Surbiton Club History
Founded in 1874, Surbiton is the second oldest hockey club in the world continuously playing the modern game of hockey ever since, apart from during the two world wars. Surbiton played its first match on 3rd February 1875 against Teddington in Bushey Park, winning by two goals to one and the club was unbeaten until 26th January 1878.
The Club was involved in many of the developments which mark out hockey as a different pitch game from any other – the striking circle, two umpires, stopping the ball before a penalty corner shot etc.The Club was also instrumental in taking hockey to schools and universities during the latter part of the 19th century and International and Divisional matches were played on its original ground in Balaclava Road in Surbiton. Due to the construction of the waterworks, Surbiton had to move from Balaclava Road in 1908 to its present ground in Long Ditton, where it has played ever since.
The Club was a founder member of the Hockey Association in 1886 and is currently one of only two Premier Division National League sides playing in Surrey.Surbiton has always been a well-travelled touring club too, with their infamous Strollers starting the Easter touring tradition in 1928. The Keeper of the Banana and associated rituals is still going strong.Surbiton has a long history of success at the highest level with many players having gained international representative honours. The Club enjoyed many years of fixtures with all the top London clubs and Oxford and Cambridge universities. The block fixture system, whereby on the same day every team in the club played the equal level team in another club, provided the solid foundation on which hockey thrived right up to the starting of the leagues in the late 1960’s.
Surbiton was the first winner of the London League in 1970. In the 1970’s however the Club’s fortunes declined and the Club management embarked on a major youth training and Club development programme. The first of the “home grown” players came into the 1st Xl in 1984 and started the turnaround in the Club’s on-pitch fortunes by winning the Surrey Cup in 1986 and finishing 6th in the London League.The rebuilding of the Clubhouse in 1986 together with the formation of a Ladies section in 1988 and the completion of the first floodlit, artificial grass pitch in 1991, allowed the Club to offer
one of the most attractive hockey and social environments in the South of England and sustained the impetus to carry the Club to the top echelons of the game. A second artificial pitch was completed in 1995 and the original pitch was upgraded to international water-based standard in 2001. The original pitch was replaced again in 2010; and the second artificial pitch was upgraded to a sand based hybrid pitch with watering facilities in 2013. All home fixtures for the 20 senior sides are played on artificial grass.
Although we did not make it into the National League when it started in 1988, Surbiton won the London League in 1990 and again in 1991, thereby gaining entry to the 2nd Division of the National League. Immediate promotion to the 1st (top) Division was gained by winning the 2nd Division, but this was followed disappointingly by relegation in 1993.
Over the next four seasons, promotion was again followed by relegation, before the Club cemented its place among the elite in the Premier Division in 1999. In 2001, Surbiton finished 2nd in the Premier Division and won the Premier Division playoffs and, as a result, represented England in the European Club Championship in Antwerp in 2002, losing the bronze medal to Egara, the Spanish representatives.In 2002, Surbiton finished 2nd again in the Premier Division, but lost the Premier playoffs final to Reading 3-2. As a result, we represented England in the European Cup Winners Cup in Spain in 2003. Here we won the bronze medal – Surbiton’s first international medal! – beating the Polish representatives in a tight game.In 2003, Surbiton finished 3rd in the Premier Division, but lost their first game in the playoffs to Loughborough Students, immediately after returning from Spain.
Surbiton’s men returned to Europe in 2013-14, going out to hosts, Oranje Zwart in the last 16 of the EuroHockey League. Surbiton had also been holders of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Cup after their 3-1 win over Hampstead and Westminster at Wakefield in 2013, but unfortunately their tenure was ended by the eventual 2014 winners, Cannock.
Surbiton’s strength lies not only with the M1s, but with the high standard throughout the Club. Other men’s teams have been equally successful over the last few years, with the M2s, M3s and M4s all winning their respective London Leagues and playoffs on several occasions and other teams also coming out on top in the Surrey Open League and the three Veterans Leagues.
We currently have 7 internationals in the men’s section and 4 senior internationals in the ladies’ section.
Surbiton Ladies won the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division and Investec Women’s Cup double in 2013-14, beating Canterbury 3-0 in the league championships final at Reading; and Hampstead and Westminster 7-1 in the cup final at Beeston. In 2004-05, L1 won the Surrey Ladies League Premier Division. Having been relegated from the South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League (SCWHL) Division Two to the Surrey League in 2003-04, Surbiton Ladies discovered that on their return to the regional league, that the South League had added a third division, split into two regions (3A and 3B). Far from daunted, Surbiton Ladies won Division 3B at the first attempt; and then after spending three seasons in Division 2, won promotion to Division 1 in 2008-09. The following season, Surbiton Ladies won promotion to the Women’s England Hockey League for the first time in their history, as champions of Division 1. In 2010-11, Surbiton Ladies finished as runners-up to Sevenoaks in the newly sponsored Investec Women’s Hockey League Conference East; and then in 2011-12, Surbiton won the Conference East, subsequently finishing second in the Investec Promotion Tournament behind Slough to win promotion to the top flight. In 2012-13, Surbiton finished fourth both in the IWHL Premier Division and the Championships, before completing the league and cup double in 2013-14. Surbiton won the cup at the third attempt having lost both previous cup finals 4-1; to Bowdon Hightown in 2011, and the University of Birmingham in 2012, both matches being held at Cannock HC.
L2 and L3 are both current members of the SCWHL, L2 just missing out on promotion from Division 2, finishing second to Oxford University in 2013-14; and L3 establishing themselves in Division 3B, in their first ever season at regional level. The remaining six ladies’ teams all play in the Surrey Ladies League.
The 500-strong Colts’ section now provides the opportunity for talented young players to progress to county, divisional and national age group representative sides as well as to the top sides in the Club itself. Several players have made this progression and one is a regular in the England and GB international teams. Geoff Dunn