Blasts From The Past

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Punch Almanack 1903
 

Cartoon from the Punch Almanack, 1903. The caption reads:
"We had a scratch game with the 'Black and Blue' Club yesterday, but had an awful job to get any men. Enid's brother and a friend of his turned up at the last moment; but they didn't do much except call 'offside' or 'foul' every other minute, and they were both as nervous as cats!"

 

Hockey rarely gets a mention on mainstream television outside of an Olympic year, and virtually never in the context of a drama series.

But the sport popped up in a most unexpected place on 9 May, when it was referenced in the BBC’s new Sunday night costume drama, The Pursuit of Love.

In the adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s bestselling novel about an upper-class English family between the first and second World Wars, domineering patriarch Lord Alconleigh informs his bookish niece Fanny that he does not believe in education for women, claiming it makes them lose their social graces and develop “thighs like gateposts” from playing hockey!

Granted, it’s not the most flattering of references – but it does throw a light on the prejudices that women of the time had to overcome to take part in their sport. In real life, similar sentiments had been voiced by critics of female athleticism – both men and women – from the moment women first picked up a stick.

Sections of Victorian and Edwardian society regularly warned about the dire consequences that playing hockey would have on women’s femininity and chances of motherhood, and newspapers of the day began referencing a creature known as 'The Hockey Girl'.

This creature was invariably a “muscular, hard-faced, tan-complexioned Amazon”, of “strapping proportions” and “a sturdy vigorous air”. She had, the critics said, a “hockey voice” (loud), “hockey elbows” (sharp) and a “hockey stride” (determined).

She was even charged with killing romance by one regional newspaper, which declared that to see female hockey players returning from a match was “to receive an object lesson in how not to walk and move. The ugly swing of the hips, the masculine stride, the waving arms… the voice… piercing and strident… it is difficult to believe that these beings belong to the feminine sex”.

A dance and calisthenics (gymnastic exercises) teacher, perhaps sensing her opportunity to drum up some trade, wrote to the London Evening Standard in 1905: “I shudder to think of the next decade. The hockey girl of today will then have become a nondescript woman, awkward in gait, clumsy in manner, muscular, masculine, and generally objectionable. It will take twenty years of devotion to the minuet [a two-person dance of French origin] to… bring back to English social and domestic life the graceful girlhood of the past.”

Luckily, there were at least as many supporters of women playing hockey as there were detractors. One father – writing in 1899, but infinitely more enlightened than Mitford’s Lord Alconleigh – said: “When my daughters come home on their bicycles from a match or practice looking rosy and bright, their mother and I are rather pleased than otherwise… We certainly prefer this to the ‘pallor and anaemia’ which… was so much admired by the decadents of a few years ago.”

A mother whose daughters were also “smitten with the hockey craze” agreed: “I am truly rejoiced to think that the girls of the present day are being educated in a more sensible manner, both physically and mentally, than formerly, and will, therefore, be better fitted to make their way in the world.”

Fortunately, this line of reasoning won out – leaving future generations of girls and women to enjoy The Pursuit of Hockey!

 

Punch 09121936 1      Punch 09121936
     
Cartoons from Punch magazine, 1903.

Cartoons from the British satirical magazine Punch or The London Charivari reflecting the impression of hockey as an unladylike game during the early part of the twentieth century. Punch magazine helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration. These cartoons explored societal perceptions amongst, for the most part, male high society groups, However, perceptions like the hockey-related ones of this article were not exclusively held by men – there were plenty of conservative women of the era happy to uphold such views, just as there were women who opposed to the campaign to give women the vote.

 

 

By Dr Jo Halpin

Sources: Daily Mirror, The Tatler, Midland Counties Tribune, Dublin Daily Express.

Blasts From The Past: An Introduction

This features page includes articles from hockey's rich history. With the ever increasing activity of The Hockey Museum, our research is constantly coming across fascinating stories from throughout the sport's history and across the hockey world. These are not current news stories although some may have been when they occurred....

Louis Charles Baillon: The Only Falkland Islander Olympic Champion

Louis Charles Baillon: The Only Falkland Islander Olympic Champion

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Alan Turing: WW2 hockey-playing hero features on £50 note

Alan Turing: WW2 hockey-playing hero features on £50 note

After the 2014 feature film The Imitation Game and other publicity most people are now aware of the amazing contribution made by Alan Turing and the remarkable team at Bletchley Park during World War 2. It is often said that their efforts helped the Allies to win the war and...

Christ’s Hospital's Jovial WW1 Charity Match

Christ’s Hospital's Jovial WW1 Charity Match

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Kenya Hockey Olympians Conference

Kenya Hockey Olympians Conference

I was delighted and honoured to be invited as one of the Guests of Honour at a virtual conference for Kenyan hockey Olympians on Sunday 30 May 2021. The invitation was extended by Hilary Fernandes, Kenya’s triple Olympian, and Raphael Fernandes, a Kenyan Los Angeles 1984 Olympian. Raphael co-ordinated the...

