Pickwick Hockey Club – A History
An extract from the 1958 Centenary Handbook
No-one is sure when the Pickwick Hockey Club as it was originally known, came into being. Although it cannot claim to be as long-standing as Pickwick Athletic Club itself, it is known that it existed in the last century. (1800`s) We have recently heard from Mr. H. T. Phillips, one of the oldest members of the Club, and he tells us that he was playing for Pickwick on the old ground at Camp Hill. It is sad to think that on an occasion such as the Club’s Centenary Celebrations we have not at our disposal such infallible records as are kept at Somerset House and Scotland Yard, and that the only concrete information available is that contained in the current minute book which began itself in 1926. There is, however, enough evidence’ recorded in this book to indicate that the Hockey Section has not been without its difficulties, its’ ups and downs, and above all its honours. There is too, the customary reference to outstanding members Who have devoted so much of their time and effort to the Club. It would seem that in 1926, the future of the Hockey Club was somewhat in doubt due to the pending expiration of the lease of the ground. In 1928, this uncertainty (culminated in a request from the Parks Committee of the Birmingham City Council to evacuate the field. Nevertheless, negotiations carried’ out between the Club’s General Committee and the Parks Committee resulted in a renewal of the lease, which, assured the Hockey Club of its future. Shortly, after the conclusion of these negotiations, the Pickwick Hockey Club became the Men’s Hockey Section Of the Pickwick Athletic Club, and is known as such today.
The 1926/7 season began with only 22 players, a fact which gave the selectors something of a headache, for a few weeks until membership increased sufficiently to enable two teams to be fielded without difficulty. Shortly after the commencement of the following season the number of available players was sufficient to introduce an ‘ A ‘ XI for the remainder of the season. This team was established on a permanent basis the following year. In 1935, Pickwick absorbed a number of members from the disbanded Y.M.C.A. Hockey Club, including our present Section Chairman, Mr. J. E. Mason. During 1936/7 an effort was made to run a fourth team, known as the ‘B’ XI, but this did not survive for more than a season. Our present 3rd XI altered it title to ‘the “Nomads” XI in 1947 and spent the following few years playing all but a very few of their matches away from home. The introduction of the “‘Nomads II” Xl for the 1957/8 season is not to be regarded as an attempt, but as an intention to run four teams, This has been made possible by the availability of a third pitch which is no longer sub-let to the Moseley Ladies’ Hockey Club. Although the” Nomads” will now be no more itinerant than their 1st and 2nd XI colleagues, their title has had such a long and happy association with the Club that Hockey members voted for its retention.
As far as our playing results are concerned, as in any club, there have been good seasons and bad. It is interesting to note however, that the highest number of goals scored by a Pickwick team in’ any one season was 144 in 1945/6, and that in 1933, the 2nd XI did not lose a match. This had never been achieved before and has not, as yet, been achieved since. The 1946/7 ‘season was the worst for cancellations owing to 8 weeks of continuous snow. 1951 saw our first invitation to the Leamington Hockey Festival and this has been an event in the ‘Pickwick calendar ever since.
It is interesting in these days of shortages of umpires, to learn that the Hockey Section at one time pre-war was able to avail itself to the services of as many as five honorary umpires. Among the difficulties already referred to, the Club has had to tackle the ever-present problem of finance. All through the years ingenious suggestions have been made as to how to increase the Club’s income. It is thus then more amusing to read of a certain member at a general meeting, many years ago, venturing to suggest that the profits were too high, and that some of the excess should be devoted to improving the quality of the teas on match days. The matter was apparently taken quite seriously, for it is recorded that a lengthy discussion ensued in which the comparative merits ‘of jam tarts and cream buns’ were debated. The final resolution was not recorded!
The war years provided the most difficult period in the Club’s history; but it was found possible to run one hockey team on a skeleton membership by inviting Harborne and Kings Heath Hockey Clubs to join forces with Pickwick, these two clubs having lost the use of their own grounds. Matches were arranged with Olton, Bournville, University and several R.A.F. teams. In 1942, more players joined Pickwick from Redditch similarly homeless and by the following year, a further influx of players, from clubs which had ceased to exist, enabled two teams to be formed. Considerable credit has been given to all the officers of the section during the war for keeping the club running. It is on record also that the Club would not have been kept alive without the interest and industry of Mr. P. Levy as Honorary Fixture and Match Secretary. How difficult it is, we all know, to single out names for credit without the risk of doing injustices by omissions. Nevertheless, there are names engraved in” the annals of the Hockey section which must surely be repeated here. In 1951, the death of Mr. Edgar Lates was severely felt by the Club. He was our President for several years and has been associated with Pickwick through two wars. He interested himself in all aspects of the game, and did much to ensure the satisfactory running of the matches. Mrs Lates too, seems to have worked wonders with the tea arrangements for several years during the now almost forgotten days of rationing.
