In September 1901, three young Lisburn men met in the local Temperance Institute and talked about starting a Club. They canvassed support and it was decided to form Lisnagarvey. The three founder-members were RC Bannister, who became Captain, EL Wilson, the Honorary Treasurer and WS Duncan, the Honorary Secretary. The annual subscription for playing members was five shillings, and the original colours were light and dark blue. Thus began the history of one of the most illustrious hockey Clubs in these islands.
'Garvey, as they are known universally, began with friendly matches, and the first competitive games took place in the 1903-04 Season. The next year the club won its first trophy, the Mulholland Shield. During this period 'Garvey played at different venues, and eventually found premises off the Antrim Road .Members themselves built a pavilion, complete with toilet facilities. From 1905-10, Lisnagarvey played Junior hockey, reaching the Final of the Irish Junior Cup, but losing the replay 5-0 to Monkstown. They also won the Junior League and the Braddell Shield. Their steady progress was confirmed by admission to the Senior League, and in 1908 Fred Hull won an International Cap - the first by a 'Garvey player; During the First World War 43 club members served with the armed forces, of whom four were killed and four wounded. Four others received the Military Cross for bravery.
After the War, the membership increased to over 100 by 1922, and in the Season 1924-25 Lisnagarvey won the Irish Senior Cup for the first time, beating Limerick PMYA. The captain JL Alderdice gave each member of the team a suitably engraved miniature cup. In 1926-27 'Garvey again won the Irish Senior Cup, under the captaincy of RTS Bailey. This was the era of the famous Gregor McGregor, an international player who was described as "the most dangerous forward in Ireland".
A lean spell followed, but this was offset by the introduction of fifteen-year-old Jack Bowden who began a most distinguished International and Club career, and his partnership with 'Garvey's Brian Raphael was outstanding. During the Second World War competitive hockey was suspended, not least because Clubs found travelling difficult, due to petrol rationing. The post-war period heralded a new era of success for Lisnagarvey, during which the Irish Junior Cup came to Lisnagarvey for the first time -incidentally 'Garvey has won this trophy 16 times, more times than any other club, since their first win in the Season 1954-55.
The Fifties was a significant period in 'Garvey's history. The Club moved to its famous Blaris pitches, under the shadow of the huge BBC transmitter, and the club won 9 out of 14 trophies in 1957-58. In the decade 1950-60 'Garvey won 43 Trophies. There was also great individual success, with Steven Johnson playing with the British Squad at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, but there was also personal tragedy, with the death of club stalwart Jimmy Corken in a drowning accident at San Remo in Italy. The Corken Cup was instituted in his memory in 1958. It is awarded to the Ulster team which reaches the furthest stage of the Irish Senior Cup. In the first three years it was won by Lisnagarvey who have held it 23 times to date.
The decades from the early Sixties to the mid-Eighties witnessed most commendable achievements by the Club both on and off the field. During the 1961-62 Season 'Garvey recorded their third 'Double' by winning the Irish Senior and Junior Cups. The next Season Brown Shaw and Wally Mercer won their first Irish Caps, to maintain a long tradition of international success by Club players, 40 of whom have been capped so far. Indeed Wally Mercer had the distinction of leading Ireland to success in the Home International Championships of 1968, the first time they won the series since 1949.
Meanwhile Michael Bowden, a mercurial winger maintained the close family link with 'Garvey, and - not surprisingly - gained International honours. Off the field, the 'Garvey back-room helpers worked ceaselessly to establish for the Club an enviable social and financial base. They included people such as John Kennedy, the first Chairman (who became President of the Ulster Branch in 1986-87), David McClements, Jim Lappin, Billy Lowry, Ronnie Jess, Bobby Richardson, Jim Clarke, Howard 'Howdy' Clarke, Jim Reid, John Waring, and many others. Bobby Howard was the first 'Garvey man to become Ulster Branch President in 1977-78, an honour richly deserved. Bobby went on to become President of the Irish Hockey Union, in 1989-90, and he had the unique honour of presenting both the Irish Cups - Senior and Junior - to his 'Garvey colleagues during his term of office.
One of the hall-marks of 'Garvey has been the length of service undertaken by Club officials and supporters. For example Bobby Totten captained the Third XI from 1948-57, and was a committe member until 1965. Ken Hood, who wrote the Lisnagarvey history was Honorary Secretary from 1949-65, which was another record. The lack of space prevents a mention of all who helped, but clearly the success of 'Garvey on the field has been underpinned by first-class financial guidance, and a good social network - for example, the establishment of a Lisnagarvey Social Club (the brainchild of Bobby Richardson) not only gave 'Garvey a reputation for good hospitality, but also helped the finances as well.
The Club made various structural changes to their premises at Blaris, but in the mid-Eighties they took a quantum leap by establishing a new artificial pitch complex at a completely new venue nearby, and set the direction for others to follow. This significant move was made possible by the sale of the 'old' Blaris grounds to a private developer; Marks & Spencer.
The transfer to the new premises and the building of a splendid pavilion led the way for a remarkable resurgence of Lisnagarvey's success on the field. Under the guidance of Coach Terry Gregg and others, a formidable squad virtually dominated Irish hockey for several years, and achieved the unequalled (and probably unsurpassable) record of winning the Irish Senior Cup seven years in succession. When 'Garvey approached Terry Gregg in 1987 to take the position of Coach, the Club had not won the Irish Senior Cup for 17 years, despite reaching two Finals and two Semi-Finals. The next years witnessed a glorious chapter of success overall which few if any other Irish clubs will emulate. As well as seven consecutive Senior Cup victories, 'Garvey won four consecutive Senior League titles, seven Corken Cups, two European B Division trophies, sixth place in the A Division of the European Cup in Frankfurt, plus one Anderson Cup, one Kirk Cup, two All-Ireland League titles, and two All-Ireland Flood-lit Cups. As well, the Second XI won two Irish Junior Cups, two McCabe Cups, and four Junior League I titles.
The resultant boost to the Club's national reputation has been enormous, and such continued success has inspired many younger players to try to emulate their elders - with a resultant range and depth to Garvey's youth sides which augurs well for the future. Arguably the outstanding 'Garvey player and role-model for the young has been Jimmy Kirkwood, Olympic Gold Medallist, and a modest and brilliant player and tactician. Despite the Club's remarkable record 'Garvey players and officials have carried their great success with a relative modesty and dignity that is itself impressive. On the field 'Garvey are formidable opponents but off the field Blaris is a by-word for friendliness and hospitality. The spirit of the Lisnagarvey Club was well-summarised by Captain Robbie Taylor in his speech after the memorable 1996 Final of the Irish Senior Cup which was won by Avoca. He quoted part of the 1909 Annual Report of the then Honorary Secretary RC Bannister; a founder-member; and said: "We hope to have a better Season than last, but whether good or bad, it is to be hoped that fair play and good sportsmanship may ever characterise the Lisnagarvey Hockey Club." This most distinguished Club continues to be a winner; and in more ways than one.
|Irish Senior Cup wins||1925, 1927, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2003, 2005|
|Irish Junior Cup wins||1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1987, 1990, 2003, 2011|