Front cover of the official England Hockey programme for the 2016/17 season.
Not all “Hockey in 50 Objects” contenders are three dimensional objects. Some are events or happenings that have had a dramatic effect on how hockey has changed, though we endeavour to illustrate these with objects from THM collection.
A major change to the structure of hockey came in the 1980s with the introduction of league hockey which replaced the previous friendly (non-competitive) games.
Previously competitive hockey had been very much frowned upon in England by the Hockey Association (HA) and All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA). It is widely believed that England/GB’s absence from the Olympic Games in the inter-war years was because of the HA’s abhorrence of competitive hockey. Both associations were staunchly against any form of cup or league competition but by the last third of the 20th century they both had to bow down to public demand.
There had been a limited amount of league hockey in Europe, notably in Germany and Holland, and, in England, in 1969 the London League was launched for men with the number of clubs increased in 1972. The South men’s league also started in 1972.
For the women, the league era began with a national Premier competition in 1989/90.
League hockey is now established throughout the world with the Dutch and German outdoor and German indoor versions acknowledged to be of the highest standard.
The impact of league hockey has seen the total demise of ‘block fixtures’. Previously clubs played the same opponents at parallel team levels on the same day. This would see, in six-team clubs, three matches at home and three away, every Saturday which generated a significant after-hockey social atmosphere.
Today, these six teams, in leagues, will almost certainly be playing against teams from six different clubs. This situation, of course, is aggravated by the change from grass to artificial pitches. But it has seen the total demise of the ‘buzz in the clubhouse’ at 5pm every Saturday afternoon and a compete change in club hockey life. It has also made the role of fixtures secretary redundant.
In recent years two ‘super’ leagues have become established internationally. The Euro Hockey League (EHL), comprising 32 European club teams, has been held since the 2007/8 season while the Hockey India League (HIL) is this year in its 5th edition.
The HIL has six heavily sponsored teams with top players from around the world recruited by auction. The most sought-after players can earn up to $100,000.
So, from a situation a century ago when competitive hockey was virtually unknown we now have a hockey world where competition is the norm.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid January 2017.
Advertisement from The Hockey Field And Golf Green magazine, 15 October 1908.
Women's PE Colleges
On Friday 19 August 2016, 9 million British households tuned in to BBC television to watch Great Britain (GB) women’s hockey team take on The Netherlands in the gold medal match in the Rio Olympics 2016. They were not to be disappointed. For the first time in the modern Olympic era, Great Britain secured the gold medal following a penalty shootout 2-0 after the game finished 3-3 at full time. What an evening of passion, belief and determination on the part of the players!
Both before and after the Olympic tournament many of the players were interviewed, noticeably by Clare Balding, who frequently asked the questions “What inspired you to get into hockey?” and “Who influenced you at the onset of your hockey career?” The most frequent response was “My PE teacher – I started playing when I went to secondary school”. Martina Sofia Helena Bergman, more widely known as Madame Bergman Osterberg (1849-1915), has left a legacy that has undoubtedly contributed to the success of the current GB women’s hockey team – gold medallists at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Madame Osterberg can be regarded as the innovator of female physical education, combining team sports with Swedish gymnastics. In 1885 she opened Hampstead Training College where students were prepared to teach physical activities in the new girls’ secondary schools. Later that decade Madame Osterberg transferred her educational model to Dartford in Kent. Until 1897, Dartford remained the only women’s college of Physical Education. A Dartford student, Christabel Lawrence, promoted the inclusion of hockey in the curriculum. In 1887 Christabel Lawrence became the first secretary of the Ladies Hockey Association.
Students of Madame Bergman Osterberg, inspired by their training, went on to establish more women’s PE Colleges, starting with Anstey founded in 1897 by Rhoda Anstey, Chelsea College founded in 1898 by Dorette Wilkie, IM Marsh PE College in Liverpool, founded in 1900 by Irene Mabel Marsh, Bedford Physical Training College founded in 1903 by Margaret Stansfield, Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Physical Training founded in 1905 – all this long before Carnegie was established for men in 1933. Nonington PE College in Kent was founded by Gladys Wright in 1938 – and Lady Mabel College in Yorkshire was founded by Lady Mabel Florence Harriet Wentworth-Fitzwilliam in 1949.
