In the late sixties, league and cup hockey became well rooted in the sport’s seasonal calendar. By its 75th Anniversary in 1971, Worthing Hockey Club had firmly established 6 regular Saturday teams and 2 Sunday teams, first winning the Sussex Knockout Cup in 1972, a feat repeated 5 times in the next decade.
All home matches were played on five grass pitches outside the clubhouse at The Manor Sports Ground. The club bar had its own ‘Umpires Corner’ which was founded by member, R H ‘Paddy’ Selman FIH (Grade 1), an internationally recognised umpire, who for nearly 50 years helped to make the club well known not only in Sussex but indeed throughout the world of hockey. Paddy umpired at the first hockey World Cup and Olympic Games as well as lately writing guides for new umpires that became standard training materials and was involved in the innovation of the coloured card discipline system.
The club grew further in this period, with a Veteran team forming in 1978/79 and in 1990 Worthing Hockey Club merged with Worthing Ladies Hockey Club to form a large community club for all. A club landmark was achieved in 1989 which saw WHC hosting its 50th Easter Festival with over 50 clubs in attendance. Over the years, sides have included many overseas visitors from Gibraltar, South Africa, France, Germany, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Holland and the Czech Republic. The 50th festival was organised by many of the members who are now recognised for their contribution to the club by being honoured as Vice Presidents still in 2021. The Festival ran at the Manor Ground for nearly 70 years with the last one in 2001 when grass was finally hockey overtaken by the need to play hockey on astroturf.
By the 100th Anniversary in 1996, the club was led by President John Fox (who joined the club in 1964 and was the club’s 2nd longest serving president, Sussex Hockey Association Vice President and Sussex County Umpire). The landmark was celebrated with a gala dinner at The Charmandean Centre in Worthing on 16th November 1996, with 233 guests including representatives from the Hockey Association and Sussex Hockey Association. The room was decorated with 8 hockey sticks in flower arrangements and 100 blue and gold balloons. The guestlist included representatives from Easter Festival regulars Surbition and Kijana.
Matches continued to be played at The Manor even after the sport started to move onto artificial pitches when games began being played at the Durrington Sports Centre from 1989 and latterly at St.Andrew’s, Durrington and Angmering Schools.
However, the astroturf era, meant that the club was now spread around Worthing and needed to look for a permanent base with pitch and clubhouse on the same site. From 2005 St.Andrew’s High School became Worthing’s principal home base when their new artificial pitch was opened by club patron Tim Loughton MP. The partnership with the school was led from Worthing Hockey Club by David Carter with the day being celebrated with games including Worthing HC v St.Andrews Old Boys. It also showcased Junior matches led by former County player Kathy Minchell and Rob Warner who is still coaching the next generation Juniors in 2021, an incredible achievement.
Under current chairman John Herbert and the club’s development committee, the Worthing Hockey Club has undergone a transformation in recent years. In 2018, Worthing Hockey Club merged with Penguin Mens Hockey Club which was originally formed in 1948, to form one large, community focussed club, dedicated to bringing high quality, fun, social and competitive hockey to adults and juniors across the Worthing and wider district areas. Following an intense period of fundraising in March 2019, the membership of WHC proudly opened its new clubhouse at The Angmering School, overlooking the astroturf which is now the club’s home pitch and training centre. Officially opened on Saturday 16th March 2019 by Nick Herbert MP Arundel and South Downs, Councillor John Oldfield Chairman Angmering Parish Council and Simon Liley Headteacher Angmering School at the ribbon cutting ceremony attended by over 50 invited guests.
Coming soon, more on the 125 years of the club, the members, the achievements. Keep an eye on our News page for part IV.