Formation of Waterford Hockey Club – Minute Book 1934 to 1951:
An exact date for the original formation of what is now known as ‘Waterford Hockey Club’ is currently not know. However, we know that on the Wednesday the 19th September 1934 a meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel on the Mall in Waterford city (present day Tower Hotel site) for the purpose of ‘reviving’ the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club. An original minute book (with dates range from 19th September 1934 to 17th October 1951) is still in existence with press cuttings and records showing this inaugural meeting. Mr. Frank Phillips was elected as Chairman, Mr. J. J. O’Connor as Secretary and Mr. T. Jones as Treasurer, along with a Committee. Once formed they set about entering the Irish Junior Hockey Cup. Historic press cuttings indicate that the ‘old Club’ (pre-1934 revival) was the first club in Munster to win the Irish Junior Cup. This is actually verified in the Irish Hockey Union (IHU) historic reports. Waterford were Irish Junior Cup Winners in 1922, the very first club in Munster to do so. Initial minute book meetings also reference that there was also a separate Waterford Ladies’ Hockey Club in existence and that both men’s and ladies clubs were sharing hockey playing grounds at Ballinakill. Shortly after the revival of the men’s hockey club two new leagues called ‘The Waterford Men’s Hockey League’ and ‘The Waterford Ladies’ Hockey League’ were established between a number of men’s and ladies’ hockey teams and clubs in the Waterford area. Mr. E. B. McBride arranged to provide a new cup (still known today as the McBride Cup) for the men’s section of these new leagues. The men’s section of this local Waterford league appears to have developed into a cup tournament which included more teams from the South East region. The winners cup being the McBride Cup. Records show that on the 23rd September 1938 the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club voted for an amalgamation of the men’s and ladies’ funds to help manage both club’s finances better. On the 27th September 1939 election of Officers for both ladies’ and men’s branches were held at a joint AGM. The men’s and ladies’ clubs were now beginning to officially come together. Hockey appeared to have blossomed in Waterford between 1934-1939, but this changed when the Second World War took hold in September 1939. Several men’s members and the men’s secretary, Mr. G.R. Mayes who was a leading figure in the club, departed. This coupled with extreme difficulties in travelling and petrol rationing meant it was extremely hard on the South Eastern Division clubs as they were each situated so far apart and hockey virtually ceased in the region. Waterford Hockey Club dragged on for a short while and finally broke up completely. Hockey in Waterford as far as the men were concerned was at a very low ebb until 1946 when Mr. Eddie Walsh (Chips Walsh) and Mr. Ronald Watson decided to try to revive the men’s section club again. Their playing grounds were gone and some efforts were made to get one without success. However the existing men’s players continued to play some league and cup matches with some members managing to play on the South Eastern Inter-Provincial team. On 11th November 1947 the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club held its first official meeting, after the war, where it was decided to keep trying for a field and to restart the club on an organised basis once again. Before the year was out they were granted the use of a school field belonging to Bishop Foy’s school at Grantstown. By October 1948 the club had run into difficulty again when a large number of members decided to leave the club wishing to re-form the old Waterford YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) hockey club, leaving only a few remains members behind. The Waterford Men’s Hockey Club managed to move forward only by obtaining a number of new members most of who were new to the game. In 1949-50 they were using a field at Knockhouse as a playing pitch and in 1950-51 a field at Killure, both located beyond the outskirts of Waterford city. It should be noted that throughout the men’s minute book for this period, both the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and the Waterford Ladies’ Hockey Club continued to work closely together on many shared aspects of their clubs, including sharing playing grounds, fundraising and other social events at least up to the early 1950’s.
