At the end of World War II a group of men and women, all of whom were interested in Physical Education
as organisers, teachers and instructors, were invited to visit Holland and see a game which had obvious
potential for mixed groups - Korfball. In Holland the game was already a national pastime, but in England,
the home of many sports, it was virtually unknown.
Among several of the party who were favourably impressed with the game was Mr C. H. ("Wally") Walbancke,
who was at that time engaged during his leisure hours as a P.T. Instructor at a Croydon youth club. Wally
saw in the game the opportunity not only for the young men and women in his club to enjoy the new sport, but
also for them to use this game as a common link of friendship with another country, and in this spirit the
Croydon Korfball Club was born in 1946 with help from Albert Milhado and John Rae.
The first clubs formed in the UK were Wandsworth and Croydon, shortly followed by Mitcham. At first only
Croydon and Wandsworth were able to field teams, and these played one another at fairly regular intervals during
the succeeding two years. Then in September 1948, Korfball made its first forward step when the London league
was formed. Six teams, two each from Wandsworth, Croydon and Mitcham, took part, and Wandsworth were easy winners.
And they repeated their success in the following year.
Soon Bec were formed by 2 ex-Wandsworth players and the league became more interesting. The Korfball became more exciting and the players more proficient. But within three years Korfball in England was in the doldrums. Although there were still only four clubs, only Mitcham were able to field two sides and the London League was reduced to five teams. The hopes
for British Korfball was nurtured by only a few enthusiasts, and it was sometimes doubtful whether Korfball would
survive. But survive it did.
From 1956 the London League increased in both the number of clubs and the number of teams. A second division
was formed and then a third. Korfball began to be known in North London, Edmonton was formed. A team from
Hornchurch began to play and Bromley in Kent was the home of the Esperanto Club. So Korfball began to spread,
not just confined to London, teams appeared in Folkestone, Sheffield and Derby.
In the 1957-58 season the BKA Cup was formed, with Croydon being defeated by the eventual winners, Mitcham,
in the semi final. The following year Croydon were defeated by Mitcham again, but this time in the final. Who would
have predicted that this rivalry would continue for another 50 years!
Korfball in the UK was a 12-aside 3 zone affair with today's 8-aside 2 zone "micro korfball" game only first played in 1961. Micro korfball leagues started in the early 1970s and it wasn't until 1977 that the first indoor league started, in tandem with the outdoor league, with the outdoor league suspended over the worst winter months.
Kent was the second area to introduce the sport with their league starting in 1975. Norfolk Korfball Association was formed in 1989, closely followed by the Central England Korfball Association in 1990. The South West Korfball Association was formed in 1993 and joined the BKA in 1994. Korfball has been played in universities since the 1980s with the British Student Korfball Association formed in 1990. The BKA National League started in 1987 from the top two divisions of the London District Korfball Association plus Kwiek, Kingfisher and Guildford.
League Champions and BKA Cup Winners of recent years and yesteryear*
|Season||London League||BKA Cup|
|Season||National League||BKA/EKA Cup|
As the table shows, Croydon's first league championship was achieved in 1954-55. The club enjoyed a league and cup double in 1996, the same year as the club's Golden Jubilee. Croydon's most recent success is winning the BKA Cup in 2001.
Club archives reveal a Triumphal Sonnet was written by "Grosete" to celebrate the first league win in 1955:
Who will not curse that was not here this day;
Who will not weep that saw not triumph won.
Of Croydon and of Korfball is my lay,
Of victory gained without recourse to gun
Of sword, but with great sleight of hands and feet,
By skill, by cunning and by efforts long,
SustainÚd by success all foes to beat.
Crushed in one game when slumber did belong
Unto the eyes of all who fought that day;
Disgraced, but rising higher in recoil,
Defeating all with such abandon gay
That many thought that others could them foil
In this attempt to gain the victor's crown,
This shield, this title and this great renown.
*sourced from CKC archives and BKA booklet to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of British Korfball (David Hubbard May06)