Romford Hockey Club

Romford Hockey Club History

Romford Hockey Club was established in 1920.

As you look around today you will see a modern active club, with the usual amenities, a clubhouse, hot showers, centrally heated changing rooms and of course a busy bar.

How different from when Eddy Boyle of Rosemount Tennis Club in 1921 suggested to his tennis colleagues that they form a hockey team at the end of the tennis season. There was sufficient support and so a pitch was marked out at Paynes Fields, an open area which ran from Gidea Park Station to Carlton Road in Romford, presumably goats and sheep kept the grass short enough for hockey. Drum Cafe at numbers 8 & 9 in Hare Hall Lane agreed to permit the players to change on the premises and also provide tea. Hockey was an immediate success and Romford Hockey Club was promptly formed for men and ladies.

In 1926, by which time there were two teams, we moved to Brooklands ground where it is believed we had two pitches. Frank Everard, son of a local policeman, who was a staunch vegetarian although not a teetotaller, was keen to improve the playing surface and was frequently demanding whip rounds to pay the ten shilling cost of have the horse drawn ransom cutter go over the pitch. There were still no showers and tea was taken in Mrs. Humphrey’s bakers and cafe at 54 Market Place. The ladies and men’s section were still very close, more so when Miss Kitty Mann, ladies captain, married Frank Everard. Meetings were regularly held on Mondays at Humphrey’s Cafe.

By 1927/28 membership had grown to about 30 and it was difficult to give everyone a game, particularly the rabbits, members with little or no skill who just hared around. This situation was probably aggravated when in 1930 Gidea Park H.C. who played at Gallows Corner was disbanded and Norman Farnes and others joined Romford.

Football at Brooklands eventually squeezed the hockey out around 1932/34 and we moved to Gallows Corner. Alas it had become a bad drainer, I suppose because the duck pond and cattle drinking place had been filled in to provide space for the present clubhouse. It was necessary to find a better surface and after a season or two we moved to Stanley Avenue which was probably part of Paynes Fields. There appeared to be no changing facilities until the President at that time, Mr. W. W. Evans, father of present day Vice-Chairman Mr. S. W. Evans, donated funds for the building of a wooden pavilion.

In the period 1932/34 until 1939 committee meetings took place in the surgery waiting room of Norman Farnes, above Barclays Bank in South Street.

The first recorded tour took place at Easter 1937 when a party went to Bourne­mouth. The following year it was Folkestone Hockey Festival. By contrast this year the club will tour to Clacton, Worthing, Thanet, Cardiff, Cork and Ipswich.

World War II and the demand for allotments saw the end of our Stanley Avenue pitch and with the need for our members to serve the nation, the club disbanded in 1939.

The club reformed in 1946 and the first match was played against Hornchurch on 19th October. Since then the club has flourished whilst still maintaining the ideals of yesteryear, namely sportsmanship, competitiveness and sociability.

The late 1950's and 1960's saw a distinct change in how players got to away matches. Instead of travelling by bus and train the trend was now to use private cars, or if you weren't quite so lucky, vans. This resulted in playing sides from further afield but the travelling times never got shorter as several pubs had to be passed (and not always without stopping off) on the journeys back to Gallows.