Old Loughtonians Hockey Club was a founder member of the National Hockey League in 1988 and were ‘ever-presents’, 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.
Pitches and Clubhouse
Before the First World War people who lived in Loughton who wished to play Hockey would join the Loughton Hockey Club. Many Old Loughtonians played for the club, so much so that a majority of the club was Old Loughtonians particularly in respect to the 1st XI. They played at a ground behind the King’s Oak in High Beach. This ground later saw the introduction of speedway to this country.
The Loughton Hockey Club disbanded for the duration of the war and once peace returned many of the Old Loughtonians suggested a hockey club was formed for Old Loughtonians. A meeting was held in Jan 1921 at 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 L.H. (Les) Shelley. Which means the club is now in its 91st playing year
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 suspended its activity during the war and was re-established after the war. However the Fairlop pitches were not available so the club became a ‘wandering side’ until a ground was found and we played two or three seasons on the Chingford Cricket Ground and returned to Fairlop in 1950. In 1957 the club moved to the ‘Halsted ground’ in Buckhurst Hill by the Roding. 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.
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 4 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 1986 the Old Loughtonians Hockey club was the first team to play on an all-weather pitch. Two new sand-based pitches were opened in 1992 with the clubhouse being extended in 1997. The last development to Luxborough Lane was the conversion of the clubhouse pitch to water-base.
In the late 1970’s, the men decided that a ladies section should be introduced to the club. The thinking behind this was that the men folk who had girlfriends or wives thought it would be easier having them play hockey rather than being nagged for being late after a hockey match!!!!.
And so it began the Old Loughtonians Ladies Hockey Section.
Setting off for their first matches dressed all in white (looking more like tennis players!), the first seasons or two were a struggle not always having a full team, being consistently beaten by a large margin.
After Old Loughtonians moved to Luxborough Lane in 1980 the ladies fortunes turned. Games were being won and because of our new facilities ladies were keen to join. Soon the club was fielding 2 teams and it wasn’t long before the first team were entered into the newly formed Essex League. This was a new experience for the Ladies the competition was harder than they had come across before, and although they were losing more than they were winning the experience was so important. 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, much to the surprise of everyone else in the club and they started taking it seriously!
A gradual improvement took place and the progression of the Ladies really took hold. Over the last ten to 15 years not only did the 1st XI team achieve East League status and eventually Premier National League status, but the 2nd XI team also achieved East League status plus the 3rd, 4th and 5th XIs are also competing in the Essex Leagues.
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 Old Loughtonians Hockey Clubs first international L.H. Shelley. Les Shelley received his first international honours playing for England in 1926/7. 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 being the driving force within the club for many years until his death. The club have 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 until in 1972 until 2002 carrying on the club’s policy of 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 "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 the club a Club Captain and remained President until his death in 2004. He was a great supporter of the club and hockey in general and a past Old Loughtonians player. 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.
The club has had a number of sponsors over the years. Higgins Group Plc’s involvement with the club has developed over many years. Initially Higgins were part sponsors of the club but are now the main sponsors and sponsor 21 senior, junior and mini-hockey teams. Higgins Group Plc. also now sponsors the London Hockey Leagues.
Over the years Old Loughtonians Hockey Club has been associated with the development of a number of international players both at junior and senior levels.
The first international was L.H. (Les) Shelley who first played for England in 1926/7.