News 2014

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Peter Smith GB cap 03
Peter Smith receives his cap from GB Hockey President Sheila Morrow.


On 10 March, Great Britain Hockey President Sheila Morrow travelled to Somerset to present Peter Smith with his honours cap. Peter is nowadays confined to bed but remains mentally very active. Sheila spent an enjoyable few hours reminiscing with him about his England and GB career as Peter shared his memories and memorabilia.

Peter’s cap award was only made possible through THM’s efforts to research definitive GB records and correct long-standing omissions. This work determined that Peter should be awarded caps for matches that were previously considered unofficial by the national governing body – there are rigorous criteria that a match must meet to become official which were agreed in partnership with GB Hockey during the course of the research project.

Peter earned his 5 GB caps during a Great Britain & Ireland tour to South Africa and Kenya in 1951. He is now officially recognised as a full GB international. His GB appearances were:

  1. vs South Africa in Cape Town – 18 August 1951
  2. vs South Africa in Port Elizabeth – 25 August 1951
  3. vs South Africa in Durban – 8 September 1951
  4. vs South Africa in Johannesburg – 16 September 1951
  5. vs Kenya & East Africa in Nairobi – 20 September 1951


Peter Smith GB cap 01

Avtar Singh Sohal Warrior


Avtar Singh Sohal (affectionately known as Tari), now 83, is widely respected as the greatest Kenyan hockey player of all time. His elite hockey career began when he represented British Kenya (Kenya was then a colony of the British Empire) during the Rome Olympic Games of 1960, continuing to play hockey for and captain an independent Kenya at a further 3 Olympic Games: 1964 (Tokyo), 1968 (Mexico) and 1972 (Munich).

Avtar was recently awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior – one of Kenya’s highest orders of merit – during the Jamhuri Day celebrations in December 2021. Earlier this month (March 2022) Avtar was further honoured by his hockey club – Sikh Union in Nairobi – with a permanent exhibition of his hockey memorabilia.

Avtar has retained close ties with British hockey, in particular with the South Asian diaspora community, many of whom emigrated to Britain from Kenya following its independence. Avtar was elected as Vice President of Spencer Hockey Club during the mid-2000s. Even though he is based in Nairobi, Kenya, he is well acquainted with Spencer and always visits and supports them when he is in UK.


The Exhibition And Event

On 1 March 2022, Sikh Union Club hosted an impressive event which saw the opening of a dedicated exhibition space in the Sikh Union clubhouse celebrating the lifetime achievements of Avtar Singh Sohal.

The afternoon began with Avtar taking a majestic walk through a guard of honour of raised hockey sticks mounted by former and current Kenyan internationals on the club’s ‘astro’ pitch – which Avtar was instrumental in creating.

View the guard of honour on YouTube by following this link: YouTube | Avtar Singh Sohal guard of honour.

The guest of honour for the event, Cabinet Secretary for Sports & Culture, Amina Mohamed, officially opened the exhibition. The exhibits of hockey memorabilia relating to Avtar’s six decades in hockey include uniforms, trophies, certificates, press cuttings, pins badges, medals and priceless historical photos.

Enjoy a tour of Avtar's lifetime achievements exhibition with organiser Deljinder Singh Mudhar (Del) by following this link: YouTube | Tour of Avtar Singh Sohal's exhibition at Sikh Union Club.


Avtar Singh Sohal exhibition 01

Avtar Singh Sohal's exhibition at Sikh Union Club, which showcases his
personal memorablia and celebrates his lifetime achievements.

Bottom right: Avtar (Tari) relaxes during a break in proceedings.

Avtar Singh Sohal exhibition 02        Avtar Singh Sohal at Sikh Union Club


To conclude the event in his honour, Avtar thanked his dear wife Ripudaman Kaur Sohal and his closing statement speaks volumes about the man’s humility and dedication to hockey:

“In a lifetime that has passed by eight swift decades filled with blood, sweat, and tears, I stand here this
evening a very grateful and humbled man as witness for all those who have been a part of my journey.”

