History of TVHC
TAUNTON VALE HOCKEY CLUB - A BRIEF HISTORY
Men’s hockey in the Taunton area can be traced back to the period immediately following WW1 when it was played under the banner of Curry Mallet HC. When its ground at Edwin Glide’s farm became unavailable during the 1937/38 season – due to an outbreak of foot & mouth disease – the club had to look for an alternate venue. Taunton Corporation came to the rescue offering the use of its pitch at Galmington. However it was a condition of the Corporation that its public playing fields could only be used by Taunton Clubs so this caused the disbandment of Curry Mallet HC and Taunton Vale Hockey Club (TVHC) was born.
We used Galmington throughout WW2, that is until he US Army built a hospital there, now Musgrove Park. The Club then moved to Hamilton Road and after that to Somerset County Cricket Club. It was at the superior grounds of SCCC that the Club made tremendous progress being captained by Norman Borrett, then Captain of England and the 1948 Olympic XI. The side also contributed four players to the County of whom Richard Hyde also represented the West.
In 1950/51the Club took up residence at Lillesdon Court – courtesy of Dick Hebditch – where it remained for the next ten years. Then, variously, the Club played at Priorswood, Middleway (tarmac), Orchard Portman, at a redeveloped Galmington, and latterly had a shale pitch at Norton Manor to fall back on in inclement weather. During this nomadic existence many local hostelries were used for teas and socialising.
Ladies’ hockey dates back even further than men’s, having been played in Taunton since at least 1912 under the title of the Priorswood Club. Records show the first AGM to be 1927 by which time the Club was called Taunton Women’s Hockey Club. Our ladies enjoyed a rather less nomadic life, for many years playing at Greenway Farm and then Bishop Fox’s School when it was built on the same land off Kingston Road. In more recent times the Club, now Taunton Vale Ladies HC (TVLHC) played at Somerset College of Arts & Technology. It fielded two players for England – Nan Williams and Liz Boobier.
In the early 70’s, discussions between TVHC and Taunton Cricket Club led to the formation of Taunton Vale Sports Club (TVSC) and new grounds were developed in 1974 at Moorfields off Lisieux Way on land leased from the Borough. These included two shale hockey pitches, two cricket wickets and a clubhouse. TVSC was enhanced when TVLHC joined forces.
By 1990, the Club’s shale pitches were showing their age and first team hockey had moved on to artificial turf (ATP), indeed the men’s first XI, at that time enjoying National League status were obliged to travel to the nearest ATP at Sherborne for league home games. Fortunately this difficult arrangement did not last long as ATPs were put down by Taunton School and King’s College which the club was permitted to hire.
A further advance was made in 1995 when TVHC and TVLHC integrated to form a single club, TVHC, which enabled the two to build on each other’s strengths, an arrangement which has proven very happy and mutually beneficial.
The Club could not prosper without its own ATP, added to which TCC members had been unable to establish satisfactory wickets at Moorfields. So the TVSC management looked to solve matters by relocation and in conjunction with the Borough was able to sell its interest in the Moorfields site, and after some thirteen years hard work managed to take up its magnificent new facilities at Staplegrove in 2001.
During the time at Gipsy Lane, the Junior section has grown from around 60 members to nearly 300 members, and the Ladies 1st XI were able to acheive National League status on a number of occassions, the last time being in the 2012/13.
After over a decade at Gipsy Lane, the pitch was becoming worn, but due to the brilliant vision and dedication of Harry Riste Jr, in 2014, we were awarded around £500k from Sport England, England Hockey, The National Hockey Foundation and Taunton Deane Bourough Council, which allowed us to resurface the ATP (with a striking blue and pink carpet), widen the run off of the pitch, and create a fantastic covered spectator area. The pitch was renamed 'The Sandra Wickham Stadium' in honour of our club stalwart who has put in decades of service (and still continues to do so) with our thriving junior section. We can proudly say, we now have one of the best hockey club facilities in the West of England, and we've secured the future of TVHC for years to come.
As of 2015 TVHC has 435 members, the youngest members starting in the Under 8 category and there are still a few over 60's turning out. Nan Williams has even had a run out on the new pitch.