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Womens Hockey Club History

COLLEGIANS WOMENS HOCKEY CLUB 1896 1989


The first incarnation of Collegians Ladies' Hockey Club was in 1896, when it shared a ground with the Rugby Club.

THe club played under the name of Collegians until around 1906 and then played for many years on a non competitive basis under the name of Methodist College Old Girls.

 "The Book of M. C. B." gives the names of the team of 1897 but little more is known of its ten year existence.
As M.C.B.
did not organize games for girls, at that time, the school team was, in effect,a McArthur Hall team, with the Collegians Ladies Club, being, in reality, a .McArthur Hall Old Girls' Club.

The present Collegians Womens' Hockey was founded in April 1944. The leadinglights behind this reincarnation were Dorothy Patterson, Sylvia Jardin, Olive Carter, Madeline Davis and Margaret White, the first secretary.

The inaugural President, Janet Addy (nee Smylie), was one of the school's first international' players. Enthusiastic help and encouragement were forthcoming from Old Boys,Charlie Neill and Cecil Smylie, who ensured there was a pitch to play on and changing facilities available at Deramore. Help also came from the Ulster Women's Hockey Union, in particular its secretary, Mrs H WTempleton.

Much hard work was undertaken during the summer of 1944 to locate potential members among the school-leavers of the previous fifteen years. By September the Club was able to field three teams. This effort proved to have been extremely worthwhile as the First XI were runners-up in their League and semi-finalists in both the Senior League Cup and the Ulster Shield.

The Second XI were also runners-up in their League and semi-finalists in the Junior Cup.

Those playing regularly on the First XI of 1944 - 45, under the captaincy of
Margaret White, were Jean Jeffers, Lilly Ervine, Noelle Cromey, May Cromey,
Esme Abraham, Madeline Davis, Jessie Stewart, Dorothy Patterson, Rosina
MacGregor, Phyllis Jackson. Madeline, Dorothy, Rosina and Mary Bell were
selected to play for Ulster during that first season with Dorothy becoming the
first recorded member of Collegians W.H.C. to play for Ireland when she took
the field against the Women's Services.

Individual and team success continued during the forties. In 1947 Heather
Coulter was a member of the Ulster and Irish teams. Margaret White became
President of both the U.W.H.U. and the Irish Ladies Hockey Union and represented
Ireland on the International Hockey Board.

In 1949 the Second XI
won the Intermediate League.

COLLEGIANS WOMENS HOCKEY CLUB

1ST XI 1946 - 47

   

  

However, this success masked a problem which has troubled the Club ever since playing
area. Between 1946 and 1950 the entire playing area at Deramore was levelled and re-drained
and the Womens' Hockey Club became homeless. During that period Jessie Stewart and
Norma Lowry, in particular, worked hard at keeping alive a sense of togetherness and
belonging.

30th September 1950 saw the reopening of the grounds by that great friend of the Womens'
Hockey Club, Charlie Neill. The First XI joined in the day's celebrations by playing Instonians.
The Collegians team was Margaret Gribben, Captain, Margaret White, Betty Browne, Nan Algie,
Marjorie Hill, Esme Abraham, Rosina MacGregor, Helen Reid, Dorothy Patterson, and Pat Laverty
with the number of teams rising first to five and then to six. In 1954-55 the Third XI won Section
Three of the Junior League. The leading player of this time was Daphne Ferguson, a regular
member of both the Ulster and Irish teams from 1948 to 1959.

 

HOMELESS

 

 Alas the pitches at Deramore began to deteriorate and their use had to be
restricted. The Womens' Hockey Club found themselves homeless once more. The
affect on numbers playing was the same as previously they declined
dramatically. It was left to Aileen L'Amie and Sally Jamieson, with a small
band of helpers, to attempt to halt this decline. A partial solution was
reached in 1966, when the school came to the rescue and allowed Collegians the use of Pirrie Park.


In 1967-68 the Second XI shared the Intermediate League with Carrickfergus but
the fifties and sixties were decades of social hockey. The players travelled
to the matches by bus or train, played the game and had tea and sandwiches
afterwards. They did not meet again until the following Saturday when the
whole process began again.

 A discussion between Ruth Watters, and Deirdre Humphries in the spring of 1970
resulted in the "birth" of the Collegians W.H.C. annual tournament. This was
at a time when the only tournaments which existed were representative ones,
with the emphasis on winning. The Collegians tournament was to be a
get-together before the season started - a friendly tournament. It followed
this format for a number of years, not being taken too seriously by organizers
or entrants, but not to be missed either. One notable occasion occurred in the
seventies when the weather was atrocious and the tournament was cancelled
except that Collegians forgot to tell the entrants! By all accounts everyone
else had a great time.

