Club History

Early history of Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club 1910s and 1920s

Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club press cutting 1910s and 1920s

Historical press cuttings show there were a number of hockey playing schools, clubs or teams is existence in Waterford city and county in the 1910s and 1920s periods. Hockey was being played in Waterford, Tramore, Lismore and Dungarvan. Press cutting refer to Waterford Ladies, Waterford Ladies (Urbs Intacta), Waterford Ladies Hockey team and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club. On the men’s side press cutting refer to Waterford Hockey Club and Waterford Bohemians Hockey Club. However, it appears that by the mid 1920s there was some form of Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club is existence.

Irish Junior Cup winners 1922

Historical press cuttings indicate that the ‘old Club’ (pre-1934 revival) was the first club in Munster to win the Irish Junior Cup. This is also verified in the Irish Hockey Union (IHU) historic reports. Waterford were Irish Junior Cup Winners in 1922, the very first club in Munster to do so.

Waterford Men’s Hockey Club Minute Book 1934 to 1951

‘Reviving’ Waterford Men’s Hockey Club 1934

An exact date for the original formation of what is now known as ‘Waterford Hockey Club’ is currently not know. However, we know that on the Wednesday the 19th September 1934 a meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel on the Mall in Waterford city (present day Tower Hotel site) for the purpose of ‘reviving’ the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club. An original minute book (with dates range from 19th September 1934 to 17th October 1951) is still in existence with press cuttings and records showing this inaugural meeting. Mr. Frank Phillips was elected as Chairman, Mr. J. J. O’Connor as Secretary and Mr. T. Jones as Treasurer, along with a Committee. Once formed, the club promptly set about entering the Irish Junior Hockey Cup.

Sadly any similar historical minute books or records for the early history of Waterford Ladies Hockey Club have not been discovered at this time.

Close ties between both Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs

Initial meetings referenced in the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club Minute Book 1934 to 1951 show that there was a separate Waterford Ladies Hockey Club in existence and that both men’s and ladies clubs were sharing hockey playing grounds at Ballinakill.

It should be noted that throughout the men’s minute book for this period, both the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and the Waterford Ladies Hockey Club continued to work closely together on many shared aspects of their clubs, including sharing playing grounds, fundraising and other social events.

Shortly after the revival of the men’s hockey club two new leagues called ‘The Waterford Men’s Hockey League’ and ‘The Waterford Ladies Hockey League’ were established between a number of men’s and ladies hockey teams and clubs in the Waterford area. Mr. E. B. McBride arranged to provide a new cup (still known today as the McBride Cup) for the men’s section of these new leagues. The men’s section of this local Waterford league appears to have developed into a cup tournament which included more teams from the South East region. The winner’s cup being the McBride Cup.

Records show that on the 23rd September 1938 the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club voted for an amalgamation of the men’s and ladies funds to help manage both club’s finances better. On the 27th September 1939 election of Officers for both ladies and men’s branches were held at a joint AGM. The men’s and ladies clubs were now beginning to officially come together.

Club ceases during Second World War years

Hockey appeared to have blossomed in Waterford between 1934 and 1939. The Waterford Men’s Hockey Club itself typically had regular membership in excess of twenty throughout this period. However, this changed drastically when the Second World War (1939-1945) took hold in September 1939. Several men’s members and the men’s secretary, Mr. G.R. Mayes who was a leading figure in the club, departed. This coupled with extreme difficulties in travelling and petrol rationing meant it was extremely hard on the South Eastern Division clubs as they were each situated so far apart and hockey virtually ceased in the region. Waterford Hockey Club dragged on for a short while and finally broke up completely.

‘Reviving’ Waterford Men’s Hockey Club 1947

Hockey in Waterford as far as the men were concerned was at a very low ebb until 1946 when Mr. Eddie Walsh (Chips Walsh) and Mr. Ronald Watson decided to try to revive the men’s section club again. Their playing grounds were gone and some efforts were made to get one without success. However the existing men’s players continued to play some league and cup matches with some members managing to play on the South Eastern Inter-Provincial team. On 11th November 1947 the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club held its first official meeting, after the war, where it was decided to keep trying for a field and to restart the club on an organised basis once again. Before the year was out they were granted the use of a school field belonging to Bishop Foy’s school at Grantstown.

