Altona Hockey Club 1932 – 2012
Memories of the foundation of AHC: kindly provided by Joan & Bill Smith.
In the late winter/early spring of 1932, one particularly wet day, the tennis teams affiliated with the Altona Baptist Church were unable to play their usual games of tennis. Some of them fashioned crude hockey sticks out of pieces of tree and started playing a game resembling hockey. From this day it was decided to form a hockey team, namely the Altona Baptist Hockey Club to enter the Hockey Association in 1933.
Some of the earliest players included Larry Fleming, brothers Bert & Wally Roberts, the Wren brothers, A Davies, Doug Swain and John K Grant (as goalie). John was much later to become the Club Patron and the reserve that the hockey club is sited on, was named the J.K.Grant Reserve in his honour. Other players affiliated with the Church joined the club. These included Eric Scherman, Cyril Turner, Les Spackman and Chris Fleming. Each player was required to attend Church at least once a month or they would not be selected!
At the commencement of the war in 1939 several players enlisted and for some time the club was unable to field a team.
The rejuvenation of the club began when players such as Eric Barnes and Alex Spears worked to get a team together until the war was over. Some of the players included Doug and Noel Grant, nephews of John Grant, John Fleming and young boys Bill Smith and Ray Symons.
All this time players still had to attend church monthly, up until approximately the late 40’s early 50’s when the name was changed to “The Altona Hockey Club”.
Over the years players John.K.Grant, Ron Ford & Roy Turner played for Victoria and in approx 1949, three players, Bill Smith, Jim Studley and Bob Handley (as goal keeper) were selected for the under 21 Victorian side – The Colts.
There were no underage teams at this stage but there was an under 21 Colts competition and the players travelled to Sydney to compete. It was about this time that the club won the A2 Division and moved to A1 and came back to A2 to go up again.
However the A’s were back in lower grade and remained there until approx 1969 when Bill Smith coached a young team to a premiership, again only to be relegated. In the early 70’s Max Blakiston coached the team to a premiership and we have been a force in the top division ever since.
In the late 40’s a team of Altona women started playing and over the years players such as Vie Smith, Carol Ralph, Beryl McCauley and Carmel Brennan have played their part in umpiring roles and as leaders in the club. The women along with their male counterparts have been instrumental in helping to get the Women’s Section to the position it now enjoys.
Over the years the club has played on a variety of grounds. After the war hockey was played:
1: Near the Williamstown Racecourse with the nets being stored in the stables.
2: The Pines ground. The train, an hourly service, would make a stop at the ground and the opposition players would hop down from the train, play the game and then stop the train, hop on and go home.
3: There was a storage shed which was later moved to the next ground which was all of the land where the Altona Youth Club now stands and that beside it.
The club was growing and we had about five grounds.
4: In the 1970’s a small clubroom was built on the current site, this was later extended to its current size.
Underage teams had commenced and we had teams in under 12, under 14 and under 16. These were boy’s teams and soon girls underage would commence.
Ron Ford with the help of the Committee started the “Ford Cup”, where teams aged Under 16 from all the main clubs competed against each other in a Round Robin competition on the Queen’s Birthday weekend. This was a major event on the junior calendar and selectors would pick the State Team from these players. Eventually our club was so good at organizing this Carnival that the junior section of the Victorian Hockey Association took it from us and eventually the event folded.
The club is now in over 80 years old and is proud to be recognized as one of the top clubs in the Victorian Association. Recognition stems particularly for the Premierships we have won, the State, Regional and Australian players we have produced, as well as our contribution over the years to Victorian Hockey with coaching and administrative staff.
We are also very proud at club level of all the people who have stood up to be counted in Committee roles, all the umpires who have blown the whistle in Junior and Senior ranks, all those people who staff the canteen, act as Managers of teams and of course the Coaches.