About the club
The Nottingham Hockey Club as we know it was formed in 1919 through the amalgamation of Notts Hockey Club (founded in mid / late 1800s) and Notts Grosvenor. Heavy losses in the Great War had caused major membership problems for both sides, hence the merger.
Key early members were A Ashwell, L Halford, V Trivett, A Kirkaldy and H Holliwell, with Halford and Holliwell playing for the Midlands and Kirkaldy winning his first International cap in 1924, and later captaining England. In 1925, Nottingham toured Holland just as they were taking up the game and strong ties have existed ever since.
The 30s and the War
By 1933, the club was running two teams on the riverside pitch at TrentBridge until the County Council inconveniently built their offices on it. So it was off to Goosedale in 1937 when two former members bought 17 acres; the ground was subsequently gifted to the hockey and cricket club by its eventual owner WHL Holliwell, whose generosity helped the club's development in later years.
The club hibernated during the war. EV Jackson then took a leading role reviving the club that grew in numbers and quality through the 50s and 60s; more pitches were developed to accommodate the increased number of teams.
The Glory Years
Whilst the club won numerous local county and midlands championships, the most momentous events happened in the mid-70s when Nottingham became the first team outside London to win the National Club Championship (equivalent of today's HA Cup), beating Hounslow in the 1976 final. In the subsequent 1977 European Championships, we finished a creditable sixth.
Other notable events at this time were a Midlands Division 1 title in 1982, and Robert Clift going on to win a gold medal in Seoul in 1988 (and captaining England and Great Britain). Humphrey Stokes had picked up a reputation for providing excellent grass pitches to cope with the six regular sides, and the newly refurbished clubhouse was gaining a reputation for fine hospitality. International festivals were held every five years in the 70s and 80s, and touring sides went to Eindhoven and Bournemouth.
Just how slim the dividing line between success and failure can be was shown when a couple of star players left the club, with the result that the first XI slipped out of the Midlands Premier. Rebuilding came under captains Mark Smith, Richard Hurbage and Nick Parr, whose enthusiasm attracted new stars and a return to the top division in 1993/94. Youth coaching was introduced again, Sherwood Ladies joined Goosedale in 1989, a merger with Notts Gregory in 1997, but the major change in the 90s was the new Astro pitch…
This involved digging up a cricket pitch and a lot of hard work by Iain Dodson and John Starling amongst many others. This was partly financed by club fund-raising, but the largest part came from the Sports & Arts Foundation and the continuing generosity of the Samworth family. The new pitch was opened by Nottingham's greatest recent star, gold medallist Robert Clift, on 17th January 1993. Final development has been the refurbished clubhouse in 1995.
The New Glory Years
The 20th century finished on a high for Nottingham Hockey Club; after being so close to the national league playoffs for a number of seasons, the Midland's Championship was finally won in 1999/2000 under captain Guy Gisbourne and manager Jan Ahmed. Victory in the play-offs gave many Nottingham players their first taste of National League hockey in Division 2 in 2001 / 2, and once they took to rather well finishing fourth in their first season.
In 2001 our ladies side Sherwood Ladies left the club to merge with Beeston’s Crimson Ramblers to form a National League side playing out of Highfields – Highfield Ladies – now known as Beeston Ladies.
The vast areas of unused grass pitches prompted Goosedale Sports Club (Goosedale is owned 50/50 with Notts & Arnold Amateur Cricket Club) to invite junior footballers to make use of the grounds in winter 2003. Senior football would cause too much wear on cricket outfield, hence a juniors-only policy.
In 2003 /4, we gained promotion to National League Div 1, the high-point of our league endeavours so far, before slipping back down to Div 2 (renamed National North Division) at the end of 2005 /6 season. And with momentum lost, slipped out of the National League in 2006/7.
Relegation from the National League saw a swift fall down the Midland leagues as many players with more affiliation with the National League than the Nottingham HC left. And other top players aged. This salutary lesson increased our resolve to ensure that any future push for higher divisions is based on a strong youth policy.
2010 onwards. Attempts to move back into the Midlands Premier have ebbed and flowed. A sixth team has been trialled, but now that university clubs are becoming larger this historically useful feeder into the club has waned and the focus is now on bringing in local talent from the Hucknall, Arnold, Bulwell area. This is seen as strategically important as it's an area of Nottingham that has historically had little exposure to hockey, and this importance attracted funding to upgrade the pitch in 2021. The club is now actively looking to develop school links and relationships with local youth groups to introduce this exciting sport into the wider community.