The club was first formed by David Bewley in 1949 and was known as St Peters Y.P.F. (Young Peoples Fellowship) H.C. David was the first Captain and Secretary. John Tomlinson was a great help when the club started, he had been a P.T.I. In the Army, he was also a Scout Master and an official of Mansfield Harriers, so he knew how the club should be organised.
It was not until 1957 that St Peters changed its name to North Notts. David obtained the use of a council pitch on Berry Hill Recreation Ground and arranged a match for Saturday 3rd September 1949. A mixed R.A.F./W.A.F. team from R.A.F. Watnall, near Hucknall where David had just completed National Service. St Peters, fielding 7 men and 4 girls, lost 6-1. There were no goal nets and the ball could disappear down Berry Hill Road on occasions! The team had no equipment at all to start with (and no money) but got some publicity in the Nottingham Evening post and were given a number of sticks from ex players in Nottinghamshire.
Early days for St. Peters Y.P.F. Hockey Club
At first a compo ball was used because a leather one was too expensive. The team played in white with a small embroidered violet as a badge, pinned onto shirts. When it became a male only club and each player bought a blue shirt because of the ‘White only’ away rule. The blue shirts had a badge embroidered by Betty Brown, with the gold crossed keys of St Peter and the red sword of St Paul, since Mansfield Parish Church is dedicated to St Peter and St Paul.
Several other Church Y.P.F.’s took up Hockey with mixed teams. The best team (St Peters deadly rivals), were St Lawrence, but St Marks, St Barnabas (Pleasly Hill) St Edmounds Mansfield Woodhouse and Shirebrook Holy Trinity also had teams.
The Club only played for a short time at Berry Hill and then Forest Road before moving to a Council pitch on the Racecourse. They only played as a mixed team for the first season and in December 1950 – the end of the fist year – the playing record was Played 25, Won 14, Drawn 1, Lost 10: Goals For 85, Goals Against 63. Getting equipment was a difficulty, as the racecourse had no Hockey pitch as such.
The club members had to mark the ground out themselves on Saturday mornings. David was able to get goal posts and nets from Retford H.C. which had just closed down, but in 1950 none of the team had transport. David went over to Retford and the bus conductor let him bring back the posts and nets down the centre aisle of the single decker East Midland Service Bus! Getting fixtures was difficult because so many Clubs had long standing fixture arrangements. The Works Teams – Players, Boots and Ericssons (now Plessey) were most helpful and provided 3rd Team Fixtures. The Club became affiliated to Notts County H.A. and as David worked in Nottingham he attended the monthly meetings at ‘The Black Boy’ and this made getting fixtures easier.
Norman Greasley of Players H.C. was a help to the Club at this time. Colin Reddish joined the Club in the latter part of 1951 and as he was left handed his reverse stick centres from the left wing soon caught opposing defences wrong footed. Brian Valentine started the same month (September); a good Cricketer and a good eye for the ball, he could play equally well in attack or defence.
St. Peters Y.P.F. striding out to the pitch
September saw the debut of Murray Hodd, his father was now vicar of St Peters. Murray learnt his Hockey at St Peters School, York. He was a very skilful centre inside forward. He had the ability to pick the ball up deep in his own half and just drift past the opposition as if they weren’t there. He was a pass-master at drawing the keeper and flicking the ball into the goal on his reverse stick. Brian Bewley, David’s brother and Ken Marsh joined the team in October 1951. They’d both had two seasons playing in the R.A.F. so, with the exception of Murray, they’d had about as much playing experience as the rest of the team. Also in October 1951 Fred Chapman – a good centre half, left to join the R.A.F. and Barry Devney who played in the first game, left Mansfield to become a reporter in Sheffield.
The playing record for season 1951/52 was played 28, won 23, drawn 1, lost 4, goals for 153, against 36. We entered the County Tournament for the first time in September 1953 and the record was won 1, drawn 1, lost 1. Lowdham were beaten 2-0. There was a credible 0-0 draw with West Bridgford and a defeat by Ministry of Works 1-0. In April 1953 Nick Burgess, on holiday from Culford School Suffolk, played in the County Junior side which beat Derbyshire 3-0. Nick started playing for us a year later. We played Nottingham Hockey Club for the first time on 14th November 1953, it was at Goosedale against their 3rd X1 and we won 3-2. Results for season 1953 / 54 were played 34, won 23, drawn 5, lost 6, goals for 122, goals against 41. Stuart Robertson scored 37 and Dave Bean netted 24. In the County Tournament of September 1954 we drew 1-1 with John Players, Lost 2-1 to South Nottingham and beat Mundella O. B’s 1-0.
