Brooklands Manchester University Hockey Club in leafy Cheshire at Sale on the outskirts of Manchester is just one section of a multi-sports club involving also cricket, lacrosse, tennis, bowls and squash.
We merged with Manchester University in 2002 in a partnership that boosted membership to enable us to maintain eight men¹s teams as well as add more quality at the top level.
In 2009 we also improved our women¹s hockey strength by taking in the nomadic Poynton Ladies to make us one of the few clubs boasting both men and women competing at national Premier League level.
Lacrosse arrived when Old Hulmeians, another homeless club, joined us to take advantage of spare grass pitches when hockey became a game played on all-weather surfaces.
But perhaps the most significant move of recent years came in 2000 when we reached agreement with a health and fitness club originally Trainstation but now LA Fitness replacing our historic but nevertheless decrepit pavilion with a purpose built club accommodating our dressing rooms but with a state of the art gym and swimming pool on site along with shared social rooms, bar and food facilities.
Some say that at night we look like a floodlit airport terminal but for those members who had to rush to put buckets in place to catch the leaks whenever it rained heavily, the deal has been a blessing, especially as the fitness club as tenants on our green field venue pay a substantial annual rent.
Outside we have a re-laid all-weather sand-dressed pitch used by the local Sale Grammar School boys and girls during the day and hired out for five-a-side football at night when not needed for hockey matches and training.
The sophisticated nature of the club is a far cry from our humble beginnings. Brooklands originated in 1883 as a cricket club on ground rented for £20 a year and later bequeathed - by the wealthy land-owing local Brooks family whose name lives on in many aspects of life in Brooklands.
John Brooks became the first club President and his uncle, Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, succeeded him in 1886.
Seven cricket visionaries brought the club into being at a meeting in a house on West Grove off Marsland Road. Money was obviously tight but the minutes show that the founders were ambitious with tenders soon being considered for the laying out of the ground, including tennis courts, and the erection of a pavilion.
They launched a Special Fund to pay for the developments estimated at £100 but though the secretary reported the following month that he had received promises amounting only to £14, the committee pressed on and as the opening of the ground got nearer they put in an order for: ³Two sets of wickets, six balls, three practice bats, two pairs of pads, lone pair of wicket keeping gloves, one marking frame, one brush, one measuring chain, one Eclipse tennis marker and four tennis nets.² They also decided to paint the pavilion chocolate and stone!
George Fraser was engaged as Groundsman at a guinea a week, lockers were let at 2s 6d per annum and they ordered two barrels of Bass and Co¹s Bitter Ale along with five dozen each of Cuff¹s lemonade and ginger ale.
Cash was still short and they were faced with a ŒGarnishee Summons¹ for unpaid ground rent of £4.19.5, though the outstanding amount was paid into Altrincham County Court later the same month.
They also felt able to turn down an approach from Sale Lacrosse Club to hire the ground during the winter because of further work laying the cricket ground.
In 1884 a special general meeting was held to raise £150 by issuing 10-shilling coupons at five per cent interest with redemption by ballot ³whenever the income of the club shall show a surplus over expenditure.² Any still outstanding we wonder?
But the club was growing and at the second annual general meeting in January, 1885, the attendance had doubled from the initial meeting to 26 members present.
There was an attempt to introduce a football section that year but the venture failed.
In 1888 Sale Hockey Club applied to use the cricket ground for hockey, a request that was turned down but it does seem to have spurred Brooklands into action because in 1889 the committee, meeting in the Brooklands Hotel,
decided: ³It was proposed by Mr H J Marsland, seconded by Mr Lees, and carried that a portion of the ground be used for hockey; and that a hockey club be formed, consisting only of members of the Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club; and that in order to meet the slight expense, such as goal posts, a nominal subscription of five shillings be required from each member joining.² The introduction of hockey obviously caused problems because the minutes at the turn of the century are full of reminders concerning their financial commitments and other responsibilities such as: ³It was decided to call the attention of the Hockey Club to the fact that according to the existing agreement the ground after hockey games must be inspected and all turf replaced.² We don¹t have a grass problem anymore but some things don¹t change, such as the minutes a hundred years ago recording every week: ³The elevens for the following Saturday were selected.² And so they have continued to be through the years, except during two world wars and for over a century hockey has flourished at Georges Road.
Only three years after being formed, J A Rooke¹s team were admitted to the Cheshire County Hockey Association and indeed Rooke became a Cheshire captain with the first County match played at Brooklands in 1906 against Lincolnshire.
Three players won England caps in this period. The building of a new pavilion led to an England international being staged on the ground in 1924 against Scotland with similar fixtures staged again in the thirties.
This was an era that featured Joe Allured, an outstanding player who enjoyed great success at cricket as well as hockey with Brooklands. Known as ŒVinegar Joe¹ because of his reaction when slip fielders dropped catches off his bowling, he was captain of hockey for eight Years, won 67 Cheshire caps, became their captain and later President of Cheshire.
The fifties were notable for another great player, Ian Taylor, who won 114 county caps for Lancashire and four caps for Great Britain. Ian also became an England selector and for two years from 1974 he was chairman of the GB international selection committee.
The club¹s most recent international star has been Martyn Grimley who won Silver with England at the 1986 World Cup and then a Gold medal with Great Britain at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Brooklands won promotion from the Northern Premier League to the Second Division of the National League after beating Taunton Vale 8-1 at the play-offs in 1992 with a team captained by Tim Clarkson.
Peter Nicholson coached the club into the Premier Division in 1998 but relegation followed the next season. Brooklands won promotion back into the Premier Division via the play-offs in 2009 led by John Bell, Director of Coaching and named that season as England Hockey¹s performance coach of the year.