Ian Russell has been part of Guildford Hockey Club for far longer than most current members have been alive, 55 years. Most recently, Ian has served as President and then co-President along with Maggs Kyte.
Ian has given up his role as President; he is moving away from the Guildford area to Romsey in Hampshire. Not too far but far enough that we are unlikely to see him coming to the club on a regular basis to support matches and speak with members as he has done on so many occasions.
When our Under 12 Boys won the National title in 2013, Ian posted each teammember a personal, handwritten letter of congratulations - the first (and maybe only) time these boys have received a handwritten letter in the post. It was this attention to detail that Ian brought to Guildford along with his passion for the sport and the club. In his own words, below please find a few farewell thoughts from Ian...
Dear Guildford Hockey Club,
I joined GHC in 1961 and I think that makes me the longest serving member and the oldest! I continued to play up to my 79th year when medical reasons forced me to retire. In 1961 I played for a year in the 1st XI skippered by Mike Keeling.
I then was the first skipper of the Shadows, a team of prospective 1st XI players. A young man of 13 played, named Donald Williams, who showed promise. Centre forward was Ian Smith, centre half was Paddy Roberts and I played at right back. The team were very successful.
Then I was asked to become Captain of the Weysiders, a slightly older team and members would be slotted into teams other than the First XI. I then became a founder member of the Gondoliers and continued to play for them until I retired. In the original team, the team was famously known for playing six hours each way! When I first joined I was an official Surrey County Coach, a bit different these days. The latter years I helped Dick Wright (First XI Goalkeeper for 4 generations) manage the First XI and this a span of 10 years.
During this time I served on various Committees and eventually on the Club Management Committee. In this time we moved from Woodbridge Road to our present location. With water based and sand based pitches and playing throughout the day I found it a little difficult to get to know members who played at different times. At Woodbridge Road we often had six home teams and opposition in the Clubhouse at the same time and there was no breathaliser at that time and Beer sales were high!
GHC toured at Easter to Weston and Eindhoven and these tournaments were well supported and a very good time was had by all. We also supported the largest festival, the Thanet festival, when some 2500 hockey players took part (male and female). Each August I took teams to a small Dutch village near Eindhoven for 35 years, named Oirschot Donkey Festival. One year we had three teams, two men and one ladies team.
At the time of the Willsden Olympics we entered a team named “Friars”. This was a veterans team and was played at 8 clubs around London, we played at the Surbiton Club and lost in the area final to the Australian team from Perth, The Hotspurs. Our team were all ex 1st XI and we thought we did well until the final round when all five forwards had hamstring injuries! The Friars also toured in France in the Eurovets Tournament, firstly in Lyon and then Paris.
The future of the Club is changing but will I am sure play to a high standard. Our Colts section is the future of the Club and Maggs Kite, Lady President, formed the Colts many years ago, and an enormous debt is owed by the club to her. Now there are some 500 members and the older junior teams are leading teams in the County and Nationally. There are Colts in our 1st XI too, so the Club is very proud of their success.
I will find leaving GHC, a sad occasion for me, and I wish all of you every success and fun playing hockey. Good luck and best wishes.