Club History

The Early Years

Written by J. Koops

I certainly still have some fond memories of setting the entire thing up. I was getting sick and tired of having to play basketball and rugby as a poor substitute for a German's most favourite past-time: chucking things at crazy people... So I was very suprised when as a drunken joke I googled "England"+"handball" that there was actually an English Handball Federation and even a League!!!!

So thanks also have to go to JJ Rowland of the EHA at the time, for supporting me very generously in setting up the club, in sending us posters of scary Christian Schwarzer in order to promote the sport in Oxford and get some members.

I remember how difficult it was to set the entire thing up - the Sports Federation was understandably not very fond of having yet another crazy sport asking for time slots...etc.... I think the Sports Fed president at the time cautioned at our first inquiry meeting: "there are so many students in Oxford with crazy new sports ideas - why don't you join the synchronized swimming team instead"

CRAZY NEW SPORTS IDEA??!?!?!? WHAT?!?!?!? It's the best game in the world, obviously!
In any case, it was a bit of a nightmare getting the ball rolling (aha!), but spending the summer vacations in 2001 on it, we finally made progress in fall 2001.
So practically, I had to cajole every playing and non-playing member of St. Hugh's into playing for the team (at least on paper) so that we could get the club registered (which also meant to Oxford Sports Fed policy finding women!!!). Luckily I found two people who agreed to put their time into the set-up, too - the other two founders:

Nicholas Frey (swayed him away from the College rugby team for which he received ample abuse fortwith),and
Kirstin Gwyer (crazy Swiss handball goddess, who even played with a broken arm in plaster against our first ever match against Southhampton)...

The first squad (in October) consisting of St Hugh's men and women of the beginning of OUHac, who I had to bribe with free beers and other unspeakable favors, were

Alex Price (as the first ever winger - still remember the legendary run from one end of the hall to the other in Nottingham)
Michael Green (fearless goal keeper of the first hour)
Nick Frey (iron-cast pivot)
Kirstin Gwyer (crazy on all positions)
Rachel Tate (supporting us on paper!)
Ian Denham
Henni Ouahes

So as you can see: I think we never ever had as many Brits in our team as during the set-up phase.

Back then we didn't even have our own goals, but had to carry the hockey goals into the gym, which made us

a) loose about half our allotted training time
b) very exhausted before even the first ball had been thrown
c) look ridiculous

Thanks now also have to be extended to the St Hugh's Junior Common Room, who gave us £250 to purchase our first equipment.

I then have fond memories of the EHA offering us goals for £200 which were

a) rusty
b) missing all the important bolts
c) made of cast iron
d) nearly killed half the squad (i.e., 2 people)

The first members outside the St Hugh's College club were then hyper-legend Yann and Csaba...and from then on it all went uphill ;-)

Yann insited on getting rudimentary website done to get

a) more members who actually CAN play handball
b) more chicks ("dude, if we have a hot women team, then there will be no more problem with the men's team training attendance!!") - how right he was....

And with the website, more people contacted us.... Up to then our only way of external recruitment were questionably repellent posters plastered around every single Oxford college's gents and lady rest rooms, an entry on the EHA website, and people at Iffley gym taking a break from their work-out and watching us running around outdoor hockey goals and looking, well, questionably borderline mental.

I think Csaba I met in a pub - because he saw the entry on the EHA website? (is that correct?). Back then with a broken thumb (car crash or chasing non-paying pub guests through the fields of Henley?), but unbroken spirit: he only had one aim on his mind (well, apart from the other unwritable ones): to get OUHAc to win the English Championships!! (Little did we know that this would take at least 5 years of blood, sweat and tears)... But with Yann and Csaba (and not to be forgotten, his Hungarian mate Tibor) the club slowly looked like a club. We then also got Scandinavian support from the Danish father-and-son duo Lars Bo Henriksen and his son Johan! Our first appearance at the Liverpool tournament in spring 2002 was mixed, but i think we made it to third place, right?

Then student championships (each season, nudging one place higher up the ranks) started out with 3rd, then 2nd and during the year I was in Finland, you actually won!!! (should have stayed away longer from the pitch since then).

I also remember in 2003 the flying-winger Jan Peter Siedlarek, who managed to jump so far into the goalie area once that he was knocked out by the opposition's goalie's knee cap... the fun he had...

alright, so far the early years... will try to rack my brains a bit more... .hope I did not forget anyone...or anything? Ah yes, right: In 2006 we won the English Division One Title as the first ever UK university team and entered, again as the first ever UK university team, the European Championship competition.

what a great time it was!

Oxford University Handball Club

Networks: Oxford University, Oxford University Sports Federation

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