Divisions split Waterford Men’s Hockey Club 1948

By October 1948 the club had run into difficulty again when a large number of members decided to leave the club wishing to re-form the old Waterford YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) hockey club, leaving only a few remains members behind. The Waterford Men’s Hockey Club managed to move forward only by obtaining a number of new members most of who were new to the game. In 1949-50 they were using a field at Knockhouse as a playing pitch and in 1950-51 a field at Killure, both located beyond the outskirts of Waterford city.

Other hockey clubs in the Waterford area and further developments within Waterford Hockey Club

Local competing Hockey Clubs from 1930s to 1960s

In the mid 1930s, along with Waterford Men’s Club Hockey and Waterford Ladies Waterford Club, the following hockey teams / clubs were participating in the ‘Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Leagues’: Newtown School, Bishop Foy School, Tramore Hockey Club, Waterford Bohemians, the Ursuline Convent and St. Mary’s. It is also noted that George A. Higgins of Queens Street, Tramore, is one of the earliest known Waterford players who played for Ireland in 1931.

In the 1950s and early 1960s there were a number of clubs or teams again actively playing field hockey in the Waterford area. Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club now played their hockey at ‘Collins’s’ field, in the area of what is now Collins Avenue off the Dunmore Road.

Another group of men’s hockey players, Waterford YMCA played its hockey on the playing fields of Bishop Foy’s School, many of who were teachers or past pupils of that school. These grounds were part of the Earl family lands on what is now Earls Court.

There was also a Tramore Ladies hockey team and an irregular Tramore Men’s hockey team as this time. Tramore played its hockey on the crown (top) of Tramore Race Course before finding suitable playing grounds.

Dungarvan also had active Ladies and Men’s teams.

Vibrant hockey social scene in 1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s and 1960s the Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs had a very vibrant fundraising social scene. For a number of years throughout the summer months very successful Waterford Hockey Club Saturday dances were held in the Haven Hotel in Dunmore East.

Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs moves to Newtown School and Waterford YMCA Hockey Club ceases 1967

In the early 1960s the South Eastern League disbanded and a number of Waterford YMCA men’s players arranged to play for Connacht at Inter-Provincial level, to strengthen Connacht’s Provincial team.

In 1967 two end-to-end ‘All-Weather’ grit hockey pitches, surrounded by an athletics track were built at Newtown School at a cost of £9,000 Irish pounds. Waterford Hockey Club moved to these new facilities at Newtown School when they opened. Up to the present day, Newtown School has remained the official grounds for Waterford Hockey Club.

Bishop Foy’s School closed in 1967 due to the declining Protestant school going population. This may have led to Waterford YMCA hockey ceasing the same year, with a number of its members joining Waterford Hockey Club at the new hockey grounds at Newtown School.

Amalgamation of Waterford Men’s Hockey Club and Waterford Ladies Hockey Club

In the early 1970s (circa 1972-1973) the Waterford Ladies Hockey Club approached the Waterford Men’s Hockey Club with the view to officially amalgamating both clubs into one, as the Ladies were finding it difficult keeping their finances going during this particular time. This was agreed and officially sanctioned between both groups for a second time. The first time being back in September 1939, but which on that occasion promptly fell away due to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 also. However this time it was sustained and both clubs have since moved forward officially as one ‘Waterford Hockey Club’.

Waterford Crystal and Waterford Hockey Club

By the mid 1970s the men’s section were enjoying great playing success on the pitch and the club in general ran very successful mixed hockey tournaments. Waterford Crystal was a major sponsor to the club and in the late 1970s a number of the men’s players broke away from the club to form a Waterford Crystal Hockey Club which ran successfully for a number of seasons.

Indoor Hockey 1970s

In the mid 1970s ‘Indoor Hockey’ became another popular branch of the hockey sporting game and many Waterford Hockey Club members became active participants.