Throughout the 20th Century these colleges were specialists in the training of PE Teachers, attracting sportswomen with a desire to pass on knowledge and provide opportunities for youngsters to enjoy physical activity, master new skills and to develop the rudiments of team work. Although each of these colleges has now been amalgamated with other institutions and become a part of a local university, many hundreds of PE teachers, with hockey as a specialism, were trained to teach and motivate youngsters to follow their dreams.
The net effect of this on hockey throughout the 20th century was that girls’ schools throughout the UK had PE teachers actively teaching hockey. A similar system did not exist in boys’ schools where hockey was mainly the domain of the Public Schools. Consequently, girls’ hockey and subsequently women’s club hockey really flourished, with more women than men playing our sport in the UK. This explosion of interest in hockey would not have occurred without the Women’s PE Colleges, who provided the disciples who went out and spread the gospel of hockey.
It should also be said that many of the PE teachers went far beyond the shores of Britain. Schools throughout the Empire and Commonwealth received such teachers, as did the USA and countries in South America. So, international hockey development also has a great debt to the Women’s PE Colleges. It will be interesting to see, at the end of our "50 Objects" project, whether any other factor can claim to have had such a big effect on the development of women’s hockey as PE Colleges have.
There is no doubt that on Friday 19th August 2016, many playing dreams were realised in Rio to the delight of many PE teachers as well as an admiring nation.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early September 2016.
The 1908 Olympic Gold Medal awarded to Gerald Logan.
The 1908 Olympic Gold Medal
One of our proudest possessions at The Hockey Museum is this Olympic Gold Medal from the London Olympics of 1908. The first gold medal awarded in hockey in the Olympics is not in itself one of the most important objects in the history of hockey. However, what it stands for most certainly is.
The inclusion of hockey in the Olympics is one of the most important factors in the development of our sport. It took hockey into a global sporting family that today sees hockey being played in 132 countries. Other British or ‘Empire’ sports such as cricket and rugby, which did not become Olympic sports, may have developed as greater spectator sports, but they have not become as international as hockey has become.
So, hockey owes a great debt of thanks to the organisers of the 1908 Olympic Games for the inclusion of hockey. Had they not done so it is very questionable as to when, or even if, hockey would have made it into the Olympics. In years gone by it upheld the truly amateur ethic of the early Olympic movement and today the Olympics is the undoubted pinnacle of our sport in contrast to some other Olympic sports, such as football. If hockey had not gained entry in 1908, when might it have been included?
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid July 2016.
Painted cricket ball (left), seamless ball (centre), seamless ball with interlocking panels (right).
The Leather Hockey Ball
The leather hockey ball started life as a cricket ball, adapted by painting it white to make it more visible on wintry and muddy grass pitches. That was in the 1870s and it remained the main ball for our sport for a century.
The only real change that this version of the leather ball underwent was that post-WW2 they were produced in white leather instead of cricket’s red. However, whatever colour the leather, these were a high maintenance product which need to be cleaned and painted after every usage.
Another fact, perhaps not appreciated by modern hockey players, is that it was necessary to use six to eight balls per match. Often it was the groundsman’s job to clean and repaint the balls, normally using a block of wood with a series of three vents that supported the balls whilst the paint dried!
In the middle of the 20th century sport was very traditional, so when it came to improving the hockey ball the first thought was to do it with leather. The main idea was to produce a seamless ball as the seam on a cricket ball had no relevance to hockey. Whilst the seam is integral to the sport of cricket it had no part to play in hockey. Indeed, it could be argued that the seam could alter the path of the ball, although on a grass pitch this was a debateable point.
Nonetheless, seamless balls were produced by applying (gluing) cleverly designed panels of leather that interlocked on to the core of the ball. Although seamless, these balls still needed frequent repainting but their performance was much improved. However, the cost was much higher so in the late 1970s and 1980s, with synthetic materials becoming more reliable, the leather hockey ball started to wane.
Initially ‘man-made leather’ or Porvair was used to cover the cores but this was short lived. The moulded practice balls gradually became accepted which enabled the inclusion of dimples to the surface of the ball that we all recognise today.
