's and ladies' matches appeared in the magazine "Hockey and Winter Sports" in 1900 and 1901.  The teams played included Worthing, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Rottindean, Portslade, Eastbourne and Beckenham and presumably for the away fixtures has to travel by train !

The names of members who played most frequently at this time in addition to those mentioned in the AGM report were:

Men: A. Corbett, R.A. Dendy, C.W. Edwards, Rev W.P. Evans, F.C. Poynder, G. Harbord, E.P. Whitley Hughes, S. Hughes, E.G. Moore, F.M. Pigott, H.Y. Radley, H.G. Rice, H.A. Stenning and Capt Thorp.

Ladies:  Miss E. Blakiston, Miss M. Blakiston, Miss J. Harbod, Miss G. Hoare, Miss J. Thorp and Miss A. Thorp.

It can be seen that there are a number of families involved in playing for the club and there are some other facts with came to light during the research which may be of interest namely:

The Rev. L.H. Dahl was curate at St Swithun's between 1897 and 1906 and incidentally the most prolific goalscorer for the club.  He was, according to a later report, the originator of the Club.

The Misses E. & M. Blakiston were daughters of the Rev D.Y. Blakiston, the vicar of St Swithun's between 1871 and 1908.

Mr F.S White was a local solicitor who became Clerk to the Rural District Council in 1902.  The E.G. Observer reported in 2901 that "On Thursday Nov. 1st, F.S. White (Captain of the Cricket Club) entertained the playing members at dinner at the Ship Hotel."

E.P. Whitley Hughes was a partner in a firm of solicitors Whitley Hughes and Luscombe and was Clerk and Solicitor to the Urban District Council. F.C. Ponder M.B. was a local general practitioner. No records for matches in 1902 have been found and although the article in Hockey World of 1925 stated that the Club "became defunct" in 1900 this was not correct since reports of men's matches for the beginning of 1901 appeared in Hockey and Winter Sports as mentioned previously. The Hockey World article went on to say that the Club "......Was revived in 1903, mainly owing to the energies of Mr. P.A. Robson, at this time resident in East Grinstead, who was before this a member of the old and famous Blackheath H.C. and was one of the original five members who reorganised this, the oldest of all hockey clubs, to play the "association" instead of the "union" game. As stated above, the East Grinstead Club was revived in 1903 under the secretaryship of E.G. Moore, and became completely a men's club.

The ground used in those days was a poor one near the present Mount Noddy Recreation Ground, and good play was impossible. In 1905 by kind permission of A.D. Cochrane, an ardent supporter, the Club had the use of ground in his private ground at "Stoneleigh". At this period the number of playing members totalled twelve and many matches found the team with one or two short, and "makeshifts" had to be secured.

The ground was again changed in 1906 back to near the old one on the recreation ground, and in 1907, owing to lack of members, the Club had again to be disbanded. However, thanks once again to the energies of Mr. Robson, a new ground at Dorman's Park (four miles from East Grinstead) wasprocured, and in 1908 the Club started again." The grounds left much to be desired as the following match report, one o fthe earliest discovered, indicates quite clearly. Brighton v. East Grinstead - Played at Dormans Park, East Grinstead, on Saturday Dec. 7th Result: Brighton 2, East Grinstead 0. Owing to the length of the journey it was past 3 o'clock before the game started, but before five minutes play had taken place Brighton scored twice, P. Hill (2). After this the game could hardly be called hockey, the ground being quite unfit for the game, no further scoring took place and the game ended as above stated.

Owing to the heavy rain during the night the ground was nothing but a quagmire and East Grinstead would have done well to scratch. This extract is from the edition of"Hockey" published on PLAYERS at this time laments the quality of many grounds and emphasises how essential the improvement of pitch quality is to the development of skills of the game. The same journal in the following year claims there are about 600 clubs in existence. This statement is made in the context of an appeal to raise €75 "to enable the Hockey Association to entertain their visitors in a manner benefiting this occasion". The occasion was no less than the entertainment of the Olympic Games Hockey teams! A contributionof 2/ 6 (15p) per club was suggested! Until the Club procured the use of the West Street Cricket Ground for the 1909-1910 season, the Dorman's Park ground continued to be used for home games. During the period 1903-1910 the Club captains were Spen- cer Hughes and P.A. Robson and the President was Edward Blount. Club officersand committee members were Blake, Genge, Heasman, Hooper, Moore, Smith and White (no ini- tials given!) and other playersinclude Dahl, Dendy, Gardner, Gordon, Lamkin, Maplesden, Matson, Mead, Moreley, Pearless, Rowan, Stenning, Tyler, Vavasour, Walford and Winsel. Spencer Hughes and Hooper were selected for the County in 1905. The teams played included Hastings, Royal Sussex Regiment, Malden, Brighton, Seaford, Redhill, Horsham, Haywards Heath, Lowfield Heath, Frant and Tulse Hill. Leading clubs in the game at this time were Hounslow, described as "not far from being the best southern club", Southgate, Staines and Hampstead. Many other familiar names such as Blackheath, Bromley, Richmond, Spencer and Surbiton appeared regularly in the results columns. Others such as Brondesbury, a club from the Worcester Park area who regularly ran five sides, GWR (Great Western Railway), War Office and Norwood (three sides) have long since disappeared. Very few match reports have been found for the period 1910- 1915 althoughthe Hockey World article stated that "in 1910 ..... good fixtures were obtained, including Beckenham First XI, over whom asensational victory of 1-0 was registered." F. Heasman and F.C. Maplesden w e r ejoint Hon. Secs in 1911-1912 and on April 13th a concert was held at the Whitehall forHockey Clubfunds. No indication was given of the amount of money raised! Rev. W.E. Sealy, who appears in the photographon page 5, was assistant master and later Headmaster at Fonthill School from 1908, certainly until 1943 and possibly until the late 1940's. P.A. Robson remained Captain until the Club suspended play in 1916 at which time C.J. Tree of Fonthill School was Hon. Secretary.