Indoor Hockey was played in large indoor sports facilities similar to indoor soccer today. Full team squads were typically eleven players, with six per team playing on pitch at any one time. 

Members of Waterford Hockey Club formed a men’s team called Waterford Corthinians and played at local and Inter-Provincial level. In 1978, five Waterford players (listed on the tournament programme below as representing Waterford Corthinians) played on an eleven man Connacht team at the Indoor Hockey Inter-Provincial Tournament in Carlow.  

Ladies success and breakaway ‘Woodstock’ team 1980s

The 1980s was a great winning decade for the ladies section who won numerous hockey competitions. However, with this success another break away occurred when a group of ladies players decided to form their own team separate from the club. This new Waterford based ladies team ‘Woodstock’ competed for a couple of seasons before ceasing. Since then Waterford Hockey Club has remained the only hockey club in the Waterford city area. 

Sunday Morning Kids Hockey coaching begins 1984

In 1984, Joe Power and Christie Walsh formed a Sunday morning kids section within the club. This was initially set up to teach young boys hockey where they had limited opportunities to learn the sport relative to young girls within local schools. However, once set up the ladies hockey quickly came on board to form a young girls coaching section too. Both the young girls and boys sections were therefore coached as separate groups on the Sunday mornings.

Stable times with a vibrant social scene for members 1990s

Throughout the 1990s Waterford Hockey Club remained relatively stable in membership and consistently had one men’s team and two ladies teams competing in club competitions. A small kids / junior hockey section was maintained by Denis Hegarty and Tommy Moore. The club had approximately 60 regular members during this period.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the senior side of the club grow with an additional men’s team and ladies team. At this time the club membership mainly consisted of secondary school older teens and adult players.

The club found it very challenging to retain young adult players heading to third level education or work outside of Waterford. However membership was held up with a very vibrant and active social scene. Jonathan Fletcher on the men’s side and Shirley Moore on the ladies side were key figures in keeping the club going throughout this period.

Newtown School ‘Astro Turf’ installed 1997

In 1997, an ‘Astro Turf’ artificial grass pitch was installed at Newtown School, which included flood lighting facilities at a total cost of £300,000 Irish pounds. Moving away from the older 1960s ‘All-Weather’ grit pitches greatly benefited Waterford Hockey Club teams and helped them compete against bigger rival clubs in the region.

Men’s Hockey ceases in mid 2000s, but is resurrected by 2013

By the mid 2000s unfortunately both men’s teams had swiftly ceased due to lack of younger members coming up through the club to replace players leaving for college or work outside of Waterford. However, in late 2012 David Quinn and Stuart Greene, who at the time were house masters at Newtown School and were involved with coaching the school’s hockey teams, managed to gather up an opposition men’s team to play practice matches against the Newtown Senior Boys hockey team. By 2013 they had successfully resurrected a competing Waterford Hockey Club men’s team once again.  

Sunday Morning Kids Hockey brings growth back to club

With the decline of club membership in the mid 2000s, Chris and Ann Thomas were instrumental is reviving and growing the Sunday Morning Kids Hockey section of the club once again. They quickly received support from other established senior men’s players (who were themselves without a men’s team) and senior ladies players, who assisting the Thomas’s as additional coaches, as numbers grew. This section of the club continued to grow strongly and began to breathe new life into the future of the club.

Newtown ‘Astro Turf’ pitch upgraded to ‘TigerTurf’ playing surface 2016

In the summer of 2016, a new state of the art ‘TigerTurf’ playing surface was installed on the main Newtown School hockey playing pitch to replace the former ‘Astro Turf’ surface at a cost in excess of €200,000. This was instigated by Roger Johnson, former vice principal of Newtown School. The upgrades also included renewal of the pitch side fencing and purchasing new goals and dugouts. Waterford Hockey Club contributed €20,000 towards the overall costs, as these excellent new pitch playing facilities would benefit the club for many years into the future.

