BURTON HOCKEY CLUB:  1899-1974

With the object of funding a Hockey Club, a meeting, called by Mr A. J. D. Simey, was held in the laboratory of Messrs. Bass & Co. on the 25th of May 1899 at 4 p.m.
12 Ladies and 8 Gentlemen attended and it was resolved to form a Hockey Club for Ladies and Gentlemen to be “called the Burton Hockey Club”.

Mr A. J. D. Simey (Convenor and Chairman) was elected 1st Team Captain. Entrance fee was fixed at 2/6 with an annual subscription of 7/6. T. S. Green (Hon. Secretary) was requested to write to the Hockey Association for “particulars” and a copy of the Rules. It was also resolved that notices should be sent to all Ladies and Gentlemen who had played in the previous season informing them that a club had been formed and inviting their membership.

The aim was to establish a first and second eleven. The first fixture list was provided for Gentlemen’s Matches. Ladies’ Matches and Mixed Matches. Both Nottingham and Leicester H.C. were amongst the initial fixtures and this link has been maintained for 75 years.

Official dress then adopted was: “Dark blue skirts and light blue blouses” (Ladies) and “Dark blue knickers and light blue shirts” (Gentlemen).  Rules for the club were adopted. Rule 7 stated that the election of members was to be “by ballot by the Committee. Three black balls to exclude”.

Quite a number of players from the Burton Cricket Club played either rugby or hockey or both games during the Winter season. This relation with the cricket club certainly arose from the influence of Frank Evershed who persuaded “Gould” (the Cricket Club’s professional and groundsman) to act as groundsman for the Hockey Club.

When hockey matches cannot be played owing to ground conditions being unfit elsewhere, the Burton ground has the reputation of being extremely well-constructed and most efficiently drained. Credit, initially, goes to Frank Evershed who supervised the construction and, one understands, met the cost. At the same time one must commend the Committees of the Cricket Club and the Hockey Club, together with the later groundsmen, including Harry Fletcher and his son, Jim, for their foresight and ability. The Hockey Club paid rental to the Cricket Club – the amount often becoming a matter of disputation.

At a General Meeting held on 11th September 1899,Frank Evershed was first “voted to the Chair”. Indication of available transport at that time was the means of conveying teams and to the station. Indeed, it was decided (4th November 1899): “in certain cases, to write to visiting teams and ask whether they desired conveyances to be ordered for them”. On a less discriminatory note it was also resolved “ to provide lemons for future matches”.

On 17th January 1900, A. J. D. Simey resigned “having obtained an appointment in the Irish Royal Constabulary” and F. Evershed appointed 1st team captain. Mixed hockey matches were discontinued after 14th May 1900, and during the early years of the Club T. S. Green (Hon. Secretary) combined his secretaryship with that of Hon. Match Secretary and Hon. Fixture Secretary.

Meetings for many years were held at either Baileys Café, the Queen’s Hotel, the “Fox and Goose” or the Cricket Pavilion. Indeed, the “Queen’s (Burton),”The Bell” (Derby), “The Black Boy” (Nottingham), “The Kings Head” (Loughborough) were ports of call on a Saturday evening for most hockey teams passing through the Midland towns.

Affiliation to the Midland Counties Association was obtained in 1902. This was a much more significant step for the Club than it seemed at the time. It opened the way for any Burton player of that time and in subsequent years to be considered for both County and Divisional honours. As records show, Burton has a proud record in both respects.

In 1905, Club colours were changed to Dark Green and Red. During this same year, the Grange Hockey Club amalgamated with Burton Hockey Club, and, generously, handed over their balance of £4. 1. 0d. F. Evershed also volunteered to provide “independent referees”. L. A. Jeffcott was the Burton H. C. delegate to the D. C. H. A. Subscriptions rose from 7/6 to 10/6, and the cost of coal supplied by C. Spalding fell from the previous year’s charge of 11/8 to 4/2d.

Present day captains of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th teams would have sympathised with C. A. Coombs (2nd Xl Captain 1907), when R. Green (1st Xl Captain) in thanking him for his services said “what a heart breaking job it was owing to the necessity of the first team Captain being obliged to take some of his players at the eleventh hour and making mincemeat of his team. They regretted very much that the Club were losing him owing to his departure from England”. (!)

