Worthing Hockey Club history: Looking at past 50 fabulous years

Worthing Hockey Club are celebrating their 125th anniversary and we’ve been looking at their history. Today: 1960s-2021...

The new HQ is opened in 2019
The new HQ is opened in 2019

Worthing Hockey Club are celebrating their 125th anniversary and we’ve been looking at their history. Today: 1971-2021.

In the late 1960s, league and cup hockey became well rooted in the sport’s seasonal calendar.

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By its 75th anniversary in 1971, Worthing Hockey Club had firmly established six regular Saturday teams and two Sunday teams, first winning the Sussex Knockout Cup in 1972, a feat repeated five times in the next decade.

Hockey action at the club in the 1990s

All home matches were played on five grass pitches outside the clubhouse at The Manor Sports Ground.

The club bar had its own ‘Umpires Corner’ founded by member, RH ‘Paddy’ Selman, an internationally recognised umpire, who for nearly 50 years helped to make the club well known in Sussex and throughout the world of hockey.

Paddy umpired at the first hockey World Cup and Olympic Games as well as writing guides for new umpires that became standard training materials, and was involved in the innovation of the coloured card discipline system.

The club grew further, with a veterans’ team forming in 1978-79 – and in 1990 Worthing Hockey Club merged with Worthing Ladies Hockey Club to form a large community club for all.

A club landmark was achieved in 1989 which saw WHC hosting its 50th Easter Festival with 50-plus clubs in attendance. Over the years, sides have included many overseas visitors from Gibraltar, South Africa, France, Germany, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Holland and the Czech Republic.

The 50th festival was organised by many members now recognised for their contribution to the club by being honoured as vice presidents.

The Festival ran at the Manor Ground for nearly 70 years with the last one in 2001 when grass was finally hockey overtaken by the need to play hockey on astroturf.

By the 100th anniversary in 1996, the club was led by president John Fox (who joined the club in 1964 and was the club’s second longest serving president, Sussex Hockey Association Vice President and Sussex County Umpire).

The landmark was celebrated with a gala dinner at The Charmandean Centre in Worthing in November 1996, with 233 guests including representatives from the Hockey Association and Sussex Hockey Association. The guest list included representatives from Easter Festival regulars Surbition and Kijana.

Matches continued to be played at The Manor even after the sport started to move on to artificial pitches when games began being played at the Durrington Sports Centre from 1989 and latterly at St Andrew’s, Durrington and Angmering Schools.

However, the astroturf era meant the club was now spread around Worthing and needed to look for a permanent base with pitch and clubhouse on the same site.

From 2005 St. Andrew’s High School became their principal home base and their new artificial pitch was opened by club patron Tim Loughton, the local MP.

The partnership with the school was led from Worthing Hockey Club by David Carter with the day being celebrated with games including Worthing HC v St Andrews Old Boys.

It also showcased junior matches led by former County player Kathy Minchell and Rob Warner, who is still coaching the juniors in 2021.

Under current chairman John Herbert and the club’s development committee, Worthing Hockey Club has undergone a transformation in recent years.

In 2018, Worthing Hockey Club merged with Penguin Men’s HC which was originally formed in 1948, to form one large, community-focussed club, dedicated to bringing high-quality, fun, social and competitive hockey to adults and juniors across the Worthing and wider district areas.

Following intense fundraising in March 2019, the membership of WHC proudly opened its new clubhouse at The Angmering School, overlooking the astroturf which is now the club’s home pitch and training centre.

It was opened on March 16, 2019, by Nick Herbert for MP Arundel and South Downs, Cllr John Oldfield, chairman of Angmering Parish Council, and Simon Liley, headteacher of Angmering School at a ceremony attended by more than50 invited guests.

See worthinghockey.co.uk for more and follow on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels - #WeAreWHC