Waterford Hockey Club competing in the South East, Munster and Ireland

Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs and South East provincial hockey up to early 1960s

Historical press cutting prior to the 1930s indicate that the Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs appear to have been competing in a Munster League and / or Munster Cup.

However, throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs were competing in the South East hockey provincial region. They played primarily in a South Eastern League. They also competed in various cup competitions, including the ‘White’ Cup (originating from Wexford) and the ‘McBride’ Cup (originating from Waterford).

By the 1950s there were a large number of hockey clubs well established throughout the whole of Ireland especially in the provinces of Ulster and Leinster, who had multiple adult teams within individual clubs. At Inter-Provincial level two tiers were in operation. A senior standard Inter-Provincial tournament had one top team from each of the four Provinces (Ulster, Munster, Connacht and Leinster) catered for the strongest players. And a junior standard Inter-Provincial tournament had a second tier of teams from six regions (Ulster, Munster, Connacht, Leinster, South East and Midlands). It was this South East provincial region and the South Eastern League that Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs were competing in. The South Eastern League consisted of club teams from Carlow, Enniscorthy, Bagenalstown, Kilkenny, Waterford, Greenhills (Wexford), Wexford Town, to name a few.

In the 1950s mixed hockey tournaments were also very popular, with teams consisting of five men and six ladies.

In the early 1960s the South Eastern League had disbanded for the Men’s and Ladies hockey in the region. However, today South East hockey provincial region still exists at Junior (U16 and U18 Girls) Inter-Provincial level with Waterford players regularly features on these teams.

Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs join Munster provincial hockey early 1960s

Waterford Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs joined the Munster hockey provincial region and re-entered Munster League competitions from the 1960s onwards.

Waterford Ladies settled into their new provincial region quickly, becoming Munster Senior Cup Runners Up during the 1960s. They also won the ‘Criterion Cup’ three years in a row from 1963 to 1965. In the 1970s the Waterford Men’s were Munster Division 2 winners and Munster Cup winners. By the 1980s Waterford Ladies hockey was particularly strong winning the Intermediate and Senior Munster Leagues, along with the Munster Cup.

By the early 1970s Waterford Men’s and Ladies, now officially amalgamated into one club, ran very popular mixed hockey tournament festivals during the 1970s and 1980s at Newtown School with large numbers of teams participating from across Leinster and Munster.

Over the subsequent years Waterford Hockey Club teams have win various Munster Division leagues and cup tournament titles on regular occasions. Many Waterford Hockey Club players in various age categories regularly play at Inter-Provincial level representing Munster.

Waterford Hockey Club competing in national all-Ireland club tournaments and represented internationally.

Irish Hockey Union (IHU) historic reports show Waterford the ‘old Club’ (pre-1934 revival) as Irish Junior Cup winners in 1922. Waterford Men’s reached the finals of the Irish Junior Cup in 1973 and Irish Senior Cup in 1976. Waterford Ladies reaching the quarter final of the Irish Senior Cup in the 1980s.

On 14th April 2019 Waterford Hockey Club (Men’s 1st team) won the Irish Hockey Trophy (3-1) playing NICS Hockey Club (Belfast) in the national final at Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club grounds (Dublin). This was the club’s first national hockey cup title since 1922.

Over the years, a select number of Waterford Hockey Club members have played at international level representing Ireland on Irish Hockey Schools, Colleges, Junior, Senior and Masters teams. These include Kristin Farrell (Ireland Senior Ladies Team – 2004 to 2007) and Ben Johnson (Ireland U16, U18 and U21 Teams – 2015 to 2019).

(Please see the ‘Club Achievements’ page to view more details of Waterford Hockey Club’s league, cup and sporting achievements along with the ‘International Players’ page for individual club members who have represented Hockey Ireland throughout its history that we are aware of at this time).

Waterford Hockey Club abroad

In October 1953 both the Waterford Men’s and Ladies teams visited Swansea in Wales, which was the first time the club had played outside the country. The same year the Waterford Ladies Hockey Club hosted an ‘All Australian Women’s Hockey Association’ touring team.

