|Home Colours:||White Shirts, Navy Shorts & Green/White socks|
Green or Red Shirts, Navy Shorts & Green/White socks
[To order club shirts and shorts etc go to the Club Kit & Ordering page.]
|Senior (Full) Members:||Subscriptions||£130.00|
|Senior (Reduced) Members:||Subscriptions||£65.00|
Hockey began at Reigate Grammar School in the Michaelmas term of 1956, when the game was introduced as an alternative to rugby. The first school match was a 3-0 win over the Girls' County School.
By 1960 there were Old Boy hockey players and the master-in-charge, Peter Cuss, called a meeting at the School on 16th December 1960 to consider forming a club. The meeting took place and the Club was formed. Those present were two members of staff: Peter Cuss and Frank Howlett; eight Old Boys: Roger Allery, John Anderson, Neil Barker, Peter Barrow, Geoff Bew, Peter Brice, Don Machell and Roger Stenning; and the School hockey captain: Ian Whiteman. Officers were elected and the first match was next day against the School - the result is not recorded. Subscriptions were set at two guineas (students one guinea) and match fees at 2/6. The Club affiliated to the Old Reigatian Association and received a Loan of £20. Colours were navy-blue shorts, green and white socks which were already available for the Rugby Club, and white shirts.
The School kindly allowed the Club to use the ground at St. Albans Road, an arrangement that continued until the School became independent again, and in 1976 the County no Longer allowed the ground to be shared. There were a few games in the spring of 1961 and by 1961-62 a full season's fixtures was ready.
For seven years the Club ran one team. There were not many players around but there were always enough for one eleven. A lot of matches were cancelled as the School ground drained badly, although in the 1970's the ground changed its character and became much improved.
There was a train of helpful ladies to prepare tea, provided someone lit the rather frightening gas boiler. After away matches we would stay on for some time with the opposition. A favourite venue was at Staff College Camberley, where tea was served in the mess. After home matches we went to the Rugby Club in Park Lane. Later we preferred the Red Cross Inn in the High Street and members filled the bar until it was time to cross the road to the Chinese restaurant for a "meal D".
In 1963 Graham Hudson joined the Club and at once dyed the shirts green - a colour the Club has since kept to. However, with washing and when the Club bought green shirts from different suppliers, the colours rarely matched and shirts were a long-running problem. At last in 1985 sponsorship from Courage provided us with 24 matching shirts.
The Club began to play Sunday hockey, away, as the School did not allow the ground to be used on Sundays, and after long discussion chose the name Pipkins for this side. The Club went to Easter Festivals at the N.P.L. at Teddington, playing three matches over the holiday, and some members went to Jersey with Oxted Hockey Club's team.
Members held a dinner at the Bridge House Hotel early in 1966 and from there the Club moved on to running large annual dinner dances at the Russ Hill Hotel, which attracted members from other clubs. Social events such as these were usually organised by Trevor Keepen, with assistance from Mick Palmer and Lynn Wilson.
The club’s first social event was in October 1964; a car rally. This and later ones were popular events. The Bell Street car park was packed for the Sunday morning start. The route was over most (it seemed) of Surrey and Sussex, and one rally found an optimistic railway official who tried to charge us for stopping in the station car park. The day ended up at the Fox Revived at Norwood Hill. Great fun and a £10 profit.
To develop, the Club needed a ground and pavilion of its own, and so it needed money. Happily Graham Hudson realised that he could combine money raising with his interest in show jumping and he proposed to run a horse show. The Committee received this proposal with amusement but sensed there might be something in it. The show took place on Sunday 17th July 1966 at White Owl Farm, on the west side of Lonesome Lane. There were two jumping rings and a gymkhana in the afternoon. The show depended on outside help from non-members, as most Club members had never been to a show. The day went well and there was a surplus of £122. There was no show in 1967 but in 1968 there was a two-day one on the other side of the road. A two-day show was then held annually until the 1991. So, the source of funds was there; now a site was needed.
For a long time two proposals appeared very hopeful. The first was to use land in Park Lane newly acquired as extra by the Rugby Club and to change in the old Cricket Club pavilion which is nearby. To go in with another Old Boy club seemed a good thing to do but talks lasting from 1966 to 1971 came to nothing, with both sides perhaps feeling that the arrangement might not work. The other proposal was to lease land in Lonesome Lane from the Council. We should have needed to fence the ground and to build a pavilion. The Council offered a seven-year lease at £25 a year rising to £50 but the full lease when considered required as expected a great deal of effort but with no prospect of retaining use of the ground.
