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Club History

Club History established 1892

What a Find! Recently going through some of the old files of the Club I came across this summary of our earliest days preserved by one David Morgan dated 9.9.63.

“From the “Birmingham Gazette”. Sat. 26th March, 1904"

One afternoon during the winter of 1892, Pitchcroft, the famous enclosure of the Faithful City was invaded by a strange band of Malcontents. They had murderous looking sticks in their hands rudely turned out at the ends, and excitement burned in their eyes. The picture thus called up might remind one of George Robey in his prehistoric playfulness but these men who came so boldly to meet the public eye were but harmless hockey players - pioneers of the game in Worcester.

There are different versions of that early occurrence. Some assert with a twinkle in their eye that so overcome with the ridicule shown by the crowd were the men, that before the end they were beaten by derision and fled covered with blushes. But this may be the tale of a bygone day being rounded off and exaggerated as the years have gone on, although many people of shallow intellect were disposed to laugh at the pastime which has long since established itself firmly in the public favour.

Worcester had not only to meet this discouraging beginning but for years have had to meet difficulties and handicaps. The club was inspired by Norton Barracks. The officers there had a team and they approached W.E.Wyatt of Worcester suggesting the formation of a club in the city. Wyatt was an old sporting man and picked up the idea enthusiastically.

He soon succeeded in forming a club ... Right from the outset there were two difficulties - paucity of members and scarcity of teams to play. Today, when few districts are without a hockey team, the older members of Worcester look back with a smile at that first season in I892 when the only team they played was Norton Barracks. Home and home fixtures were played again and again - mostly won by Norton. There were few, if any, clubs nearby, but not only that, Worcester played on ‘Thursdays because Saturday was market day and the banks, where many of the members spend their spare time, when not playing, do not close down until late in the afternoon. The goal average for that first season was 1 for 36 against!!!

During the second season a new club started at Pershore (1893) then clubs at Leominster, Bridgnorth and Kidderminster also delighted the hearts of the faithful in the county town and matches with all those clubs were arranged. They have all ceased to exist now save Worcester.

Numbers were small and often it was difficult to raise a side but there has always been a nucleus of enthusiasts and the greater the difficulties - the more energetic they are. In 1896, a private ground was secured, the Severn Terrace, formerly the home of the Berwick Rangers football club.

Membership steadily increased and the club remained here for two seasons and then migrated to the Barbourne College ground until 1902. Then they obtained one of the best playing areas in the Midlands - the old county cricket ground at Boughton. This was a great landmark in the success of the club and soon a great influx of members resulted in a second and a third team.

By the time I joined the Club in 1968 there were four men’s sides. Two years later we had grown to six teams. In 1979 the Worcester Ladies Hockey Club joined with us. At that time we played on two grass pitches at Perdiswell Park in North Worcester.

1983 saw a major development for the Club when we joined forces with a cricket club and a shooting club to become Worcester Norton Sports Club with pitches and a clubhouse located at what had been the home of the Worcestershire Regiment on the outskirts of the City. The Club continued to thrive there for the next 20 years but the advent of artificial grass surfaces meant that a change of venue was necessary so in 2002 we had to sever our connection with WNSC and with the support of Worcester City Council we established ourselves at Nunnery Wood Sports Complex.

In 2004 we achieved another landmark when we were the first hockey club in the area to achieve ClubFirst status. Thus we now have national recognition as a club which is run responsibly and is able to demonstrate best practice in providing for young people. We are whole-heartedly committed to helping young people to start, stay and succeed in hockey and currently have over 200 members under the age of 18!
We continue to be one of the major Hockey Clubs in Worcestershire. Secretly most of us believe we are the major Club! Currently we run seven teams for men, four for women and two for juniors (Badgers sides) every Saturday and a host of teams at U11, U13, U15 and U18 in various national, regional and local competitions. We also have a strong Veterans section. Both the Men’s 1st X1 and the Women’s 1st X1 play in their respective Midlands Premier Division, one below National League status and some of our other sides also play in the premier divisions.

We see ourselves as a Club with a distinguished past, a dynamic present and an exciting future . It is our intention not just to consolidate our playing strength but to aspire to even greater glory by contesting for National League Status a pinnacle that the Women 1st X1 did achieve a few seasons ago but sadly were not able to sustain. As part of this endeavour we are delighted to be associated with the University of Worcester in the provision of Hockey scholarships.

You will find an application form to join the Club on the Club website under the links tab, or you can contact either of the secretaries. Similarly details of Club kit can be obtained from the same sources.

I am very proud to be the President of this famous Club and do hope that this handbook will further enthuse you to join and to play a full part in the life of the Club.

Robin Brighton

President

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