The hockey club was initially ladies only and was formed in 1919. However, in 1920 the ‘Middlesex Chronicle’ reported the following:
‘What a sporty little place Ashford is, I hear a hockey club has now been formed, and its members appear to be enjoying themselves….’
This was originally a Ladies Club but Gentlemen are now admitted. Personally, I think the admission of male playing members a wise move, for what could possibly be more delightful than a game of hockey on a nice winter’s afternoon, with some half dozen or so really charming young ladies around you …..’
And early match reports, the format and content of which doesn’t appear to have changed much in the last 80 years, included the following:
March 27th 1920 – ‘The match between Ashford Ladies Hockey Club and Hounslow Club on the latter’s ground resulted in a draw of one goal each, these being scored by Miss Cooke of Ashford and Miss M. Moate for Hounslow.’
November 20th 1920 – ‘Feltham Wesley mixed team visited Ashford and returned victors 10-0. Ashford played good hockey but seemed to rely too much on the left-outer who was well marked.’
The first Men’s report was for a game in November 1921 – ‘The men journeyed to Teddington and a most enjoyable game resulted in the home team winning by 6 goals to none.’
On December 3rd of that year all matches were cancelled due to fog, obviously pre-smokeless fuel days! A further Men’s report from December 31st of that year – ‘Ashford men met G.W.R. lost 10-3, F. White got 2 and Houper (Brian ?) the other one for Ashford.’
In 1922 Major W.J. White was made Chairman and held office until 1948. W.C. and S.G. Neave, two pillars of the hockey club, held the position of Treasurer between them from 1922 until 1948. A Miss or Mrs N.K. Gain was Ladies 1st XI skipper from 1922-27, a feat later matched by Shirley Winson from 1964-69. Whilst being President or Treasurer of the club, Mr W.C. Neave was also Men’s captain from 1923-7.
The first subscriptions were 7/6 (or 37 1/2p in present day currency) and rent for the year was £5. Pitches, inevitably, were a problem however, in those days pigs grazing on them caused the trouble. At one Committee Meeting there were complaints that the pitches caused sprained ankles, but it didn’t indicate whether they were for the pigs or the players!
A report from the thirties recorded that the Ladies were again playing Hounslow and travelled there by taxi due to the depleted train services, showing that some things never change. However, the Ladies paid their fares on the outward journey, and the club paid for the return one.
A gentleman named Sammy was the groundsman at the time, and he was paid 1/3d per hour. The Men’s changing rooms were a room at the back of the Fire Station. In 1937, Ashford had two colts playing for Middlesex, namely K.S. Seabright and N. Gadd who played against Sussex Colts on 27th Janaury 1937. in 1939 a certain Ken Miller joined the club and the Second World War started – I am assured that these two events were unconnected!
The club played a few games during the war whenever circumstances permitted, and in 1947 a Mens side ventured to the Bournemouth Festival and won. The Men’s club now included numerous ex-Ashford Grammar School boys and one was composed of five of them – all Kens’ namely, Murray, Lovell, Seabright, Miller and Wilcox. Their playing records for 1948/9 were as follows –
Men P W D L GF GA
1st XI 23 13 7 3 60 63
2nd XI 25 16 2 7 62 32
3rd XI 17 8 1 8 33 28
The goalkeepers all appeared to be consistent if nothing else! During the 1948/9 season, the 1st XI beat Slough who fielded nine Bucks players 9-0 – halcyon days indeed. Around this time a certain Sid Dye was occasionally seen dashing down the right wing, whilst the main goal scorer was Stanley Leader, notching seven in one particular game. Fred Wadmore, who later umpired for the Ladies 1st XI, was then an active playing member and the incomparable Wilfred Neave was skipper.
The Ladies were also performing well as the 1949/50 1st XI record shows:
P W D L GF GA
Ladies 22 20 1 1 111 29
The fifties saw notable lady players such as Isobel Howard, Joan Wadmore and Margaret Thwaites playing in Ashford colours. In those days the Ladies didn’t go to county trials but when eventually they did go Isobel Howard got in at the age of 30. Matches were often played on pitches that resembled ploughed fields and public transport used to get you there. Our current and long time trustee Val Hardman nee Cherriman entered the scene and recounts how often it took two hours to get to a game by public transport, but great fun was had by all during such journeys.
