Jo Halpin (Journalist and research student at De Montfort University, England).
Jo’s current research project (registered for a PhD) is looking at the Lancashire and Cheshire Ladies' Hockey League (LHL), which was set up in Oldham in 1910 by Fred A Brown. The LHL is believed to be the first competition of its kind for women’s hockey in England, but it was quickly followed by smaller leagues in Bradford, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Stockport and Sheffield. In addition, the Civil Service and the London Women’s Training Colleges had their own championships. Such leagues were not allowed to affiliate to the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA), which believed in 'play for play’s sake' and, therefore, barred its members from competing for trophies and for championship titles.
Formed in 1895 by a group of Cambridge University students, the AEWHA was the first sports governing body to be run exclusively by women, for women and girls. As such, it did not allow men to hold executive office within any club or association affiliated to it. Its membership was also drawn almost exclusively from England’s upper-middle classes, who had learned the game at public school or university, and had the time and means to play – often in the middle of the week.
In contrast, men featured prominently in the administration of the LHL and matches were played on Saturdays to allow working women to take part. During its first season, 20 clubs competed in two divisions and Leigh were the inaugural champions. Holyrood lifted the Second Division title.
Jo Halpin is a professional journalist and part-time research student at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University.
Her main academic interest is the history of women’s hockey and she is particularly interested in the class and gender aspects of women’s hockey in England up to the start of World War 2 and hopes to shed light on this by looking at the relationship between the AEWHA – upper-middle class, strictly amateur, exclusively female-run – and the LHL, established for working women, and male-led.