The LX Club was founded in 1995 as the result of suggestions made by continental teams. Following a challenge by the Dutch over 60s team, De Zestigplussers, Gerald Wilkinson and Ian Russell raised an English team to participate in a tournament for over 60s in Lille; their team won the tournament convincingly. In the process an inaugural meeting of the club was held at the Etap Hotel in Lille on Saturday 4th February 1995 with thirteen players present. It was decided that the club would be known as the LX Hockey Club, England but generally shortened to the LX Club. In September 2003 the LX Club was sanctioned by the then England Hockey Association (EHA) to select an official England Over 60 team to be called England Grand Masters (GM). An England Great Grand Masters (GGM – over 65) team was established the following year. In 2009 England Hockey (EH), successor to the EHA, took over the selection of the England teams, including the new Senior Grand Masters (SGM – over 70), but the club is proud that the vast majority of the players selected for the national teams still come from the LX Club playing membership.
Over the years the officially recognised age groups for Masters hockey have gradually increased from 60 to now include 65, 70 and 75. In April 2019 another milestone was reached when the first international match was played between England and Dutch teams in the over 80 age group at Breda HC, Netherlands. Once again, the England over 80 selection, bar one, came from within the LX Club membership; England won the encounter. It should be noted that the selection included one, Brian Woolcott, who had played in the very first LX Club team at Lille in 1995, see The Early Years.
During the LX arranged International Tournament at Canterbury in 1997 a wooden hockey stick was burnt and the ashes deposited in a suitable vessel. England won this first encounter and since then the LX Club, now replaced by the England GM, have played the Australian GM for ‘The Ashes’ as and when the two teams meet at World Cup tournaments. Australia currently hold the Ashes following their encounter with England GM in 2014 at The Hague.
The European Cup & Tournament Trophy
The first European Super Veterans Trophy (ESVT) competition for over 60 teams was held in Amsterdam in 2000 and then annually after that. In those early years not all the teams were necessarily National teams (e.g. the Alliance and LX Red – a second selected team after England). In 2005 the competition was extended to over 65 teams and in 2006 it was decided to split the tournament into two categories – one for National first teams and a second, Tournament Trophy (TT) category, for National B teams and other non‑national teams including Alliance International, De Zestigplussers and LX Club sides. This decision was partly to avoid a repetition of the 2005 final in Rotterdam which had been an all-England affair. The LX Club side had beaten Germany in the semi-final but then lost to the England national side in the final. In June 2007 the LX Club hosted the first official Grand Masters Hockey European Cup at Canterbury HC with a TT competition running concurrently.
After the 2009 European Cup the Grand Masters Hockey European Cup moved to being held every two years. In the intervening year a less formal non-national European Trophy competition was held. In 2010, at Braxgata HC, Boom, Belgium, the LX Club entered six teams, 2 teams at each of the over 60, 65 and 70 age groups, and also entered five teams, 2 teams at over 60 and over 65 and 1 team at over 70, at the second European Trophy tournament at Bra, Italy in 2012.
In 2015 the WGMA European Cup tournament was extended to include, for the first time national teams at over 75, the Vintage Grand Masters (VGM).
At the last European Cup tournament played in 2019 and held at Brasschaat HC, Belgium the England GM and SGM teams took the title of European champions; LX Club teams made it to the finals at all age groups and won at the over 70 and over 75 age groups in the TT competition. With the new body World Masters Hockey (WMH) taking over responsibility from the World Grand Masters Association (WGMA) for the European Cup after 2019 the TT competition was rebranded as Spirit of Masters (SoM).
The World Cup & Tournament Trophy
In May 1998 the Royal Dutch Hockey Board invited England to play in the first Over 60 World Cup in Utrecht. The England Hockey Association asked the recently established LX Club to represent England in the tournament, which also included teams from Germany and Australia. The LX Club ‘A’ team became the first winners of the World Cup beating the Dutch in the final in the presence of the then President of FIH. The next World Cup, and the first Grand Masters Hockey World Cup under the newly formed WGMA, was held in Kuala Lumpur in March 2002. The KPMG World Cup was presented for the first time to winners Germany, but the LX Club’s 1998 win on behalf of England had already been inscribed on the trophy to ensure a complete record of Over 60 World Cup winners. Since 2002 the World Cup has been held every two years.
In 2006 the Tournament, like the European Cup, was split into two categories – one for National teams, including for the first time National Over 65 teams, and the second TT category for National B teams and other non-national teams including Alliance International and LX Club sides. At Hong Kong in 2008 Australia became the first winners of the Over 70 World Cup – by default as they were eventually the only nation to enter a team in that category. However, in 2010 at Cape Town, England competed in all three age groups (60, 65, & 70) and won all three, with the LX Club teams winning both the Over 60 and Over 65 Tournament Trophy age groups. In 2012 the World Cup was hosted by the LX Club, in partnership with England Hockey, at Oxford Hawks HC and was then the largest event to date with 41 teams competing. At this tournament England retained their GGM title but Netherlands became GM champions and Australia won the SGM title. LX Club teams again won the TT Over 60 and Over 65 competitions but Australia’s Southern Cross won the TT Over 70 section.
At the last World Cup tournament played in 2018 and held at the Royal Polo Club, Barcelona England GGM and SGM won their finals and the LX teams at over 65 and over 70 won their finals in the TT competition. Due to the Corona virus pandemic the WMH Grand Masters World Cup, scheduled for November 2020 and to be hosted in Tokyo, was cancelled.
Like the European Cup, the World Cup TT competition has been rebranded as Spirit of Masters following the succession of WGMA by WMH. European and World Cup results can be found on the Grand Masters results page.