Richmond Hockey Club was founded in 1874 with its home ground at Old Deer Park. Edwin Ash, who had previously founded the Rugby Football Union (RFU) three years earlier, was appointed as the first Chairman. The club’s first competitive match was played against Teddington Hockey Club at home, which ended in a 1-1 draw. That inaugural match against the so-called ‘noisy neighbours’ remains, to this day, the longest standing fixture in world hockey.
In 1875, at Richmond’s suggestion, seven clubs came together to form the first Hockey Association. This was dissolved in 1882 but in 1886 the Hockey Association, known today as England Hockey, was formed at a dinner held at the Holborn Restaurant in London. Along with Richmond were six other London clubs including Teddington, Surbiton, Wimbledon, Blackheath, Molesey, and Ealing, together with representatives from Trinity College, Cambridge.
Old Deer Park, the club’s home ground, soon became the favoured venue for representative county and divisional fixtures, as well as the annual University match. Then, in 1895, the ground hosted England’s first men’s international match which was played against Ireland. The England team won 5-0. In 1899, the ground again played host to England vs. Ireland in front of 3,000 spectators.
In 1901, Richmond Hockey Club was re-formed for the last time. The club subsequently merged with Kingston Hill HC in 1919 after the Great War to form Richmond and Kingston Hill HC. By 1933, Richmond fielded five teams plus a touring XI, the Mohicans, who played at the first Worthing Festival. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the club name reverted back to the Richmond HC we know today. In 1959, the new pavilion was opened. In 1967, prior to the 1968 Mexico Olympics, London hosted the pre-Olympic tournament. Old Deer Park was one of the venues used and the club was host to six national teams.
The club celebrated its centenary in 1974.
In 1988 Richmond entered the newly formed National League. That same season, Hounslow Hockey Club, with whom Richmond HC would go on to merge, won the National League Cup. The following season, in 1989, 115 years on from the club’s founding, a Ladies section was formed.
The 125th anniversary ball was held in 1999 and the occasion was marked by a re-enacted match at Old Deer Park against Teddington; the result was 3-1 to the visitors. This was to be one of the last fixtures at the ground, which had served as the club’s home for 127 years, with the club finally leaving Old Deer Park in 2001 and moving to a new ground at the Quintin Hogg Memorial Ground in Chiswick. A junior section soon followed, this was formed in 2003 and today is one of the largest in the country with 500+ members across dozens of teams.
2005 marked the beginning of a major new chapter in Richmond’s long history with the club merging with the neighbouring Hounslow Hockey Club. Hounslow, founded in 1901 at Church Meadow, had moved across the road to Dukes Meadows in Chiswick. This was one of the country’s most successful clubs until it went out of existence in 2005; it had won 15 national championships, including the premier league in 1990, 1991, and 1993, together with the first European Cup Winners Cup in 1990. In the process, the club produced 66 full international players. Hounslow Hockey club had previously merged in 2000 with Ealing Ladies Hockey Club, another local club founded in 1888. Amongst the Ladies’ early members was Dorothea Lambert chambers, who went on to be a seven-time Wimbledon tennis champion and the Olympic champion in 1908. Ealing Ladies won 4 national titles, including 3 successive premier league championships in 1987, 1988, and 1989.
The combined club Hounslow and Richmond clubs, known as Richmond Hockey Club, returned to the National League in 2012 and has stayed there to the present day. In 2024, the club will celebrate it’s 150th anniversary; one of only two clubs in history.
Michael Pearce’s centenary history of RHC was written in 1974 and we hope to download that information to this site shortly as many current members will not have previously seen this information. We will also shortly be inviting members past and present to let us have their memories and photographs from 1974 to date so that our rich history can continue to be shared with all. Watch this space for details of how to send us your memories…
For a hockey club to be celebrating the centenary of its foundation is nothing new, but still rare enough to be remarkable. While being a time for jollification it is also a time to look back and see how the club arrived at its present position as one of the leaders on the London circuit.
This history of the Richmond Hockey Club does not record whether Mike Pearce or I have let through more goals than any other goalkeeper when playing for Richmond, but it does answer most other questions about the Club and for the tremendous work of investigation at local reading rooms and libraries the members of the Club owe a great debt of gratitude to Mike and his wife Valerie.
In these pages we have a fascinating study of the principal characters who helped bring the Club to the well respected position it now holds in London Club Hockey. The history makes very clear the differences in Club atmosphere in the past and as we know it today. However, one can detect certain similarities — the aggressiveness of members off and on the field, and the willingness to try new tactics and formations — nothing new in the present set up.
