THE STORY SO FAR
In the early 1970's Werribee and adjoining Hoppers Crossing was small but growing suburbs of Melbourne. Their combined population was less than 30,000, the Princes Hwy joining them was only a single lane each way, the only train to and from Melbourne was the Geelong diesel and you could build a house for less than $25,000 on a $3,000 block of land.
This cheap land was starting to attract young couples and families from other Western suburb areas, and among them were Altona Hockey Club players Alan Baillie, Shane Cronin, Dennis Bartlett, Eric McCauley and Bob Verity. Footscray players Norm Skoglund, Rob Woledge and Terry Key were also living in the area.
In late 1974, in Alan Baillie’s garage in Lantana Ave. Hoppers Crossing, the wheels were put in motion to establish the Werribee Hockey Club. In the months before the 1975 season start founding members Alan, Shane and Bob established the club’s office bearers and recruited enough players to field two teams. While Norm and Rob assisted these three in school clinics to help establish 3 junior teams.
Over the years the club has had various grounds and clubrooms. Such as; Werribee High School, Altona Hockey Grounds, Price Reserve, Werribee South, RAAF Base Laverton, Recreation Centre Werribee (Werribee Racecourse) and finally Presidents Park.
The Women's side of the club was initiated by Kathy Mason in 1975. They played in the Geelong Women's Hockey Association. The club's first premiership was won by the Women's A reserve side in 1976, beating Grammar 2-1 at Steads Park, Geelong.
In 1978 the Women’s teams joined the Melbourne Women’s Hockey Association from the Geelong competition. They then joined with the men to become part of the Werribee Hockey Club.
On the 4th April 1981, an agreement was reached for the women to break away from the
Werribee Hockey Club. Ian Robinson (President WHC) was present at the meeting which was held by a steering committee. The women formed their own club the Werribee Women's Hockey Club. It was decided that the girls would remain with the main club within the junior section.
Before the 1984 season commenced, Alan Baillie, Neville Hopkins and Vicki Skinner worked to establish the club’s new Minkey program, and organise clinics for grade 1 and 2 students at 4 local Primary Schools. Minkey is a modified form of the game designed to introduce young children to hockey and develop basic skills over a short season.
The program was an instant success when 64 keen 6 & 7 yr olds turned up on week 1 to form 8 teams of 8 players. And it continued to be a success for a decade. From 1984 to 1993 the club enjoyed the company of more than 400 little tacklers. In return, the Minkey program has provided the club with a host of players who progressed through the junior ranks to represent the club for many years.
By 1985 the Werribee Council had provided the club with a new third ground. Designated the no. 1 ground, it was located away from the other two grounds adjacent to Walls Rd, South West of the Werribee Recreation Centre in Ballan Rd. and had the best playing surface of all our grounds. Number 2 & 3 grounds were located beside the gravel road leading from Ballan Road to the racecourse, with no. 2 floodlit and so used for training. The no. 3 ground, closest to the clubrooms, was used by the Werribee Women’s Club.
Submission for club rooms at Presidents Park was submitted to the City of Werribee in 1988. Over the next couple of years, members of the WHC committee and Presidents Park sub-committee had many meetings at Council rooms and Presidents Park to give everyone a better understanding of the size and layout of the area and to enable these members a chance to see where and what progress had been made to date.
In 1991 the Men and the Women again joined to become the Werribee Hockey Club Incorporated.
First Proposed Werribee City Council Plan of Presidents Park Clubrooms was placed on display in 1991. The club was finally able to re-locate to the Presidents Park clubrooms in June of 1992 but didn’t use the new grass grounds until the start of the 1993 season.
Since the early nineties, all senior and junior hockey has been played on synthetic grounds. During that time, the Altona and Footscray clubs have hosted all of our match home games and pre-season training. It was a great effort by all players and parents who had made that winter pilgrimage at least weekly and have stuck with the club. However, with Council assistance, our synthetic half field-sized ground had finally been built in 1994 and was being used for weekday training.
In May 1997 the executive of the club with the assistance of Geoff Smith made a detailed submission to the Wyndham City Council for funding of $450,000 to go towards the development of our own synthetic surface ground. February 1998 the club made a detailed formal submission to this Victorian Government department through the Wyndham City Council for the part-funding of a multi-purpose synthetic playing field. By September The Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation had approved a grant of $250,000 towards the club’s synthetic ground, and the Wyndham City Council had called for tenders for the construction of it.
In late March 1999 construction of the club’s new synthetic ground was complete, only 13 weeks after work had commenced. This allowed the club to conduct the Official Opening Ceremony on Sunday 28th March. The opening was programmed between demonstration and practice matches with Footscray HC, allowing all WHC members a first run on the ground.
At the Presentation Night at the Werribee Race Course in 2007 Alan Baillie, Bob Verity and Shane Cronin were presented and inducted as our Founding Life Members.
New clubrooms were commenced late 2010. The old clubrooms were cleaned out on 07 August 2011 and the club moved into the newly constructed club rooms. The inside of the old clubrooms was demolished and then rebuilt to the new design. The old club room would become 4 change rooms and 2 storage rooms.
The Minkey pitch was upgraded at the same time and turned into a Community Sporting facility. It was officially opened on 02 April 2011, Winter competition round 1 at home.
Resurfacing of the WHC grounds commenced in late 2015 and was completed early 2016. The official opening of the grounds was on 20th February 2016. On the day we had Council representation with Councillor Heather Marcus and Hockey Victoria's Community Hockey Manager David Bourke in attendance for the opening.
Communicating the importance to Council was paramount over the years. Recognising the ever-evolving and increasing growth corridor – and that our previous surface lasted a staggering 17 years - and that the requirements for hockey these days require a quality FIH accredited pitch to enable our players to hone and develop their skill set to the very best of their ability, which gives our club the ability to compete with the best.