Avtar’s exhibition is a dedicated area within the Sikh Union Club’s Mahan Hall of Fame, which celebrates the club’s past achievers across all its participant sports. Several of its inductees now reside in Britain.

The Mahan Hall of Fame was opened by International Hockey Federation (FIH) past president Leandro Negre on 19 September 2016. The Hockey Museum Founder-Trustee and Sikh hockey historian Diljit Singh Bahra (Dil) was instrumental in its creation alongside a great team from the club committee. For his efforts, Dil was made an Honorary Life Member of Sikh Union Club in February 2020.


Leandro Negre and Avtar Sohal 01        Leandro Negre and Avtar Sohal 02

Avtar Singh Sohal with FIH past president Leandro Negre at the opening of the Sikh Union Hall of Fame in 2016.

Image credits (above and below): Deljinder Singh Mudhar.


Personal Reflection

Your author (Tochi Panesar, The Hockey Museum Trustee) considers Avtar (Tari) a firm friend with whom he has spectated at the Rio Olympic Games and the 2018 men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar and is all set to spectate at 2023 men’s Hockey World Cup, also in Bhubaneshwar. Avtar’s enthusiasm for the game, personal drive and tenacity to make things happen is brilliant and infectious.

I am looking forward to the release of his illustrated photobiography which is due to be published later in 2022.

The instigators and drivers of event to commemorate Avtar’s lifetime achievements were the aforementioned Del Mudhar, a very able, hardworking and accomplished young man, and historian Dil Bahra. Both men are a credit to Sikh Union Club and to the international Sikh community, as of course is Avtar Singh Sohal.


Biographical Information

Avtar Singh Sohal:

  • Played in four Olympic Games and was captain in the last three – 1960,1964, 1968 and 1972.
  • Captained Kenya in their first ever World Cup in 1971 where they finished fourth, narrowly missing a place in the final.
  • Was Head Coach during the 1984 Olympic Games and a judge at Olympic Games in 1988.
  • Is Kenya’s most decorated and longest-serving hockey captain.
  • Has been awarded the post-nominal letters OLY by the World Olympians Association for taking part in 6 Olympic Games (4 as a player).
  • Has been awarded The order of the Grand Warrior, one of Kenya’s highest orders of merit.
  • Entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1979 for the most international hockey caps.
  • Was awarded the FIH Diploma of Merit in 2000.
  • Was awarded Head of State Commendation by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in 2005; and
  • Continues to coach the Sikh Union Club’s juniors – the Tigers.


Enjoy a fuller biography and career timeline of Avtar Singh Sohal by clicking the PDF icon to the right. The document was compiled by Del Mudher and Dil Bahra.

Alternatively, visit the Sikh’s in Hockey website: Sikhs in Hockey | Captains | Avtar Sohal


Tochi Panesar

Hockey Museum 87
Out-going Curator and The Hockey Museum Founder Mike Smith congratulates in-coming Curator Shane Smith.


On Thursday 24 February, The Hockey Museum (THM) ‘re-launched’ itself with a new exhibition for 40 or so invited guests. At this event THM’s creator, Mike Smith, announced his forthcoming retirement as Curator in April.

Mike has been the driving force behind the creation of the Museum, which was first muted 30 years ago, shortly after Phil Appleyard had organised the highly successful Hockey World Cup in Willesden, London in 1986. A small exhibition of historical gems had been assembled for show during the World Cup. It has all grown from there.

Mike’s enthusiasm for hockey’s heritage knows no bounds and he will continue to be involved with the Museum as a Trustee as well as a few projects of particular interest to him. Mike’s wife Judy has supported him throughout and is THM Librarian. THM has been a fully accredited museum since 2018.

I am also delighted to announce that our Assistant Curator, Shane Smith is to be promoted to Curator. He has worked closely with Mike for some 8 years and is a history and heritage professional.


