There was no hockey from 1916 until the Club efforts of Bernard Castle. Fortunately this part of the Club's history is precisely recorded as a fixture card, fully completed, was among those handed down to successive Club Secretaries and preserved by Tony Blunt over many years.
We are indebted, for this early record to A.I. Hett, whose signed fixture cards ni the late twenties and early thirties provide the essential facts of that period. The reformed Club, whose President was again E.C. Blount, who lived at Imberhorne, shared its initial fixture card with the Ladies Club. The men's Secretary. was B.A. Castle and the Treasurer the Rev. W.E. Sealy, thus continuing the early clerical flavour amongst the Club's administrators.
The first men's Captain was E. Walford, who served for two seasons before being succeeded by Bernard Castle. Vice Captain, a more important role in those days was F.C. Maplesden, who had certainly been involved with the Club for over ten years by that time. The initial committee was A. Johnson, F. Heasman, W. Lamkin, and S. Bridgeland.
What do we know of these men? First, as they all appear in the famous team of 1923-24, we know their faces. Indeed, Lamkin, Heasman and Alec Johnson appear in the c1912 team photograph shown on page 5 as does Fred Maplesden who was a stalwart full back of these early sides. Fred Heasman was an umpire also described as a very keen supporter of the Club. S. Bridgeland was the goalkeeper whose family owned the. ironmongers and general store in the centre o f the town until the early 1970s and whose son-in-law, Leslie Davis, was to play a major role in the Club in later years. Alec Johnson is thought to have owned a tailoring business in the town.The initial fixture list after the war comprised the following sides:
Royal Field Artillery (RFA - Preston Barracks), Ardingly
MGS (Seaford), Brighton
Signal Service Marefield, Worthing
Horsham, Tunbridge Wells (not played)
Hailsham, The Ghosts
The results for this season were:
1920-21 P19 W12 D2 L5 GF95 GA62
Notable achievements were a 15-0 defeat of RFA, a 14-1 win against Horsham, and an 8-1 trouncing for Brighton, thus punishing them for fielding an 'A' side. The Club are recorded as fielding a second XI for the first time on 31 December 1921. There is little record of the Club's performance in the following two seasons but 1923-24 is well documented. This should be no surprise since this was undoubtedly the high point of the Club's early history. The record for that year together with that of the Second XI, which was also outstanding, reads as follows:
There is little evidence of the relative merits of this side since reports regularly emphasise the value of teamwork and how the members played unselfishly for each other. The President reported of the first team that "their success was also due to the extraordinary state of physical development which the team seem to have reached". He had never seen a side more physically fit as a whole. (This at a time when training was almost unheard of!). The contribution ofCastle to this success however was obviously immense and he alone was consistently picked for the County throughout this period. It is apparent though that Tedder, who was picked for the County at sixteen, was a rising star.
Maplesden was a rock in defence and Streeter a prolific scorer of goals. Bridgeland in goal also was a keeper of quality who was regularly praised in match reports and was selected for the County on many occasions. Major wins in this peak season were secured against Royal Naval College - Greenwich 8-1 (twice!), Brighton 7-0, Reigate 6-1, and Beckenham I 13-1. Only Tulse Hill 5-4, Lewes and Uppingham were able to get close to this all-conquering Grinstead side. The highlight of this season was undoubtedly the defeat of theGhosts at Easter in 1924.
At this time, this club comprised principally of past and present internationals and had a playing record which read P24 W24 LO G F167 GA 23 . Over the Easter, Ghosts beat the Royal Corps of Signals 6-1, Worthing 7-2, Brighton 2-0, Lewes 5-1, and a combined Sussex XI 2-0. Yet they fell 0-2 to East Grinstead. Streeter and Tedder were the scorers in this historic result. Lovell, Maplesden, Castle and Tedder were complimented for their outstanding play in this game.
It is remarkable that these results were achieved without A.W. Woolley who joined the Club the following season. He was undoubtedly a class player who subsequently moved to Spencer where he played many games at inside left for England. On arrival at Grinstead he warmed up with a hat-trick in a 5-2 defeat of Kenley and then scored an incredible 12 goals asthe Club crushed Latchmere 16-0. This appears to have been another successful season although full results are not available. In the first meeting between the clubs, Grinstead beat Tulse HilI 5-2, whilst Castle, Maplesden, Johnson and Tabernacle assisted Sussex in defeating Bucks 5-1.
