Staines Hockey Club was formed in 1890, making it one of the oldest hockey clubs in the world. Its early years were very illustrious with several internationals playing for the club and a number of gold medals being won by Staines members in the 1908 Olympic Games.
Between the two World Wars standards remained high although some more fashionable London clubs began to dominate the scene. After the Second World War fortunes waned somewhat, probably due to the rather mediocre facilities that the Club used. Three men’s teams were fielded every Saturday and in 1959 a 4th XI was formed and there were enough members for it to play about a dozen fixtures during the season. A grass pitch was hired on the Staines Linoleum Company’s sports ground in Mill Mead, Staines and post match entertaining was initially at the Packhorse Hotel (now the Thames Lodge Hotel) and subsequently at the Railway Hotel by Staines railway station.
In 1961, the Club moved to play on the Laleham Village Recreation Ground and a pitch in Laleham Park was also hired from the Council to accommodate the 4th XI that now had a full fixture list. After the match, tea was taken in the rather rustic surroundings of the Scout Hut on the Laleham Village Recreation Ground and further entertaining of the opponents took place in the adjacent “Three Horseshoes” public house which was a great favourite of many visiting sides before the advent of drink/driving laws and beer at the present day equivalent of 9p per pint!
In the 1965/66 season the Club celebrated its 75th Anniversary. On November 6th 1965 the 1st XI played a Hockey Association XI at the Laleham Cricket Club ground in Ashford Road, Laleham, the only game of hockey played on this ground, which had previously been the home of Staines Rugby Club before their move to Hanworth. The game resulted in a 1-1 draw, Dick Goodenough scoring for Staines. The Celebration Dinner and Dance took place at Great Fosters, Egham on Thursday 28th April 1966. The toast to the Club was proposed by Mr. H. L. Lewis and the President Mr. W. S. Whitfield responded.
The Club was once more on the move in 1972 in association with the renamed Staines & Laleham Cricket Club. Their ground in Ashford Road had been sold for housing development (now Shaftesbury Crescent) and a lease had been obtained on a piece of ground in Worple Road, Staines owned by London Transport. With the money the Cricket Club had received for leaving their ground and a grant from the Department of the Environment a brick pavilion was built and 4 full-size hockey pitches and two cricket squares were laid.
Subsequently, a further piece of ground, previously used as a paddock was obtained and a further hockey pitch was accommodated and a larger boundary for the second cricket square also resulted.
The first full season at “Faulkners”, named after the President of the Cricket Club who had been chiefly responsible for the move to Worple Road, coincided with the introduction of league hockey for the 1st XI, which introduced a more competitive edge into Saturday hockey which, up to then, had consisted only of friendly matches. League hockey came to the Men’s 2nd XI in the 1980/81 season, when under the captaincy of Brian Slade, the team went through their ten league games with a 100% record.
A Staines Ladies team was established in 1979 and by the 1982/83 season three teams were fielded regularly on Saturdays and there was a flourishing Mixed XI on Sundays. The men’s playing strength also increased after the move to Worple Road, with 6 teams in 1974 and reaching 7 in 1984 and a peak of 8 teams in Centenary year 1990/91. After the second Veteran’s XI (The Cohorts) ceased to operate in 1997, the men have fielded six sides, including The Centurions (Veterans).
Staines Ladies, now up to 4 teams, entered league hockey in 1986 and by 2001/2002 virtually all the club teams, both men and ladies, will be playing some form of league fixtures on Saturdays during the season.
Fortunes have fluctuated over the past three decades with promotion and occasional relegation and a good record in cup matches without achieving ultimate success. The men have reached the final of the Middlesex Cup three times and the Club has participated in three finals of the National Mixed Cup but have yet to win.
The Ladies reached the final of the Middlesex Cup in 2000/2001 and also won the Middlesex Premier league and narrowly failed in the play-offs for a place in the South League.
During the 1990/1991 season the Club celebrated its Centenary and a number of special events were arranged. A Centenary Committee under the chairmanship of Mike Smith had been planning the various events for many months and the weekend of 28th -30th September 1990 started everything off. There was a Centenary Dinner at the Heathrow Park Hotel on the Friday, followed by a Club Day on the Saturday consisting of all the Club teams playing in a handicap tournament, followed by a barbecue and a Ceilidh. Sunday 30th September was the main day of celebration. Hockey started at 10.15 am with a Colts match between Staines and Sunbury, followed by a Ladies game between Staines and the Wimbledon LHC President’s XI. At 1 pm the President, Bill Whitfield welcomed the special guests and Club members to a reception in a marquee and light music was provided by the band of the Devon and Dorset Regiment. After the ceremonial planting of the Centenary tree, there followed a Period Hockey Match in the style of the Staines HC trials in September 1936. The dress of players and umpires, the sticks and the rules all mirrored those of bygone days. It was difficult for the players to remember that the use of the foot was not illegal. The military band then gave a marching display prior to the main match in which Staines took on an England Invitation XI that included 3 of the Great Britain players who had won Olympic gold medals in Seoul in 1988. The day finished with the cutting of the Centenary Cake, washed down with a few drinks.
During the season a number of tournaments and festivals were arranged with associated evening functions. These included Mixed, Colts and Easter festivals and Veterans, Ladies, Lower XI and Men’s and Ladies 6-a-side tournaments. Easter festivals had been a feature at the club between 1981 and 1988.
From the 1988/89 season it was necessary to play 1st XI league matches on artificial grass pitches and the Staines home games were played initially at Feltham School and then at Cranford School, Indian Gymkhana Club and St. Paul’s School, Sunbury which meant a 20-30 minute car journey to and from the pitch and opponents often not returning to the clubhouse for tea and beer.
As more and more league matches required artificial surfaces, it became clear that Staines needed such a pitch on their own ground. Efforts had been made over many years by the Staines & Laleham Sports Association to purchase the freehold of the ground from London Transport, but they had stubbornly refused. However, in the early 1990s the government indicated that assets of this kind, which were of little use to the owners should be sold off. Negotiations took place and the freehold was acquired in 1994. With the advent of the National Lottery, the Club pursued the possibility of getting its own artificial pitch and planning permission was sought to lay one on the “Paddock” pitch on the far side of the ground from the pavilion. Planning permission was granted in January 1996 and application for lottery funding was made soon afterwards. This was deferred for more information in August 1996 and a further application was sent in November 1996, but finally a rejection on five different points was received. Professional help was sought to complete the next lottery application and a variation in the planning application was required in order to permit floodlights to be used on every weekday evening. After a great deal of delay a final lottery application was lodged in February 2000 but in May 2000, despite seemingly covering the points from the previous rejection, the application was again turned down.
This reverse spurred the Chairman, Edward Scott, to decide that the Club should try to fund the project by other means and over the 2000/2001 season the fund raising was stepped up and a substantial loan from the Spelthorne Borough Council was negotiated. In December 2000 preliminary work on the pitch was begun and by May 2001 the pitch was laid and an inaugural Club Day was held on June 2nd where all members who wished to play took part in matches.
On July 15th the Club had the honour of staging the annual mixed international match between England and Wales and Staines provided two members of the England squad, Mike Farmer, who was captain and James (Larry) Chapman. The game was played in front of the Mayor of Spelthorne and guests from the world of hockey and England won 2-0.