Chapter 4: Between the Wars 1920 - 1939

There was no hockey from 1916 until the Club efforts of Bernard Castle. Fortunately this part of the Club's history is precisely recorded as a fixture card, fully completed, was among those handed down to successive Club Secretaries and preserved by Tony Blunt over many years.

We are indebted, for this early record to A.I. Hett, whose signed fixture cards ni the late twenties and early thirties provide the essential facts of that period. The reformed Club, whose President was again E.C. Blount, who lived at Imberhorne, shared its initial fixture card with the Ladies Club. The men's Secretary. was B.A. Castle and the Treasurer the Rev. W.E. Sealy, thus continuing the early clerical flavour amongst the Club's administrators.

The first men's Captain was E. Walford, who served for two seasons before being succeeded by Bernard Castle. Vice Captain, a more important role in those days was F.C. Maplesden, who had certainly been involved with the Club for over ten years by that time. The initial committee was A. Johnson, F. Heasman, W. Lamkin, and S. Bridgeland.

What do we know of these men? First, as they all appear in the famous team of 1923-24, we know their faces. Indeed, Lamkin, Heasman and Alec Johnson appear in the c1912 team photograph shown on page 5 as does Fred Maplesden who was a stalwart full back of these early sides. Fred Heasman was an umpire also described as a very keen supporter of the Club. S. Bridgeland was the goalkeeper whose family owned the. ironmongers and general store in the centre o f the town until the early 1970s and whose son-in-law, Leslie Davis, was to play a major role in the Club in later years. Alec Johnson is thought to have owned a tailoring business in the town.

The initial fixture list after the war comprised the following sides:
Royal Field Artillery (RFA - Preston Barracks), Ardingly
MGS (Seaford), Brighton
Signal Service Marefield, Worthing
Horsham, Tunbridge Wells (not played)
Hailsham, The Ghosts
The results for this season were:
1920-21 P19 W12 D2 L5 GF95 GA62

Notable achievements were a 15-0 defeat of RFA, a 14-1 win against Horsham, and an 8-1 trouncing for Brighton, thus punishing them for fielding an 'A' side. The Club are recorded as fielding a second XI for the first time on 31 December 1921. There is little record of the Club's performance in the following two seasons but 1923-24 is well documented. This should be no surprise since this was undoubtedly the high point of the Club's early history. The record for that year together with that of the Second XI, which was also outstanding, reads as follows:

There is little evidence of the relative merits of this side since reports regularly emphasise the value of teamwork and how the members played unselfishly for each other. The President reported of the first team that "their success was also due to the extraordinary state of physical development which the team seem to have reached". He had never seen a side more physically fit as a whole. (This at a time when training was almost unheard of!). The contribution ofCastle to this success however was obviously immense and he alone was consistently picked for the County throughout this period. It is apparent though that Tedder, who was picked for the County at sixteen, was a rising star.

Maplesden was a rock in defence and Streeter a prolific scorer of goals. Bridgeland in goal also was a keeper of quality who was regularly praised in match reports and was selected for the County on many occasions. Major wins in this peak season were secured against Royal Naval College - Greenwich 8-1 (twice!), Brighton 7-0, Reigate 6-1, and Beckenham I 13-1. Only Tulse Hill 5-4, Lewes and Uppingham were able to get close to this all-conquering Grinstead side. The highlight of this season was undoubtedly the defeat of theGhosts at Easter in 1924.

At this time, this club comprised principally of past and present internationals and had a playing record which read P24 W24 LO G F167 GA 23 . Over the Easter, Ghosts beat the Royal Corps of Signals 6-1, Worthing 7-2, Brighton 2-0, Lewes 5-1, and a combined Sussex XI 2-0. Yet they fell 0-2 to East Grinstead. Streeter and Tedder were the scorers in this historic result. Lovell, Maplesden, Castle and Tedder were complimented for their outstanding play in this game.

