The roots of hockey are buried deep in antiquity. Evidence of stick and ball games goes back thousands of years on at least four continents but unlike Soccer, Cricket and Rugby very few records of the game have been kept. The sport has a long but thinly documented history.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century the game was becoming very popular.   Blackheath Hockey Club is reputed to be the oldest Hockey club in the world and was formed no later than 1840. In 1897, almost 57 years later, an advert appeared in the Loughborough Echo announcing that:

“The newly formed Hockey Club for Loughborough will hold a practice match this afternoon at Shelthorpe at 3 o’clock to which all interested in the game are invited”.

It was after that practice match that Loughborough Town Hockey club was officially formed.

From the late Victorian period, hockey became popular with men who wanted to play games simply for the challenge of vigorous exercise and team camaraderie. LTHC membership increased, the club became more successful and eventually after WW2 became the premier club in Leicestershire. When Loughborough Aerodrome on Derby Road was decommissioned early in the 1960’s the local Borough Council used the level airstrip to develop sports pitches that were ideal for Hockey. An old prefabricated unit was transformed into a much prized clubhouse. Members now had wonderful grass pitches, changing rooms, hot showers and once refreshed players could relax in their own bar, socialise with each other, and entertain guests after matches!

The grass pitches of Loughborough Meadows were gentle on the joints but in winter when it rained or snowed or froze, they became unplayable, sometimes for weeks on end. In the 1980’s, Loughborough University began to expand their sporting facilities and constructed an Astroturf. This was a solution that was generally weather proof and the grass pitches were abandoned. Hockey played on Astroturf was a different and much faster game. It required different skills so coaching and training in the evenings under floodlights became essential. LTHC were now running 6 men’s teams and it was becoming hard to find fixtures for them all. To meet the increasing demand for fixtures MRHA established a league structure. All teams could now play competitive hockey.

The club was extremely fortunate to have the use of the superb sporting facilities at Loughborough University. These now include a multi-use, sand dressed, artificial astroturf and an elite water based pitch of international standard. The facilities are fully floodlit and the water based pitch has a designated spectator space and is serviced by an adjacent Hockey Pavilion.

Before the formation of LTHC, men and women did not unite to encourage the sport’s development. The Men’s Hockey Association (HA), formed in 1886, turned down a request from the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) – founded nine years later – to affiliate to it. This left the women to organise their own affairs. It took a long time, but eventually in 2004, LTHC welcomed women club members and a Ladies team was formed. The club’s social life improved considerably.

Both sections of the club then combined to develop a Junior Coaching Policy. This has been hugely successful and now boys and girls aged 8 to 18 play in Junior competitions and can progress into the senior teams as they get older.

Today  LTHC continues to thrive. We currently run five Men’s teams, three Ladies’ teams and several junior teams for different age ranges of boys and girls. The combined club with its Mens, Ladies and Junior hockey sections currently has a membership approaching 200. The Men’s First XI now play in the Premier Division of the Midland Men’s Hockey League and the Ladies First XI play in the Feeder Division of the Midland Women’s Hockey League. 

As our 125th anniversary approaches we are still looking to develop further and we pride ourselves on being an inclusive, welcoming and friendly club. We cater for all genders, ages, experience and abilities, offering hockey to anyone from aged 4 upwards. We think that our founding members would be pleased with the legacy that they helped to create.

Credit to George Palmer for the short history of LTHC. 26th February 2021.

Loughborough Town Hockey Club Badge with Name