The first mention of a hockey club in Devizes appeared in the Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette in March 1900:
'During the autumn of 1899 a few enthusiasts formed a hockey club. Judging by their success which has attended its efforts the organisation should have a properous future'
A report from the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, 22 March 1900, records one of the club's first games played against Melksham:
'A match was played at Devizes on Saturday last and resulted in a win for the home team by four goals to one. Play at the start was very even but eventually the home lot got the upper hand and a hard low shot by Nichol placed the home team one up.' Melksham occasionally broke away, but the home backs were safe. Two more goals quickly followed for the homesters off the sticks of Budd & Raine. During the second half Devizes certainly had the best of the game, only one goal was scored. Bound doing the needful with a good shot, a very pleasant game ending as above stated.'
At the 1906 AGM, the club secretary A.E. Cole presented the accounts showing a credit balance of £1.6s.6d; Mr Bush was appointed ground secretary and F Budd elected as club Captain. It also reported that the hockey club would be playing on the cricket ground for the next season, which would be a great imporvement to the ground at Brickley Lane, where players often had to wade through ankle-deep mud to get to the pitch! New members were also welcomed from the recently disbanded Bishop's Cannings club, and more controversially, a positive decision was made in allowing to join the club, introducing mixed hockey to the town for the first time. In February 1907 the mixed team defeated Swindon 3-2.
The club went from strength to strength between the wars including a merger with Erlestoke Hockey Club. Club stalwarts during this time were Len and Ken Bull. After the Second world war, the two sections reformed and played at the London Road ground. Ken Bull resumed as treasurer a post he held for the next 30 years (including a number of years with Marlborough Hockey Club). The subscription for the first season after the war was 15/-.
The club continued to flourish with players like Jim combes, Max McGregor-Johnson, Ronnie Alford, Len and Ken Bull and the three Harding boys, Percy was also the first Wiltshire player to gain a hundred County Caps. Apart from the homegrown players, international hockey player Trevor Lake who subsequently played for GB in the 1948 Olympics. Another represented GB at the Helsinki Olypics in 1952 Stephen Thompson Theobald. The club continued until 1958 but with dwundling numbers the decision was taken to join forces with Marlborough Hockey Club.
Devizes Ladies Hockey Club
The ladies formed their own club in the 1930's, Doris Monkman was elected President, the club, Mollie Billinge recalls the players looking rather swish in their mauve gym slips and white ties to mathc! During the war years the club was disbanded but revived in 1948. In those years the club was indebted to stalwart members such as Sybil Kirby and Mary Hayward. In those early days selection usually meant that car owners were first down on the team sheet. Finances were low and the club relied on jumble sales to boost its finances.
Following the demise of the mens club in 1958 an alternative venue at Roundway Hospital was found. In those days the matches may well have been interrupted by patients being ferried across the pitch. The club played at Roundway until they returned to London Road for the 1973 season, sharing with Marlborough Hockey Club. The club played at London Road until 1979 and for the next few years they played their matches at the Police HQ and the Army Pitch at Horton Road, results didn't suffer in the 1980-81 season Devizes were crowned Wiltshire Club Champions for the first time. Continued success saw the club crowned as County Champions in 1994 and 1995. With the introduction of League Hockey in the 1988-89 season Devizes fluctuated between the top three divisions throughout the 90's.
The 1995-96 season proved a successful one for Devizes Ladies when the Second XI were crowned Wessex League Divison III winners. The Ladies were also winners of Wessex Divison I in 2000.
In 1997 the minutes of the AGM read:
"It is proposed that Devizes Womens Hockey Club changes its name to Devizes Hockey Club to allow male membership and the affiliation of a mens team. "
The Return of the Men
Mens Hockey returned in 1996 the idea initially sprang from the mixed hockey section and the impetus of founding member Phil Howell, comprising a number of Tennis club members (Kevin Basnett, Matt Heffer, Hans Monahan, Jonathan Slatter) and others such as Steve Wells, Simon Hues and Nick Paget. The Men started their first league season in October 1998 against Newent whom they beat 10-0 with hatricks form Toby Brown, Phil Howell and Kevin Basnett.
Important figures in those days were Toby Brown, Roger Edwards and Steve Wells. Followed by star striker Sam Gaiger who at one stage had bagged an impressive tally of 125 goals in just 65 games!!
In March 2003 the club managed to win the Wiltshire Cup after defeating Marlborough 2-1, a feat duplicated in April 2006 defeating North Wilts 12-0!
**We would like to thank Rick Kibby for allowing us to use extract from his book Devizes Allsports which is truly a definitive work on the history of sport in Devizes.**