It has been a wonderful journey for the Hockey Club who started in Sept 1959 with only 14 players playing Intermediate League Hockey and who in May 2005 represented Ireland in Zagreb in the European Club Championships as Irish Club Champions having completed a unique Irish Senior Cup and Club Championship double in May 2004. The second occasion on which they had completed this double.
As is well known Ralph Spearman was one of those who developed hockey at Inst in the late forties and was the inspiration behind the formation of the Instonians Hockey Club in 1959.No one could have foreseen the development of the Club as a major force in Ulster and Irish Hockey as is in evidence today.
From formation in 1959 Senior League status was achieved in the 1965-66 season when victory over Parkview gained Instonians promotion. Their first Senior League game was played away to Banbridge when a creditable 1 - 1 result was achieved and as a Senior Club we were now up and running.
The current Club Chairman Tommy Reid scored the goal which gained promotion against Parkview and also went into the record books as the scorer of Instonians first Senior League goal in that one all draw.
Instonians have maintained their Senior League status and are just about to enter their fortieth Senior season.
Haydn Taylor was an inspirational Captain in those early days of Senior Hockey and has in so many ways over so many years been a real Club stalwart being actively involved in all that goes on within the Club and helping specifically with Kenny Lee in the development of the youth coaching programme. The Club has a thriving youth section with over 100 boys been coached each Friday evening during autumn and winter.
The older boys U15 attend a special session on a Tuesday evening the main club training evening where they have the opportunity to see the skills of the Club 1stXI squad which contains current Irish International Patrick Brown (Ire Capt) and Mark Irwin and former Irish International and Club Captain Neil Cooke and many other former Irish U21 internationals all in action together. The Club is a real family with all players made to feel welcome as we field five teams each week using both Instonians and School members in the various teams.
Last year schoolboys Paul Gleghorne, Michael Watt and Patrick Browne were all used as valuable members of the 1stXI squad.
The success of the Club is well documented having in the past eleven years contested five Irish Senior Cup finals winning four times and during this period four Irish Club Championships have also been won. Success has also been achieved on the domestic front by the 1stXI and by the various junior teams which includes the 2ndXI success in the Irish Junior Cup.
The Club has also recognised through both the Irish Hockey Association and the Ulster Branch IHA with Brian Hanna (goalkeeper in those early years) being President of both IHA and UBIHA. The late Gordon McIlroy a former Club Captain was President UBIHA as was Kenny Lee. Kenny having just completed his year of service 2004-2005.
The Club is now about to enter another exciting period in its great history with the development of a water based pitch at Shawsbridge in a £500,000 joint venture with RBAI. This will mean a real home for Hockey at both School and Club level and will make the Shawsbridge complex one the best sporting venues in Ireland. This is a real challenge for the current club members as they seek to raise finance not only in relation to the establishment of the new playing facility but also for the ongoing running and maintenance costs. The Hockey Club would like to be able to make a minimum contribution of £ 25,000 towards the project and to this end are currently undertaking a fund raising exercise. All contributions with pitch squares being sold at £50 a square will be gratefully received and acknowledged.
The overall Instonians Club has been very generous in its support for the joint venture and has agreed a contribution of up to £200,000 for the project with RBAI providing the remainder of the funding in lieu of rent for a 25-year lease.
These are indeed exciting times as we look to establish the Club at Shawsbridge in the knowledge that this will help in cementing the Clubs future. We want to play our part and contribute to the ongoing development and well being of the Instonian Club and the Shawsbridge complex.
Formed in 1959 with fourteen players struggling to survive in those early years the players and club members of today are grateful to those who gave us a heritage of which are justly proud.