The Early Years of Field Hockey in Ireland (Late 1800’s and Early 1900’s):
Hockey is traceable to the ancient Irish game of camán and the Irish Hockey Union which formed in 1893 can be linked to the earlier Irish Hurley Union which formed in 1879. The modern field hockey game in terms of its rules grew from English public schools in the early 19th century. From this, during the 1800’s it is noted that hockey was likely to have been played in Ireland at many British soldiers’ barracks stationed throughout the country along with other games such as cricket. It was formally introduced by clubs formed at two Dublin based schools (High School and Kings Hospital) followed by another newly formed Palmerston Hockey Club between 1892 and 1893. The game quickly took hold across Dublin and beyond with many other clubs forming during this time. Players came from past and present pupils of various prestigious schools and colleges around the country, from enthusiastic former hurley players (as hurley and hurling was in serious decline as an organised game at this time), from Irish people who had been educated or worked in Britain and had returned to Ireland, and from British people living and working in Ireland. The Hockey Association in England was founded in 1886. The first hockey international actually took place in Rhyl (Wales) in 1895 between Ireland and Wales (Ireland 3, Wales 0). The two oldest trophies and longest running tournaments are believed to be the Irish Senior Cup, which dates back to 1894, and the Irish Junior Cup, a 2nd XI only competition instituted in 1895. Significantly, the Irish Ladies Hockey Union was formed in 1894, a year after the Irish Hockey Union (IHU), and was the first women’s association in the world. Ireland’s Ladies won the first women’s international when they beat England in 1896. By the early 1900’s hockey had very firm roots established in Ireland. There were over 100 clubs affiliated to the Irish Hockey Union in 1908. The IHU, which had established itself as an All-Ireland organization, entered for the 1908 Olympic Games in London as a separate country and finished as silver medalists, losing against England. However, as both teams were two of four from the ‘Home Nations’ of what was then the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’, their medals are credited to Great Britain. The 1910’s and 1920’s in particular were turbulent times in Ireland’s cultural history, especially the time period’s around the Easter Rising, the setting up of the Irish Free State, and the Irish Civil War. Although these events had little effect in general on hockey in Ireland, there were some noticed exceptions. As British regiments disbanded in Southern Ireland on the forming of the Irish Free State this affected memberships of a number of clubs associated with these regiments. Also the Royal Hibernian Military School closed in the Phoenix Park, which was a military school for the sons of Irish soldiers in the British Army, and this had provided many of Ireland’s international players. During the First World War the game was officially suspended by the IHU from 1915-1918, and during the Second World War from 1939-1945 hockey fell away somewhat during this period in Ireland, especially in the regions and for travelling teams.
(Various information in the above ‘The Early Years of Field Hockey in Ireland (Late 1800’s and Early 1900’s)’ section was sourced from the following publication: ’90 Years of Irish Hockey Union’, book compiled by T. A. Wynne (President IHU), editor Chris Glennon (Irish Independent), published by Leinster Leader Ltd. 1985.
Indoor Roller Skating Hockey in Waterford 1940’s :
During the years of World War II and shortly afterwards indoor roller skating hockey (although not having any direct connections to Irish Field Hockey) was a popular past-time in the Olympia Ballroom in Parnell Street, Waterford city (having a very large wooden dance floor ideal for roller skating). This may have come about because the Church had a big influence on Irish life and ballrooms throughout the country were discouraged from putting on dances at certain times of the year, in particular during Lent. Many ballroom owners looked to put on other paying activities to keep their doors open. Teams travelled to different venues to compete. Some past members of the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club recall playing indoor roller skating hockey socially with their friends.
Other Hockey Clubs in the Waterford Area and Further Developments within Waterford Hockey Club:
In the mid 1930’s the following hockey teams / clubs were participating in the ‘The Waterford Men’s and Ladies’ Hockey Leagues’: Newtown School, Bishop Foy School, Tramore Hockey Club, Waterford Bohemians and the Ursuline Convent . George A. Higgins of Queens Street, Tramore, is one of the earliest known Waterford players who played for Ireland in 1931. In the 1950’s and early 1960’s there were a number of clubs or teams again actively playing field hockey in the Waterford area. Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies’ Hockey Club now played their hockey at ‘Collins’s’ field, in the area of what is now Collins Avenue off the Dunmore Road. Another group of men’s hockey players, Waterford YMCA played its hockey on the playing fields of Bishop Foy’s School, many of who were teachers or past pupils of that school. These grounds were part of the Earl family lands on what is now Earls Court. There was also a Tramore Ladies hockey team and an irregular Tramore Men’s hockey team as this time. Tramore played its hockey on the crown (top) of Tramore Race Course before finds suitable playing grounds. Dungarvan also had active Ladies and Men’s teams. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs had a very vibrant fundraising social scene. For a number of years throughout the summer months very successful Waterford Hockey Club Saturday dances were held in the Haven Hotel in Dunmore East. In the early 1960’s the South Eastern League disbanded and a number of Waterford YMCA men’s players arranged to play for Connacht at Inter-Provincial level, to strengthen Connacht’s Provincial team. In 1967 two end-to-end All-Weather grit hockey pitches, surrounded by an athletics track were built at Newtown School at a cost of £9,000 Irish pounds. Waterford Hockey Club moved to these new facilities at Newtown School when they opened. Up to the present day, Newtown School has remained the official grounds for Waterford Hockey Club. Bishop Foy’s School closed in 1967 due to the declining Protestant school going population. This may have led to Waterford YMCA hockey ceasing, with a number of its members joining Waterford Hockey Club at the new hockey grounds at Newtown School. In the early 1970’s (circa 1972-1973) the Waterford Ladies Hockey Club approached the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club with the view to officially amalgamating both clubs into one, as the Ladies were finding it difficult keeping their finances going during this particular time. This was officially agreed between both groups, just as it had previously happened back in September 1939 (but promptly fell away due to the outbreak of World War II). However this time it was sustained and both clubs have officially since moved forward as one ‘Waterford Hockey Club’. By the mid 1970’s the men’s section were enjoying great playing success on the pitch and the club in general ran very successful mixed hockey tournaments. Waterford Crystal was a major sponsor to the club and in the late 1970’s a number of the men’s players broke away from the club to form a Waterford Crystal Hockey Club which ran successfully for a number of seasons. In the mid 1970’s ‘Indoor Hockey’ became another popular branch of the hockey sporting game (not to be confused with indoor roller skating hockey) and Waterford Hockey Club members also participated in this.
It was played indoors in large sports facilities similar to indoor soccer today. Full team squads were typically eleven players, with six per team playing on pitch at any one time. Members of Waterford Hockey Club formed a men’s team called Waterford Corthinians and played at local and Inter-Provincial level. In 1978, five Waterford players (listed on the tournament program as representing Waterford Corthinians) played on an eleven man Connacht team at the Indoor Hockey Inter-Provincial Tournament in Carlow. The 1980’s was a great winning decade for the ladies section. However, with this success another break away occurred when a group of ladies players decided to form their own team separate from the club. This new Waterford based ladies team ‘Woodstock’ competed for a couple of seasons. Since then, Waterford Hockey Club has remained the only hockey club in the Waterford city area. In 1984, Joe Power and Christie Walsh formed a Sunday morning kids section within the club. This was initially set up to teach young boys hockey where they had limited opportunities to learn the sport relative to young girls within local schools. However, once set up the ladies hockey quickly came on board to form a young girls coaching section too. Both the young girls and boys sections were therefore coached as separate groups on the Sunday mornings. In 1997, a third ‘Astro Turf’, artificial grass pitch was installed at Newtown School, which included flood lighting facilities at a total cost of £300,000 Irish pounds. In the mid 2000’s unfortunately the men’s team folded again due to lack of numbers. However in late 2012 David Quinn and Stuart Greene who at the time were house masters at Newtown School and were involved with coaching the school’s hockey teams managed to gather up an opposition men’s team to play practice matches against the Newtown Senior Boys hockey team. By 2013 they had resurrected a competing Waterford Hockey Club men’s team once again. Instigated by Roger Johnson, as of September 2016 a new state of the art ‘TigerTurf’ playing surface is planned to be installed on the main Newtown School hockey playing pitch to replace the former ‘Astro Turf’ surface, along with upgrading of the pitch side fencing. Also new goals and dugouts are intended to be purchased. This will offer excellent pitch playing facilities for Waterford Hockey Club for a number years into the future.
Waterford Hockey Club in Munster, the South East and Ireland:
By the 1950’s there were a large number of hockey clubs well established throughout the whole of Ireland especially in the provinces of Ulster and Leinster, who had multiple adult teams within individual clubs. At Inter-Provincial level two tiers were in operation. A senior standard Inter-Provincial tournament had one top team from each Province (Ulster, Munster, Connacht and Leinster) catered for the strongest players. And a junior standard Inter-Provincial tournament had a second tier of teams from six regions (Ulster, Munster, Connacht, Leinster, South East and Midlands). Waterford Hockey Club was competing within this South East provincial region and played in the South Eastern League. The South Eastern League consisted of club teams from Carlow, Enniscorthy, Bagenalstown, Kilkenny, Waterford, Greenhills (Wexford), Wexford Town, to name a few. It also competed in cup competitions on numerous occasions, including the ‘White’ Cup (originating from Wexford), the ‘McBride’ Cup (originating from Waterford), and the Irish Junior Cup. In the 1950’s mixed hockey tournaments were also very popular, with teams consisting of five men and six ladies. The club entered the Munster League competitions during the 1960’s with the men later winning Division 2. The men reached the finals of the Irish Junior Cup and Irish Senior Cup during the 1970’s. Ladies hockey was particularly strong in the 1980’s winning the Intermediate and Senior Leagues, along with the Munster Cup and reaching the quarter final of the Irish Senior Cup. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the club ran very popular mixed hockey tournament festivals at Newtown School with large numbers of teams participating from across Leinster and Munster. Also, by the late 1990’s the club was hosting a Boys Under 16/18 Inter-Provincial Hockey Tournament. Over the subsequent years Waterford Hockey Club teams have continued to successfully win various Munster Division Leagues and cup tournament titles. Many Waterford Hockey Club players have played at Inter-Provincial level representing Munster, and a select few have successfully trialled or played for the Ireland national team in international hockey tournaments in various age categories.