In December 1971 these schemes were abandoned. A sub-committee was set up of John Rollings (chairman), Graham Hudson and Roger Humphries to start again. The new search led to three likely sites: a share in the Big Field at Brockham, a link with Salfords Cricket Club, or one with Merstham Cricket Club. On investigation we should have had to put a possible £20,000 into Brockham and Salfords never responded. However, Merstham announced they would be delighted to have us. The site was attractive in a fold in the countryside down Quality Street, but it was wet. They had two old wooden pavilions, which although serviceable lacked mains facilities, but they did have outline consent for a new pavilion. They were looking for a winter user who could put up cash.
Then followed two years hard and exciting work in bringing the two clubs together and arranging the building work. Roger Humphries moved to Edinburgh in 1973 and the sub-committee was expanded to add John Chisholm and Bob Mollison. The pavilion chosen had to be within the clubs' means and this meant a timber-frame one with plasterboard internal walls. Although defects were too soon to become apparent, it was at the time all we could afford and it was a start. The ground landlords Hylton Estates granted a new 28-year lease in 1973. A road was laid but we had to manage for some time without a car park. In August 1974 the Club in general meeting formally approved the arrangements and in October the pavilion was ordered and the sub-committee disbanded, its job done.
To keep the clubs working together a joint management committee was set up with three or four members from each club. The outgoing sub-committee members became the Club's representatives and worked as hard as before. The JMC met about three times a year during theclub’s stay at Merstham, and is where all development work was discussed and improvements co-ordinated. The Club's Newsletter was launched in October and is still going strong. To save money, much of the inside of the pavilion was fitted out by the clubs, with the Hockey Club doing the plumbing. Painting was shared and three members listened to the Wimbledon finals while painting the loo. On 15th August 1975 the pavilion opened.
During this search for a ground and building the pavilion, the number of Club players was increasing. In 1965-66 the Club put out two teams against the School and the 2nds had one or two fixtures over the next two seasons. The first 2nd XI captain was appointed in 1968 and the next year with a larger fixture list there was a regular 2nd XI. This would improve the standard of the 1sts. A minute of a committee meeting from the time reads: "With the possibility of competition for 1st XI places, J. Rollings announced he would consider getting fit".
But it was a struggle at first for the 2nd XI. The team depended on a core of some half-dozen players (sometimes this was almost the whole team) who would be prepared to play regularly without a full side until the team could build up. Former chairman Mike Furnell had his introduction to Club hockey at this time and others in the squad were Derek Adshead, John Chisholm and Lynn Wilson. Two matches of this time stood out as memorable: one when the team changed at Beckenham to play at Bromley and another when members drove through a snowstorm to a game near Hailsham. Soon occasional 3rd XI matches were starting. With the hopes of a ground and with two regular elevens and a developing third eleven, the Club celebrated its 10th birthday with a firework party.
The 1st XI had up to now changed its captain nearly every year, to give each member of this new club a chance to lead it. Now with the election of Adrian Taylor the pattern changed. He held the post for four years and developed a disciplined, thinking team. In 1972-73 the 1st XI entered league hockey when the Truman-sponsored league was set up. They were put into division 3 (the lowest) of Surrey clubs. In 1974-75 they won the division and went up. In 1980-81 the league was reorganised and the 1st XI went back to division 3 but came straight up again - the only team to win division 3 twice. At the end of 1981-82 they were only one win short of promotion to division 1.
With the pavilion open the Club could work on the ground. Two pitches were to be laid out on the cricket outfield. This was not yet big enough - the cultivated ground ended on the new pavilion side with a fence along where the hockey pitches would have their 16-yard lines. This fence and a large tree-stump were removed and the fence along the southern side was repaired. When this had been done the landlord's agents found it had been set about a foot beyond the true boundary line and the fence had to be moved back. John Chisholm built a set of goals and backboards. The inaugural match was on 7th February 1976- the 3rd XI v. Horsham 3rds. Horsham scored first but an offer of free beer from captain John Earl for the first Old Reigatian to score inspired Jeff Nott to get the equaliser and claim the prize.
