MENS HISTORY & HONOURS
Neston has a proud history culminating in the HA Cup victory in 1983. In the last
20 years we have grown hugely and have an all round club with mens, ladies and
juniors all doing well at our newly developed hockey facility.
Neston Hockey at Parkgate was established in 1963, infact, on 29th September, initially as a social side. We know this because of the meticulous records kept by David Jellicoe, the man who Captained the first side and was instrumental in the formation of this hockey club.
As players joined from other clubs mainly Cheshire clubs the club had its first notable success in 1972 when the Cheshire Cup came to Parkgate for the first time. A North West League title followed in 1974 and things took off!
From 1977, Neston reached seven consecutive Cheshire Cup finals, winning six which is a record. Most under the Captaincy of ex Great Britain player Geoff Poole.
In 1979 they were the first Northern Club to reach the HA Cup Final (Equivalent of the FA Cup in Football), under Geoff Poole's captaincy, they lost gallantly 3-1 to Slough. In the late 70's Neston contained England players Robbie Smith and Mal Wilkinson, plus stalwarts like Colin Cubley, Pete Renshaw, Phil McKeown and Julian Manchett.
In 1983 Neston reached the Final of The HA Cup again and achieved revenge on Slough, winning 3-2. Captained by Colin Cubley, the side had a strong Welsh influence in Chris Ashcroft in goal and David Peters in defence. New names like Steve Greene, John Royce and “Stan” Stannard became the backbone of the side. Steve Greene scored twice and Tony Pickthall scored the other in the HA Cup Final.
The Story of the 1984 European side.
Neston thus qualified for The 1984 European Cup and were the only team to hold eventual winners Frankenthal from West Germany to a 1-1 draw. In the end Neston finished 8th.
In 1984 Neston also won the National Inter League Title, this was before National Leagues! We were regular winners of the North West League and so we held two National Titles.
1st Team Captains
In 1986, new Captain in Chris Ashcroft, brought in new blood. The three Crutchley brothers Sam, Andy and Bobby, now all North of England players and Richard Beswick, Richard Wesencraft and Richard Harvey, all established themselves in the team.
The Hockey Association announced plans for a National League in 1987/88, the first time for England to have a National League structure, previously the highest we could go was the North West League. The winners of the North West League would gain automatic qualification to the 1st Division the runners up would fight it out in a play-off for places in Division 2 and The Northern Premier League.
Neston managed to qualify for Division 2 of The National League after a bad start in The North West League they finished strongly to get into the play-offs and finish second to Welton.
In 1988/89 Neston introduced more newcomers in Justin Pidcock and David Cheshire. They had an international Coach in Hans Van't Sant, a Manager in Trevor Mathew-Jones and Fitness Coach in Ken Peers. That first season Neston came 8th, mid table, quarter finalists in the HA Cup and won The Cheshire Cup.
In 1989/90 Neston had 7 Saturday Teams and Neston Recreation Centre had an Astro-turf pitch built. All this helped to gain promotion to the 1st Division of The National League, by being runners up to St Albans, in Division 2. We beat them in the Division 2 League Cup Final though.
The 1990/91 season, our first in Division 1, attracted good Players, Martyn Grimley came in fresh with his Olympic Gold Medal from 1988, Seoul. Internationals David Cutter and Danny Fox also came in and we had 1500 at Neston Rec to watch the first ever National League game at that venue, against East Grinstead, we finished in the lower end of the table.
The 1991/92 year was a difficult year with some of the International names leaving we finished 11th. Relegation to Division 2 in 1992/3 and some more player losses, but we remained in Division 2 for a couple more seasons.
The 1994/95 season saw Neston relegated to the Northern Premier League, due to more player loss and training facilities being only at The Recreation Centre. We couldn't put in the sessions or attract quality players needed to maintain a place in The National League.
We stayed in The Northern Premier League for five seasons after this and the closest we came to going back up was the 1997/98 season, we missed the playoffs by one point. We were 2nd in The Northern Premier League, that season.
Neston Hockey Club was down to three mens teams and one ladies team, senior members from South Wirral Hockey Club joined us for the 2001/02 season forming Neston South Wirral Hockey Club. This helped both Clubs as both were losing players and crucially South Wirral HC had players of good calibre and of the age group we were lacking. Both Clubs had a number of players who had played for both clubs, so it worked well. Greg Brooker remembers the first competitive game as a joint force, against Formby 2's, unfortunately we came second!
Tony Lydiate got the junior section running again in 2004 at Neston Rec every sunday morning, with help from Richard Lowry Snr, Richard Beswick and Tony Bush. David Tweedie built the Beavers side up again, giving up his own saturday game to do so.
We maintained ourselves in The Division 1 of The North West League over the seasons 2002-2009 under the guidance of Lawrence McNeight and then moved back into The North League in 2010, a year after the new astro had been completed! During that time we had Silverware return in the form of The Cheshire Plate in season 2005/06. We were runners up in season 2007 and made the semi-final of the HA Vase, both going to a golden goal situation, sadly not for us. The 2nd team won their division and are now within two divisions of the 1st Team, which shows our strength in depth and we now run 7 mens teams and 3 Ladies teams.
The biggest development in recent times has been our Astro-turf pitch, which Tim Brooker got going in 2009, with a lot of help from Norman Sutton and their team along with a huge fund raising process which was helped by a Lottery grant.
The Junior Section has grown hugely and a massive 170 children are coached each week and the Wirral school links have been re-established.
Success at EH Competitions have come with our U16 Boys twice getting to the National Finals, most recently in March 2016.
Neston Hockey in 2017-18 has so much potential for the future. Present Club Captains Justin Cowley, Emma Fearnley, Chairman Colin Leeman, Club Coaches Anthony Metcalf, Sam Ransley and 1st Team Captains Matty Newall and Hannah Newall hope for good things in the near future.
The present Mens 1st Team are in The North Division 1, for 2017/18 season, and pushing to get back to North Prem after finishing at their highest position in 17 years!.
Quarter-finalists: 1978, 1987, 1989
National Inter-League Champion
National League Division 1
National League Division 2
National Div 2 League Cup
Winners: 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992
Runners-up: 1979, 1993
Winners: 2006, 2013
Runners-up: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007
Winners: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 2007
Runners-up: 1980, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2005