The History of Wests Hockey Club, Townsville
Two men’s teams, Meteors and Trojans, with nine players in each team, played the first game of hockey in Townsville at Victoria Park, South Townsville, in the winter of 1928.
The first official competition was conducted at Queen’s Park, North Ward, between Falcons, Trojans, and Eagles.
Boomerangs Hockey Club was formed in 1950, by Tom Bray and Jim Kydd.
The club colours were Maroon and Gold and the club emblem was a boomerang.
Tom Bray was a member of the highly successful Falcons A1 Men’s team that won premierships from 1931-1934 and were runners up in 1935.
Jim Kydd, who was known as ‘Mr. Hockey’, represented Townsville as a player, and was President of T.H.A. from 1952 until 1960, and was subsequently awarded Life Membership of the Association.
The Boomerangs teams in that inaugural year (1950) consisted of:
- A1 Men: J. Kydd, A. Hooper, C. Ruggero, Jones, Willett, Woods, Humphries (Humphreys), K. Hooper, Herbertson, Lovelady, Dulston.
- A2 Men: A. McLeay (McLean), J. Napier, E. Timmins, D. Hooper, Bray, Hammett, McKay, Beasley, Loxton, Walton, Dowd, Barrett.
The first day’s play in the THA 1950 season saw the new Boomerangs team defeat Regents, the 1949 premiers.
The two Boomerangs teams finished the season as runner-up in their respective grades.
The Boomerangs I team went on to be minor premiers and premiers in the 1951 season.
The Boomerangs Club welcomed the ladies as members in 1952.
The A1 team members included:
- S. Dickson
- H. Dennis
- E. Gunder
- P. Shields
- P. Mayes
- C. Young
- O. Goodall
- B. Ogston
- P. Ogston
- V. Goodall
The A1 Ladies went on to win their first premiership in 1954.
The team included:
- I. Grubb
- S. Fitzpatrick
- D. Wilson
- B. Geaney
- H. Dennis
- F. Burns
- P. Shields
- I. Hills
- M. Hayes
- E. Gunder (capt)
- P. Mayes
- C. Young
Boomerangs entered a junior men’s team in the competition in 1952.
Boomerangs won the A1 premiership double (both ladies and men), Under 18 men, and Under 14 boys in 1954.
The 1960’s and 1970’s
In 1960 the Boomerangs Club changed its name to Wests Boomerangs, then to Wests in 1961. The club retained their maroon and gold colours, and retained the boomerang as their emblem. The hawk was introduced as the club emblem in 1978.
During the 1960’s, Wests had a very young A1 men’s team, who regularly finished 4th in the competition. In about 1967, Bill Seib (as coach) and Ken McElligott (as a player) made the rather brave decision to leave Parks Hockey Club, and transfer to Wests to strengthen the team and to even up the competition. When Bill moved away with his employment, Ken took over coaching the team.
Wests won their only A1 men’s premiership of the 60’s and 70’s, in 1972, under the coaching of Ken, and the captaincy of Dick Cummins. Meanwhile the ladies were winning a steady succession of A1 premierships, in 1960, 1962, 1963-64, 1967-69, and 1972.
THA was keen to improve the playing facilities at Cutheringa Park but the Council of the day refused permission. A later Council resolved to develop the Murray Sporting Complex on Ross River Plains, and offered leases to sporting bodies, with preference given to shared leases, guaranteeing year round usage of facilities. Hockey and cricket fitted this criteria and with Ken McElligott being the president of both cricket and hockey, the agreement was quickly achieved. So in 1974 senior hockey moved from Cutheringa Park to Endeavour Park, at the new Murray Sporting Complex. The juniors moved to Endeavour Park in 1975.
Wests A1 ladies won premierships at Endeavour Park in 1974, 1976 and in 1977.
With the introduction of synthetic turf hockey fields, THA built a sand filled surface in 1988, across the road from Endeavour Park, at the new Townsville Hockey Centre. This field was later replaced by an international standard wet surface, and in the mid 2000’s, a second wet surface was built.
The Wests’ training fields were in Cypress Drive, Annandale, from 1982-1992, but with no formal endorsement of the lease, the club was forced to find a new home when the lease was terminated.
The 1980’s saw a very lean period of ‘A’ grade premiership wins, with only the men winning a premiership, in 1985, on the Endeavour Park grass.
Concern was expressed at the duplication of colours across the four competing clubs – maroon/gold (Parks and Wests) and blue/white (Brothers and Commercials). In 1992, Wests added a third colour (pale blue) to the maroon and gold, to differentiate the uniform from that of Parks.
In 1994 the club completely changed their colours to Gold (predominant colour) and Emerald Green.
The club relocated its training ground to the Murray Sporting Complex in 1994, where it developed a spare lease.
The 1990’s was another successful decade for Wests as far as winning A1 premierships was concerned. The ladies won in 1992, 1995, 1997, and 1998. The men won four straight premierships from 1992-1995, and then five consecutive premierships from 1997-2001.
The 2000’s and 2010’s
Wests has continued to thrive both on-field and off-field.
The ‘A’ grade ladies have won premierships in 2003, 2005-06, 2008-09, and 2011-14.
Along with the wins in 2000-01, the ‘A’ grade men have won premierships in 2010, and 2013-2016.
In 2003, Wests changed their training field to allow Townsville City Council to develop a car park. The money raised from Council aided T.H.A in their funding for the second wet surface.
The club has built a clubhouse, on site, at the Townsville Hockey Centre, and most club functions are held at this venue. The clubhouse is affectionately known as the Hawk’s Nest.
The club has won the T.H.A. Grand Premiership on nine occasions; firstly 2001 and then five consecutive from 2006-10, and in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
In 2015, Wests senior men’s teams competed in all five Grand Finals (D1-D4, Masters) and won D1, D2, D3 and D4.
In 2016, the club competed in 15 of the 17 Grand Finals contested, across all senior and junior grades from U11 Girls through to Masters Men.q