Of these approaching changes Mike said:

“It is a situation that we have been working towards for some considerable time and I anticipate that it will be seamless. Shane is a true professional, as opposed to my ‘entrepreneurial enthusiasm’. Our strengths have blended well for some years. Shane combines his qualifications and expertise with a growing love of hockey. Over eight years, we have worked together to help develop The Hockey Museum alongside our colleagues, Trustees, and our great team of volunteers.

“Back in 2011 I would not have believed that the museum could be where we are today. It has been a true team effort of all those involved, as befits our sport. It has been a privilege and a pleasure.

“I will now be able to focus on the museum areas that really interest me, which, ironically, is what I was doing before the suggestion of a physical museum came about over a decade ago!”


Hockey Museum 84       Curatorial Team 2022

Left: Shane and Mike Smith (no relation) enjoy a moment of levity during the recent exhibition re-launch.

Right: The Curatorial Team at the exhibition re-launch: Carli-Lyn Vermani (Collections Officer),
Mike Smith (Curator), Shane Smith (Assistant Curator), and Marcus Wardle (Archivist).


The Hockey Museum is funded by hockey people throughout England and has some 70 volunteers who look after 56 varied collection and research areas, based out of our museum in Woking. The Museum is open to everyone either in person or online and has a free fortnightly e-newsletter, Hockey Shorts. Sign up to and view past issues of Hockey Shorts by clicking here: The Hockey Museum Linktree.

As a charity, the Museum welcomes donations, be they financial or heritage items. All hockey people will be amazed at the 80,000 or so items that have now been collected. Click here to learn how to donate: Donate to The Hockey Museum.


John F Willmott
Chair, The Hockey Museum

The Hockey Museum (THM) re-launched its exhibition on Thursday 24 February at our home in 13 High Street, Woking.


Unveiling of the Olympic Quilts

The centrepiece of the evening was the unveiling of the amazing five-drop Olympic Hockey Quilts created by local artist Pat Deacon. The artwork captures all the Olympic medals won by British hockey teams since the sport was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1908. It is colourful, intricate and spectacular, and covers over a century of hockey’s international history. The quilts must be seen to be truly appreciated. They will be displayed at THM for the rest of the year before going on tour.


Quilt unveiling with Pat Deacon 01        Quilt unveiling with Pat Deacon 03
The Hockey Museum unveils its five-piece Olympic Quilts with a special, insightful
talk by the artist, internationally renowned quilter Pat Deacon.
Olympic Quilts


Additionally, we used the occasion to make two very significant presentations.


Honours cap presentation to Tony Nunn

For several years now the volunteers at THM have been compiling the definitive records of England and Great Britain’s (GB) results. The GB records were completed prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games and one result of this is that all GB players, going back to 1920 for the men and 1965 for the women, are now eligible to receive their international honours caps. GB honours caps have never previously been presented. The Tokyo-bound squads received their caps before departure and the women returned with bronze medals. THM is now engaged in finding the 581 players, or their descendants, who have played hockey for Great Britain.

Last Thursday one of these players, Tony Nunn, received his cap, dating from his appearances at the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952. In his playing days Tony belonged to Hawks Hockey Club. They played on the Byfleet Cricket Club ground in Woking and he lived in Pyrford. It was an emotional presentation to the 94-year-old Olympian. His cap was presented to him by three-time Olympic hockey goalkeeper Simon Mason who also lives in Woking, so all in all a very local and very poignant presentation.


Tony Nunn cap presentation 03   Tony Nunn cap presentation 01
Hockey Olympian Tony Nunn (Helsinki 1952) receives his Great Britain
honours cap at The Hockey Museum on the 24 February 2022.
Tony Nunn cap presentation 02



Automaton presentation to David Wareham

The local theme was very much continued with a presentation to Woking-born David Wareham, formerly secretary of Woking Hockey Club. David, together with another local Mike Smith, was responsible for founding THM thirty years ago. David recently retired as a Trustee of the Museum. His presentation was a remarkable automaton that depicts the four phases of David’s working and hockey life revolving on a mechanised carousel: surveyor, stamp collector, hockey goalkeeper and hockey umpire. A true piece of art in its own right.


