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Mens Hockey History

The Birth of Collegians Hockey Club

 

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Hockey has been played at the college since mid 1940s.

 In 1967 John Stewart and Leslie Hewitt contacted the Headmaster Mr. A.S. Worrall and asked permission to set up an Old Boys Hockey Club.

The above letter dated July 7 1967 was the reply to John Stewart from the Headmaster.

 

Officially it all began on Saturday, 30th September 1967 when the first Collegians Mens Hockey Club Team took the field in Ballymena against Gallahers (Lisnafillan) in a Junior League A fixture :

 

Tom Wylie, Billy Savage, Martin Graham, Armie Beattie, Geoff Bullock, John Shaw, Cecil Andrews, Leslie Hewitt, Alan Wilkinson, Stewart McMillan with John Stewart (Captain).

 

The result was 1-0 for Collegians, with the honour of scoring the first ever goal going to Stewart McMillan. That was the start to a most successful season winning all sixteen league games and promotion to Intermediate League.

 

In addition we won the Junior Charity Cup with a fine 3 - 0 win over Mossley 3rd's in the final as well as the Flick Cup  six-a-side tournament at Bangor.

The playing record for that season, which was the subject of quite a write up by Carl Anderson in the Belfast Telegraph is:

 

Played:26 Won:23 Lost:3 For:111 Against:9

 

1967-8

 

 

 

1968-9 was almost as clean a sweep in the league as the first.
Another successful season with the Intermediate league won.

Out of the 14 league games, 13 were won and one drawn.

The draw against Ballymena at Pirrie Park will remain in the memories of all those who played, as goalkeeper Tom Wylie calmly let a ball which had obviously been hit from outside the circle go into the net only amazingly to see the umpire award a goal.

 

1969-1970 the Club found itself still in the Intermediate League for the season due to restructuring of the hockey leagues.

At the end of the league programme Collegians had 9 wins, 6 draws and 1 defeat (by a somewhat disputed goal at Portadown). This record was good enough to win the third successive league title and gain promotion to Senior League 2.

 

A 2nd X1 was fielded for the first time, under the captaincy of John Shaw.

 

Insert photo

 

1970/71 opened with the six-a-side competition in Dublin. This was a most enjoyable weekend culminating in the winning of the Corinthian Cup.
Collegians Club was the first Northern team to achieve this honour.

Overall it proved to be a very successful season highlighted undoubtedly by the 1st X1's unbeaten run of eighteen games in Senior Section 2.
Despite this record, the league championship and promotion to Senior League 1, were lost in an exciting last game with Parkview. Needing a win to clinch the league the 1st X1 managed only a scoreless draw.  

 

In the Irish Senior Cup the 1st X1 held Cliftonville away to a scoreless draw even after extra time, only to go down 3-1 in the replay at home to the senior side's greater experience.

At Easter the side travelled to take part in the Annual Festival in Blackpool. Despite an under strength team the Club was unbeaten in its five games, winning four and drawing one. Special reference must be made to the two then schoolboys, Peter Andrews and Ian Kirk Smith, who played for the Irish schoolboy team in Wales with great success. The latter also played that season for an Ulster Under-22 X1 and went on to become an Irish International.

Played 18; Won 8; Drawn 10; Lost 0; Points 26.

 

Under Jim Palmer's captaincy the 2nd X1 gained promotion to Junior League 3 finishing second in their league. Quite an achievement as several players were needed at various stages for the 1st X1, and a settled team became impossible. In the Irish Junior Cup the 2nd X1 were drawn against Annadale 1st in the second round and were defeated 3-1.

 

Played 18; Won 10 Drawn 5; Lost 3; Points 25.

 

For the first time in the Club's four year history a 3rd X1 was introduced under the able captaincy of Brian Thompson. After a very good start to the league programme the team faltered slightly but fortunately came back strongly to finish runners-up in Junior League 6 thus gaining promotion in their first season!

Played 18; Won 10; Drawn 3; Lost 5; Points 23.

 

1971/72 The performance in Senior League 2 turned out to be one of the main highlights of the club history to date. At the end of the league campaign the club found itself tied at the top with old rivals Annadale and in a thrilling play off at Shaws Bridge won 2 -1 with goals from Desie Sterritt and Ian Kirk-Smith, and one remarkable save by Trevor Scott. So after only five seasons Collegians Mens Hockey Club found itself in Senior League 1.

