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As competitions were very much frowned upon, certainly in Britain, up until the 1950s it could be that this earliest hockey trophy might be a rather modern piece of silverware. However, whilst officialdom may have frowned upon leagues and cups, the competitive hockey players certainly found ways of playing for points and cups.

Modern players might find it difficult to believe that, as recently as the 1960s, hockey was totally amateur and no reward whatsoever was allowed. Contravention of this would undermine a player’s amateur status and could see them barred from participation in hockey under the auspices of the governing Hockey Associations.

It is a fact that the successful England women’s team that attended the first Women’s Hockey World Cup in The Netherlands in 1948 had to smuggle their winners’ medals back in their luggage. The report in the women’s magazine of the day, Hockey Field, made no mention of a competition or medals and instead described it “a festival”. It has only really come to light in the last few years following the discovery of a medal in one of the players’ belongings.

The 1908 Olympics was the first international hockey competition but there are no trophies in the Olympics and, as the amateur status at that time was absolute, there was no problem with the players receiving medals. Incidentally, it is believed that only gold medals were awarded in 1908 as there is no evidence of silver or bronze ever existing.

There was competition in this pre-WW1 era though. In the women’s game, the publication Ladies Field put up a cup which was played for on a percentage basis of the clubs’ results. However, to take part your club could not be a member of the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA). This led to some confusion when we first discovered that one team, Merton LHC, had won this trophy multiple times. Merton, we presumed, hailed from south-west London; but we now know they were in fact from Dublin. This was pre-Partition of 1922 and the Ladies Field Cup embraced clubs from anywhere in the British Isles.

The men also enjoyed competition in this era, albeit within the Armed Forces. Britain had a lot of men under arms at this time and competitive sport was a good way to satisfy their combative needs. A lot of military trophies still exist and some have transferred into civilian competitions.

Hockive Fact 23 St Leonards TrophyPerhaps the most enduring competitions came about as a result of WW1 and the need to recruit millions of women into munitions and industry. It was deemed that sport would be good recreation for these women and various sports leagues were set up in many industrial centres throughout Britain. Some of these leagues still exist today and have celebrated their centenaries. They were so well organised that in the 1930s that they formed national teams and the England Ladies Hockey League Association played international matches against the other Home Countries – for trophies!

In summary, we cannot state with absolute conviction which is the oldest trophy in hockey. The Ladies Field Cup dates from the 1890s so could well be considered a contender for the oldest hockey trophy. We also know of a splendid shield trophy (c.1888) from St Leonards School in St Andrews, Scotland, which was awarded for 'Goals' – a hockey-like stick and ball game – and is still awarded today (right; reproduced with permission from St Leonards School, St Andrews). It is perhaps more accurately two silver trophies from the Calcutta Hockey Club, a tankard dated 1864 and a salver dated 1865, which are now held in the National Army Museum, London.

“But” I hear you say, “that predates organised hockey here in England – let alone out there in the Empire” – and you would be right. In this instance, the word ‘hockey’ on these trophies means ‘polo’, which is sometimes referred to as ‘hockey on horseback’. Nonetheless, we believe that these trophies are the oldest in the world to bear the word ‘hockey’!

Hockey’s Five-a-side Future?

14 December 2015
Hockey’s Five-a-side Future?

Is this the beginning of the end of hockey as we know it? The introduction of Hockey 5s for the first time at a senior international tournament in the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea this summer was a potentially ground-breaking moment in the history of hockey. It is a...

THM Appoints A Collections Management Officer

16 November 2015

The Hockey Museum (THM) is delighted to announce that Karen Clarke will be joining us early in the new year to become our Collections Management Officer. Karen has a superb pedigree in the field of museum accreditation and collections management. She comes to us from the Hampshire Cultural Trust where...

Call For Tenders: To Lead A Study To Scope Hockey’s Worldwide Heritage

03 November 2015
Call For Tenders: To Lead A Study To Scope Hockey’s Worldwide Heritage

Organisation: The Hockey MuseumLocation: UK, Surrey, WokingClosing date: 27 November 2015Job type: contractSalary: budget in the region of £10,000 The Hockey Museum (THM), supported by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), plans to carry out a scoping study that will define an approach to the task of developing a worldwide network...