Richmond have been fortunate in that a lot of members have been contributing to the press in recent years and Mike Pearce has been able to draw on their expertise and good nature and we are grateful for their help.
Hockey players everywhere in reading it will be able to while away an hour's tedious train journey, as I did, and arrive amused and refreshed. Sociologists may even be able to grasp what makes hockey players tick. Librarians should store it to produce it in one hundred years from now as a real period piece.
June, 1974- President
One hundred years ago the Old Deer Park witnessed the start of a new sport which, after a hesitant beginning, has become one of the major participant sports of the world. That the Richmond Club was in at the birth is an honour that it proudly shares with its near neighbours Teddington. This book will. I hope, help towards a greater knowledge of the early days of the game. It will also make familiar the names and glories of the past which are all too easily forgotten. Inevitably there are gaps in the story as over the years the club has been meticulously consistent in not keeping adequate records. This means that some members whose names ought to be found in the history are omitted and to them I offer my apologies.
Without the help of numerous people and organisations the necessary research that lies behind this book could never have been carried out. I acknowledge with considerable thanks the assistance provided by
I am also most grateful to those whose contributions appear in the final chapters and to Christopher Rawlins for the assistance given in respect of the Kingston Hill Club. Finally, I must pay tribute to the help given by my wife as for more than three years she has worked tirelessly on the many newspapers and magazines on which so much of the history is based.
June, 1974. Michael Pearce
Copyright Richmond Hockey Club 1974
Originally Printed by C. F. Denyer & Co., 33 Lower Road, Kenley, Surrey.
On October 17th 1874, a brief notice .appeared in The Sporting Life to the effect that a hockey club had just been started in Richmond, by members of the cricket and football clubs, and that the opening game was to be played that afternoon, in the Old Deer Park, commencing at half-past three. A similar announcement was also printed in the Richmond and Twickenham Times the same day and during the previous fortnight there had been comment in the Surrey Comet to the effect that such a club would be formed if there was sufficient support from the gentlemen in the neighbourhood.
It is significant that the starting of a hockey club was of such importance that it warranted a reference in the leading sporting newspaper of the day and before following the fortunes of the club and its successors it is important to see why the need for the club arose. One main reason can be found in the changing social conditions of the middle of the nineteenth century.
Almost from the start of Queen Victoria's reign there had been a considerable change in the character of the outdoor sports and pursuits of the country; a change which reflected a general softening of manners. The cruel and demoralising entertainments of the eighteenth century, cock-fighting, bear-baiting and bull-baiting, the prize ring, were disappearing. At the same time under the influence of Thomas Arnold, the best known of the reforming headmasters who had civilised school life at Rugby by improving both the discipline and the moral tone, there was a great increase in the number of well educated men, of relatively slender means, looking for relaxation. Many of Arnold's assistants moved to other schools and introduced similar ideas. One of them, Cotton, encouraged rugby football at Marlborough apparently to keep his boys from poaching and other mischief.
By the second half of the nineteenth century a majority of the population lived in cities and so was cut off from those country pursuits that had previously been the traditional form of relaxation. A further, and important, factor was the change in working conditions that was producing a large urban public with more freedom on Saturday afternoons and which was waiting to be amused.
Nothing is more characteristic of the changes that were taking place in society than the development of organised games. In a number of activities formal bodies were being set up as the demand for standardised rules and regulations were made by the players, and new activities were being introduced. Such a list would include:
Hockey, as a game, had been played since the 1840s although from the Middle Ages there have been references to the hitting of a ball by men or boys with sticks. It was not until 1861 that a formal club was established at Black heath. This club played what was then known as the hitting game whilst in other parts of the country a game based on dribbling was developed. In essence the dribbling game was played by teams of some six or eight with the ball being driven along by a succession of taps from light sticks held normally in one hand only. In the hitting game a much heavier two-handed stick was used and the game became one of strength between much larger teams and with very little scientific play.
It was inevitable that Richmond, a rapidly growing town on the edge of London, would be influenced by these changes if there was somebody to take the lead. That person was Edwin H. Ash who was born in December 1843 and who worked throughout his life to initiate and improve sporting activities both in. Richmond and also in a wider sphere. He worked at a military college in Richmond and in 1861 he had established rugby football on Richmond Green by erecting posts there every winter Saturday, which he continued to do for ten years. Initially these games were purely for the enjoyment of his friends, mainly Old Rugbeians, but in the winter of 1863/64 the first-ever club rugby match was played against the Blackheath club. On Christmas Eve 1870 he, and the secretary of Blackheath, signed a letter to the press to get rugby clubs to come together and at the inaugural meeting of the Rugby Football Union in January 1871 he was elected Honorary Treasurer-Secretary.