 

Life in Section 1 was always going to be tough but some reasonable results in the Kirk Cup were encouraging. Teams such as Lisnagarvey, Instonians, Antrim and Mossley were long established in the league and along with Portrush, Friends School Old Boys, Queens University and Cliftonville would present some stern opposition. The gap between Section 1 and Section 2 proved to be too wide for the inexperienced side that had lost the very talented Irish International Ian Kirk-Smith and former captain and founder member Leslie Hewitt. The team finished their league programme with only 3 points and relegation was experienced for the first time.

 

Very few of the original X1 were still playing and it was felt that the School could not adequately replace the talent which had been lost. It was therefore decided after great debate at an Extraordinary General Meeting that six players would be admitted to the Club who had not attended the College.

1972/73 Geoff Bullock assumed the Captaincy from Rev.Ernie Rea, who had taken the team to Section1, but despite fresh ideas and a few new faces, the downward slide continued and the side finished joint bottom of Senior 2.

Play-off for relegation was against Newry. Following a 2-2 draw at Shaws Bridge,a keenly contested replay at Portadown was won 3-2 and Senior status retained.

 

1973/ 74 saw a 4th X1 take the field for the first time under the captaincy of Brian Carruth. Jim Carlisle had joined as a "non-Collegian " and his three year period as Captain started the following 1974-75 season. It was a difficult period, a time of change with a high turnover of players. Success was hard to come by during this rebuilding period, and in the first two of Jim's three seasons, Collegians finished in the bottom half of the league.

 

1974/ 75 A sign that the tide was turning was the success of the 3rd X1 in the Minor Cup. John Flack's youthful side won the trophy, but the 1st X1 were still struggling, and following a bad run found themselves back in the Intermediate League after seven seasons of senior hockey.

The task of regaining a place in Senior 2 was allotted to Mervyn Hughes, one of the few players to have successfully mastered the art of Captaincy from between the goal posts. Mervyn's monosyllabic terms of endearment could be heard in every comer or the pitch.

 

There was an uplifting enthusiasm in the Club, due mainly to the strong lead taken by the new Captain, and his "win at all costs" philosophy.

 

He was of course supported by some talented team members, reflected in a representation of six players on the Ulster Junior Team which won the Junior Inter-Provincial Tournament that season under Coach Jim Carlisle.

 

1977/78 started with a memorable victory over Lisnagarvey in the semi-final of the Annadale Breakthrough Tournament, which meant a final against Storks.
The game ended in a scoreless draw, but the experienced Storks goalkeeper, Archie Wallace, made some superb saves to deny victory to the Collegians side in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

 

The Intermediate League title was the main aim and a consistent side produced the required results winning 20 of the 25 games scoring 65 goals in the process.

 

Having won the League, the double followed with a 2-0 victory over Michelin in the Intermediate Cup final in front of a partisan crowd at Blaris.

 

1978/79 The Old Boys were back in the Senior League at the first attempt losing only two games during the season. With the opening of the new all weather pitches at Deramore the scene was set for further progress up the Leagues.

 

Peter Andrews had been elected Club Captain but following an injury early in the season, Vice-Captain Jim Barr assumed responsibility. Although there were injuries to other key-players on the 1st X1 the team was second in the League at the half-way stage, two points behind the leader. Too many points were dropped in the New Year, and although only three games were lost all season, 13 draws meant a total of 19 points dropped and fourth position in the League.
A satisfactory return to Senior Hockey, but a season of unfilled potential.

 

Still, there had been a memorable 3-2 victory over Instonians in the Irish Senior Cup, clinched with an individual goal scored by Ivan Kerr.

 

The 3rd X1 had won Junior League 5 under the Captaincy of Peter Wood, with the proverbial mix of youth and experience. The experience was in the form of founder member John Shaw along with Brian Magowan. The youths included Philip Duke and David Hutchison.

 

The Club was continuing to expand and a 4th X1 under the Captaincy of Jimmy Jewhurst was formed.

 

1979/80 Jim Barr officially became Club Captain for the season with the same team that had performed so well the previous season. His side had some good results, but many matches were lost by the odd goal (including defeat by eventual finalists Cookstown in the Irish Senior Cup) and the team slid into the Intermediate League again.

 

This season saw two more firsts in Club history. A Collegians side entered the Indoor League and the first Continental Tour was organised for Easter 1980.

Eighteen tourists were selected for the trip and flew out to Eindhoven in the Netherlands where they finished 3rd out or 18 teams competing. (See photo).