Mr. A. Dickson, was presented with an engraved cigarette case at the Annual Dinner in 1932 in recognition of his services as Honorary Treasurer of the Hockey Section for a number of years and, at a similar function in 1934, Mr. L. E. Challis received a grandmother clock on his retirement from the Honorary Secretaryship after 10 years service, In 1936, Mr. L. A. Vanes was presented with an electric clock on “hanging up his boots” after 23 years unbroken playing membership. In the following year, another retiring member of long standing, Mr. W. G. Foxley, received a “toby jug”. The Hockey Section and The United Services club jointly presented a silver tankard to Mr. Peter Eades in 1950 to commemorate his selection for England in all four International matches. Fresh in the minds of most of us is the most recent presentation made to Mr. P. Levy in 1956. This took the form of an illuminated scroll and was presented in recognition of his 25 years with Pickwick and on his retirement as Honorary Secretary of the Hockey Section for 11 years. Earlier in. the year, Mr. Levy was made the first Life Member of the Section. Three more Life Members were elected in 1957 in appreciation of their long association and valued services to Pickwick. They were Mr. P. Eades (retiring Honorary Fixtures Secretary) for the honours he brought to the Club, and for the credit he brought to it on and off the field at all times ‘Mr. J. Hermolle (retiring 2nd XI Captain) for 20 years loyal and enthusiastic support for Pickwick; and Mr. J. E. Mason (the present Chairman of the Hockey Section)for over 22 years with Pickwick very much in his heart with the intention of continuing to represent the Club on and off the field.
Playing honours have come many times to Pickwick Hockey players, and what a pleasure it is to record them. Over a period of about 15 years, E. A. Vanes played for Worcestershire until the 1930’s. In. the l929/30 season, W. G. Foxley was selected to play in goal for Worcestershire, while L. H. Alexander and L. E. Challlis played for Worcestershire 2nd. XI in the majority of matches. In the following three seasons, our Club was again represented in County matches G. Leek was awarded his 2nd XI colours for Worcester County in 1936, while similar honours went to Banarjee who also had a.trial for All India in 1928. A. T. Crilley, J. Kinnear and D. Gartson-Jones played in county matches. Another member of Pickwick, E. W. Smith, won his Worcestershire 2nd XI colours in 1939. The end of the war saw further honours for Pickwick, for in the 1946 season, A. W. Daherty, P Eades and J. McMinn were selected to play far Worcestershire. P. Eades (who, had already played for Leicestershire from 1937 to”1939 who had the added distinction of being chosen to play in the final English International Trial match, and of being selected for the Midlands from 1946 to 1951.The outstanding occasion for the club during the 1949/50 season was the winning of an England cap by the 1st team captain Peter Eades who played in all four International matches. In the same year, George Bower was selected for the Worcester County 2nd XI in his second hockey season. Also in 1950, K McMinn an ex-member of Pickwick played for Scotland. Howell Jones, another past member of Pickwick, was captain for Wales in 1956 and 1957. J. Gould and S. Richardson played in representative matches in the 1955/6 season, and S. Richardson added to his laurels by being selected to play for Worcestershire during 1956/7 and for the Midlands versus South Africa match at Bournville.
In the sphere of exalted officials, too, Pickwick has not been omitted; Mr. P. E. Wilkes, the then Vice-President of the Club was elected to the Worcester County Selection Committee in 1928. Mr. A. T. Crilley also served on the same Committee in 1938, and in 1947, Mr. E. W. Smith was elected Honorary Secretary for Worcestershire. In 1951, Mr. G. Lewis umpired the England versus Scotland International match, while Mr D.Blackner officiated in a similar capacity in the Oxford versus Cambridge match. Current news is that Mr. D. Garston-Jones is VicePresident Of the Mid-Surrey Club, and Mr. J. McMinn is Secretary of the Scottish Hockey Association. We are proud to think that so many names have at one time or another been associated with Pickwick, and we are proud too write them in our records.
The Club looks forward to further honours being bestowed upon it. We have some extremely promising young players with plenty of spirit, enthusiasm and ability which should take them a long way towards the goal which has already been achieved by some of their predecessors.
The past history of the Pickwick Hockey Section is indeed gratifying, and its future has never been more promising.
H.B.O. (Harold Olive 1958)
It is interesting that the problems recorded fifty years ago still seem to be the same problems today, finance, availability, umpires and match teas. We are sure that you all agree with Harold Olive that we have a great history and that the future of the Hockey Club is still very promising.