Streeter and Castle, now playing Centre Forward, were the chief scorers in a line which registered over 100 goals. The Club continued to thrive in the later 1920s without repeating the outstanding success of 1923-24. In this period the Club was sustained by some remarkable administrators. First wasBernard Castle, who put in a 17 year stint as Fixture Secretary which overlapped six years as Club Secretary and four years as Ist XI Captain. His tremendous contribution was regularly applauded at the AGMs. H .Osborne completed five years as both Secretary and Treasurer and may haveserved longer in the latter post. Likewise R. Streeter held the post of Team Secretary for at least six years.
Committee men during this period and the thirties in addition to the above included:
A. Johnson, C. Johnson (Captain three times), E Walford (2nd XI Captain for five years),
R.H. Wood (2nd XI Captain four years), H.K. Barnes, H.E. Bawden, A.G. Heasman, F.C. Maplesden, R. Place (father of subsequent President Geoff), J.H. Blaine, J.W. Grayling, R.V. Dixon, J.D. Fiddler, H.A. George, R.V. Kedlie, and Roy Major.
The latter was the founder of the jewellers of that name and his widow has very kindly provided the photograph shown above where Roy is pictured fourth from the left in the back row. On the playing field, the 1st XI had a very successful season in 1932-33 when under the captaincy of H. Osborne, they suffered only a single defeat and finished with a record of P22 W18 D3 LI GF72 GA26. Records after this are less complete although we know the 1st XI captaining rotated between B.A. Castle and C. Johnson with H.E. Gasson, E.B. Martins and R. Wiezmeyer leading the second team.
Press coverage in these days was generous and even lavish where AGMs were concerned. The meeting held on 15 April 1926 received no less than 26 column inches and is of great interest. Amongst the guest list was the Revd L.H. Dahl (Founder of the Club and at one time curate of East Grinstead). In proposing the toast to "the visitors", R. Place is recorded as saying "Regarding Mr. Dahl, it is sufficient to say he alone started the East Grinstead Club." The Revd L.H. Dahl's response is of such importance and interest that ti is reproduced verbatim. "The Rev. L.H. Dahl also responding, said this was the happiest day of his life.
He often had promised to revisit East Grinstead and see old friends...... He loved the old town and was proud to think that the Hockey Club was doing so much to enhance its reputation. He remembered how one day he was talking to Mr Whitfield on the need of a hockey club in town and how Mr Whitfield had said "Why do you not start one!" and he did....... He concluded by congratulating the Hockey Club from the bottom of his heart and hoped that they might long continue to flourish." (loud cheers) Thus in a single speech we have the Club founder confirming the conception of the Club, honouring its great achievement and recommending a union with the Cricket Club which took over 60 years to consummate. Quite remarkable!
By 1934, Castle had obtained a record 105 caps for Sussex for whom C.A. Lane (subsequently a Scottish international) and C. Johnson were also playing. By 1933, .J Grayling, W.R. Barber, J.S. Robertson and E. Winnington Ingram had joined the premier side. The last named, an Oxford Blue, was apparently a talented right wing. D. Tedder also rejoined after a period in Australia. In 1933, Leslie Davis took over as Hon. Secretary from H. Osborne and held this post until 1955. In the same year C.H. Johnson resumed the role of 1st XI Captain for a single season but he returned again in 1937 for what proved to be the final two seasons before the Second World War.
The Johnson family had a strong association with the club providing three brothers, Cecil, Trevor, and Roland [whilst their father, A.H. Johnson played for the club as early as 1906]. Between Cecil's two later spells as Captain, the Ist XI was led by C.A. Lane who gained several caps for Scotland. In the late thirties the Club continued to contribute greatly to Sussex Hockey both on and off the field through B.A. Castle, C.H. Johnson and F.C. Maplesden, now one of the Club's oldest members, who in addition to running a catering firm and building a new cinema, was President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club as well as Secretary of Holtye Golf Club.
A busy man indeed ! Sadly, the Club records, stored at the premises of Bridgelands, were destroyed when a bomb hit the nearby Whitehall Cinema. Thus the story of these early years is not as comprehensive as one would have liked.