It will be interesting to see if the modern, moulded plastic ball will last for over a century as the leather ball did or if technological advancement will herald further evolution.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early July 2016.
The England Women's team that participated in the first international match against Ireland in 1896.
Hockey is unusual among team sports in that both women and men can and do play the game together. Whilst mixed hockey is a minor part of the game, it is enjoyed by large numbers in a 'real' game situation, something that is rarely seen or not possible for football, rugby or cricket.
The meteoric rise in the popularity of women’s football over the last few decades did not need to happen in hockey because the popularity was always there. When men started playing club hockey in the late 19th century it was not long before their sisters (literally) and friends started to enjoy the game. The fact that the first women’s international hockey match in 1896 (England vs Ireland) was only one year after the men’s is a case in point. Indeed, as this piece is being written (February 2016) we have information, as yet not ratified, that there was a ladies’ hockey club in Northampton in 1867, which is four years before Teddington men’s club was formed. One question to be answered is who did the Northampton ladies play against? But then it is known that Teddington men’s club did not have any opposition for a few years either.
Following Britain’s lead, hockey was adopted by women across the British Empire with the sport being taught in almost all girls’ schools including those in North America. By the second half of the 20th century there were more women players in the UK than men and women enjoyed significant representation in the USA, although there was greater disparity than that which currently exists. Consequently, women’s hockey has been a very significant part of hockey throughout the lifetime of the modern game. Certainly, hockey would not be where it is today if it had not been for the contribution and participation of women.
Moreover, the social factor, because women and men can and do play together, distinguishes hockey from other team sports. That so many relationships, both friendly and romantic, are formed within the hockey club environment makes a hockey club atmosphere unique from football, rugby and cricket from a social point of view; another significant example of how hockey has developed as a sport because of women.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" late March 2016.
Final Of The Olympic Hockey Contest In The Stadium, England vs Ireland:
English Forwards Awaiting A Corner Hit, 1908.
In terms of the aspects or objects that have helped to make hockey a truly international sport our participation in the Olympic Games must be one of the most important. Certainly today, i.e. in the 21st century, membership of the Olympic Family is essential to the standing of our sport. Hockey now has 132 nations affiliated to its international federation the FIH. Things have come a long way since the first international match in 1895 – 121 years ago.
Hockey was adopted into the Olympic movement at the London Games in 1908. There was no hockey at the 1912 or 1924 Games for two different reasons but, otherwise, hockey has been played at all Olympics since then. Following the formation of the FIH in 1924, the result of our absence from that year’s Games, our participation has been co-ordinated and organised by them. Women’s hockey was introduced at the Moscow Games of 1980 and at the 2012 London Olympics hockey enjoyed the second highest spectator support of any of the sports.
One of the main tenets of Olympic participation is that winning the Gold Medal should be considered the ultimate accolade within that sport, which is certainly the case for hockey. Indeed, hockey has much to be grateful to the Olympic movement for; as a result of our participation we have a strong and united International Federation and gender equality among our athletes with men and women competing side by side.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early March 2016.
East Molesey Ladies' Hockey Club, the oldest known photograph of a Ladies' club team, 1887
Hockey is a team game, which is probably one of the reasons that it has developed into such a popular sport. However, a team needs another team to play against in order to perform their sport.
Inevitably, the members of teams will become friends and there may well have been other ties that brought teams together, such as neighbours, family, schools, universities etc. This increased organisation saw these, initially ad hoc, groups becoming clubs.
As hockey, and indeed sport in general, became stronger, so did the clubs and before the end of the 19th century many such clubs had two, even three, teams. This was an amazing, almost explosive development from the formation of the very first club in 1871.
The clubs were the absolute conduit by which hockey developed into a popular sport and spread throughout Britain and, very soon, around the Empire and into the continent of Europe.
There are many other factors that helped hockey develop and become a popular sport but it was the formation of clubs that was the catalyst that brought it all together. The club system remains the bedrock of hockey to this day.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid February 2016.
The Blues Playing Hockey At Christ’s Hospital School, engraving, October 1883.