The Club continued to use St. Albans Road until the end of 1975-76 and for some time after league matches were played at the Crawley all-weather pitch. They missed the benefit of the dry years of 1975 and 1976. When the ground was ready, the weather had gone back to its usual state. The club lacked a roller but eventually borrowed the School's and had it brought up, but it was often too wet to use it. In the summer of 1977 the smaller old pavilion came down and a ditch was dug along the top of the main pitch to try to keep off water which ran down from the street. The club even invested in a Dennis mower. The main pitch was now at the full length of 100 yards and when a dip had been filled in and a small tree removed, the second pitch would be as well.
The Club's first two chairmen were the School hockey staff, Peter Cuss and Frank Howlett, who both gave up the post on leaving the School. Geoff Bew who was the Club’s first captain and a fine full back succeeded them. The Club's regular goalkeeper for the 1st XI and later the 2nds for a total of sixteen years was Ian Flack. His father Phil took up umpiring with the Club and became chairman when Geoff Bew stood down. Phil Flack died in 1967 and was succeeded by one or the best players the Club has had, the hard-hitting forward Arthur Offen. He led the Club for thirteen years and the whole of that time was concerned with the search for a ground, the linking with Merstham C.C. and the development work on the site. As well as leading the Club in Committee and at general meetings, he had the technical ability to lead members in work on the ground. When he was not involved with the new work or later with repairs, he spent time at home building a partition that could then be folded halfway across the main room to make it more attractive and manageable. He stood down in 1981 and was followed by Mike Furnell.
As the pitches were being brought into use, the Club had its most successful years so far in terms of the number of players. In 1975-76 the 2nd XI under John Rollings scored 88 goals and Paul Collins was able to continue with a match winning side, with sixteen wins out of 24 games. Kevin Thurlow and John Earl captained full strength 3rd XIs and there was even an occasional 4th XI. At the same time the 1st XI under Graham Hudson, Peter Wheatley and Nick Brandt had its successes.
The move to a place of its own in Merstham saw the Club's range of activities expand. With a bar, there were social events organised by Bob Mollison and John Earl, and the Club made two weekend trips to Jersey in 1975 and 1976. From 1977-78 under Bob Mollison and then under Andy Warr, the club played indoor hockey in the Crawley league. Also, a mixed side, the Dodos, was started which had occasional matches. In 1978 the first annual President's match took place between the 1st XI and former players who have given up regular hockey.
The recent years had brought many welcome developments. But there were problems. The pavilion occupied much of the active members' time. Its weak construction led to numerous break-ins, none serious but all a nuisance. The internal supply of water to the showers, kitchen and bar was unreliable, and the large glass windows made heating difficult. The Merstham pitch was also notoriously wet: President's matches in February and later March were expected to be mud baths. Partly through these pitch problems the number of players declined. In 1975-76 the 3rd XI played 27 times, the next year 18 and by 1981-82 the matches were down to almost none. Players were around but not available every week - a change from earlier practice, and as ever there was competition from other clubs. The RGS Magazine the "Pilgrim" reported that soon after the School's first match in 1956 "three of the members of the 1st XI had the honour of being invited to play for Reigate Priory Hockey Club".
Reigate’s town side moved to Banstead in the early 1980's. Up to then both it and the Club were directly competing for players from the School, but the competition lessened after the move. For a Club with at first not much to offer, it was the competition which stretched successive Team Secretaries and lower XI captains to the full as they worked to get their teams out. The Club received help from some staff at the School, and Tom Dowson, John Passant, John Pickford, Allan Sims, Peter Wheatley and Graham Best were all involved in the drive for recruitment.
Both Merstham and the ORs shared the cost of repaying the loans taken out to build the pavilion. By 1980 these were paid off, and horse shows had provided new funds. The need was now for drainage, and in 1981 three drains were put across the main pitch linked to a soak-away behind the old pavilion, and the cricket club drained the wet patch below the square. This made a big improvement to the pitch, but the player shortage continued.
Then, early on Monday 16th November 1982 two young vandals broke in and set fire to the curtains. The whole place went up in flames. The kitchen and bar were reduced to ashes; the changing rooms still stood but they were unusable.