Social and even fund-raising efforts do not seem to have been operative before 1908, when it was proposed that a Dance and Whist Drive should be held at Boots’ Café on November 6th. A loss on the Dance of £2.5.9d led to the Secretary being instructed to write “to various Gentlemen of the town, asking them to become Vice-Presidents of the Club”. With some confidence, therefore, a Dance was arranged at St. Paul’s Institute on 3rd December, 1908. “Tickets Ladies 6/6. Gentlemen 7/6: including supper”. A minute relating to the preparations for the function reads: “the dance to be worked on as cheap lines as possible”.

Selected in 1909 as the first Vice-Presidents  of the Club were R. Green: S. H. Evershed: A. J. Roberts: H. Newton: H. Manners. Groundsman’s wages were then £4.16.0d for the hockey season, but better financial prosperity may have been mixed with caution when it was resolved “that a box of 25 cigars be sent to Mr. John Smith, cost about 10/-, as he was kind enough to have our ground rolled”, and later, “Teas for visitors be discontinued on the ground itself, but they could have it, if they desired, at Messrs. Baileys”.

Fixtures now included such familiar Clubs as Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke, Derby, Winshill,  Erdington, Birmingham University, as well as Nottingham and Leicester (from the first fixture list of 1899).

Even so, by 1910, the Committee were concerned about playing membership and the financial position. Nine members were written off the Members List – “either left the town or had paid no subscriptions for 2 or 3 seasons”. It was, therefore, decided to cancel all 2nd Xl fixtures after the number of members had been “ascertained”. To remedy the financial state of the Club a “Grand Prize Draw (Tickets 3d each)” was suggested. This led to the formation of the “Grand Prize Draw Committee”, which met on the 9th March, 1911 at the Queen’s Hotel. It was resolved that “tickets were to be 2d each. 200 books of 25 tickets to be ordered. Winning numbers to be put in the Burton Mail and the Burton Gazette”.

Results varied. In 1911 the 1st Xl defeat at Stafford 1 – 10 was countered by a win over Nottingham 6 – 2.

Two new members joined the Club in 1913. G. R. Beech and L. A. Cattley, both of Repton, laid the foundation of a long and pleasant association between Repton School and the Club. The excellent play of A. E. Penketh both at Club and County level, was often recorded.

Following upon the declaration of war, it was decided at a meeting held on 5th October, 1914, at the Queen’s Hotel, to suspend activities. H. G. Lees (Hon. Treasurer) agreed to act as Honorary Secretary until such time when the Club could resume.

The 1914 Committee members were called together again on the 26th June, 1919, and decided to hold a Special General Meeting of the Club on the 7th July. At that meeting the President, F. Evershed, paid tribute to those members who had died as a result of War Service. The names of T. Newton, R Penketh, Herbert Plant and F. W. Wragg were read.

During 1919, the Winshill Hockey Club declined an invitation to amalgamate with the Burton H. C.

The post-war revival was due to the work on and off the field by F. Evershed (President): A. E. Penketh (Capt.  1920-1933): D’Arcy Jeffcott: H. G. Lees: J. H. M. Yeomans: R. T. Peach: F. A. Yeomans and Dr. L. Clements. In 1921, a Press Report of the A.G. Meeting was headed:  -  “Burton Hockey Club” – “Optimistic Spirit at Annual Meeting” – “Splendid recovery after the War”. An item in the 1920 Balance Sheet of “Cricket Balls - £2.14.0d” was a reminder that the game was then played with painted white cricket balls and one is left to guess who undertook the chore of painting them each week.

In 1923 the future of the 2nd Xl became uncertain. It was reported that “Crosse and Blackwell had formed a 2nd Xl and taken 6 of the Clubs players”. 2nd Xl fixtures were cancelled for the 1923-24 season and the Press Headline of the 1923 A. G. M.: “Hopes for Better Times coming” – did nothing to restore the 1925-26 2nd Xl fixtures either.
The election of H. H. Davidson (1926), E. J. Gothard (1927) and B. W. Thomas (1927) was significant of their valuable contribution to and influence upon the future of the Club.

A dinner at the Queen’s Hotel  preceded the A. G. M. on the 18th September, 1928.
27 members attended. F. Evershed (President), T. Stanley Green and R. Green had attended the initial meeting in 1899. The President referred to T. Stanley Green as the founder of the Club. (Actually, T. Stanley Green seconded A. J. D. Simey’s proposition to form “The Burton Hockey Club” 25th May, 1899). The arrangements were repeated for the A. G. M. of 1929. From this meeting The Branston Art Silk Company and Messrs. Barnett were notified that hockey-playing members of the firms would be welcome to join the Club. The brothers Ken and Gordon Barnett became members.