It is remarkable that these results were achieved without A.W. Woolley who joined the Club the following season. He was undoubtedly a class player who subsequently moved to Spencer where he played many games at inside left for England. On arrival at Grinstead he warmed up with a hat-trick in a 5-2 defeat of Kenley and then scored an incredible 12 goals asthe Club crushed Latchmere 16-0. This appears to have been another successful season although full results are not available. In the first meeting between the clubs, Grinstead beat Tulse HilI 5-2, whilst Castle, Maplesden, Johnson and Tabernacle assisted Sussex in defeating Bucks 5-1.

Streeter and Castle, now playing Centre Forward, were the chief scorers in a line which registered over 100 goals. The Club continued to thrive in the later 1920s without repeating the outstanding success of 1923-24. In this period the Club was sustained by some remarkable administrators. First wasBernard Castle, who put in a 17 year stint as Fixture Secretary which overlapped six years as Club Secretary and four years as Ist XI Captain. His tremendous contribution was regularly applauded at the AGMs. H .Osborne completed five years as both Secretary and Treasurer and may haveserved longer in the latter post. Likewise R. Streeter held the post of Team Secretary for at least six years.

Committee men during this period and the thirties in addition to the above included:
A. Johnson, C. Johnson (Captain three times), E Walford (2nd XI Captain for five years),
R.H. Wood (2nd XI Captain four years), H.K. Barnes, H.E. Bawden, A.G. Heasman, F.C. Maplesden, R. Place (father of subsequent President Geoff), J.H. Blaine, J.W. Grayling, R.V. Dixon, J.D. Fiddler, H.A. George, R.V. Kedlie, and Roy Major.

The latter was the founder of the jewellers of that name and his widow has very kindly provided the photograph shown above where Roy is pictured fourth from the left in the back row. On the playing field, the 1st XI had a very successful season in 1932-33 when under the captaincy of H. Osborne, they suffered only a single defeat and finished with a record of P22 W18 D3 LI GF72 GA26. Records after this are less complete although we know the 1st XI captaining rotated between B.A. Castle and C. Johnson with H.E. Gasson, E.B. Martins and R. Wiezmeyer leading the second team.

Press coverage in these days was generous and even lavish where AGMs were concerned. The meeting held on 15 April 1926 received no less than 26 column inches and is of great interest. Amongst the guest list was the Revd L.H. Dahl (Founder of the Club and at one time curate of East Grinstead). In proposing the toast to "the visitors", R. Place is recorded as saying "Regarding Mr. Dahl, it is sufficient to say he alone started the East Grinstead Club." The Revd L.H. Dahl's response is of such importance and interest that ti is reproduced verbatim. "The Rev. L.H. Dahl also responding, said this was the happiest day of his life.

He often had promised to revisit East Grinstead and see old friends...... He loved the old town and was proud to think that the Hockey Club was doing so much to enhance its reputation. He remembered how one day he was talking to Mr Whitfield on the need of a hockey club in town and how Mr Whitfield had said "Why do you not start one!" and he did....... He concluded by congratulating the Hockey Club from the bottom of his heart and hoped that they might long continue to flourish." (loud cheers) Thus in a single speech we have the Club founder confirming the conception of the Club, honouring its great achievement and recommending a union with the Cricket Club which took over 60 years to consummate. Quite remarkable!

By 1934, Castle had obtained a record 105 caps for Sussex for whom C.A. Lane (subsequently a Scottish international) and C. Johnson were also playing. By 1933, .J Grayling, W.R. Barber, J.S. Robertson and E. Winnington Ingram had joined the premier side. The last named, an Oxford Blue, was apparently a talented right wing. D. Tedder also rejoined after a period in Australia. In 1933, Leslie Davis took over as Hon. Secretary from H. Osborne and held this post until 1955. In the same year C.H. Johnson resumed the role of 1st XI Captain for a single season but he returned again in 1937 for what proved to be the final two seasons before the Second World War.

The Johnson family had a strong association with the club providing three brothers, Cecil, Trevor, and Roland [whilst their father, A.H. Johnson played for the club as early as 1906]. Between Cecil's two later spells as Captain, the Ist XI was led by C.A. Lane who gained several caps for Scotland. In the late thirties the Club continued to contribute greatly to Sussex Hockey both on and off the field through B.A. Castle, C.H. Johnson and F.C. Maplesden, now one of the Club's oldest members, who in addition to running a catering firm and building a new cinema, was President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club as well as Secretary of Holtye Golf Club.

A busy man indeed ! Sadly, the Club records, stored at the premises of Bridgelands, were destroyed when a bomb hit the nearby Whitehall Cinema. Thus the story of these early years is not as comprehensive as one would have liked.