The ‘Hockey Girl’ And The Pursuit of Love

The ‘Hockey Girl’ And The Pursuit of Love

  Cartoon from the Punch Almanack, 1903. The caption reads:"We had a scratch game with the 'Black and Blue' Club yesterday, but had an awful job to get any men. Enid's brother and a friend of his turned up at the last moment; but they didn't do much except call 'offside'...

A Biography of Janet Macklin (née Smallwood)

A Biography of Janet Macklin (née Smallwood)

When Janet Smallwood (later Mrs Macklin) was awarded her first international cap for Scotland in 1951 she was not the first member of her family to have an international sporting honour – her father, Alistair Smallwood, was selected to play for England Rugby in the 1920s. Alistair was born in...

The Festival of Britain’s Grand International Hockey Tournament 1951

The Festival of Britain’s Grand International Hockey Tournament 1951

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Harvey Wood: England’s Mysterious Giant Goalkeeper

Harvey Wood: England’s Mysterious Giant Goalkeeper

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Bandy In Shakespeare

Bandy In Shakespeare

   Portrait of William Shakespeare, 1610. Possibly painted by John Taylor. There are several references to the word ‘bandy’ in the works of English playwright William Shakespeare, including one in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo, trying to stop a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, declares: “The Prince expressly hath forbidden...

Hockey-Playing Thespians Of The Edwardian Era

Hockey-Playing Thespians Of The Edwardian Era

  Frank Benson, actor and hockey players, inWilliam Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The Edwardian era would witness the peak of theatre going and its watershed moment as cinema arrived. It also witnessed a sporting boom – especially in hockey – and one club, Benson’s Hockey Club, had done...

It's A Date: Celebrating the First Scotland Women's International Match

It's A Date: Celebrating the First Scotland Women's International Match

By Katie Dodd      The first Scotland women's team, 1901. The 13 April 2001 is the 120th anniversary of Scotland women’s very first international match, played against Ireland in Dublin. I was first made aware of this special date during a conversation with Evlyn Raistrick, former Scottish and International...

Easter Festivals in Years Gone By

Easter Festivals in Years Gone By

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An Amazing Find As The Hockey Museum Links Up With The British Museum

An Amazing Find As The Hockey Museum Links Up With The British Museum

It’s not often that small, independent museums like The Hockey Museum (THM) have an opportunity to change the narrative of national history, but today we share some very exciting news concerning a highly significant archaeological collection – the Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo. Sutton Hoo gained a lot of...

Welsh Honours Caps: A Tale of Interrelated Research

Welsh Honours Caps: A Tale of Interrelated Research

By Elton Riches I was researching in The Hockey Museum (THM) library reviewing the early hockey periodicals for photographs or illustrations of player-issued caps. I located a black-and-white photograph in an 1898 publication showing the Welsh men’s hockey team wearing honours caps. Clear evidence that the Welsh national teams were...

Remembering Wembley

Remembering Wembley

On 3 March 2021 The Hockey Museum (THM) celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first England women’s hockey match at Wembley Stadium in 1951. In partnership with Talk Hockey Radio, we produced a podcast (The Special One - Epsiode 6) and video of the personal memories of Maggie Souyave, Anita White...

Wembley Was A Family Affair

Wembley Was A Family Affair

By Christabel Russell Vick I grew up knowing that the Wembley hockey international was the biggest fixture in the women’s hockey calendar. When I talked to my mother (Mary Russell Vick) about her hockey career, I was amazed to discover that these matches at the iconic Wembley Stadium were entirely...

The First Ever Women's International Hockey Match in 1896

The First Ever Women's International Hockey Match in 1896

   Action photo of Ireland vs England women, the first ever women's international hockey match in 1896.   2 March 2021 is the 125th anniversary of the first ever women’s international hockey match in 1896, between Ireland and England. Ireland beat England 2-0. The game took place on the Alexandra...

Unearthing Further Hockey Connections At Sutton Hoo

Unearthing Further Hockey Connections At Sutton Hoo

  Sutton Hoo excavation, 1939. Still from film made by Harold John Phillips.Public domain. In a recent article (click here) we covered the links that exist between the Netflix blockbuster film The Dig and our sport of hockey. Following that piece, we received news of a further hockey connection. If...

Digging Hockey: An Excavation of Edith Pretty's Links to Hockey

Digging Hockey: An Excavation of Edith Pretty's Links to Hockey

by Dr Jo Halpin.     Portrait of Edith Pretty by Dutch artist Cor Visser.© National Trust / Robin Pattinson   Edith Pretty is famous for unearthing an Anglo-Saxon burial ship on her land at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1939 – an event that has now been made...