He was also keenly interested in cricket, athletics and rowing and when, in 1870, the Old Deer Park became available for sporting purposes he moved his various activities away from the Green, along the Kew Road, to the Old Deer Park. By the autumn of 1874 the full season of sporting activities at the Old Deer Park consisted of athletic sports, cricket, lawn tennis, archery, croquet, badminton for the lady visitors, baseball and football. Further, the introduction of a band on Saturday afternoons formed another attraction. The next activity to be promoted was hockey and it is from the local paper that the fullest accounts of the starting of the club can be obtained. It is with the kind permission of the editor of the Richmond and Twickenham Times that certain reports that appeared in the paper in October and November of 1874 are reproduced in full.
The first mention in that paper of the Club was, as previously mentioned, on October 17th when the following report appeared :
"A Hockey Club has been formed, as an offshoot of the Richmond Football Club, and its opening game will be played this (Saturday) afternoon, on the cricket ground in the Old Deer Park; play to commence at half past three. As numerous gentlemen in the neighbourhood have intimated their intention of joining the club, no doubt there will be a good muster on the occasion of the first match. A meeting will be held at the Greyhound Hotel the same afternoon, at half past five, to decide upon the style of playing and the rules to be adopted, and on the election of officers for the season and other business. Hockey is like football in one respect at the present time — namely there are two sets of rules in use, the dribbling and the hitting game, so it is necessary to take the opinion of the players on the question."
So the Club was launched and the next Saturday the local paper carried the following report :
"Richmond Hockey Club — In spite of the unfavourable weather on Saturday afternoon last, this club made a most successful opening by playing the first game, with about twelve players aside, in the Old Deer Park. The match was continued with great spirit for some considerable time without either side scoring, but at last Mr. Cecil Stopford, by some very good play, obtained a goal for Mr. Lawrell's side. The game was continued for another half hour with better success to the other team, who pressed their opponents rather hard at times, but no further score was made when 'time" was called. A very numerously attended general meeting was held afterwards at the Greyhound Hotel. Mr. Edwin Ash was called to the chair, and in opening the meeting stated that they had met there to consider whether it was desirable to start a hockey club in Richmond. Mr. Lawrell had kindly undertaken to obtain the opinion of numerous gentlemen in the neighbourhood on the subject, and if he would tell them whether the replies had been generally favourable, it would then be for someone to propose "That the club should be started, and be called the Richmond Hockey Club." It was stated that thirty names had been sent in, and the above resolution was then put to the meeting, and was carried unanimously. The election of officers was then proceeded with, the following gentlemen being selected: Captain, Mr. Cecil Stopford; hon. secretary and treasurer, Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell; committee, Messrs. F. V. Andrews, C. H. Dendy, E. R. de Wolski, F. Safford, and C. J. C. Scott. The questions of the annual subscription and the playing rules to be adopted were deferred to a later meeting. A vote of thanks was then passed to Mr. Lawrell, the acting hon. secretary, for the manner in which he had done the preliminary work for the club, and one to the chairman, Mr. E. H. Ash. Mr. C. J. Michod, of the Teddington Hockey Club was present at the meeting, and promised to get some members of his club to come over to Richmond this day (Saturday) to join with the Richmond club in a game, and thus make a good commencement."
Although the account does not state that it was the dribbling game that was adopted this was the case and, no doubt, it was done in the knowledge that this was the style adopted by Teddington and would lead to a match between the two clubs. Mr. Michod, who was also a member of the Richmond Cricket Club, kept his promise so the following Saturday saw a game between two sides which included several members of the Teddington Club. In the paper of the 3rst October is this report :
"Hockey Club — A friendly game was played in the Old Deer Park on Saturday, chiefly through the kindness of the Teddington clubmen coming over to assist their Richmond neighbours in giving a good start to the home club. The two sides were captained by Mr. J. Barton (Teddington) and Mr. C. Stopford (Rich mond), some men being hauled over to the side of the visitors to make the numbers more equal. Play commenced about a quarter to four o'clock, and was continued with much spirit by both sides without any great advantage to either party, the ball alternately passing first beyond one goal line, and then the other, during which time some capital "scrimmages" took place, although there were rather too many men playing to show off individual play to advantage; nevertheless Mr. Barton and Mr. Michod were constantly seen doing good service to their side. For Richmond, Messrs. Stopford, Nesbitt, and Ravenshill perhaps showed the greatest promise, and when time was called no goal had been obtained by either side. Considering it was only the home club's second attempt very fair form was exhibited amongst the members, but the Richmond team will in future do well to pay more attention to the all important rules respecting "offside" and not raising the stick above the shoulder to hit. After the match numerous names were given in to Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell, the hon. sec., of gentlemen desirous of joining the club. We understand that a general meeting will be held to--day, at the Greyhound Hotel (after the usual Saturday afternoon game in the park), to confirm the club rules and for other business."
