The origins of the club go back to 9th April 1907, when a proposal at the Melbourne University Sports Union AGM to establish a women's hockey club was accepted. Three weeks later on 30th April, the formation of a men's hockey club was also approved, being allocated finances of £11.1.0 (approximately $1500 in today's dollars). Professor Baldwin Spencer (who had played hockey at Oxford) was appointed the inaugural president of both clubs.
The men's and women's clubs competed in the newly formed Victorian Amateur Hockey Association and Victorian Women's Hockey Association respectively, with the men winning their first A grade premiership in 1910 and fielding a team in each of the three grades.
InterVarsity competition was also quickly established. In 1908 a women's team travelled to Adelaide, where they were entertained with a range of activities - a concert, a dance, a drive to the hills and a skating rink evening, and even a special fire brigade practice. Alas the Adelaide University team emerged victors in the match 3 to 1. After this initial setback, the early years were a period of dominance for Melbourne, including victory in the return match on the Melbourne University Oval in 1909. Sydney University joined the competition in 1911, the University of Queensland in 1919, and the University of Western Australia in 1925.
The first men's InterVarsity match occurred in 1909, when Sydney University was invited to send a team down to Melbourne. Melbourne won the match comfortably (despite some heavy rain), 6-2. A reciprocal trip to Sydney (won by Sydney) the following year established an annual rivalry, later joined by the University of Queensland in 1924 and Adelaide in 1928. Just as with the women, the Melbourne men won most of these early InterVarsity contests.
MUHC is affectionately known as "The Shop" and its members "Shoppers". Once a common term for The University of Melbourne (as compared with "The Tech" for RMIT and "The Farm" for Monash), it is typically now only heard on the sporting fields. The term had entered student slang at Melbourne by the 1870's, imported from Britain where it was used to refer to Oxford and Cambridge.
The club's colours have a similar inspiration; originally selected by the Boat club, "Oxford Blue and black" were adopted (after lengthy debate) by the Sports Union upon its foundation in 1904 as the University's official sporting colours. The hockey club's early playing shirts were black with a blue 'V', and stayed generally along this theme until the 1990's, when they changed to black & blue vertical stripes.
A staple of sporting fashion in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and perhaps also due to its use in the University's crest, white has regularly been a part of MUHC's sporting attire. For many years it has served as the club's clash strip, and also holds a signficance to those who play InterVarsity hockey for Melbourne.
The club's unofficial motto is: Moderation in all things, especially moderation.