It may surprise you to learn that Greenwich Field Hockey Club (and hockey in NYC) has a long and interesting history. The club was established sometime between 1956 and 1959 by Allan Woods (circled in white below) as an offshoot to another, still existing, New York club: Rye FHC. Both were exclusively men’s clubs at the time. As a result, the history of Greenwich is necessarily intertwined with the history of men’s hockey in the city, though we’re very much a co-ed club these days!

It started with the resurrection of the Rye club in 1954 by Allan and 4 friends, all newly graduated from college: Bill Duker, John Greer, Dick Hulbert and Plant McCaw. Rye was originally formed in 1931.

Allan, Plant, Bill, John and Dick in the Rye team of 1955

Rye grew as a club and a few years later, instead of creating a second team, Allan formed Greenwich FHC and became its first president.

Allan also served for a while as secretary for the Field Hockey Association of America (FHAA) – an organization created back in 1930 to administer and facilitate men’s hockey in the US – and played on their A team. He kindly sent us a copy of the organization’s official handbook from 1959 as well as copies of the Spring 1979 and Fall 1978 editions of the association’s magazine.

FHAA Handbook 1959 with the US and Argentinean Men's captains

These keepsakes provided a few gems! For example, the following (men’s) clubs are listed as members of the association in 1959. A number of the names will be recognizable to any of our NEFHA league team players, since they still play their hockey in New York City:

  • Westchester FHC (still part of NEFHA)
  • Rye FHC (still part of NEFHA)
  • Merion Cricket Club
  • Baltimore FHC (Baltimore Field Hockey Association has since been created and has 5 teams in its league)
  • New York FHC (not the same as New York City FHC, which exists today)
  • Greenwich FHC
  • North Jersey FHC
  • Metropolitan Tennis and Hockey Club

Interestingly, Westchester club, now dominated by expats from the Netherlands, is the oldest men’s club in the city. They took part in the first recorded men’s hockey match, played in Germantown, Pennsylvania, against the Germantown Cricket Club on October 28, 1928. Westchester won 2-1. Below is a picture of their club players 30 years later.

The 1959 Westchester FHC team

Another surprising entry in the Spring ’79 magazine is this young man:

Greenwich's own Manzar Iqbal in 1979

The Greenwich 1st team’s very own Manzar Iqbal, here featured as a squad member of the 1979 US men’s team and still a formidable defender for Greenwich!

Manzar captained the US under-21 team on their tour to Australia in the previous year and in the Junior World Cup held in Mexico that same year. He is recorded as having scored a goal in the World Cup game against the eventual winners, Argentina, though, unfortunately, the team lost that encounter 24-2 – a bit of a lesson at the hands of the world’s best men’s hockey-playing nation at the time. US men’s youth hockey was in its infancy in 1979 since no training program had existed before that year and the team was spread all over the country. They are, however, lauded by the article’s author for putting up a commendable performance.

Manzar in the u21 US national team, 1978

Manzar in the 1978 US men's team

Also mentioned in the magazine of 1979 is the Islanders team, a strong club in today’s NEFHA league, in an insert about indoor hockey:

Islanders FHC at an indoor session in 1979

Greenwich has been going strong since our founding and in 2008 had grown to having 3 men’s teams and 2 ladies teams. With the top two men’s teams dominating the league table it was decided that a new club be formed to diversify the talent and create greater competition in the league. Thus New York City Field Hockey Club was born, headed by Danny Hayden, a player from the men’s first team along with a number of other players from the 1st and 3rd teams.

Today we still have 4 teams in the NEFHA league. Our pick-up sessions are attended by many players from other clubs and continue to be the driving force behind our hockey playing. We look forward to a long and successful future bringing together hockey lovers from both the US and across the world, here in the Big Apple.

Comments (2)

  1. alexander rooks

    Informative and wonderfully info per NEFHA playing clubs.

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