Now that the club had been established it was able to look ahead to a fuller programme of matches both among the members themselves and with other clubs. At the same time as Richmond was starting similar moves were taking place in other parts of South-West and South London and a small hockey community was developing. However there were a certain number of administrative ends to be tied up and on October 3rst, after a match between sides captained by Mr. F. V. Andrews and Mr. G. Nesbitt, in which the latter scored four goals, a further meeting was held at the Greyhound Hotel. Again Mr. E. H. Ash was in the chair and Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell submitted some rules, which had been previously drawn up by the committee. It was agreed among other matters that the annual subscription should be 7/6d payable in advance, and 2/6d entrance fee in addition, after the first fifty members, honorary members 5/-d and no entrance fee. It was agreed to adopt the dribbling game and that any raising of the stick above the shoulder be disallowed and Mr. Lawrell was requested to communicate with the secretaries of the various clubs around London for the purpose of inviting a hockey conference, to determine, if possible, upon some general rules to be adopted by all clubs.
On November 7th the Teddington team again travelled to Old Deer Park but this time to play as a club in what was to be the first competitive game of hockey between two clubs. It is not known what colours Richmond would have worn but Teddington would probably have worn yellow as that colour was associated with them when they were formed in 1871. The following Saturday the local paper carried a full report on the game:
"A Hockey Match — Teddington v. Richmond proved a most exciting one. Before commencing the two captains, Mr. J. Barton (Teddington) and Mr. C. H. Stopford (Richmond) decided on play continuing for one hour, and goals being changed at half-time. Richmond having won the toss, Mr. Stopford elected to play with the hill in his favour, and his side soon got the ball rather close to their opponent'S goal, but the Teddingtonians were equal to the emergency and playing well up soon drove the home team back, and secured the first goal by a good bit of play. Half-time being soon afterwards called, Richmond had now to play against the hill, and right well did they set themselves to work to retrieve their loss, and by keeping well together they accomplished their tasks. Mr. Nesbitt, after a good run, obtained a goal, the ball passing only just within the poles. For Teddington Messrs. Barton, Pont, and Coyne, showed well to the front most of the afternoon, the first-named gentleman making several capital runs nearly the length of the ground, thus once or twice rather sorely pressing the Richmond goal-keeper. From among the home team we may single out Mr. Nisbett for his good play, and the hard manner in which he worked; while Messrs. Stopford, Cockburn, and Stafford, did good service for their side."
The reference to the slope would suggest that the pitch was in approximately the same part of the ground as is used today and so it must be the oldest pitch still in regular use as the other clubs of that time, Blackheath, Teddington and Surbiton were not playing on their present grounds. It must be added that Teddington have always played in Bushey Park. Besides the hockey there were two football matches played in the Old Deer Park that afternoon and the charges for admission were:
Persons on foot os 6d
Persons on horseback is od
Carriages 2s 6d
Unfortunately it is not known if the hockey club shared in the gate money to any extent.
On the following Saturday a match was played against The Strollers which resulted in a draw, both sides scoring twice. One paper had previously announced that a game would be played against The Pilgrims but no further mention of such a club has been found and one imagines they changed their name to The Strollers. An account of this game can be found in Bell's Life which mentions that Mr. Nesbitt again won the toss for Richmond who very quickly conceded two goals. "Things now looked bad for Richmond; but, nothing daunted, they put their shoulders to the wheel, and having pressed their opponents for some time, were eventually rewarded, Mr. Green, after excellent play, securing a goal ... The second goal was scored by Mr. Fatly after one of the captain's good runs."
November 21st saw another new club appear in the Old Deer Park as Hampstead were the visitors. This is interesting in that Hampstead were not one of the clubs associated with that corner of London where the game seemed to be developing and, as they were not played in the following season, seemed to have an extremely short life. Once again the game was drawn, both sides scoring one goal. This match was followed the next Saturday by a return match with The Strollers, also played in the Old Deer Park, and, at last, a definite result was reached. Mr. Eady scoring the only goal to give Richmond victory. After four weeks of matches against other clubs, the next was amongst members of the Club only and the last game before Christmas was on December 12th when the return match against Hampstead was played in the Old Deer Park. This was lost by 4 goals to nil as three of the better Richmond players failed to turn up. A fixture was arranged for the next Saturday against the East Surrey club at Croydon but there is no trace of the game being played.