David Wareham presentation 02        David Wareham presentation 01
The Hockey Museum Founder Trustee David Wareham is presented with a unique
automaton created by Gerald Dare to recognise 30 years service to the Museum.


After the presentations, guests were free to chat and explore the museum taking in the new exhibits and others which have been modified and enhanced. Upstairs there was a demonstration of our early digitisation progress with THM Archivist Marcus Wardle, and insight from our honours caps expert Elton Riches. Collections Officer Carli-Lyn Vermani conducted behind-the-scenes tours of the museum stores, wowing visitors with hidden gems and insight into the professional standards of the museum.


Store tour with Carli 01       Store tour with Carli 02
Caps with Elton 02   Caps with Elton 01


pdfThe evening made for real hockey history. Those who attended felt privileged and a little emotional to be present at such a uniquely memorable event.

Read the Woking News & Mail's coverage of our event by clicking the PDF icon to the right.


Curatorial Team 2022
 The Curatorial Team at the exhibition re-launch: Carli-Lyn Vermani (Collections Officer),
Mike Smith (Curator), Shane Smith (Assistant Curator), Marcus Wardle (Archivist).
1974 wembley val robinson
Val Robinson in action at Wembley stadium in 1974.


The Hockey Museum (THM) is very saddened to hear news of the death of Val Robinson on Sunday 13 February. The 'hockey family' will mourn the loss of one of their greatest players. Val played for England from 1963 through to 1984 amassing what was then a world record number of 149 caps along with 21 GB caps. She was sadly denied an opportunity to play on the Olympic stage by Great Britain Hockey’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

It is hard to exaggerate the love and respect that so many international players, club players, schoolgirls and supporters had for this very wiry, elegant and determined player – she captured the imagination of so many. Val was also one of the first women players to gain fame outside the hockey world following her victory in BBC Superstars in 1979 and 1981.

Val reached her 80th birthday in mid-December. She had been living with cancer for over a year but being a very private person, she did not share this difficult battle with other than her family and closest friends until a couple of months ago. She died peaceful at home.

A full obituary will be posted on the Obituaries section of The Hockey Museum website when available. Click: Val Robinson Obituary.

The funeral will take place at Accrington Crematorium, Burnley Road, Accrington, BB5 6HA at 13:40 on Wednesday 23 February; and then afterwards at Accrington Golf Club, Devon Ave, Oswaldtwistle, Accrington BB5 4LS. The family have asked that people wear bright clothes.

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15 December 2014

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First THM Quiz Winners

15 December 2014
First THM Quiz Winners

At this year’s London Investec Cup back in July, the Museum ran a quiz for the many school parties who visited the event and came on to the Museum stand. The school children were given a set of questions where all the answers could be found somewhere among the exhibits. We...

Mrs Belchamber, Miss Bettine And Miss Ellis

15 December 2014
Mrs Belchamber, Miss Bettine And Miss Ellis

I was in The Hockey Museum one Tuesday morning and was asked to look up some information to help answer an enquiry from a man researching his family tree, whose mother, Mrs Belchamber, played for England in the 1920s. He had some information and a letter dated 23 October 1920...

Lord Gets Off The Bench And Picks Up His Hockey Stick

14 November 2014

This article was spotted in a recent issue of the Scotland on Sunday newspaper. "The recent retired chairman of the Scottish Land Court, Lord McGhie, shows no signs of slowing down. Just a week or two after stepping down from his exalted position, the good Lord will be turning out in...

