Centenary Information
About the Club 4 of 5

4. Centenary Information

Centenary Information

Bob Farmer prepared this information on the history of the club for the club's centenary season (2020/21).  Thank you Bob.

Before the First World War the people who lived in the Loughton area who wished to play hockey would join the Loughton Hockey Club. Many Old Loughtonians played for the club, so much so that the majority of the members of the club and particularly the 1st XI were Old Loughtonians. They played at a ground behind the King’s Oak in High Beach.

Due to the war the club was disbanded and when peace came a group of Old Boys had the idea of forming a club solely for Old Loughtonians. After sounding out the people concerned a general meeting was held on 19th January 1921 to consider the formation of ‘The Old Loughtonian’s Hockey Club’. At this meeting 27 Old Boys indicated that they would support such a club, preliminary details were agreed, officers and a committee were elected and the club was born.

Mr W Vincent the headmaster was elected president. L.H.(Les) Shelley (1904) was elected Captain, Frank Watson (1897) became the Secretary and the committee consisted of R.S.Deacon (1900), A. Glasse (1904), H.E.Godin (1899), F.A. Parker (1909) and L.H.Shaw (1912). Mr Vincent’s time as president was to prove fairly short as he died on 7th Feburary 1925. He was succeeded as president by Mr T Shelley the father of Les Shelley.

The club obtained fixtures for three XI’s but often had to cancel its 3rd XI matches due to lack of players. The first recorded match against the school was on 24th March 1926 when the Old boys won 6 – 3. During the 1926/27 season Les Shelley played for England and also gained another cap against Wales in the 1927/8 season. He scored four of England’s nine goals which earned him a further cap against Ireland. One report suggests he played in every international in that season.

During the following years the club had the use of the excellent ground behind the King’s Oak, transport to and from Loughton Station was by horse brake and they enjoyed several successful seasons. In those days L.H.Shelley played for England, D.H.Ellis (1899) and Fred Bosworth (1902) played for the East and the Essex side usually contained five or six Old Loughtonians and F.S.Foster (1899) could be relied upon to umpire come rain or shine. The club stayed at the King’s Oak ground until the 1936/7 season. Unfortunately speedway racing had been introduced at the ground and as a result the surface of the hockey pitch had deteriorated. This and the fact that any 3rd XI matches were having to be played on the ground of the Loughton Cricket Club made a move desirable, an alternative ground was found and they moved to two pitches of the London Playing Fields Association at Fairlop.

During the war the Hockey club suspended its operations until hostilities ended. However once the immediate ‘panic’ had died down some people still wanted to play hockey and in 1943 got together to see what they could do. The upshot was that on 1st September 1943 a new club called the ‘Foresters’ came into being with ‘Oggy’ Johnson as its president, ‘Toothy’ Morrow became chairman, Geoff Ryan fulfilled the dual function of secretary and treasurer and a very new Old boy in the guise of Denis Pilgrim was selected as captain. The club hoped to get the use of the Loughton School for Girls pitch but this was rather uncertain (the answer was ‘no’) so they asked permission to use the ‘Warren’ and were told to get this from the school. As many will recall the Warren is nothing more than a clearing in the forest and as most games were mixed it involved changing behind some convenient bushes which could be interesting as few bushes were still in leaf. Geoff Ryan took over the captaincy from Denis, Derek Purkiss became treasurer an office that was later passed to Keith Davidson who handed over the princely sum of 3/6 (17.5p) to the OLHC as the Foresters disbanded when the Hockey Club was reactivated. A much fuller account of the Foresters’ brief history is contained in the 1995 magazine.

In 1946 Bill Alldiss, Len Bone and Don Brady re-established the club as a ‘wandering’ side. After a time a ground was found and so for two or three seasons the club played on the Chingford Cricket Club ground, the former home of the Old Felstedians. They then returned to Fairlop in 1950. The club then moved in 1957 to a new ground in Buckhurst Hill by the Roding. Too near the Roding as it turned out as the ground was liable to flooding so in 1960 they returned to Fairlop but this time were based at the Old Blues Rugby Ground who had some spare space that was large enough for a hockey pitch but not for a rugby pitch. This became the regular venue for 1st and 2nd XI matches with the 3rd and 4th XI’s using the club house but playing their matches on the adjoining playing fields.

In 1963 the club went ‘open’ but not completely. The Old Buckwellians’ Hockey Club was disbanding and its members were looking for a new home. Over the years we had forged quite a strong bond with them and it was agreed that we would go ‘open’ insofar as we would accept Old Buckwellians into our ranks. Full openness was to come later. And as girls were now being educated at the school, about this time a ladies XI was formed. Following completion of the M11 in 1971 the club with the support of Derek Higgins and the Higgins Group, was able to buy land at Luxborough Lane in Chigwell. The ground was cleared and in 1978, four grass pitches were laid out, again with the help of Derek Higgins and his firm.