Club History 2 of 4

2. Club History

In the early 1920’s the Mens Hockey Club, which was affiliated to the Yorkshire Hockey Association in 1923, joined Thirsk Athletic Club, formed in 1919 with Mr Ralph Bell being elected President, giving them a base to call home. A little later Sowerby Girl’s Hockey Club, who affiliated to Yorkshire Women’s Hockey Association in 1926, were invited to play on the ground and use the Clubs facilities.

From 1939 – 1945 the Army commandeered the Racecourse area completely and all sports ceased until 1946 when Thirsk Athletic Club re-opened with the addition of the renamed Thirsk Women’s Hockey Club.

Since these early times the Hockey club has grown in strength having played their games on an immaculate grass pitch (many positive comments coming from the opposition had been made about how good the grass pitches were kept). In 1986 the men’s and women’s sections combined and became Thirsk Hockey Club.

1993 bought major changes to the club when Thirsk Floodlit Astro pitch was laid in the grounds of Thirsk School, just off the entrance to the school in Gravel Hole Lane. Bringing a more competitive edge to the Hockey club, playing all games now at the astro pitch. Never forgetting where our roots lie returning back for refreshments at the Athletic club, which is only 1 mile away from the pitch.

For a small rural community, each weekend up until 2015, Thirsk Hockey Club put out 2 (occasionally 3) men’s teams, 2 ladies teams and numerous youth teams in County, District and Regional league competition fixtures and a men's vets team that play occasionally. Thirsk Hockey club is affiliated to North Yorkshire Hockey Association and England Hockey.

In October 2006 Thirsk Hockey club celebrated being only the second Hockey club within North Yorkshire to be accredited with Sport England’s Clubmark and England Hockey Club First Accreditation – a cross-sport quality accreditation for sports clubs with junior sections, which recognises a quality club that provides a ‘safe, effective and child friendly environment’. Then in February 2010 and March 2014, gaining re-accreditation in the scheme.

During the 2010/11 season the astro pitch was relaid and upgraded lighting installed following principal funds being obtained from EH and National Hockey Foundation. Additional money came from HDC and both Thirsk H C and Northallerton HC. While the work was carried out the club played all home games at Alanbrooke Barracks near Topcliffe. At the end of February 2012 the work was completed and the season end saw games played on the new surface. The official opening of the refurbished pitch and lighting took place on 21st April 2012.

In 2015 the club was approached by Old Malton hockey club about a possible amalgamation. They had one senior men's team that was struggling to make all their fixtures and wished to join an active and forward looking local club. Following discussions and a proposal to the AGM, it was agreed that the clubs would merge and so the men's section was renamed Thirsk/old Malton H C while the ladies remain as Thirsk H C. For the start of season 2015/16 the men's first team will move to YHA division 2, the second team taking the first teams position at the end of the previous season in division 4 north and the third team move into division 5 north.

So in 2015 Thirsk H C were now fielding three ladies teams, three men's teams, a men's development team; and some 14 junior teams in the Yorkshire Youth Hockey League. In 2016 the club ran a Back2Hockey session which created a new impetuous resulting in increasing the ladies section to four teams. At the end of the 2017/18 season the ladies first team were promoted into the North, south East division two. The first time a Thirsk team had been promoted beyond the Yorkshire league. Two seasons on they are still there.

At the start of the 2018/19 season the players from Old Malton decided to move to Scarborough HC. This rather depleted the men's first team, which as a result was closed and the men’s section ran with only two teams. The club reverted to its original name of Thirsk HC. The junior section of the club continues to flourish with 18 teams taking part in the Yorkshire Youth League. The highlight of this last season being the under 14 girls qualifying for the national finals in Reading on 10th May. Not bad for a small rural club to have a team in the top eight in the country.