 

1980/81 Ivan Kerr was captain in what was to be another eventful season.

Hopes were high that promotion could be achieved again and early results were encouraging. Despite beating Larne 4-1 in an early group game of the Intermediate Cup, and finishing unbeaten, the County Antrim side qualified for the final stages on their higher "goals for" total. The team would have to settle for winning the league and things looked great at the halfway stage. Unbeaten after seven games, although four draws looked as if they could be crucial.

 

Following the disappointment of the Intermediate Cup, a good run in the Irish Junior Cup had been hoped for, but a first round match against Queens University 2nd Xl proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. Although it took the students two attempts and 40 minutes extra time to overcome the Collegians challenge, they thoroughly deserved a 7- 2 victory and a place in the next round.

 

The assault on the league continued in the New Year, but confidence had been shattered following the Cup defeat, and a few weeks later on a cold January afternoon in Larne the team suffered a set-back losing 2-0 to the home side.

 

An incident packed season continued. No umpires at Ballymena. Ten men against Corinthians. Six sent off at Crossgar. A late goal against Down .

It finished with 14 wins from 20 games and only that one defeat at Larne, but 5 draws meant that the Club finished level on points with Down and a play-off was necessary to decide promotion.

Results against Down had been good during the season and in addition the Down team were not at full strength for the game. On the night, Collegians were well beaten and the team was destined to play another two seasons in the Intermediate League before regaining senior status.

 

1981/2 The new Captain was Wesley Haslett, and under his leadership the Club continued to play a very active part in Ulster Hockey. In addition to regular League and Cup commitments, during 1981 a team took part in the Dublin Corinthians, Antrim, Carrickfergus and Bangor six-a-side Tournaments; the Galway Mixed Tournament, the Annadale Breakthrough Tournament, the Queens University Indoor Tournament and the Club Boxing Day Tournament which was now a regular feature.

Five players also found time in April to represent Ulster at Junior Inter-Provincial level. (Two others had been selected, but were not available).

During the same season, the second Dutch tour took place, the 2nd X1 reached the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cup and a 5th X1 had been formed.

 

1983/84 This season was one of the most successful in Club history.
The Old Boys gained promotion to Section 2 of the Senior League with an unbeaten record and some emphatic wins including a 10-0 victory over a very inexperienced Ballycastle side.

 

The 2nd X1 gained promotion and moved up to Junior League 1 while further down the Club the 5th X1 was beaten in the semi-final of its Cup competition after a replay.

 

This was the season during which the floodlights were erected and the Club looked forward to life in the Senior League with renewed enthusiasm.

 

It was also the year that the club gained its only indoor honours when Cecil Andrews and Brian Caruth Played for an Ulster squad.

 

1984/85 Hopes were high following the return to the Senior League, but the three season stint in the Intermediate League had taken the edge off the Old Boys game and points were hard to come by. In fact, there were only two wins in the first ten games, and results in the second half showed little improvement.

Games were lost by the odd goal, and the team returned to Intermediate Hockey. Senior League 2 had been as competitive as ever, shown by Queen's finishing seven places off the bottom with only five points more.

 

1985/86 David Hutchinson was captain. It was to be another season of success and failure. The 2nd and 3rd X1s were relegated, but success was provided by the 1st X1 which won the League and Cup double bouncing back to Senior 2 at the first attempt. Kilkeel was in contention for league honours right up to the final match and having beaten the Old Boys in both league encounters must have felt that they were home and dry, but they had dropped 6 points to other sides, and Collegians won the league with victory in all their remaining matches.


The Cup was won on a cold New Year Day in front of a large crowd at Comber. Ballynahinch just could not recover from an early goal and the Old Boys ran out easy winners.

 

1986/87 Jim Carlisle had been appointed Club Coach and the expectations were that the Club would consolidate their position in Section 2 under his guidance. Players were fitter than they had ever been before and attendances at training were consistently good throughout the season. This was a tribute to Jim whose contribution was immeasurable and although some may have disagreed with his methods, he did produce the results.

 

The team was based on a sound defence which conceded only 24 goals in the 22 league games played, but the inability to convert sufficient short-corners into goals meant that too many games were lost or drawn and fourth place was all that was achieved.

 

The 2nd X1 also benefited from Jim's coaching finishing second in their league to gain promotion into Junior League 1.

