George Greaves MBE, Founder, Blackpool Easter Hockey Festival
Hailing from Lancashire, George took up hockey at Manchester University in the mid-1930s and as a goalkeeper represented not only his university’s 1st X1 but also Lancashire and the North of England.
He became an Architect but remained an avid hockey enthusiast by joining firstly North Staffordshire HC and then Warrington HC. Along with his cousin Ernest Lee, George attended the Easter Festival at Llandudno in 1951 where because of very poor weather all the hockey was played on the beach.
Ernest Lee happened to be the Blackpool Town Clerk (equivalent to Chief Executive today) and after the disappointment at Llandudno suggested to George that Blackpool would surpass Llandudno as a venue for an Easter Hockey Festival.
With the resources of Blackpool Council behind them George and Ernest saw that preparations were put in place for a 1952 Blackpool Easter Festival (which in the event was to take place only two weeks following Her Majesty’s accession).
Four pitches were marked out on the parkland of the Stanley Park and (men’s) teams sort from Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. At this first Festival twenty teams took part. In the years that followed teams from further afield were attracted – North Wales Vagabonds appeared and for many years swept all before them!
George Greaves on the Sports Arena, Stanley Park (Third from left)
George himself played in the first few Festival then turned to umpiring before failing eyesight forbade even that. However, George dutifully turned up as Festival President each year as the key member of the organising committee and presented the George Greaves Trophy for the team with the best record in 1972.
He was extremely proud to see the gradual development of the Festival which he had created – use of the Cricket Club, astroturf pitches appearing, mixed and the ladies’ teams joining the men, as well as satellite pitches being brought into use and evening social programmes put on offer.
George was looking forward to attending the 40th Festival in 1991 – but it was not to be. He died a few weeks prior to the Festival and it was his widow and son Bernard who on his behalf received the plaudits at the formal Sunday luncheon.
George’s son Bernard furnished us with much of the above information in early March 2018 and he is looking forward to attending (as a VIP!) this year’s Festival.
You can find a more detailed account of the Festival’s history here.