Our Heritage

Our Heritage


Matlock Baileans Hockey Club – still Jolly Hockey Sticks after 70 years

The history and stories of how the Club has developed are revealed through the very people who have been involved in the Club both past and present.

Our Club, Our Heritage

Matlock Baileans Hockey Club, founded in 1946, is one of the oldest ladies hockey clubs in Derbyshire.  Started by a group of former Ernest Bailey Grammar school pupils, the Club began with only one team and they played on grass at Cromford Meadows.

Throughout the decades, the Club has grown from having one team to six at its peak.  Today, there are five ladies teams playing in leagues, three junior teams and a Veterans’ team, ‘The Old Crows’, who enjoy going on tour once a year.

Matlock Baileans pride themselves at being at the heart of the community and have always been a welcoming club to players of all abilities, attracting people from far and wide. The social scene is vibrant, players of all ages mixing, bringing together women and girls who have built long lasting friendships on and off the pitch.

Coming soon!

More photos as we continue to collect them from players, past and present

What’s in a name?

The Club has not always been called Matlock Baileans Hockey Club.  In fact the first ever team was called ‘Old Baileans’ after the former pupils from Ernest Bailey Grammar School.  Throughout the years, there have been a few name changes as the name ‘Old Baileans’ seemed to cause confusion with other clubs. They did not know where the Club came from!
Ernest Bailey closed in 1982 and since 1990 the name ‘Matlock’ has been used in the Club’s name.   

“Sport opens doors for so many things in life.”
Margaret Bowler, one of the founder members, now aged 94.

Making memories

Listen to players, past and present, as they talk about their memories and share stories of Matlock Baileans


Charting our hockey history

1940s:  In the beginning

Eight former Ernest Bailey Grammar School pupils set up ‘Old Baileans Hockey Club’ with the aim to ‘further friendships and social contacts made during school life.’  [From 1946 Old Baileans’ Association Standing Orders]. 


Founder members:  Margaret Bowler, Dorothy Owen, Anne Paulson, Kay Locke, Pam Locke, Mary Holmewood, Mary Cop, Gladys Kirkham.





photo of Margaret’s club fixture card





1960/70s:  Baileans 2nd team established in the 1970s

1980s:  the Club now has three teams. 

1990s:  hockey played at Cromford Meadows for the last time in 1992.  Home pitches included St Elphins, Buxton and Mackworth.

The junior section was established.

1999:  4th team established to encourage younger players.

2002: The ‘Old Crows’ come second in the National Women’s Veteran’s Finals in Milton Keynes.

2003:  the first team win the England Hockey Association’s National Trophy

2006: Diamond anniversary (60 years). 

2009:  the Club has six senior teams playing League hockey and the U18s are runners up in England Hockey’s Junior Club Plate Final

2016:  2nd team win the Derbyshire Cup and the Club’s 70th Anniversary


Nomadic Baileans:  our home pitches throughout Derbyshire

Our first home ground and the most picturesque was Cromford Meadows, where players shared the turf with sheep and the odd rugby ball flying past.  The Club’s origins started here in 1946 since Cromford was the place where Ernest Bailey pupils came to play their hockey before and during WW2.

The Club played at Cromford, enjoying the use of the Rugby Club’s ‘Clubhouse’, which brought all the teams together.  However, during the 1980s and 90s, grass pitches were becoming a thing of the past.  Frozen or muddy pitches meant that many games were cancelled.

During the early 1980s, ‘redgra’ became the new modern surface to play on.  ‘Redgra’ is a blend of fine stone and clay, making it an all weather surface.

The Club started to play at Matlock College’s pitch on Cavendish Fields at the top of Matlock.  Other notable pitches included a brief spell at Lea Green Centre and on the redgra at the former St Elphin’s School, Darley Dale.

During the 1990s, the Club travelled the length and breadth of the county for their home games.  The development of astro turf pitches meant that the Club needed these facilities as the first team was promoted to Midland leagues.  At that time, there were no astro turf pitches in the Derbyshire Dales area.  The club’s dedication to play meant that Buxton Community School in the north of the county and Mackworth College in Derby became ‘home’ pitches for the nomadic Baileans.


The ten years’ journey to Wirksworth

Talk of an astro pitch at Cromford began in 1991-2 and in early 1993, there was an agreement with the Rugby Club and the owners of the Meadows for the new playing surface to be sited here.

Sadly, this did not come to fruition and hard negotiation work, led by Jane Proctor, followed for the next few years.  Plans for an astro in Derbyshire Dales were mooted in various locations such as Highfields School, Matlock. In 1999, a proposal by Anthony Gell School, who were going for Specialist Sports College status, provided the perfect opportunity to develop new sports facilities including a full sized astro pitch. 

Fundraising events, letters of support and sponsorship all helped the Club to raise the £15,000 needed towards the pitch.   The final cost was £250,000 plus a further £40,000 for the lights and £5,000 for the goals and kit!


 The grand opening 9 Sept 2001‘God bless her and all who play on her!’ Jane Proctor.




Our glittering prize

One amazing achievement for the Club was to reach the England Hockey Association’s National Trophy Final in May 2003.  This is the equivalent of the FA Cup! Having beaten Sheffield in the semi final, Matlock faced Hampstead and Westminster in the final.  Scores of Matlock fans ventured to Suffolk to give the typical Baileans support to the 1st team.  Second half goals from 13 year old Ellie Watton (now Team GB) and Nicky Bowler (who had just turned 18) gave Matlock an historic victory.
Coach Jon Barry had shown the squad the Russell Crowe film, ‘Gladiator’, which fired them up and they produced a real fight against tough opponents.