Ron Nunn, a good defender and Arthur Haywood, who could play equally well in defence or attack, joined the club at the beginning of the ’54/’55 season. In October 1954 Murray Hodd had a County trial and on the 11th of September 1954, he scored 8 goals 1n a 10-0 win for the club v Ericssons 3rd. Also in October 1954 Stuart Robertson, Dave Bean and Colin Reddish all left the club to go to Teachers Training College.
It’s hard to convey to younger members of the Club what playing conditions were like then, and indeed what life generally was like in the early fifties. Television hadn’t the grip it has now and looking through the local paper of that time there were at least six local cinemas to visit, some changing their programmes twice a week. Buying a new vehicle wasn’t just a question of money, not that we had any, but in 1950 there was a two-year waiting list for a 350cc motor bike! You could buy a new semi detached house for under £1,500. We had little or no transport of our own in the early fifties, and if we played at Boots or Raleigh or Players ground it involved a bus to town, either train or bus to Nottingham and another bus to the ground.
Notice the Hockey sticks in the photographs and you’ll see that most have a long head. It was much more difficult to play reverse stick hits and stops than with modern sticks. Footwear left a lot to be desired, because canvas Hockey boots weren’t really up to the very heavy and often muddy grounds of mid winter and the soccer boots, once wet, had to be ‘Dubbined’ regularly or they’d get hard and uncomfortable. It was always a pleasure to visit Players Athletic because not only did they have the best playing surfaces, but also provided substantial refreshments, served by waitresses in uniform and white linen table cloths, with liberal supplies of cigarettes on the tables.
South Nottingham would take us to the Flying Horse for High Tea. It was a different story at Lowdham Grange Borstal Institution, where the inmates were only to happy to tell you what they were ‘In for’. The tea always looked and tasted vile and was invariably luke warm. If you couldn’t manage the refreshments they were quickly snaffled by the inmates. There were no showers, just two long rows of baths. The snag was there was never a bath plug to be found anywhere and you couldn’t even take your own, they were twice normal size – so we just had to bung’em up with loo paper.
Here are the first few match reports of the Club as published in the local paper.
ST PETER’S Y.P.F. BEATEN AT HOCKEY
Saturday 3rd December 1949
St. Peters Y.P.F. Team - 1949
Mansfield St Peter’s Young people’s Fellowship hockey team playing their first game of the season were beaten 5-1 by an R.A.F. team from Watnall Aerodrome. St Peter’s were soon in trouble against their older and more experienced opponents, and at the interval were 5-1 down. After the interval centre forward Flint changed places with right back Robinson and this bought about a remarkable improvement. Robertson seizing on a short through pass from Devney, scored a fine opportunist goal. David Bean played well in goal for St Peter’s and Sylvia Flint had a good game both in attack and defence.
ST PETER’S Y.P.F. DRAW AT HOCKEY
Saturday 21st January 1950
St Peter’s Youth Fellowship entertained R.A.F. Watnall in a return Hockey game on Saturday and Shared 6 goals. Watnall won the first game 6-1. Saturday’s game was on the Forest Road Recreation ground in Mansfield and Watnall gained an early lead as a result of a defensive error. Bewley notched a equaliser, Robertson gave St Peter’s the lead with a fine drive, but the home defence failed twice more and Watnall led 3-2. Devney equalised from close in. The second session was a dour even struggle with Watnall proving the cleverer side and St Peter’s defence hanging on grimly. St Peter’s defence was once again unsteady but the halfbacks worked well together with Dexter outstanding at centre-half. The forwards tended to hold back to much during the second half and as a consequence lost several chances. ST PETER’S Y.P.F. HOCKEY DEFEAT Saturday 18th February 1950 Mansfield St Peter’s Y.P.F. Hockey X1 visited Lowdham Grange on Saturday and were beaten 7-1. Lowdham showed themselves to be faster on the ball and despite the much improved play of the St Peter’s defence Lowdham led 4-0 at the interval. During the second half Lowdham maintained almost continuous pressure and only excellent goalkeeping by Bean kept the score down. Towards the end St Peter’s pressed and Devney scored from close in.
St Peter’s Y.P.F. Team: Bean, Robertson, Caunt, P Wainman, J Burton, B Brown, Dexter, Devney, S Flint, Bewley, Tomlinson
ST PETER’S HOCKEY WIN
Saturday 11th March 1950
St. Peters Y.P.F. Team - 1950
St Peter’s Y.P.F. won 5-1 after being a goal down when they met St Mark’s Y.P.F. on Saturday . St Peter’s pressed hard during the first half but lacked finishing power, neither side had scored at the interval. Shortly after the restart Hardy gave St Marks the lead. This goal acted as a spur to the St Peter’s forwards who in the next 15 minutes scored 5 times. Devney found the net 3 times and Bewley and Tomlinson netted the others. Although they had played 2 practice games this was St Mark’s first actual game. They held their own well in the first half but experience told in the second. St Marks faced St Peter’s all out attack in the second half in a grand sporting spirit.
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