Spring Forward, Fall Back

03 November 2015

As the clocks go back The Hockey Museum continues to move forward. Grab a cuppa and enjoy the read... What an exciting and successful summer for The Hockey Museum! In early July we went into partnership with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to support them in one of their stated...

Ireland’s Call: Hockey Players Who Fell In WW1

23 October 2015
Ireland’s Call: Hockey Players Who Fell In WW1

One of The Hockey Museum’s (THM) volunteers, Peter Jackson, has been involved in the hockey research that supported the recent publication of the book Ireland’s Call: Irish Sporting Heroes Who Fell in the Great War, (published by Merrion Press) written by BBC journalist, Stephen Walker. The book follows the fascinating...

THM Talk: Australian Women's Hockey 05.11.2015

22 October 2015
THM Talk: Australian Women's Hockey 05.11.2015

Photo: Australian touring team 1970. Janet Beverly is in the back row, third from the right. On Thursday 5 November 2015 Australian international hockey player Janet Beverly will be presenting a talk entitled Australian Women's Hockey: From England With Love at The Hockey Museum, Woking. For more details visit the Upcoming Events page or...

THM Job Vacancy: Collections Management Officer

14 September 2015
THM Job Vacancy: Collections Management Officer

The Hockey Museum, Woking, Surrey.Collections Management OfficerAverage 3 days a week - flexibleExpected remuneration: c. £20k - 23k pro rataFixed term 1 year, with potential to extend. Freelancers welcome to apply. The Hockey Museum (THM) opened in late 2011, achieved charitable status later that year and is working toward Museum...

Ric Charlesworth And The Queen’s Reign

11 September 2015

Wednesday 9 September 2015, the day that our Queen Elizabeth II became the longest serving monarch in British history. Very significant coverage has been given to this event in all forms of the media. On the morning, BBC Radio Five Live had a wide ranging feature that included an interview with...

The EuroHockey Championships 2015: What Glorious Moments

07 September 2015
The EuroHockey Championships 2015: What Glorious Moments

As the Champions of Europe were triumphantly crowned on the field, we celebrated (off the field!) our largest ever exhibition. We hope you enjoyed watching the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 either on TV, through the various website channels, or live at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. If you visited The...

Get Your Hands On Newsletter Vol.6

19 August 2015

Our latest newsletter is now available to download. Catch up on all the latest going ons at The Hockey Museum by following this link. Shane Smith, 20 August 2015

Irish Match Statistics

18 August 2015
Irish Match Statistics

The Irish have done some great research work to pull together a full record of all the men’s international matches since the first game in 1895. The task has been completed by Steve Hines who admitted that it had been a labour of love to develop the database since he...

The Barry Middleton Collection

17 August 2015
The Barry Middleton Collection

In boxes, suit carriers and a suitcase came a collection commemorating the hockey history of Barry Middleton, England and Great Britain international and Olympic competitor. It showed just how diverse are the collections which we are given to preserve for posterity at The Hockey Museum. Sorting through the many and...

Another 'Wow Moment': A British Team In Europe In 1935

04 August 2015
Another 'Wow Moment': A British Team In Europe In 1935

It is not often that we learn of international matches that we are unaware of. We recently received an enquiry from a regular contact in Dublin, asking if we had any information on the British teams that visited Europe in 1935 and 1937. We certainly had not as, in our...

The Hockey Museum Gains International Recognition

15 July 2015
The Hockey Museum Gains International Recognition

The Hockey Museum (THM) Trustees are delighted to announce that the FIH Foundation for the Promotion & Development of Hockey (the FIH Foundation) and THM have signed an agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding) that formalises the collaboration between them to work together to preserve hockey’s heritage. The key aims are...

The Hockey Museum Is Helping Two UK Exhibitions

31 May 2015

On 10th June a sports exhibition titled Team Spirit opens at the Orleans Gallery in Richmond. We have provided some material relevant to their area. Also, at the moment, we have material in an exhibition in Alford Manor House in Lincolnshire to celebrate their local patron who was a hockey enthusiast. So,...

FIH President Drops By

16 May 2015
FIH President Drops By

FIH President Pays Whistle Stop Visit To The Hockey Museum Players in the Mercian Home Counties Colts Hockey League Finals at Guildford received a surprise visit when the International Hockey Federation (FIH) president, Leandro Negre, called in to make some presentations. He then went on to Woking to visit The Hockey...

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