Tribute to Ivor Vials -Ex-club captain, mentor and friend

It is with great sadness that we have to report the recent death of Ivor Vials, a former Club Captain and an important part of Merton Hockey Club’s history. He was 81 years old.

Chris Pottinger, a past Merton Club member and Hon. Treasurer of the Club in 1972-73 was a personal friend of Ivor’s and recalls that Ivor joined the Club in 1958 aged 21. He became a member of the Club Committee in 1963-64, Vice Captain of the Mens 1st XI in 1965-66 and Captain Mens 1st XI in 1968-69. By 1972-73 he was Hon. Team Secretary, by 1974-75 Hon. Treasurer and in 1975-76 Ivor was made a Vice President in 1975-76. He was Club Auditor with Malcolm Lulham in 1985-86 and 1986-87 and took over as Club Captain from 1987-88 until 1990-91 when James Bishop succeeded him in the role.

Many of the more mature members of the Club remember Ivor with affection. Chris Walker remembers “Ivor was a great Merton man. It’s sad news.” Stuey Lothian recalls “When I joined Merton Ivor was captain of the team I played for. Given that I was only 14 years old, he played me every game and kept faith with me. It’s very sad to hear of his passing.” John Braithwaite also remembers Ivor: “I think he was captain when I first joined the Boars. He played me on the left wing as I was faster than the rest. Shows how long ago that was! My wife Anne first met him in Athens at a tournament to celebrate 2,000 years of hockey. We are both sad to hear the news.

Dave Brooks also recalls Ivor: “Like Stu and John my first game for Merton in 1987 was with Ivor as Captain. I recall playing as a full back for the Vets team, when there were four Men’s teams and the Vets. We played Weybridge Hawks on grass. The formation was the classic 2-3-5. He was a Merton stalwart and guardian, along with others of that generation, of the Club’s history, its values and of how the game should be played, with rules many never knew or have long forgotten. I think, alongside Malcolm Lulham, Ivor also played for England Vets/Over 60’s. I later played with him and the Vets as a way of getting into the team after a period of injury. After finishing his playing career he umpired for many years. He was a great character. It’s a sad day.”

Debbie Parker says: “I remember Ivor very well. He was a true “Mertonian”. I have very fond memories of chatting with Ivor, often at the bar predictably. He was my mentor – a true gentleman on and off the field and an inspiration to me personally, always encouraging me to strive to reach my goals. I’m feeling heartbroken really as I regarded Ivor as a second father to me at Merton HC. We unfortunately lost contact many years ago but I will never forget his input in my teenage years.”

In accordance with the wishes of Ivor’s widow Anne the Club will be making a donation to the Princess Alice Hospice.

Paul Dickinson

17 January 2019