Can you help build the profile of women's hockey played at Wembley and encourage today's players to connect with their past history?
In 1951, the All England Women's Hockey Association (AEWHA) arranged the first of its 41 London Internationals to be played at the old Wembley Stadium. The programme for the day proudly announced that this was the first time that a women's team game had been played at the famous Empire Stadium. The only gap in this amazing record was 1970 when the condition of the Wembley pitch resulted in the match being transferred at short notice to The White City Stadium.
AEWHA was known for the indomitable women at its helm, and the establishment of this annual game at the home of football demonstrates their foresight, confidence and verve. With the co-operation of British Railways, the Chairman of Wembley Stadium, and the support of the Women's Hockey Field magazine, the AEWHA were able to sell enough tickets to make the first game viable, and indeed exceeded the target by recording an attendance of 30,000. In 1976, the attendance figures rose to a record 68,000.
Research into the history and the more personal stories of women's hockey at Wembley is one of the projects being undertaken by The Hockey Museum. Material from Bath University Library, where the AEWHA archives are in the care of the Archivist, Lizzie Richmond, has been used along with the personal records of Mary Russell Vick, Phyl Allison, Anne Merritt, Katie Dodd, Pat Ward and many others. The Hockey Field magazines have also been a great source of reference. With the help of all these records, we have been able to collate a database of all the visiting teams, the match results, players, umpires, attendance numbers and official guests.
The Wembley archive collection also includes;
- Copies of every Wembley programme from 1951-91
- A big selection of photographs and press cuttings
- AEWHA official records
- A selection of personal memories and scrapbooks
- Copies of the Hockey Field magazines for the 1951-1991 years
Players such as Val Robinson, Freda Walker and Karen Brown have sent us their stories and many other players and officials have sent their special memories of the games played adding to the fascinating information in this archive.
Perhaps you too, can help? If you feel you are able to contribute an interesting tale of journeys to and from Wembley, an experience in London on the day, of what happened in the game and what impressed you or what you remember of the atmosphere in the Stadium, please do so. Any programmes, pennants or other mementoes of your day which you could donate to the Museum would be gratefully received.
One of the Museum’s Volunteers, former England International Nan Williams has undertaken most of this research. Nan herself played at Wembley in the 1960s and this gives a very personal feel to the stories recorded. The Hockey Museum plans to publish this amazing story as a book in the coming year.