Tony Royall

Sadly, we report that Tony Royall passed away on 13 December. He had a stroke a few years ago, and had been in poor health since. He died at home with his family.

Tony was a former Men’s 1st XI Captain, and Vice President. He came to hockey at a time when there was school hockey in Welwyn Garden City! He was an alumni of the then Grammar School, now Stanborough School, and by the end of the 1960s he was Vice Captain.

Early in 1971 dissent arose in the team; on the way back through the woods from Broxbourne, in the Beehive Pub at Epping Green, it was agreed that there had to be a change. Tony was the popular choice to take over as Captain, and the Club then entered arguably its most successful years ever, reaching 5th in the original Greene King East League.

Equally successful as on the pitch, was the Club social scene, with Tony and his wife Christine at the forefront. He was a committed supporter of the Men’s and Ladies’ Clubs, then separate clubs, joining together.

However, Tony, a tall man, found over the years that his frame could not take the heavy grass pitches: as he put it, he struggled to get down the stairs on a Sunday morning, which was not helped when he broke his leg (getting off the train on his way home from work.) As a result, he retired from playing at what we would see these days as being an early age, to take over as the Manager of the Sun at Lemsford: in those days, outside of Saturday afternoons, that had been the Club’s second home for some years, and only a few minutes’ walk from his own childhood home, he knew it well: selection was there every Monday evening. Although he cut off all active ties with the Club, and he never had any further involvement with hockey, his and Christine’s popularity saw them always welcoming Club members, and those from the wider hockey community.

But they yearned for their own pub: they took over as tenants a bankrupt pub, in the middle of nowhere: back to the Beehive at Epping Green! Again, their sociability led to a steady stream of members and friends, especially on a Sunday lunchtime.

Tony’s enjoyment of sport led him to becoming an active golfer. However, early in the 1990s he suffered a debilitating illness that laid him out for a few months. Christine found running the pub on her own very demanding, and they left. They moved back to his mother’s home in Lemsford Lane, and Tony became a private hire chauffeur, giving him plenty of time to play golf. He was also an active Freemason.

However, his fitness was always a problem. He tried bowls, indeed Christine seems to have outlasted him there. The last reports were that his competitive nature had taken him to bridge. 

Despite his lack of involvement after retiring from playing, save that he and Ken Boon became related by marriage, there will be a few members who remember his playing days, and more so behind the bar at the Sun.

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