History

MUHC has a long and proud history. Additional details on specific areas are also available:

Founding and Early Years

The origins of the club go back to 9 April 1907, when a proposal at the Melbourne University Sports Union AGM to establish a women's hockey club was accepted, with the foundation meeting of the club then held on 18 April. The formation of a men's hockey club was subsequently also approved at a Sports Union meeting on 30 April (though it was not formalised until sometime between 13 March and 9 April the following year), 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. MUHC is the only remaining founding member of the Victorian Women's Hockey Association (founded 1910), and the oldest extant member of the Victorian Hockey Association (founded 1907, joined 1908).

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.

Home Grounds

Initially matches were played on the University Oval. In the early 1920s a dedicated pitch was marked out immediately to the south of the Oval for men's hockey, and a pitch for women's hockey (notorious for being narrow, and with a slope from one end to the other) between Royal Parade and Professor's Walk. By the 1930s a third pitch was also in place, immediately to the south of Monash Rd, as part of the Teachers' College.

All this changed however in the space of 10 years. First, the construction of the Beaurepaire Centre and laying out of a cinder athletics track as a training venue for the 1956 Olympics necessitated re-orienting the men's pitch from north-south to east-west, to fit in the infield of the track. Then, in the late 1950s the Alice Hoy building was built on the site of the Teachers' College pitch. And lastly, in the early 1960s several buildings for the University's medical precinct were constructed on what had been the women's pitch.

With the loss of these two pitches, overflow matches were played at the old VHA hockey fields in Royal Park, and now on occasion at the State Netball Hockey Centre.

Floodlights were installed for the University pitch in the 1970s. A synthetic turf was installed in 1995 (replacing a cinder? pitch), and relaid in 2005.

The University's three hockey pitches in 1937:
Melbourne University hockey pitches, 1937

Nickname, Colours and Motto

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.

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