The 5th X1 was promoted, winning its league and remaining unbeaten throughout the season. They would now play in the same league as the 4th X1.

 

1987/88 With John Eggleston as Captain the Club enjoyed a much more professional approach to the game, and players had a belief in themselves which was missing in the past. Some of the older players had a new vitality, and confidence was high that the 1st X1 could win the league.

 

Results in the first half of the season were good and Collegians rapidly assumed the position of favourites to win the title. There was also a good run in the Irish Senior Cup ending with defeat by an Avoca team laced with Leinster Inter-Provincials. The Dublin side had put an end to a magnificent Collegians run with superior short corner technique, and the very experienced side slipped through to the semi-finals with victory by 4-3 having been 3-1 behind. Those supporters who made the 200 mile round trip to watch the match were proud of a sterling performance by the Old Boys that day and will long remember David Hutchisonʼs brilliant individual goal.

The disappointment of defeat had to be put to the back of the mind. Winning the league was the target, and to be realistic, the Cup run had been a bonus. It was now the beginning of March and eight games still had to be played, including a trip to Raphoe. It wouldn’t be easy, but the team knew exactly what it had to do. The team continued to pick up points, although Down were also winning games, and finished their league programme one point ahead. Collegians final game was against Kilkeel and nothing short of victory would suffice. The Old Boys were clearly on top for most of the match, but with seven minutes remaining the score was still tied at 1-1, a play-off with Down seemed inevitable. Then Ian Weatherup stepped up to score his second short comer of the game and Kilkeel folded with the game finishing 4-1.

 

1988/89 John Eggleston was re-elected Captain for the season, and it was hoped that the team could hold on to a place in the top league but that would require a supreme effort from everyone. Teams such as R.U.C. and Bangor could definitely be beaten, and if points could be taken from Instonians or Annadale, the required points total may just be achieved. Early results suggested a lack of fitness with goals scored against in the final minutes.
Some established members of the team were also played out of position, and it looked like an uphill struggle. Compulsory attendance at training was introduced, but it was too late. Results in those important games had been poor, and the team finished bottom of the league. Relegation was confirmed as early as 18th February with two games to play, following a 4-2 defeat by Annadale.


All was not gloom and despondency. The 1st X1 won the Bangor Floodlit Tournament with wins over Bangor, R.U.C. and Instonians. The semi-final and final were decided by penalty strokes, with the latter requiring no fewer than 20 strokes before a winner emerged.

 

The 3rd X1 gained promotion to Junior League 3 under the Captaincy of the charismatic Chris Sandby-Thomas.

 

1989/90 Under the captaincy of Stephen Clarke results for the season were

P22; W8; D7; L7; 23 Pts.

 

The 1st X1 was beaten 2-1 in the final of the Junior Shield and in the Collegians Club Centenary Match Stephen Clark scored a memorable winning goal against a President's team which included GB international Robert Clift.

We once again toured Holland but this time with a Collegians Ladies team.

 

1990/91 Iain Kelly was club captain with things going well until Christmas.
The remainder of the season was disappointing with the bright point being qualification to the third round of the Irish Senior Cup.

 

P22; W9; D7; L6; 25 Pts.

 

The 2nd X1 had a superb season with promotion to Junior 1, and with an eye to the future we fielded Under 15 and Under 17 teams in their respective leagues.

 

1991/92 Iain Kelly once again captained the Club and the 1st X1 finished in 5th place in the league.

                                                                                                    

P22; W12; D3; L7; 27Pts.

 

The 2nd X1 was beaten 2-1 in the final of the McClements Cup and a Collegians Under 13 team played its first games.

 

 

 

Many players have come and gone through the years and tonight has been a golden opportunity to get them back together. Kevin Ryan is now the only person still playing for Collegians who played in that first year. His son Robert is now playing for the Club and we hope that this trend will continue with other members children. There have been many personalities on the pitch, but there have also been some major contributions from nonplayers. Brian Cairns was a long serving President of the Club in the seventies, Cecil Andrews' father and Margaret Cranston braved all types of weather to support teams and Jim Carlisle's coaching, when his playing days were over, proved invaluable, but the administrative talents of Peter Woods are without equal. Peter has played for the Junior sides over the years, and Captained the third X1 during season 1978/ 79 when they won Junior League 5. In the latter years of Collegians, Peter organised both fourth and fifth X1 teams for a Saturday fixture as well as turn out Under 13,15 and 17 teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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