In 1951 Wilfred Neave passed away, bequeathing £100 to the club of which he was so obviously a tower of strength. The playing subscriptions for 1953/4 were £2 12s. 6d. And the Mens’ playing record was:
P W D L GF GA
Men's 27 7 7 17 41 65
Some of the opponents that season included Vickers Armstrong and London Soho 1st XI away! Peter Elliott and Alan Gale were still playing and Ted Tennant (Middlesex and RAF) was the centre forward. Alan and Shirley Gale ran the two mixed sides at this time which were very sociable and boozy events – with 6 bottles of Guinness per player allocated at the Guinness match and evening social events taking place after the Sunday games. Despite ten matches being cancelled, the mixed playing record was:
P W D L GF GA
Mixed 27 7 7 17 41 65
At this stage Mr Ken Lovell started his 6 year stretch as Club Treasurer. Season 1962 saw the four immortal Cherrimans – Viv (mother and county goalkeeper as well as 2nd XI captain), daughters Val, Lesley who played for Middlesex and later Australia, and Diana who was selected for Zambia – all playing for the 2nd XI. Although the exact results are not to hand the team only lost one of the matches played that season. Val, of course, married and became Mrs Hardman, and was for ten years the ladies fixture secretary. It was during this era that Shirley Winson performed miracles getting five Ladies sides out (the first club in southern England to achieve the feat!) and generally strengthening the club.
The sixties also saw Jill Tickner, a regular 1st XI team member being selected to play for England. On the Mens side Don Beckett and Micky Thornhill were in charge of the 1st XI for the 1966/7 season and Warwick Syrett (Shirley Gale’s brother!) was playing for Middlesex as well as Ashford 1st XI. The social events during this period were listed in the fixture card as taking place in the local Church Hall. In 1969/70 the club celebrated its 50th Anniversary with numerous events being staged.. The Officers for that year were:
1st Shirley Winson / Mike Barlow
2nd Shirley Lister / Reg Raymond
3rd Cynthia Garner / Denis Townsend
The Ladies were perhaps at their strongest during this era with many ex-county players in the 2nd XI particularly the talented Pat Woods. For the celebrations the 1st XI played a Middlesex XI with the home side fielding 9 present or past county players (including the infamous 3 Shirleys – Winson, Gale and Lister!). Fielding five sides the Ladies for the first time were able to play Winchmore Hill, the only other club in the south of England able to field five sides, team for team.
The late sixties saw further notable players in Ashford and county colours. Names like Jenny Creamer, Jutta Banbury (ex German international) and Maureen Thacker spring to mind, the latter being perhaps the most talented hockey player, certainly on the Ladies side, seen at Ashford in recent years.
In the seventies league hockey was introduced for the Mens 1st XI, with Ashford playing in the 1st Division of the Truman Middlesex League. During the initial league era the Mens section went through a transition stage with several older players moving or retiring; the former including stalwarts Mike Barlow and the latter the ever-popular Reg Raymond.
The Ladies continued to be successful with the lower elevens becoming stronger and giving the club more strength in depth. During this time Audrey Hewes, Val Hardman, Joan Gardam and Shirley Gale (after 32 years – 23 in the 1st XI) retired from playing whilst after nearly fifteen years of playing 1st XI right wing, Shirley Winson relinquished her place to a younger player! Throughout the decade Doreen Brown and June Goulds have played at the back for the 1st XI and obtained Middlesex honours. Notable achievements by the first XI then led by Joy Menage, long time fixture secretary and previously 2nd XI skipper, have been their successes in the Middlesex Tournament in 1978/9 which qualified them to play for the first time ever in the South of England Tournament, and also winning the newly introduced Middlesex Cup in 1979/80 and being runners up in the same competition in 1980/81, with the current Club Chairman scoring both goals. The Ladies were also very prominent in Indoor hockey, winning Middlesex tournaments and again competing in the South Indoor at Crystal Palace. Besides June and Doreen, notable indoor and long time outdoor star players were Sally Woodhead and Tracy Cottrell.
The club itself has ventured into many new fields in this decade, with the men also running an indoor team whilst Peter Cottrell (Mr Hockey!) helped to form the Colts Section in 1976, which saw early recruits like Bruce Cotton, the O’Connel brothers and Russell McQuillan joining the club. In 1979/80 the club reaped the rewards of Peter’s dedication when the Colts won first the Middlesex and then the South of England U16 competitions.
Groundsman cum latter day 3rd XI Captain Eric Rose initially organised several Mens and mixed team trips to the continent. These were regular fixtures on the Ashford calendar with visits to Holland and Belgium resulting in the formation of an Ashford/European touring side Ossiebirds. The contacts made by Eric et al resulted in Ashford running its own International Tournament. The third tournament was run in 1979 and was an outstanding success both on and off the field, enhancing the name of Ashford Hockey Club throughout the hockey world.
The mixed team also maintained Ashford’s strong reputation in late 70’s and early winning numerous tournaments including the Surrey Mixed Tournament, which can’t be bad for a Middlesex team!
The brief summary of AHC’s main achievements/events over the last 40 years shown below is not meant to be comprehensive, and any additions, corrections or amendments would be very much appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition, I must apologise that it focuses mainly on the Ladies and Men’s 1st teams, rather than all the senior sides, indoor Ladies & Men’s sides, the Colts, Veteran or the Mixed sides. The latter in particular of which had a lot of success in the eighties.