National Trophy winners – scorers Nicky Bowler and Ellie Watton







Something to ‘crow’ about

In 2002, the ‘Old Crows’ (those over 35 years old) representing Derbyshire, took the Midlands Veterans title and flew onto the Women’s Veteran’s Finals in June.

The squad, now representing the Midlands, headed to the National Stadium in Milton Keynes. Up against tough opposition, the Crows played against Exmouth (with ex England players), Chelmsford, Dulwich and Sheffield Leaguers.  It went down to the wire.  In the last game, Sheffield had to lose ensuring second place for the Matlock team. Whilst having a well earned shower, and a little champagne, officials notified the Crows that Sheffield had lost securing Matlock’s place as the nation’s second best veteran team! 

 ‘The hockey hotline’ -  From newspapers to social media – where we shout about our successes

Matlock Baileans’ history can be charted through the volume of match reports submitted by each team to the Matlock Mercury, the local newspaper.  Often, there were tributes to players and characterisations by Norman Taylor became regular features in the Sports section of the paper.

Another regular feature was ‘Barry on the Bench’; detailed accounts from Jon Barry, who was the first team coach from 1998.

‘Animal Farm’:  Matlock Baileans have Crows and Monkeys in the Club

The Club has always had a vast age range of players. From 6 year olds to 60 year olds, hockey is enjoyed by all ages.

In the 1990s, Matlock Monkeys was formed to cater for young players starting on their hockey journey.  This section of the Club has enabled young people to learn how to play hockey from an early age, developing them into players for the future within the Club. Currently there are over 50 Monkeys and the teams include U10s, U12s and U14s.


 U12s in 2017 at Midlands tournament





Ellie-Watton-May-2017---team-GB-started-her-hockey-career-at-Matlock-MediumEllie Watton, Team GB, may 2017 inspiring the juniors]








For those over 35’s, the Club has a Veteran’s team, which is ever increasing in numbers!  It all started in 2002 with Deb Watton captaining the successful team at the National Veteran’s Finals and then instigating the ‘Crows’ as a touring veterans’ team.

In 2007, Bridget Gould took over the captaincy and the Crows have spread their wings far and wide throughout the UK and Ireland.  Over the past 12 years, tours have included Jersey, Dublin, Newcastle and this year to Beer in Devon.
The age ranges have crept up with players from 40 to 60 year olds.  The Club’s ethos of playing hockey combined with long lasting friendships is testament as these tours are a great way to play hockey with friends.

A booklet and a travelling exhibition have been produced with thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.







Anita Briddon – Her Outstanding Contribution

Anita joined the hockey club in her teens in the 1970s and played until her early 40s when she sadly lost her battle against cancer in 1999.

 She was one of the most naturally gifted hockey players with great skill and spirit. As a sports teacher in Matlock, she passed her love of hockey on to hundreds of children and spent time working with the club juniors when the junior section was formed in the 1990s.

 Not only was Anita a valued hockey club member, she had a wonderful sense of humour.

 Following Anita’s death her husband Nigel set up the ‘Anita Briddon Award for Outstanding Contribution’ and he or a member of his family comes and presents the recipient with the silver salver at each annual dinner. Anita’s legacy lives on.


    Anita-Briddon-2-LargeAnita: simply the best





Ann Bradley receiving the Anita Briddon AwardAnita-Briddon-Award








Our club, our heritage

We received £9,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Jolly Hockey Sticks – Celebrating Matlock Baileans’ 70 Year Hockey Heritage. 

It started in April 2016 and will focus on uncovering new information about the history of Matlock Baileans Hockey Club and ladies’ hockey in celebration of the Club’s 70th anniversary.

The project will enable the Club members to discover its origins and explore the history of how the game of hockey has changed throughout the 70 years and how it has, and continues to, contribute to the local community by providing a thriving recreational facility for women of all ages.

From playing on grass at Cromford Meadows in the early days to the fast paced astro turf pitch at Anthony Gell School, Wirksworth, the Club wishes to explore how the game has changed; who has played for the Club over the years and what hockey means to those that play or have played. 

There will be a ‘timeline’ history of the Club written up for an exhibition and stories captured in a booklet.  Younger club members will have the opportunity to interview and record past and present players, coaches, umpires and anyone associated with the Club to create an oral history archive.

Matlock Baileans started in 1946 by former pupils from Ernest Bailey’s Grammar School, Matlock.  Several keen ladies wanted to carry on playing hockey after leaving school, often scraping together a team and travelling to matches in taxis.  Throughout the years, the Club has grown, encouraging women of all ages and abilities, to play hockey.  Today, the Club has over 150 members fielding five senior teams each week and a thriving junior section with girls from the age of 7 years playing in junior competitions.

One of our founder members, Margaret Bowler, who at the grand old age of 93 delighted in talking about her days playing hockey at Ernest Bailey Grammar school during WW2.  She then went on with other girls to form our Club in 1946 as Old Baileans.

Margaret recalls playing hockey just after the war was very different to how we play today.  She remembers having to travel to matches in a taxi and there were no shinpads like we have today - she stuffed cotton wool padding down her socks to protect her shins! 

Our first ever hockey team in 1946 Margaret is second from the left on the front row

The group included Leila Pankhurst, Elise Charlton, Rebecca Wray, Ella Presley and Holly Maycock.

A young group of volunteers from the Club (Liz English included!) attended a training session on how to interview and record people.  This is in preparation for being let loose to interview players past and present as well as those people with close links to the hockey club.

They are now fully armed with techniques to ask questions and will be shortly interviewing members of the Club so that we can build up an oral history archive. 

The start of our kit collection

Old Baileans 1st team in 1979

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