Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Hull Handball League (Part 4): Possibly the oldest club photo

As previously reported in Part 2 Crawford Sports were the Hull handball league champions in 1961. This photograph taken from the Hull Daily Mail shows the Crawford team lined up as follows: back row Roy Marshall, George Gardiner, Ray Riley, George Nesfield, Ray Sissons and Barry Fuller; front row Syd Cowan, Col Raper, George Pougher, Ronnie Bray and Terry O'Neill. The team took the name of the club sponsor Crawford Sports which was a sports shop based in East Hull.

Unless anyone knows of an older club photo of a British handball team photograph then this photo of Crawford Sports HC is the oldest one, albeit of a team that played the 11 a-side version of the game.

Crawford Sports HC

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Coventry Handball Club

Coventry Handball Club is shaping up to be one of the 'Legacies of the Olympics' and Thursday is going to be the first occasion on which the club meets to train. It was reported on the BBC earlier today that this was Coventry's first ever club but records show that a club going by the name of Coventry made a brief appearance in organised leagues around 30 years ago.

The main source of information comes from the Midland Handball Association's handbook published in 1982. It lists the member clubs as Leicester Computers, Coventry, Leicester '73, Milton Keynes 1980, Olympia (Cannock), Salford and John Quinn Sheffield. Each club has details of officials, colours, match times and a brief history.

The entry for Coventry shows that the club had previously been known as Nuneaton Tech and Recreation Nuneation and that prominent club members were Frank Dillon, Mick Darlison and Chris Leadbetter. It records the home base as Coventry SC in Fairfax Street and club colours as white shirts, blue shorts (first choice), orange shirts, blue shorts (second choice).

The history section explains that the club could trace its roots to Nuneaton Tech, a club which had been founder members of the English National League and places its establishment as 1975 at the latest. In 1977 a 'B' team (Nuneaton Newdegate) was formed to play in the lower league. The team eventually broke away from Tech after sports centres were opened at Etone and Jubilee and the club was renamed Recreation Nuneaton. In 1980 Recreation won the English Second Division but they were apparently denied promotion due to reorganization of the leagues meaning that all teams had to go through regional qualifying. The final National League table for 1980/81 shows that the team finished sixth out of seven in a league which was won convincingly by Brentwood '72.

The Midland's Handbook then explains that the club moved to Coventry following a friendly against a Scottish team called Linwood and that the club started 1981/82 very well but that due to rule infringements had points deducted. They also went out of the British Cup in the first round losing 26-24 to Great Dane London. The Midland Directory was introduced for the 1982/83 season and finishes the piece on Coventry by saying that the club resigned its place in the National League position in 1982 to join the Midland League. This is verified by BHA publications which show Coventry in mid-table after six games of the '81/82 season but as not being in the league on publication of the final table.

The 1982/83 season proved to be the last for the club and shows that there may have still bee problems as records from the season show that Coventry were in the Midland League but the final standing only show four teams (Milton Keynes 1980, Olympia, Salford and John Quinn Sheffield). Despite this, the records show that Coventry were involved in an exciting cup tie in the first round of the British Cup. Playing Kirkby Select, a National League team, Coventry tied the game 20-20. Following extra time the game was still level at 22-22. It took a further period of extra-time for Kirkby to defeat Coventry 24-23.

1983 proved to be Coventry's final year. It is recorded in the November 1983 edition of the BHA publication 'Word is...' that the club came about from the 'considerable work done by Frank Dillion' and that following Frank's move to Saudi Arabia the club had folded.

So, 30 years after the former club embarked on its last season, the new club is about to embark on the first of what will hopefully be many.

Good luck Coventry Handball Club! Click to find out more about the new club.