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The History of Sutton Coldfield Hockey Club

Taken from the SCHC minute book :
“In 1891 the founder of the Sutton Coldfield Hockey Club was the Rev Canon W.K. Riland Bedford who was appointed Rector of Sutton in 1850. He was also the founder of both the Sutton Coldfield Cricket Club in 1847 and the Free Foresters Cricket Club in 1856.”

It also states
“The Sutton Coldfield Hockey Club was formed in 1891 when some members of the cricket club, and others, feeling the need of some winter recreational activities, other than football, decided to form a hockey club and was the fourth club to be born in the Midlands. The first games were played on the Meadow Platt in Sutton Park but in 1895 the Club moved to Four Oaks Park where on a better surface the play improved. In 1898 the Club returned to Sutton Park where they played on the Meadow Platt a good ground when dry but deplorable when wet and bumpy when it was very dry. Forward play deteriorated whilst defences tended to become more robust. It is believed that official County Associations were not formed until 1904 though County matches were played from 1896 when five Sutton players represented Warwickshire in their first County fixture. They were Rev. A. Morley (Full back and first Captain of War­wickshire), S. Foster (Goal), Rev. A. E. R. Bedford, A. V. Jerome and G. Parkes (Forwards). Warwick­shire won by 5 goals to 2.

At that time there were only three clubs in existence in the Midlands Playing the game. One of these was Edgbaston, so different opponents each week were relatively few in number.

The first ground was on the Meadow Platt in Sutton Park, a fairly good ground, though bumpy when dry, but very poor when wet. Changing facilities in the Park did not exist, so players had to change at home, which frequently involved long trek on foot or by bicycle. For visiting teams accommodation was arranged at premises in Park Road near the main gates:

With no regular attention to the surface the conditions generally in the Park, left a lot to be desired as far as hockey was concerned. In 1895 the club obtained a ground in Four Oaks Park, where, with the improved surface, better stick-work and more skilful hockey was possible and with more clubs coming into existence in the Midlands, fixtures were becoming more plentiful.

The move lasted only until 1898, when the club again returned to the Meadow Platt. The reasons for this are not known, though it is surmised the land may have been required for building operations or for some other purpose. With the return to the inferior surface in the Park forward play again deteriorated and defence became more robust.

County hockey was instated as early as 1896 but it was not until some years later that County Associations were formed. In Warwickshire's first match five Sutton players were included - Rev A. Morley (full back and captain), S. Foster (goal), Rev A.E.R. Bedford, A.V. Jerome, and G. Parkes, (forwards).

Little detailed information is available over the next ten years except that the game increased in popularity, and during the decade many more clubs were formed in the Midlands”.

Information from Peter Bell, Club Historian and Level 1 Umpire Coach

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