History of the club
Old Loughtonians Hockey Club was a founding member of the National Hockey League in 1988 and were ‘ever-present’, with a highest finish of 3rd. The Ladies joined the Men in the top flight of hockey for the first time during the 2005/06 season. Both first elevens now play in the East Conference division of the England Hockey leagues.
Before the First World War people living in Loughton who wished to play hockey would join the Loughton Hockey Club. Many former school boys of the Loughton School played for the Loughton Hockey Club and made up the majority of the 1st XI. They played at a ground behind the King’s Oak in High Beach.
The Loughton Hockey Club disbanded for the duration of the war and once peace returned many of the former players suggested a hockey club was formed for Old Loughtonians. A meeting was held in January 1921, during which the idea was proposed and approved, and so the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club came into being. The first president was the headmaster of the school, Mr. W Vincent, and the captain was Les Shelley, our first international player representing England in 1926/7.
The Club continued to play at the King’s Oak ground until the arrival of the speedway whose activities caused the surface of the ground to deteriorate and the Club was forced to find a new home for the 1936/7 season. This was at the London Playing fields at Fairlop.
The Club was once again disbanded during the Second World War but on 1st September 1943 a new club called the ‘Foresters’ came into being, with Oggy Johnson as the president, Toothy Morrow as the chairman, Geoff Ryan fulfilling the dual function of secretary and treasurer, and Denis Pilgrim as the captain. The Foresters hoped to use the Loughton School for Girls’ pitch but were not allowed and so obtained permission from the school to use the Warren, which was nothing more than a clearing in the forest. Geoff Ryan took over the captaincy from Denis Pilgrim and when the Foresters were disbanded on the reactivation of the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club the Foresters handed over the princely sum of 3/6 (17.5p) to the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club.
The Club was re-established after the war. However, the Fairlop pitches were not available and as a result the club became a ‘wandering side’ until a ground was found, playing two or three seasons on the Chingford Cricket Ground. The Club eventually returned to Fairlop in 1950 and then in 1957 the Club moved to the ‘Halsted Ground’ in Buckhurst Hill near the River Roding. This was a little too near, as it happened, as it was liable to flooding and in 1960 the Club returned to Fairlop, but this time to the Old Blue’s Rugby ground. In 1963, the Club went ‘open’ due to the break-up of the Old Buckwellians’ Hockey Club.
The Club started accepting girls and so began the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club Ladies Section. Setting off for their first matches dressed all in white (looking more like tennis players!), the first season or two were a struggle not always having a full team and being consistently beaten by a large margin.
Following the completion of the M11 motorway, in 1971, with the support of Derek Higgins, the club managed to raise enough money to purchase the land at Luxborough Lane, Chigwell.In 1978, the land was cleared and four grass pitches were laid out with the help of Higgins Group PLC. The ground was finished in 1980 with opening of the then new clubhouse overlooking the pitches.
In 1980 Old Loughtonians Hockey Clun had moved to Luxborough Lane and the ladies fortunes finally turned. Games were being won and because of our new facilities ladies were keen to join. Soon the club was fielding two teams and it was not long before the first team were entered into the newly formed Essex League. A couple of players had contact with the White Knights touring side and made some great friends. In turn these friends joined Old Loughtonians and the ladies went from strength to strength.
In 1986, the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club was the first club to own an all-weather pitch. Two new sand-based pitches were opened in 1992 and in 1997 the clubhouse was extended. The last development to Luxborough Lane was the conversion of the clubhouse pitch to water-base. This was followed by the building of a mini pitch and then the conversion of the two main pitches to International waterbase standard in 2012. The pitches were officially opened in 2013 by Mrs Olive Higgins.
The club has had seven presidents since 1921. The first was the headmaster of Loughton School, Mr. W Vincent; the second was Mr T Shelley, the father of Les Shelley. The third president was Sir Frank Foster who was followed by Leonard Bone in 1965.
Leonard was a power of strength to hockey at Old Loughtonians, acting as the driving force behind the club for many years until his death. The Club honoured Leonard’s memory by extending the bar in 2002 forming the Member’s Bar and naming it ”The Leonard Bone Room”. Leonard was also an active participant in the local Essex Hockey Association, East Hockey Association and the English Hockey Association. He took a keen interest in ‘all matters hockey’ until his death.
Don Brady took over as President in 1972 until 2002, carrying on the Club’s policy of the development of young players from the local community. This policy is in keeping with the aims of a supporter of the hockey club, the Old Loughtonians Trust, which was set up in 1999 to “help young people, boys and girls in sport throughout Essex and Greater London”.
In 2002, Derek Higgins OBE became President of the Club after many years of serving as Club Captain and remained President until his death in 2004. As a former Old Loughtonians player, he was a great supporter of the club and hockey in general. In recognition of the fondness with which Derek was regarded and in recognition of the immense input he made to the club, the clubhouse was dedicated in his memory on March 5th 2006 and is now known as “The Derek Higgins Pavilion”.
The club’s current President is Richard Higgins, who is Derek’s oldest son.