(Please see the ‘About WHC / Club Achievements’ page to view more details of Waterford Hockey Club league, cup and player achievements throughout its history that we are aware of at this time.)
Waterford Hockey Club Abroad:
In October 1953 both the ladies and gents teams visited Swansea in Wales, which was the first time the club had played outside the country. The same year the Waterford Ladies Hockey Club hosted an ‘All Australian Women’s Hockey Association touring team. In the 1960’s Waterford Hockey Club participated in an Annual Isle of Man tournament, and the 1970’s there were several trips to Llandudno in Wales. Another highlight was a visit of ‘The Wizards’ (a famous English/Dutch touring team) who played Waterford in May 1971. During the early 2000’s various club mixed social teams travelled to Worcester, Cheltenham and Bristol in England, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Beauvais in France. In 2015 and 2016, the club has hosted touring youth teams from a number of South African schools.
The club has a long standing tradition of meeting up to play some hockey together during the Christmas holiday period. Weather permitting typically on St. Stephen’s Day former members, some from far flung places home on holidays, along with current members, family or friends meet at Newtown School hockey pitch to battle it out just for fun one more time, and to reminisce of games played, goals scored and good times past.
The McBride Cup:
The McBride Cup is associated with hockey in Waterford. In 1935 the ‘McBride Challenge Cup’ was originally presented to the ‘South Eastern Hockey Leagues’ as a winner’s trophy cup for the men’s section by Mr. E. B. McBride, of the local Waterford McBride family (of Graves & Co. builder merchants). However, it appears that by 1936 another men’s south eastern ‘cup’ tournament was developed with the McBride Cup as the winners trophy. In more recent times the McBride family have wished to stipulate that Waterford Hockey Club run a Waterford based cup tournament, therefore helping to maintain a tradition of hockey in Waterford city into the future. The Waterford Men’s hockey team have continued this tradition of organising a tournament to play for this ‘McBride Cup’ typically with other men’s teams in the South Eastern region.
2014 Waterford Hockey Club 80th Birthday Celebrations:
On Friday 21st November 2014, Waterford Hockey Club celebrated its 80th anniversary with a Reunion Gala Dinner event in the Granville Hotel in Waterford city. It was attended by approximately 150 people, and having been very well advertised across the local media, it was particularly well attended by a large number of former club members from previous generations. The very successful night was a great reminder to all present of the long standing history of the club itself, and of the importance of nurturing and developing the club into the future. We look forward to celebrating the club’s 100th birthday in 2034.
Waterford Hockey Club Today:
Today, Waterford Hockey Club is continuing to thrive. The club’s membership has reached 300, made up of approximately 130 kid’s members (age 7-12), 80 junior members (U14-U16), and 90 senior players/associates/coaches. The club has teams in a variety of age groups from U8, U10, U12, U14, U16, along with Senior Ladies and Men’s teams. It provides trained coaching for each of these age categories from absolute beginners to seasoned players. It also operates a successful outreach schools program ‘Tricks 4 Sticks’ visiting local schools to run introductory hockey sessions with their pupils.
(Waterford Hockey Club history was compiled in June and July 2016, by Marcus Notley, a Waterford Hockey Club member. With special thanks to Margaret Holden, the late Paddy Holden, Bob Burns, Joe Power, Denis Hegarty, Edward McBride, Roger Johnson, Jack Gardiner, Richard de Courcy, and Jonathan Fletcher.)