Of the many objects and aspects that have made the game of hockey what it is today this is arguably the most formative element that enabled the sport to develop. Yes, 'man' had played various types of stick and ball games through the centuries, indeed millennia, but not in any organised team manner.
Such organisation needed a more disciplined environment and this came about with the establishment of formal schools in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to the discipline of formal education – the three 'Rs' and much more – the education pioneers realised that their charges also needed recreation. This was to fulfil the need to educate both mind and body! Subsequently, sport and recreation were included in the curriculum.
We know for sure that hockey was being played at school in 1751. Organised as a team game and played according to some rules, currently we regard this as the start date for organised hockey. This date could well recede as we are constantly making new discoveries. Also, we do have a number of references to hockey being played before that date but these have yet to be validated.
Another point of interest is that there were little or no inter school matches, certainly not before the trains arrived (see Object no.6). Consequently schools tended to develop their own versions of hockey, using their own rules. We know of at least six individual versions of the rules at different schools, with some of them being girls' schools.
Consequently, the cradle of modern organised hockey, the forerunner to what we play today, undoubtedly started on the school playing fields of England over 250 years ago.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early February 2016.
The first Hockey Association minute book, 1886.
The First Hockey Association Minute Book
The Hockey Association (HA), the one that celebrated its centenary in 1986, was founded in 1886. Remnants from that era are few and far between but, at The Hockey Museum, we do have their first minute book, beautifully written in copperplate handwriting of the era.
However, it would seem that this first minute book is the only one to survive and its survival is purely by chance. In the 1970s a member of the HA Executive Committee borrowed this minute book to gain information on the history of his club.
This is normally the way that things go missing but, in this case, it is the reverse. When the HA suffered its troubles in 2002 all of its records appear to have disappeared. However, the one and first minute book lay in an attic for many years until it was offered to The Hockey Museum two years ago.
If you know of the whereabouts of any other HA material, please let us know.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid January 2016.
Viaduct Across The Great Northern Railway, engraving, 1851.
The Age Of The Train
Imagine for a moment that, as a hockey player or indeed a sports person of any sport, you lived in an era before any form of mass transportation. No cars, trains, busses, planes or even bicycles were available. The only possibility for transportation was a horse and cart, a stage coach (but only for the very rich) or you walked.
Whatever your sport, if you wanted to play a match against a local village or town, perhaps ten miles away, it would probably take about 3 hours to cover the distance, each way. Even this relatively short journey and a match would require a full day in which to achieve it.
Then came with the arrival of trains. In the 1830s and 1840s Britain became criss-crossed with railway lines and a transport revolution took place. It is little wonder, therefore, that the earliest record of a hockey club comes from Britain in the 1850s; and by the 1870s club hockey was taking off.
There is, however, a contradiction to these facts which poses interesting questions for hockey historians. Club cricket was well established in the latter third of the 1700s, over half a century before the trains arrived. As there are a number of similarities in the development of both these sports it is perhaps surprising that club hockey lagged behind club cricket by such a time.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early January 2016.
An Indian head stick, 1950-'70.
The Indian Head Stick
Many people feel that this is the item that has had the greatest effect on the development of hockey. The reason is quite simple: the shorter head meant that a player could move or dribble the ball by passing the (short) head of the stick over the top of the ball. This was something it was impossible to do with the English head stick and it thereby revolutionised the game. Dribbling with an English head meant keeping the head behind the ball, which was very much slower and relied a lot on 'dodging' and movement of the body.
The short head also brought in the use of reverse stick play. It was possible to stop the ball on the reverse side with an English head, but very difficult to propel the ball. You can do both with the Indian head. At the time of its introduction, some saw this as an unfair advantage!
It is difficult for modern players, who may not even have ever held an English head stick, to appreciate the dramatic change that took place. Your writer had an uncle who went to his grave convinced that the 'Indian dribble' was illegal because, to execute it, you had to place your stick between the ball and your opponent. In those days that could have been described as 'obstruction'. His brother-in-law, my father, disagreed as he learned his hockey in India and had only ever owned an Indian head stick.
Interestingly, the first stick my father bought for me had an English head. He told me to master the skills with the long head first and then move on.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid-December 2015.
A composite stick, c.1990s.