J. I. Robertson (President 1961-64) became the first officially appointed Match Secretary (1929-31) and he was followed by K. A. Barnett (1931-38). Ken, later to be Hon. Secretary (1938-54) took a great interest in the Club. Even by 1935, however, mechanisation was not yet complete. An item for 12/6 in the accounts – “Repairs to Horse’s Shoes – explains this. But, in that same year first mention of raising a 3rd Xl was made and the possibility of playing Sunday matches was mentioned by the President.

Adopting the title of the “Brewsters”, R. D. R. Bateman made arrangements for a team to compete at the Lowestoft Easter Hockey Festival in 1936. The party consisted of 1st Xl and 2nd Xl players from the Burton Club together with players from the Winshill H. C. The “Brewsters” have now competed for some years at the Bournemouth Festival and maintain an impressive list of Sunday fixtures. The experience of playing Continental teams and strong teams from the Southern, Northern and Eastern Counties has added considerably to the reputation of the Club.

In 1938, the offices of Hon. Match Secretary and Hon. Fixture Secretary were made separate appointments, and of the new members, R. Illingworth (1937), H. H. Cherry (1938) and R. C.  Lyness (1938), H. H. Cherry continued for many years as a most valuable Committee member.

Upon the outbreak of war in 1939, the Club adopted the procedure of 1914. “Caretaker” officials were elected at the A.G.M. (March 1940) and fixtures abandoned.

F. Evershed presided at the Special General Meeting called in 1946. Honour was paid to the memory of J. Usher, P. Cluff, E. J. Manners, R. T. Peach, R. J. Green and G. I. Ratcliffe.

Largely as the result of the efforts of  F. Evershed  (President): K.A. Barnett: W. G. Barnett: R. D. R. Bateman: E. J. Gothard and M. Milford the Club became immediately re-established. S. Barrington (Hon. Match Secretary 1947-50, President 1964-67), then a new member, gave every indication of his potential as a player. Vice-Presidents elected in 1947 were F. Newton Husbands: W. P. Lowe: W. P. Ratcliffe: F. A. Lowe: Dr. L. Clements: Major L. Newton and Lord Gretton.

E. J. Gothard (Captain 1933-39:  1946-47) played a great part in the post-war period. An able rugby player, injury caused him to involve himself in playing hockey. He played for Derbyshire on 30 occasions and was a Midlands’ trialist. In the season 1946-47, 27 1st Xl and 25 2nd Xl matches were played – a tribute indeed to the Club’s Hon. Fixture Secretary (Stanley N. Yeomans). A. C. Kirby joined the club in 1947: later served on the Committee, became President of the D.C.H.U.A. and represented Derbyshire on the M.C.H.U.A.  A County match umpire of ability, Arthur later became Hon. Secretary of the D.C.H.U.A.

The provision of transport and the supply of petrol (and the cost) were national problems and the President, (F. Evershed), offered to meet the extra transport charges involving the Club.

Dr. E. Butchers: F. F. Fisher: Rev. D. C. Argyle: P. Orme and K. Windmill came to the Club in 1948, and alongside such players as S. Barrington: F. Ward: A.J. Heughan: R. McIsaac: J. D. Eggar: P. A. Tubbs (1949) and E. E. Tomlinson the 1st Xl seemed a formidable Club team. However, the 1st Xl varied from week to week and, in order to obtain more consistency in the team selection, it was Frank Fisher who suggested a restriction upon the number of Repton schoolmasters playing in any one match. All were splendid players but, of course, their availability had to fit in with their duties. This in no way diminished the appreciation of the school’s liaison with the Club concerning the use of pitches and finance; a point recorded in the Club’s minutes.

The Club’s Jubilee was celebrated by a dinner held at the Queen’s Hotel on the 11th March 1950. F. A. Lowe (Hon Sec 1903-05, Hon Treasurer 1903-06) presided in the absence of F. Evershed who was ill at the time. R. A.  Burrows (Hon Sec D.C.H.A.) proposed the toast to the Club. B.W. Thomas (Capt 1950-52) replied. “The Visitors” was proposed by H. Gibson Lees (Hon Treasurer 1909-20 and Henry Smith (President of Derbyshire C.H.A.) replied. T. Stanley Green (founder member 1899) proposed a toast to the President of the Burton Hockey Club (F. Evershed) and tribute to Frank Evershed and his work and influence was mentioned in all the speeches.

In 1952, B.W. Thomas resigned after 25 years as a playing member. Plagued by a knee injury for some years Bernard was a virile commentator and critic upon the immediate hockey scene, though this characteristic belied his wit and great kindness.