In Search of The Hull & District Hockey Register

In 1900 there were just twenty clubs from the North affiliated to the Hockey Association (HA) causing some historians have been misled as to the game’s popularity outside of the home counties. In most northern towns and cities at this time hockey playing was increasingly popular. For example: in Hull...

Never Defeated By Wine Or In A Game: A Secret Edwardian Gentlemen's Hockey Club

Never Defeated By Wine Or In A Game: A Secret Edwardian Gentlemen's Hockey Club

   Cover of the Sticks Club Handbook, 1910   A fascinating item recently came into The Hockey Museum’s possession which threw an amusing light on a social activity in London hockey circles in the early years of the last century. It was the history of an exclusive gentlemen’s hockey club...

The Jean Arnold Collection: The Lord Mayor's Cup

The Jean Arnold Collection: The Lord Mayor's Cup

The Jean Arnold collection was donated to The Hockey Museum (THM) during lockdown and is now helping to uncover more of the once-hidden history of women’s league hockey.   Jean Arnold  Jean Arnold, a well-known figure in Liverpool hockey circles, has donated a large number of items relating to the...

Baffling Brass Buttons

Baffling Brass Buttons

  The Hockey Museum (THM) has recently acquired a set of blazer buttons that once adorned the England blazer of George Hardy. These buttons, emblazoned (ahem) with the HA logo of the Hockey Association, presumably made their way to Hardy’s fellow England player, Captain John Yate Robinson who passed them...

A Tale Of Principled Pilley

On 14 April 1935 (not 1938 as stated on this British Pathé YouTube clip), Germany women played England women in Berlin. The result was 6-4 victory for England. An unexpected tour given the precarious political situation in Europe. The England team line up: Eileen Arnold (GK), Mary Knott (Cptn), Marjorie...

A Rare Item In The Modern Hockey World

A Rare Item In The Modern Hockey World

The Hockey Museum recently received a Winchester HC fixture card for the 2017-2018 season. This came as a bit of a surprise as we knew that many (most?) clubs no longer produce such a publication. With the availability of information on the internet and social media they have become virtually...

Old Creightonians Archive Arrives With A Suprise

Old Creightonians Archive Arrives With A Suprise

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Terrific Trophies

Terrific Trophies

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The Work Of Preserving Hockey Heritage: Saving The AEWHA Scrapbook

The Work Of Preserving Hockey Heritage: Saving The AEWHA Scrapbook

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A Vintage Christmas Present? From India To The London Stage

A Vintage Christmas Present? From India To The London Stage

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An Early Easter Hockey Tour

An Early Easter Hockey Tour

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Bullets Stopped Play

Bullets Stopped Play

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Hockey Played In Antarctica

Hockey Played In Antarctica

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Bringing History To Life With Juan Calzado

Bringing History To Life With Juan Calzado

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An Update On The English Cup

An Update On The English Cup

In 2015 The Hockey Museum received an enquiry from Alan Lancaster. He sent two photographs, one a team photograph, which Alan thought was Newhey Ladies’ Hockey team. One of the photographs featured his mother Doreen Howles and her two sisters, Vera and June holding a cup which was believed to...

Three Antique Silver Cups From The Royal Navy HA

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The Grand International Match

The Grand International Match

During the First World War, the War Office often used sporting references to try to persuade sportsmen to enlist and an amusing notice in the book Ireland’s Call (by Stephen Walker) recently caught our eye.

The Liberty Bodice

The Liberty Bodice

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Hockey And Football: A Comparison

Hockey And Football: A Comparison

We recently acquired copies of a rare early sports magazine dating from 1906 – The Cricketer, The Hockey and Football Player. It was only published for just over a year taking in two cricket and one winter season. The magazines contain a number of interesting articles that make comment on...

An Illegal Hockey Stick

An Illegal Hockey Stick

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The Jet-propelled Hockey Stick That Didn't Take Off!

The Jet-propelled Hockey Stick That Didn't Take Off!

In response to the many enquiries that we receive at The Hockey Museum our volunteers are constantly trawling through hockey publications in search of information. These searches often take twice as long as expected because we find unrelated pieces that are very interesting. One such piece was discovered recently in...

Hockey On The Sand At Minehead

Hockey On The Sand At Minehead

Hockey players on the beach at Minehead with North Hill behind. Photograph by Alfred Vowles.  Unlike most of today's youngsters who learn to play on artificial pitches, Nan Williams, a former England international and volunteer at The Hockey Museum (THM), started her playing career on the sands of Minehead on the...

Have You Heard Of The English Cup?

Have You Heard Of The English Cup?

I have recently joined the many volunteers working with the The Hockey Museum. As I live in the Manchester area I am quite away from all the action, however I have recently been forwarded a couple of enquires from the Museum in relation to matters from the North! My first...

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