IN a letter to the East Grinstead Observer in June 1932, Jury Cramp (born 1846) wrote that in the 1860's "Good Friday was the hockey day, played in the High Street as an institution, till removed by he tradesmen's protests to the Brewhouse Lane (Hermitage Lane) much to the annoyance of Messrs. Pearless & Sons, solicitors, who then lived in The Hermitage". Presumably this was only an opportunity for local lads to let off steam on one of the rare public holidays and although we do not know how long the custom survived, we can no doubt assume that it did not presage the formation of the Hockey Club !
According to an article in Hockey World on 23 January 1925, the East Grinstead Hockey Club was formed in 1893 as a "mixed club". Early Club records are no longer in existence, so that early history has to be gleaned from desultory repots in local newspapers and hockey magazines of the period. Reports in the E.G. Observer date from 1899 and consist of match reports and a report of the Annual General Meeting on 3 October 1899 at the Victoria Hall, which read as follows:
"Mr C.R. Miller was in the chair and there was a good attendance. Mr C.W. Edwards was elected Hon. Secretary and Treasurer in place of Mrs R.A. Dendy, resigned and the Rev L.H. Dahl, Captain of the club for the ensuing season. The following were elected as a committee to carry out the arrangements for the coming season: Mis Sommerville, Mss M. Thorp, Mr C.R. miller, Mr F.s. White and Mr J. Sommerville. A hearty vote of thanks was tendered to Mrs Dendy for her past service as Hon Secretary. The first practice game will take place today (Sat.) at 3pm on the Club's ground in Imberhorne Lane. From the remarks about Mrs Dendy resigning we can deduce that the club was certainly in existence for at least two years prior to 1899.
Not inly "mixed" matches were played; both men's and ladies' matches appeared in the magazine "Hockey and Winter Sports" in 1900 and 1901. The teams played included Worthing, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Rottindean, Portslade, Eastbourne and Beckenham and presumably for the away fixtures has to travel by train !
The names of members who played most frequently at this time in addition to those mentioned in the AGM report were:
Men: A. Corbett, R.A. Dendy, C.W. Edwards, Rev W.P. Evans, F.C. Poynder, G. Harbord, E.P. Whitley Hughes, S. Hughes, E.G. Moore, F.M. Pigott, H.Y. Radley, H.G. Rice, H.A. Stenning and Capt Thorp.
Ladies: Miss E. Blakiston, Miss M. Blakiston, Miss J. Harbod, Miss G. Hoare, Miss J. Thorp and Miss A. Thorp.
It can be seen that there are a number of families involved in playing for the club and there are some other facts with came to light during the research which may be of interest namely:
The Rev. L.H. Dahl was curate at St Swithun's between 1897 and 1906 and incidentally the most prolific goalscorer for the club. He was, according to a later report, the originator of the Club.
The Misses E. & M. Blakiston were daughters of the Rev D.Y. Blakiston, the vicar of St Swithun's between 1871 and 1908.
Mr F.S White was a local solicitor who became Clerk to the Rural District Council in 1902. The E.G. Observer reported in 2901 that "On Thursday Nov. 1st, F.S. White (Captain of the Cricket Club) entertained the playing members at dinner at the Ship Hotel."
E.P. Whitley Hughes was a partner in a firm of solicitors Whitley Hughes and Luscombe and was Clerk and Solicitor to the Urban District Council.