In the new year came the first fixture away from the Old Deer Park when a match against Teddington was played in Bushey Park on January 9th. This was reported in The Field and includes a reference to the length of the match. "Richmond won the toss, and knocked off from the top goal at 3.45 Darkness set in before the end of the game, and rendered play during the last ten minutes difficult. When time was called at 4.45, Teddington were the winners by two goals to one." Teddington had eight men and Richmond seven, being described as one short. This account of the game refers to some good scrimmages taking place but another account is identical except the scrimmages were called bullies.
East Surrey were the visitors to the Old Deer Park the following week. The most interesting account of the game appeared in The Field as it mentions certain positions on the field by name. Also there is the remark that East Surrey had to play according to rules and with a strange ball. Clearly the lack of uniformity in the rules as played by the various clubs was coming to the fore. The account includes the following passage :
"Richmond won the toss and the East Surrey captain hit off at 3.3o, his side at once carrying the ball into the enemy's quarters, where some capital play was shown by both sides till Roper, by a judicious piece of play, obtained a goal. Richmond then played better together, and drove the ball up the ground past the Surrey backs, and were nearly rewarded by a goal, the goal-keeper just turning the ball outside the posts. On the ball being hit out, a capital scrimmage right in front of goal took place, when half time was called and ends changed. Richmond then once more gave the Surrey backs plenty of work, but their efforts were not rewarded, and the visitors were not to be denied, J. T. Richardson, after some good play, obtaining the second goal. For Richmond, the play of Eady, Nesbitt and Parker was excellent throughout, while for East Surrey, Miles, Roper, Taylor and J. T. Richardson worked hard and well. The visitors were at some disadvantage, through having to play according to rules, and with a ball to which they were not accustomed."
New opponents were met the next Saturday when Upper Tooting appeared in the Old Deer Park. Richmond won 3 - o with all the goals being scored in the second half when playing with the hill in their favour. This was followed by three blank Saturdays and then the last match to be played at home for the season; against Surbiton, Accounts differ a little in that the Richmond local paper described it as an exciting game, The Field as an easy victory for Surbiton by I o and the Surbiton club's own account comments "in our opinion Richmond hit much too hard and raised their sticks too high. They had not a chance through out." The game lasted from 3.35 to 5.10 and was played on a ground covered by an inch of snow with more falling for most of the time. The Field has one most important comment to make on the game, namely that there were too many disputes throughout the game and the sooner a hockey union is started the better for the numerous clubs. Two more matches were arranged for the end of March, away games with East Surrey and Upper Tooting, but neither seems to have been played.
So ended the first season of the club. In all nine games were played, of which two were won and three drawn, with eight goals being scored and thirteen conceded. This must be considered a success as to achieve so much in the very first year must have involved a great amount of work on the organisers. Much work was also going on for the good of hockey as a whole as the hon. secretary, Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell, was instrumental in arranging a conference to discuss the many problems that had arisen during the season. An account of the meeting is given in the Richmond and Twickenham Times for April 24th, 1875:
"Yesterday week, a hockey conference, which had been convened by Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell, hon. sec. Richmond Hockey Club, took place at the Cannon Street Hotel, at which the clubs below named were represented by the following gentlemen :
Richmond Mr. C. J. P. Lawrell (in chair) A. R. Parker
Teddington J. Barton, G. F. Bentley
Surbiton B. F. Harris, B. Howell
Sutton S. Pitt, A. Hyslop
East Surrey W. B. Richardson, P. M. Taylor
Upper Tooting H, H. Bramston, T. S. Franks
The Strollers F. V. Andrews„ E. Webb
Mr. T. S. Haynes represented Blackheath, but he stated their game was so totally different to the game played by the other clubs, that he felt it would be perfectly useless for him to remain to give an opinion as to the rules to be drawn up for the Association; at the same time, he kindly said the Blackheath Club would always be happy to see any members of the Association clubs who might like to go down to try the Blackheath game. Rossall School, owing to the distance from London, were unable to be represented, but they wrote and expressed their opinion of the rules which should be employed in the game, which almost exactly co incided with the general opinion. The clubs present formed themselves into an Association to which any other hockey club could belong, after being duly proposed, seconded and elected, and paying the subscription thereto, namely 5/-entrance and 5/- annually. The rules of the Association were drawn up, as also the rules of the game, by which all clubs joining the Association will be repre sented on the committee by one of its members. No doubt this advance having been made in the hockey world, the game will find more favour, and a greater number of clubs may be looked for next year, when a most successful season may be anticipated."