1971 Ashford Sports Club (ASC) Golden jubilee dinner.
1975/1976 First International Tournament held at AHC.
1977/1978 Changed playing kit to Red & Black and boys Colts side started.
1979/1980 Ladies 1st XI win the Middlesex Cup beating Poly ladies 2-1. Men’s 1st XI win Middlesex Division 2 and are promoted to Division 1. On consecutive Sundays in March 1980, the mixed side win the Surrey and then Sunbury HC mixed tournaments.
1980/1981 Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and International Tournament & Ladies 1st XI runners up in Middlesex Cup.
1982/1983 Ladies veterans (Ashford Antiques) win Hayes over 33’s Tournament.
1983/1984 Mixed win AHC & Surrey mixed tournaments.
1984/1985 Ladies Middlesex League started and Ladies one of 7 clubs (out of 32) invited to join. Ladies 1st XI Runners up in Middlesex Clubs Tournament and play in South Clubs.
1985/1986 Mixed win Surrey Tournament.
1986/1987 First league matches played by first teams on artificial (astro) turf playing surface.
1987/1988 Ladies 2nd XI Middlesex league formed.
1989/1990 Men’s 1st XI win Middlesex Division 1.
1990/1991 Men’s 1st XI win Middlesex Berks, Bucks and Oxon (MBBO) Regional 1st XI League.
1993 Last games played on original Woodthorpe Road grass pitches and AHC relocated to new Clubhouse shared with other four ASC constituent Clubs alongside original pitch 3, also in Woodthorpe Road.
1993/1994 Men’s 1st XI win Hockey Association (HA) Trophy v Bowdon and MBBO league.
1994 Echelford Sports Association (ESA) formed with Ashford Cricket Club (ACC) and Ashford Town Football and ground share established with two full size grass, hockey pitches in Short Lane, Stanwell.
1995 Shirley’s Gale and Winson win All England Womens Hockey Association Centenary awards for services to women’s hockey.
1998 Moved to new headquarters at former St Anne’s school site in Short Lane, Stanwell with ACC, with new Clubhouse and floodlit, full size, sand based astro turf pitch, hard play area and two cricket squares.
1999 Ladies and Men’s Summer Leagues established.
2000 (April 8th-9th) Official Opening of Astro Celebration weekend, Club Day held and Invitation matches played.
2000/2001 Three Ladies teams promoted in Middlesex Leagues –1st XI runners up Division 1 promoted to Premier League, 2nd XI runners up in Division 2, promoted to Division 1, 3rd XI winners Division 3, promoted to Division 2.Three Mens teams promoted – 1st XI win HA Trophy, Middlesex Cup & MBBO Regional league, 2nd win MBBO Open Regional, 4th runners up in MBBO Open Division 3.
2003/2004 Men’s 1st XI South Premier Division 2 champions.
2004/2005 Ladies 1st XI promoted to South League Division B
2006 Accredited with Surrey Active ‘Club Mark’ bronze award.
2007 Ashford (Short Lane) Sports Ltd formed with ACC to manage and run the site and facilities at Short Lane.
2007/2008 Boys under 18’s lose in National under 18 plate competition semi-final 2008/9 Boys under 18 side runners up in National under 18 plate competition, Girls under 11’s win Middlesex Clubs Tournament and play in South Clubs Tournament.
2009/2010 Accredited with England Hockey ClubsFirst.
2010 90 years young!
2012 Astro relaid with an Edel TTT sand dressed state of the art carpet following grants from the National Hockey Foundation, Sport England, Surrey County Playing Fields Association.
2013 New astro officially opened by Mr John Inverdale, sports journlalist along with Mr Ben Rea England Hockey on the AHC Club Day 5/9/13.
2014 Club President (Lynne Morgan) is nominated and short listed for England Hockey (EH) ‘Club volunteer of the Year’ award. The first AHC member to ever be nominated for an EH award, and is also elected as President of Middlesex Hockey Association. The mens 1’s make the South Playoffs in a bid for promotion to South Premier Division 2.
2015 GB and England International and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Alex Danson attended the Junior awards evening at the Clubhouse on Friday 8th May to present the prizes and give an inspiring talk to all present and to show her Olympic medal. She also did a photograph and autograph session for all present.
2017 Quadruple Olympian, Bronze medallist (2012), Gold medallist (2016) GB and England International Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE visited the Club on Sunday, January 15th to take part in a Question and Answer session with Club President Lynne Morgan. Helen also met all the Junior Ashford players and their parents and observed all the Juniors in training and stayed longer than anticipated to ensure everyone got the photographs and autographs they required.
2017/18 season Both the Ladies second and third teams gained promotion to Divisions 1 and 2 of the Middlesex Leagues respectively. The Ladies also entered a fourth team into Middlesex Division Three after a gap of eight years.