In the 1960s Waterford Hockey Club participated in an Annual Isle of Man tournament.

In the 1970s there were several trips to Llandudno in Wales. Another highlight was a visit of ‘The Wizards’ (a famous English/Dutch touring team) who played Waterford in May 1971.

During the early 2000s various mixed social teams from Waterford Hockey Club travelled to Worcester, Cheltenham and Bristol in England, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Beauvais in France for organized friendlies. In 2015, 2016 and 2019, the club hosted touring youth teams from a number of South African schools.

Club Traditions

The club has a long standing tradition of meeting up to play some hockey together during the Christmas holiday period. Weather permitting typically on St. Stephen’s Day former members, some from far flung places home on holidays, along with current members, family or friends meet at Newtown School hockey pitch to battle it out just for fun one more time, and to reminisce of games played, goals scored and good times past.

The McBride Cup

The McBride Cup is associated with hockey in Waterford. On 10th October 1934 a group of local Waterford based hockey clubs came together to form the ‘Waterford Men’s and Ladies Leagues’ to help promote hockey and improve the standard of play in Waterford. Mr. E. B. McBride (of the local Waterford McBride family and of Graves & Co. builder merchants) presented a cup for the men’s section of this local league, which was most likely the ‘McBride Challenge Cup’. By the following year in 1935 the ‘McBride Challenge Cup’ had been presented to the ‘South Eastern Hockey League’ and by 1936 the local Waterford Men’s League appears to have been expanded to include other South East clubs as a cup tournament, with the McBride Cup as the winners trophy.

In more recent times the McBride family have wished to stipulate that Waterford Hockey Club run a Waterford based cup tournament, therefore helping to maintain a tradition of hockey in Waterford city into the future. The Waterford Men’s hockey team have continued this tradition of organising a tournament to play for this ‘McBride Cup’ typically with other men’s teams in the South Eastern region.

Waterford Hockey Club 80th Birthday Celebrations 2014

On Friday 21st November 2014, Waterford Hockey Club celebrated its 80th anniversary with a Reunion Gala Dinner event in the Granville Hotel in Waterford city. It was attended by approximately 150 people, and having been very well advertised across the local media, it was particularly well attended by a large number of former club members from previous generations.  The very successful night was a great reminder to all present of the long standing history of the club itself, and of the importance of nurturing and developing the club into the future. We look forward to celebrating the club’s 100th birthday in 2034.

Waterford Hockey Club Today

Today, Waterford Hockey Club is continuing to thrive. In particular since the 2010s, there has been substantial and sustained growth in the club as it focused a great deal of its voluntary effects on promoting and developing the Sunday Morning Kid’s Hockey section. This has since carried through into the Junior Hockey and Senior Hockey sections in more recent years. The club also benefited from a large influx of young people following the Irish Women’s Hockey Team success in the Hockey World Cup in 2018. In 2019, the Waterford Hockey Club also won its first all-Ireland national hockey cup title since 1922, the Irish Hockey Trophy.

Club membership reached 300 in 2016. The club’s membership has now reached 450, made up of approximately 190 kid’s members (age 4-U11), 190 junior members (11-U18), and 70 senior players/associates/coaches.  The club has teams in a variety of age groups for girls and boys from U8 through to U16, along with Senior Ladies and Men’s teams.  It provides trained coaching for each of the age categories from absolute beginners to seasoned players.  It also operates a successful outreach schools program ‘Tricks 4 Sticks’ visiting local schools to run introductory hockey sessions with their pupils. Waterford Hockey Club continues to be a primarily volunteer run organization promoting the great sport of hockey in our region.

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Waterford Hockey Club history was first compiled in June and July 2016, by Marcus Notley, a Waterford Hockey Club member.  With special thanks to Margaret Holden, the late Paddy Holden, Bob Burns, Joe Power, Denis Hegarty, Edward McBride, Roger Johnson, Jack Gardiner, Richard de Courcy, and Jonathan Fletcher.

Waterford Hockey Club history was further updates in December 2020 by Marcus Notley.

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