Robert Watson Collection

19 September 2014
Robert Watson Collection

The recently acquired Robert Watson collection contained three unusual items (pictured). Two are silver hallmarked pin badges from the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics. The third is believed to be a cufflink from the 1948 London Games but we are missing its partner. Mike Haymonds, September 2014

Lost Collections: Bill Malherbe Of South Africa

07 September 2014

Probably the first real collector of hockey material was Bill Malherbe of South Africa, although the claim might be hotly contested if anyone knew what was in Ken Howells’s (of Teddington Hockey Club and Wales) collection. Sadly, his total and vast collection was thrown away shortly after his death, so...

Museum Stand At The Investec Cup

02 August 2014
Museum Stand At The Investec Cup

The Museum’s stand at the Investec London Cup held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Olympic Park was a great success, attracting even more visitors than last year’s stand and proving a hit with adults and children alike. The display of sticks is always popular with...

The Cine Films Mystery

08 July 2014

The Museum has been given four large collections of hockey films which have been recorded on film reels. Rowena Shepherd, the Museum volunteer leading in this work, commented: “At the moment we really only know their titles. They are a mixture of films of hockey events and matches such as...

Investec London Cup, 9-13 July

01 July 2014

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Memories Of Wembley Stadium

23 June 2014
Memories Of Wembley Stadium

Nan William’s work to uncover the full history of the playing of hockey at Wembley Stadium continues and she has recently received some fascinating stories from former internationals Karen Brown, Sue Slocombe and Val Robinson. In an attempt to also find some local knowledge of this annual hockey event, she...

Even The Gods Played Hockey

20 June 2014
Even The Gods Played Hockey

This mosaic, an image of the god Pan from a Roman villa, was recently seen by The Hocket Museum volunteer Evelyn Somerville in the Archaeological Gardens at Paphos, Cyprus. It was created during the 3rd century AD.

Club Mugs

18 June 2014
Club Mugs

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War Stories

09 June 2014
War Stories

The Hockey Museum calls for hockey military stories as the centenary of WW1 approaches. Click on the image for the full article.

Museum Volunteers Needed

27 March 2014

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26 February 2014

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How Old Is Your Club?

18 February 2014

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The Oldest Club Archive

10 February 2014

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03 February 2014

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) are very impressed with what we are achieving at The Hockey Museum after their two top executives visited us at Woking last July. A special 'there-and-back-in-a-day' visit made us realise that they were serious. The FIH's mission statement includes a commitment to history and heritage...

20 years in Storage

02 February 2014

By Mike Smith Two collections that have arrived at the Museum have actually been with us for over twenty years. They were collections given to us as a ‘fledgling set-up’ but, with the loss of our first home in Milton Keynes, they were never updated and sorted. This fascinating job...

Initiatives To Promote The Museum

01 February 2014

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FIH President visits the Museum

25 January 2014
FIH President visits the Museum

By Mike Haymonds Leandro Negre, FIH President, made his first visit to the Museum on Wednesday and pronounced himself “very impressed” with what he saw after a guided tour with Chair of Trustees Katie Dodd and Curator Mike Smith. He spoke with many of the volunteers about the work they...

More Lost Collections

24 January 2014

When we met with Leandro Negre, President of the FIH, at the Hockey Writers’ Club Luncheon last year, he said: ”This haemorrhaging of historical hockey material has got to be stopped.” Yes, Leandro, but how do we stop it? Within an hour we learned that the collection put together by Don...

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22 January 2014

The Museum has started researching the origins and development of hockey in North Africa as we already know that ‘hockey-like’ games have been played in many countries in this region for generations. We have images of a game called ‘Genna’ being played in Ethiopia (see item in December’s newsletter), ‘oggaf’...

The Wagstaffe/Miroy Trunk

21 January 2014
The Wagstaffe/Miroy Trunk

Whilst collecting the Miroy collection and helping to clear the house we came across this old trunk in the loft. With the name Wagstaffe on it we realised that it dated from Barbara’s father who founded the Folkestone Hockey Festival. It was through the Festival that Barbara and Nevil first...


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