Kenneth Stoker

A fascinating character in the history of the Cheshire Union, Royal Liverpool G.C. and in north west commerce was Kenneth Stoker.

Born in 1886, Stoker's parents moved down from Northumberland to Manchester and his father establised the Furness Withy Shipping Company, and later Manchester Liners. He also became Tory MP for the Rusholme district of Manchester. Kenneth joined Knutsford Golf Club as a 10 year old, and soon won a competition during which he recorded a hole-in-one. He later joined Timperley Golf Club, where he was taught by the great George Duncan. Having completed his education, he began work in the shipping industry in Liverpool and set up home in Hoylake.

At the outbreak of WWI, Stoker joined the Liverpool Scottish Regiment and fought on the front line, reaching the rank of###. During a march to Arras, he had been speaking to another officer. One of Stoker's men said "We didn't know you knew the Prince of Wales". "I don't" replied Stoker. "Well, you've just been speaking to him!" replied the soldier.

Stoker was Captain of RLGC in 1929 when the Prince came to play, and on being met by Stoker the Prince said "the last time I saw you it was on the road to Arras". Quite some memory!

Kenneth Stoker was certainly a major influence in the formation of the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs, along with Harold Janion, Daniel Mylrea and Geoffrey Tweedale. He was also an almost permanent fixture in the county team from 1921 to 1936 and was team captain for a five year period. He was CUGC President 1933-35.

The jacket hanging in the Hoylake Room at Atlanta Athletic Club

Stoker was the immediate ex-Captain of Royal Liverpool when the Open was held at Hoylake in 1930. Bobby Jones, on the third leg of what would prove to be an incredible "Grand Slam", attended a pre-championship dinner and was sat next to Stoker. Jones was intrigued by the red jackets worn by ex-Captains, and Stoker promised him that if he won the Open that week, he'd present him with his jacket. Jones of course did win, and the jacket was duly presented. It was eventually left by Jones to the Atlanta Athletic Club, where it has pride of place in their "Hoylake Room". It is thought that the tradition of the jackets appealed to Jones and prompted him to introduce the green jacket for the winner of the Masters tournament.

In 1933 Stoker took over as Managing Director of Manchester Liners, prompting he and his wife to move from their home in Coronation Road, Hoylake to Prestbury where he joined the golf club. During WWII he was commander of the Prestbury Home Guard, which had the luxury of Prestbury G.C as its base.

Another story involved Ivor Novello. Stoker's friend knew Novello and arranged a game with him Kenneth at Delamere. Stoker was requested to collect Novello from his hotel in Manchester where he was appearing at the time. Unfortunately, Stoker contrived to crash his car into a tram at Stretford, and he and his passenger sustained head injuries. Despite being bandaged, however, Novello appeared on stage that night. But the golf match never happened.

Report on the final of the 1926 Welsh Amateur Championship

Following the death of his wife Frances in 1973, he moved back to Knutsford. On speaking to the secretary of Knutsford Golf Club about membership, he was informed that there was a long waiting list. "Even for ex-members?" he asked. The secretary asked when he'd previously been a member and was told "1896". He was immediately admitted to the club.

Stoker appeared for Cheshire 48 times. He also represented the Northern Counties.

In 1908 he was the winner of the inaugural Manchester and District Challenge Cup, held at Timperley, his home club at the time. He was runner up in the 1926 Welsh Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.

He represented Wales*, and was also a founder member of the Hittites Golf Society. Playing for Royal Liverpool against the Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society in 1920, he beat Bernard Darwin 3&1.

 

Kenneth Stoker (seated, second from left) at Woodhall Spa, August, 1936

*Stoker was also a member of the original Chester Golf Club, located at Sealand and technically in Flintshire, thus qualifying him to represent Wales.

Stoker and a friend are reputed to have driven from Hoylake to Marble Arch in 3 hours 15 minutes in one of these, a Vauxhall 30-98

 

Kenneth Stoker died at Knutsford in October 1979, at the age of 93.