  
A permanent trophy was presented in 1982 by Dorothy Grimshaw (nee Patterson)
and the tournament has become slightly more serious, certainly from an
organizational point of view. It has undergone a number of changes in format
in its two decades and now has competition from other beginning of season
tournaments. However, the rationale remains the same - a chance to catch up
with other players, to renew friendships and rivalries without the pressure of
League competition.

In August 1972, as part of the celebrations held to mark the opening of the
extension to the pavilion at Deramore, a team representing Dorothy Grimshaw
President of Collegians W.H.C., played against a team representing Mrs
Templeton, President of the U.W.H.U. Did anyone present that day remember the
contributions of both Presidents to the re-formation of the Womens Hockey Club?
 

Festival of Sport

Collegians Vs Mrs D Grimshaws XI - August 26th 1972
 

 


First XI Success - At Last


1972 saw the First XI winning a trophy for the first time when they won the
Senior Plate, defeating Queens in the final. The team on that day, captained
by Hilary Johnston, was Helen Roulston, Margaret Cassidy, Jennifer McGill,
Hazel Robinson, Genevieve Adams , Pam Trohear, Florence Livingstone, Kathy
Moreland, Liz Lewis and Carol McRoberts. By this time the Womens' Hockey Club,
in an attempt to encourage members, was allowed to include players who had' not
attended Methodist College or qualified in any other way for membership. Three
other members of the team fell into this category, apart from the captain,
Hilary
- Pam, Liz and Margaret.

  
The real renaissance of Collegians Womens t Hockey Club began in 1978 with the
provision of pitches at Deramore. This enabled the hockey players to feel part
of the Collegians Club, providing them not only with an excellent playing
surface but also with changing rooms and social facilities the envy of many.
To celebrate this a Collegians Sect XI played an Ulster Club Invitation XI.
The Club team was Ruth Watters, Lesley Spence, Paddy Sloan, Lynda Fisher, Kate
Kerr, Gerry Gray, Pam Trohear, Heather Donaghy, Jackie Morrow, Hazel Robinson
and Helen Montgomery; and the opposition, captained by Jennifer Givan, was
Vivian Mitchell, Alison Herron, Moya Gibson, May Dalzell, Margaret Gleghorn,
Cherry Seaton, Sandra Beggs, Christine Fisher, Christine Shields and Brenda
Engoulsden.
 

The return home bore immediate fruit with the Third XI, under the captaincy of
Dorothy Hayes, winning the Junior Cup. That same season saw the Second XI,
captained by Frona Senior, winning the Pilot Cup, which was retained the
following season, under the leadership of Alison Tate.
 


 

The only trophy to come to Collegians W.H.C. in the early 1980's was the Junior
Plate, won by the Third XI, captained by Sharon McManus.

 

The return to Deramore may have been the end of a long road but for some
members of the Women's Hockey Club it was only a beginning. The pitch was
excellent but only available during daylight. A campaign, led by Paddy Sloan
and Ruth McIlroy, was begun to have floodlights installed to enable not only
outdoor training but also as a source of extra income through rental of the
pitch to other clubs. This was a long hard struggle and many discussions were
held, seemingly centring around telegraph poles. However, the lights finally
appeared in 1984 and have been a great boon to Monday night training sessions
ever since.


Alas the First XI remained in the doldrums, winning no trophies and having
little success in the Senior League. The shake-up of the League set-up and the
introduction of promotion and relegation provided a challenge for the Club.
For the first few years the First XI remained in Senior Hockey by the skin of
their teeth, seemingly unable to respond to the gauntlet at their feet.

 
PROMOTION
 

1987-88, however, was the most successful season the Club has had in its
his tory . The First XI squad, captained by Roisin Walsh, not only won the
Senior Plate for the third time, (the second being in
1976-77) but also Section
Two of the Senior League, in the process, gaining promotion to Senior One.
Expansion of numbers allowed the Club to field four teams, each one gaining
promotion during the season.

 


It may well be wondered what had made the difference. The Club Coach, Brian
Caruth, denied doing anything different from the two previous seasons in which
he had coached the Club, but the answer may well lie not just in the increase of
open places to twelve but in the quality of applicants to fill them.

 

COLLEGIANS WOMENS HOCKEY CLUB

 

 

The 1988-89 season was looked forward to with great anticipation with the
priority for each team being consolidation. The First XI eventually succeeded
in this, by taking a point off Portadown in their penultimate game to earn a
play-off against Knock. The Second XI, captained by Jennifer McKeown (nee
McGill), won Section Three of the Qualifying League, The Third XI, under the
leadership of Paula Creighton, won the Intermediate Plate. The Fourth XI
achieved their aim at the beginning of the season and remained in the Junior
League

There have always been strong connections between M.C.B. and C.W.H.C. The Club
could never have fielded a full complement each Saturday without the help ofschoolgirls,
but they are not there to make up the numbers they are playing on merit. One has only to
look at a list of Club First XI players over the lastfew years to realize that Jennifer Gordon,
Kathy Dunlop, Karen McRoberts and Elizabeth Anne Perry were also School First XI
Captains at the same time.These contacts are re-established each year with matches between
Club First and Second XIs and their School counterparts at the beginning and end of each
season .