W.C. Arnold joined the Club in 1952 and Frank Ward organised the “Brewsters” arrangements for the Lowestoft Easter Festival. Alf Bould came to the Club in 1953.

Upon the death of F. Evershed in June 1952, Alderman F. G. Thompson, who succeeded to the Presidency, spoke of Frank’s “great interest for over 50 years in the Club”, and described him as “a sportsman of the most English type”. The Club records show that Frank Evershed rarely missed a single Committee meeting.

A press cutting (undated) of a county match (Derbyshire v Staffordshire) at the beginning of the century includes the names of H. Fowler, F. Evershed and W. Jacques. All were lifelong friends. Sir Henry Fowler later became a member of the D.C.H.U.A. and William Jacques was the father of K. N. Jacques, M.B.E.

In 1955, consideration was given to improved facilities in the changing rooms and for the better arrangements for teas. R. C. E. French, E. W. Appleby, P. J.  Ellis and Jack Brackenbury came to the Club. Even so, it was decided to contact the R.A.F. at Lichfield and at Fauld with a view to extending playing membership. The Branston Men’s Hockey Club ceased functioning. In partnership with the Burton Ladies H.C., a Dance was held during the season. The two Wash Boilers (calor gas) installed in the Club House in 1956 almost rivalled “Truman’s hot water Casks” in their intensity of heat. In the same year P. A. Guest joined the Club. Elected Vice-Presidents were K. A. Barnett, W. G. Barnett, A. C. Kirby, M. Milford, Dr. A. Russian and R. H. Williams.

By 1957, at least 6 Burton members were playing in Derbyshire County teams at various levels, and Alan Wright organised arrangements for the visit of the “Brewsters” to Lowestoft. New members included N. Wilford, A. P. Turner, N King. H. H. Cherry kindly provided new goal posts for the Club.

Following upon the death of Ald. F. G. Thompson (President 1954-58), B. W. Thomas was elected President. At the A.G.M it was decided that the President should retain office for three years and, thereafter, this would provide a means of acknowledging outstanding service to the Club from past (playing) members. In 1958, too, arrangements for the provision of teas at the Ashby Road Tennis Club were made; a Dance and Social Committee was formed: and E. A. Wright thanked for his fund-raising efforts with the Burton Hockey Pool.

D. P. Furniss came to the Club in 1959, so did P. Duffield (former Birmingham University U.A.U. and Staffs County Rugby player), M. Hurdle, D. Grant and two promising schoolboys – B. Rees and G. M. Hamilton.

The Diamond Jubilee of the Club was celebrated in 1960. A match between Burton H.C. and a Midland Counties Xl, which included P. D. Smith (England) preceded the Dinner held at the Queen’s Hotel. Amongst those present were B. W. Thomas (President): Ald. F. G. Peach (Mayor): J. C. Jennings. M.P. (Guest of Honour and Vice-President): K. N. Jacques, M.B.E. (President Midland C.H.A.): P. W. Skinner (President D.C.H.A.): T. Burton (President D.C.H.U.A.): R.A. Burrows (Hon Sec D.C.H.A.) and representatives from Clubs at Derby, Belper, Ashby, Leicester, Tutbury and Erdington.

Largely due to the Committees of the Cricket Club and the Hockey Club acting in liaison, pavilion and ground improvements began to be the purpose of long-term policies. Hot showers and the Bar were installed in 1961. Teas, once again, were served at the ground. For the first time for many years County Hockey returned to Burton when Derbyshire played Worcestershire – a tribute indeed to the greatly improved playing service and after-match facilities. R. A. Russian joined the Club and new Vice-Presidents included Sir Clifford Gothard: T. W. Davies: M. F. Hurdle; K. Hornby-Priestnall and J.R.G. George.

The outstanding event of 1962 was a presentation made to Stanley N. Yeomans (President Derbyshire C.H.A. 1958-59, Hon Sec 1926-38, Fixture Secretary 1938-60 and Captain Burton H.C. 1934-37). The President J.I.Robertson, (Hon. Match Sec. 1929-31), ably described the contribution Stanley had made to the Club and, indeed, throughout the County and the Midlands.