With the clubhouse a wreck, the school helped again by letting us change there and tea was provided at the Rugby Club. The club’s insurers, the Crusader Group were also helpful. Two lessons learned with the old building were to be applied in the new: the need for security and for fitting out to be done professionally. The committee looked at several designs and chose a Marley concrete frame. Local builder Brian Middleton was engaged to handle the whole of the internal work, which included solid walls. Rebuilding began in the spring and less than a year after the fire, the pavilion opened on 23rd September 1983. The new pavilion was easier to run, coped well with social events and was warmer than the old one. It allowed the Committee to get on with the job of running a hockey club instead of organising repairs.
In 1985 three more drains were added to the main pitch and this completed the drainage work on it. The neighbouring farmer also helped by draining his land and by creating a lake at the lowest point of the area. Player numbers began increasing again. For the last Saturday in 1985 there were three XIs available, although the weather both at home and away reduced us to only one match.
The horse shows continually provided the Club with its money for development during this time, and despite floods twice nearly causing the show to be cancelled, the show did not make a loss. Graham Hudson directed all the shows and for several years John Chisholm dealt with entries and Lynn Wilson with sponsorship. The work of getting the fields ready and of organising a working party fell on the chief steward. For ten years this was Arthur Offen, for four Roger Doyle and for five Jeff Nott. The success of the after-show suppers was recognition of the chief stewards' efforts.
Although the Club's day-to-day income was generated (as it still is) by subscriptions, the bar managed by Peter Wheatley, the 100 Club (which ran from 1978 to 1998), raffles promoted by Tom Grist, and from social events organised by Jeff Nott all generated additional revenue.
The Club celebrated its 25th anniversary with a six-a-side tournament held in October 1984, where it presented pennants to other clubs, and then held a dinner the following year in March.
Following the clubs’ 25th anniversary, the Reigatians had what transpired to be a successful period both on and off the pitch. Having at last secured promotion as champions from Surrey Division 2 in 1986-87, Jeff Nott stepped down as 1st XI captain and first Andy Harrington and then Mark Eddolls took over the reins. The side always struggled a little in the top flight, but the higher standard attracted the better young players from RGS, which boosted the number of playing members, and caused the club to look again at running a third side.
In 1986-87 the 2nd XI entered into league hockey for the first time. They were placed into the Surrey 2nd XI League in Division 2, and Andy Cusack took charge for the their first season before changing the following year to skipper a largely social 3rd XI, which played a handful of games each year from 1986-90. Indeed socially the club had become quite active. The clubhouse was well utilised with quiz and games evenings, and in August 1987 the first tour to Salisbury took place, which has remained an annual event since.
It was around this time that some of the clubs in the league began to migrate from grass to astroturf pitches. Despite the drainage having improved the pitch at Quality Street significantly, there were still large periods when the surface was unplayable through wet or cold. The 1st XI began to struggle against improving astro-based sides, and in 1989/90 they were relegated back to Division 2, only to be somewhat surprisingly promoted despite finishing fourth the year after, due to a league reorganisation.
However, the relegation had hurt the club more significantly than just being downed for one season, as several of the more talented youngsters left in search of a higher standard of hockey elsewhere. This resulted in a demoralising 1991-92 where the 1st XI could only secure 3 wins from 24 games and scored only 17 goals all season. It was to prove to be the last season that ORs were to play in Division 1.
With club membership rapidly on the decline, the 3rd XI again disappeared in 1990, and the 2nd XI began to struggle to turn out a side. The social events suffered too, partly due to the declining membership, but also because games were at more varied times to fit into available astroturf time slots. This hit bar takings badly, and the decreasing social activity led to the demise of the horse shows in 1991 after the 25th show.
During 1992 the league started to strongly push all clubs to move to astro, and with the Merstham pitch still proving unreliable, the committee decided that the time was right to move to astroturf ourselves for the start of the 1992-93 season.
In 1992-93, as the 1st XI enjoyed a better season in Division 2 under Barry Jones (eventually finishing runners up, but not being promoted), the 2nd XI struggled. Vice-captain Andy Crawford gamely led the side to only 2 wins from 19 games, as captain Andy Warr was called upon by the 1sts. This was to be the first of Andy Warr’s currently eight seasons in a row as leading club goalscorer.