Another innovation in recent years has been the annual Boxing Day game against
the Exiles. This is not the most serious match of the season, with the highlight being
punch and mince pies at half time. However, it enables the Club to keep up with those
players who have gone across the water to study or work or others who "retired"
prematurely and results in much reminiscing.

The appearance of a Coach came late to Collegians W.H C. Coaching was always
part of the duties of the First XI captain and, until the installation of floodlights,
a separate person was not deemed necessary. However, the holders of the post
have been notable - Daphne Gilpin and Ian Steepe, both Coaches to the I.L.H.U.
international team; Ruth Watters, Coach of the Senior Ulster interprovincial side;
Colin Burns, coach to U.H.U . the Schoolboy team . Two other names spring to mind,
neither of whom have (yet!) coached at these exalted levels, but both have a special
niche in our history - Kevin Doherty and Brian Caruth. The former produced probably
the fittest Collegians' hockey players ever and the latter the most successful.


REPRESENTATIVE HONOURS

Although not the most successful women's hockey club in Ulster Collegians has
provided a number of internationals and interprovincials, at both Senior and
Intermediate levels. The Irish players include Heather Coulter, Dorothy
Patterson, Daphne Ferguson, Carol McRoberts, Hilary Johnston, and Margaret
Gleghorne, who has also represented Great Britain. Other international
representation includes Gerda Priestly, Spain and Anne Millar, Bermuda.
Senior interprovincials include Dorothy Patterson, Heather Coulter, Daphne
Ferguson, Carol McRoberts, Hilary Johnston, Margaret Gleghorne, Madeline Davis,
Margaret Girvan, Mary Bell, Rosina McGregor, Aileen L'Amie, Ruth Watters, and
Hazel Robinson, with Claire McDowell currently a squad member.

 

Intermediate Interprovincials include Margaret Todd, Frona Senior Pam Trohear,
Roma Beggs, Alison Watt, Vicki Topping, Claire McDowell, Sonia Tester and Kim
Bothwell.


Senior Pam Trohear, Roma Beggs, Alison Watt , Vicki Topping, Claire McDowell,
Sonia Tester and Kim Bothwell.

Administration

 

Margaret White is the only Collegian - to have reached the pinnacle of
administration by being Ulster and Irish President but other club members have
served Ulster hockey in various adminis trative capacities. Mrs S. Hayes was
Senior Vice President in 1954-55. Olive Williams and Anne Millar were both
Treasurers of the U.W.H.U. Olive for 15 years from 1955 to 1970; and Anne
between 1985 and 1988. Dorothy Grimshaw was School's Vice President from 1960
to 1973. Gerry Gray served on the Council between 1974 and 1977 and was
School's Secretary between 1977 and 1980. Daphne Gilpin was Chairman of the
Coaching Association from 1980 to 1984. Jennifer McKeown, Ruth Watters, Mrs D.
Erwin, Hazel Robinson and Lesley Spence have all served on the U.W. H. U.
Council. Billy Savage (a Vice-President of the C.W. H. C. for his umpiring
services), Lesley Spence and Mrs Hayes have all been secretary of the Umpires'
Association of the U.W.H.U.


Olive Williams served as a Senior selector between 1954 and 1959. Gerry Gray
was a Junior Selector from 1976 to 1982. Dorothy Grimshaw, Gerry Gray,
Jennifer McKeown and Hazel Robinson have also been School selectors.

The contribution by Collegians to hockey administration received official
recognition when the U.W.H.U. included Dorothy Patter-son, Olive Williams and
Daphne Gilpin among the first recipients of Honorary Life Memberships.

No history of Collegians W.H.C. would be complete without mention of someone
who has never played for it - Margaret Cranston. A Past President of the Club,
Margaret has been an ever-present figure at the side of the pitch, in her
yellow coat and wellies. She supports all teams, not just the First XI and in
the dark days, when results were poor, she always had words of encouragement
and hope. Now, at last she can smile and enjoy the success, because its hers
as much as the players.


LESLEY A. M. SPENCE
PRESIDENT C.W.H.C.

Links

IRFU www.irishrugby.ie
Ulster Branch www.ulsterrugby.com
Methodist College Belfast www.methody.org
Harlequins RFC www.belfastharlequinsrfc.com

Collegians Club
Formerly - Deramore Park,
Belfast,
County Antrim, Northern Ireland

E: philipjordan@meridiansystems.co.uk

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