With the Cricket Club, Burton H.C. and Burton Ladies H.C. sharing the same amenities, the Club resolved in 1963 to explore the possibilities of eventual amalgamation of the three Clubs. Regular expenditure on ground maintenance was authorised from 1964 onwards and perhaps two able Committees of 1965 laid the foundation of the modern amenities enjoyed today, viz, the Ground Committee (A. J. Heughan:P. J. Ellis: K. A. Stanyon: M.J.Startin and P. A. Guest) and the Liaison Committee (W. C. Arnold, President D.C.H.U.A. 1963: E. A. Wright: E. W. Appleby and K. A. Stanyon) E.A. Wright had instituted “The President’s Trophy” (first won by A. Collier) and gifts to the Club made by individual members: e.g. New goal posts and markers (K. A. Stanyon): flags (P. J. Ellis): cutlery and crockery (P. A. Guest).

From 1967 onwards the Club was reflecting the changes taking place in the international and national organisation of the game. Much closer contact between the Hockey Association, the Divisional and County Associations, and Clubs; changes in the Rules of Hockey; increasing opportunities for coaching; rising costs; and the eventual introduction of “league” hockey, called for the emergence of an able and skilful leader who could reconcile all the immediate problems involved.

Though he would be the first to acknowledge the good work in others, W.A. Welch (Spencer H.C. and Surrey 1st Xl) brought to the Club an enthusiasm for the game, a strong sense of leadership, and a belief in the potential of the Club at all levels.

That Burton H.C. won the Derbyshire Club Championship (1967) was no surprise: and the Club had representation on the local Sports Advisory Council. “Willie” and his Committee introduced their “Happenings” and “Re-Happenings” and the Clubhouse became the social centre of the Club.

Vice-Presidents elected in 1967 were R. C. E. French and W. T. H. Marshall. Mention is made of  D. Watson, Captain of the 3rd Xl and Assistant Match Secretary for many years. Don has done much to foster the present good relations with the schools and the local authority whose grounds and facilities are used by the Club.

The newly-formed Meadows Club, meant that by 1st October 1968, the Cricket Club, the Ladies H.C. and the Burton H.C. were under the jurisdiction of the present body. “The Brewsters” H.C. also amalgamated officially with Burton H.C.. The wheel had turned more than full circle, and the Rules provided for no loss of an individual Club’s identity.

Because of the nature of the introduction of “league” hockey upon a fixture basis largely centred upon Birmingham, Burton H.C. was one of only three Derbyshire hockey clubs eligible for initial entry. Clubs, Umpire and County Associations were canvassed beforehand as to their views upon this novation.

W. A. Welch was elected to Captain the Derbyshire team in 1970. This coincided with the election of W. C. Arnold as President of the Derbyshire County Hockey Association (1971), and K. A. Stanyon with J. T. Yeomans were in charge of the Easter Festival arrangements for the “Brewsters”, at Bournemouth.

It is worth noting that 4 members of Burton H.C. were now regular members of the Derbyshire 1st Xl viz W. A. Welch (1965-74): A. J. Collier (1966-74): P. G. Bradfield (Maidenhead H.C.  Berkshire County 1st Xl 1969-73) and P. M. Dawson (Birmingham University,  The Bacchanalians 1968-73). On the playing side the administrative officers of the Club were ably coping with the running of 5 club teams and the “Brewsters” Xl.  W. A. Welch was the first Secretary of the Meadows Social Committee in 1967-68 and became its Chairman in 1968-69.

1972 was a triumphant year for the club. The winning of the Derbyshire Championships and the Midland’s Club Championship led to qualifying for the National Quarter-final round of the Benson and Hedges competition. Though losing
0 – 1 to Norwich Grasshoppers at Luton, the standard of play was certainly recognised as most commendable.

The years 1972-74 included a marked development in the playing of hockey in the local secondary schools, encouraged by V. N. Roebuck and K. A. Stanyon who brought the Club to the attention of John Cadman, the National Hockey coach.

W. C. Arnold was re-elected President of the Derbyshire County Hockey Association. A former President of the D.C.H.U.A. and a county match umpire himself, “Bill” has given most generously of his time and ability to the game. It is pleasing, indeed, that he should be presiding over the Club’s present celebrations.

No account of the Hockey Club would be complete without mention of the ladies who have organised and assisted in the preparation of teas throughout the years, and to those who have assisted the writer in assembling this information.

My thanks are extended to K. N. Jacques, MBE: E. J. Gothard: R. Illingworth: K. Florence: H. J. Wain: A. T. Moss: the Officers of the Burton H.C.: the D.C.H.A. the D.C.H.U.A. and a host of others who have made the trek along Meadow Lane much more interesting than appears on the surface.

Richard H. Williams
(President D.C.H.A. 1962-63)