It was also a sign of things to come. Without the clubhouse as a social focus the club fell into demise, losing more members and failing to attract new ones from the school or anywhere else. After a second consecutive poor year in the 2nd XI League, the committee decided that the 2nd XI should move to the Surrey Open League, a league essentially seen at the time as only for third and fourth elevens of bigger clubs. The 2nds faired a little better here in Division 3, but with numbers of members now so low, there were weeks when several players were playing twice in a day. The 1sts now under Andy Harrington again also reflected this in the 1994-95 season, having their worst league finish for years.
By now it was obvious, the club was in crisis, and the committee was forced into looking at options for the club’s future. There were several options to consider: a club merger with Reigate & Banstead, continuing with only one side, disbanding the club altogether, or the committee’s preferred option which was to merge with Horley. Lengthy discussions were held with Horley, and both clubs appeared to be largely in favour of the merger.
An EGM was called early in 1995 to debate these options. For a while it appeared that the club was resigned to merging with Horley as the only sensible option. However, when Brendon Mills volunteered to captain the side the following year, and Graham Hudson spoke at length on his feelings about the club’s identity, opinions changed and it was decided to run the club the following season with only one league side, and an occasional 2nd XI playing friendlies.
The 1st XI took over the fixtures originally earmarked for the 2nd XI in the Surrey Open League, and the club resigned from the Surrey League. The 1995-96 season proved to be very tough. The league-less 2nd XI played only five games, and there were occasions when even a single eleven proved difficult to find. The Open League proved to be a more sensible level for the club though, and the side finished mid-table.
Andy Warr took over as 1st XI captain for the 1996-97 season, and for the club things started to improve. The 2nds again did not play in a league, but John Wills took on the tricky role of captaining them, and he managed to bring some youngsters into the club for the first time in a while. The 2nds played some 20 friendlies with varying success caused by the differing standards of both our side and the opposition. The 1st XI side was more settled and were trying to assist the 2nds where possible. For example, Tom Grist managed to play in all 23 of the games for the 1st XI, and also to notch up 4 games for the 2nds.
The 1st XI managed promotion from the Open League Division 3, thanks largely to Andy Warr’s club record 36 goals, and the committee had new problems to ponder at the end of the season. Firstly, the midweek hockey, which had been played at Old Walcountians, was proving both too high a standard, and also to be too poorly organised. It’s true that the club played a large variety of sides there – it was here that Iain Steel, who was to become 1st XI captain the following year, first met the ORs. However, it was felt that a series of more local matches played at home might encourage some of the newer younger players to join in. Tom Grist volunteered to organise both fixtures and the team selection, and from the following year midweek games were played at the Warwick School, and were an immediate success. Secondly, there were now enough regular members to consider having the 2nd XI rejoin a league. After due consideration, the 2nds applied to and were accepted into the Surrey Open League Division 3. Jamie Olorenshaw took on the role of captaining the 2nds, and Iain ‘Fish’ Steel the 1st XI, who had a superb season finishing as champions of Surrey Open 2, and getting through to the semi-final of the league cup.
With this success, and with social events like ten-pin bowling, and quiz and curry nights, players were again drawn to the club. At the end of the season it was decided that in 1998-99 the club would even be able to run a 3rd XI playing friendlies, largely to try and bring in some of the boys currently at RGS. Terry Johnson volunteered to run the side, able assisted by club captain Rob Evans, and they forged the best relationship the club has had with the school since the early 80’s.
The 1sts finished the 1998-99 season high up Surrey Open 1, and the 2nds also high up in Open 3. In 2000-01 the 3rds also joined the League. In 2005-06 a 4th XI was set up, playing friendlies. This, together with weekly training at the Warwick, has encouraged large numbers of young players to come along.
The Club is nearing its 50th birthday. Over the years, administration work has been handled mainly by a few members spending a long time in their jobs. The four posts of secretary, treasurer, fixture secretary and Club captain have been held by John Chisholm, Rob Evans, Tom Grist, Paul Hammond, Roger Humphries and Ian Whiteman for a total of 91 years. Statistics are kept by Andy Warr, who also heads the scoring with well over 400 goals, some 350 ahead of the next person, Brian Robertson.
The Club now has a regular Saturday slot at St Bede's School at 10.30 and, if there are two home matches, at the Warwick at 12.00.
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