The Composite Stick
The wooden hockey stick reigned supreme from the earliest days of hockey, right through to the latter part of the 20th century. By the 1960s, however, fibreglass was being used to reinforce sticks but mainly to make them more durable.
Up until this point the flexibility of a stick was a major selling point. Science then began to creep in with the realisation that flexibility meant 'power loss'. Players increasingly demanded stiffer sticks to ensure that all the strike power was imparted to the ball. Wood alone could not provide the required stiffness, nor could stiffer wood absorb the vibrations of impact.
Consequently, through the 1970s and '80s, increasing use was made of various composite materials to reinforce, stiffen and dampen hockey sticks but the core of the sticks remained wooden. The ‘quantum leap’ to an all-composite stick started in the 1980s and became fully legal in 1998.
The term 'composite' means the use of man-made material such as fibreglass, carbon fibre and kevlar in the main though a few other materials were used. In very simple terms, fibreglass provides durability, carbon fibre gives stiffness and kevlar absorbs power and vibration. These materials are used in differing quantities to provide different playing characteristics at varied price points.
One fear that the hockey industry had when these sticks were introduced was that they would be indestructible and thereby last for ever! However, whilst they have proved to be much more desirable to the players, the relatively violent nature of stick use ensures that wear and tear and ultimately destruction remained very much part of the cycle. Moreover, wooden sticks have not been completely displaced as they are still used very extensively at the lower and development ends of the hockey world.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early December 2015.
An English head stick, c.1900.
The English Head Stick
These were the first custom-built sticks for hockey as opposed to the one-piece bent sticks procured from the hedgerows or woods. The sport of cricket was quite well established by the middle of the 19th century. The cricket bat is a bigger and heavier 'weapon', requiring durability to enable the batsman to strike the ball hard and for long distances. The bat makers developed a two-piece product with a 'V' joint, using willow for the blade and imported cane for the handle. The style of manufacturing process was transferred to the hockey stick, but willow was no good for the blade or head as it would not bend. So they turned to ash, which had long been used in furniture, had a proven ability to bend and perhaps more importantly, to retain its bend. Ash is also a harder wood so it could withstand the clashing of sticks.
It is not known when the first English head sticks were made but the most likely date is between 1850 and 1870. Production of these sticks continued, in England, until 1960; a century of production with virtually no changes in manufacturing method or materials.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" mid-November 2015.
First international match: Irish team photo from Hockey In Ireland (1944) by TSC Dagg, pp.128.
The First International Match: Wales Beat Ireland 3-0
The first four international matches that were played by England men were all against Ireland. These were in 1895, '96, '97 and '98. As this was around the 'birth' of international hockey and given that hockey was not being played in many countries at the time, repeat fixtures against the same opposition may not seem too surprising. What is a little surprising, however, is that the first ever international hockey match was contested by Wales and Ireland on 25 January 1895 in Rhyl, a few months before England played their first ever match against Ireland. Why then did England and Wales not play each other in that three year period? Will we ever know?
An event then, rather than an object but what an important occasion. Whilst those taking part would have been fully aware that it was the first international match for their respective countries, they could not have had any idea that hockey would become such a truly international sport and they were the first internationals globally. This was undoubtedly pure history. Whatever came after this would not be first; a fact I am sure that would not be lost on the English! One cannot help but wonder if there was not a little devilment in the hearts of the Welsh and the Irish when they arranged this fixture.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" early November 2015.
A classic hedgerow stick with very natural bends.
The Hedgerow Stick
It may be impossible to determine the most important object in hockey but this item probably has to come first in a timeline. Ancient man picked up a stick with a bend and propelled an object. The Egyptians are depicted with just such sticks 4000 years ago. They were easy to come by in the hedgerows or woods, being cheap and uncomplicated. The favourite wood for such hockey sticks in Britain was holly, often thought of as a bush but naturally it is a tree. It is slow-growing and therefore a hard and durable wood that often develops bends as it grows, making it ideal for a hockey stick.
The hedgerow stick predominated until the second half of the 19th century when cricket bat makers started making more sophisticated sticks. Owing to their simplicity they remained in use in schools up to the middle of the 20th century.
Added to "Hockey In 50 Objects" October 2015.