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Book Reviews No Number Nine

At the recent Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018 held in London, The Hockey Museum (THM) had its own exhibition in the Fan Zone at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was complimented by a small shop selling replica historic sticks, stamps and books amongst other things. There was a certain buzz among the museum volunteers for a new book that we were selling, No Number Nine, a work of fiction based around hockey at an Olympic Games. Multiple volunteers were reading – off duty! – and passing the book between them while discussing some of their thoughts. Hearing the chatter was exciting; I decided I had to have a read for myself.

Now I should state that I am not a hockey player. I have worked for the museum for over a year now and have picked up some knowledge of the game. Yet coming to the book with only a small amount of hockey knowledge, I was slightly intimidated by the topic. What if there were detailed descriptions about short corners or penalty flicks? Would I be able to keep up? Would the language be too technical?

No Number NineThe story starts with Pip, a young girl trying to escape her past, a negative experience of hockey and the sudden death of her sister by running away to Germany to au pair for two young boys. Once there it is not long before Pip discovers she has not left hockey behind her at all, but instead walked into the family of Leo and Billy, older brothers to the boys and both German international hockey players. As the story progresses we follow Pip, the web of lies she constructs to hide her past and the German men’s hockey team to the Olympic Games on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia. At the Games, Pip’s world is turned upside-down when she is dramatically forced to face her past as it collides dramatically with her present.

If I had to give a criticism, and I do so reluctantly, it would be that every so often the format changes to be written as a script. To begin with this is obvious that this represents Pip’s imagined conversation with her deceased sister. However, the fact that these scripts represent Pip’s daydreams is not confirmed and, as the book goes on, she starts to picture conversations with living characters, it gets slightly confusing what to take as real and what is imagined.

Overall the book is a whirlwind of emotions as I cringed, laughed and cried along with Pip. Overall, my limited hockey knowledge in no way impaired my reading or enjoyment of the book (as evidenced by my well-thumbed copy above) and I sit here writing this anxiously awaiting a sequel so I can re-join Pip, Billy and Leo in their adventures on and off the hockey pitch.

Holly Parsons, THM Curatorial Assistant, October 2018

A novel with a flawed but strong female lead character, who readers will not help but to like.

A story about grief, family conflicts and first love, with a dramatic background of hockey and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

No Number Nine is a work of fiction, based around the last few awkward teenage years of a young ex-hockey player ‘Pip’ Mitchell.

After the death of her beloved sister and disastrous relationships, hoping for a new life Pip decides to make a fresh start. She embarks on a journey to Munich where she seamlessly slips into au pairing with the very wealthy Von Feldstein family. As Pip discovers the true identities of her new employers, it stirs up a wealth of emotions, painful memories and new challenges.

Together they all set out on the sporting journey of a lifetime to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This certainly will be a life changing journey, but most definitely not in the way Pip expected.

No Number Nine is a coming of age story about an eighteen-year-old girl, It is well written and would appeal to the younger adult audience; readers around the same age of the main character Pip, could certainly get pulled in by the haphazard way she is navigating a difficult and sometimes painful time in her life. FJ Campbell writes so that you empathise with the characters involved and you begin to root for this unlikely heroine in every aspect of her journey. The writer takes you on this journey of experience with the characters, with all her ups and downs and once you start reading, it’s a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns and some unexpected events. At times hard and difficult themes are covered but you cannot help but want to keep reading. It’s one of those novels where finishing the book is a must. This soul-searching book with its romance, humour, emotion and tension, all with an underlying hockey theme, is a quirky read that its readers may find hard to put down.

Nic Rogers, The Hockey Family, 2018


Additional Information And Purchasing

For more information about No Number Nine and other books penned by FJ Campbell, please visit:

No Number Nine is on sale in the Museum shop at 13 High Street, Woking. Alternatively, it is available via PayPal using the email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for £10.00 plus postage and packing (UK £2.50, Europe £5.75, rest of the world £8.00). To send a cheque, please contact the shop (using our contact form) for further details.

ISBN 978 178 901 3344


Editor: The opinions presented in this article are those of the individual reviewer of this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

The Hockey KidsHere at The Hockey Museum we get very excited when something new relating to our sport is released so you can imagine the excitement when we got wind of a new children’s book featuring hockey. A week later when our copy arrived in the post there was debate around the office on who got to read it first. Your author was the lucky winner and as such got nominated to write the review for the website.

The story of the book follows three friends and some class mates who sign up to play hockey following a new programme of activities at school. They go through a roller coaster of problems including their coaches being unavailable for training and the tournament they are playing in being cancelled.

From the beginning the book tackles several difficult issues including the opinion that hockey is a girls’ sport when the two main male characters express how they don’t want to play hockey because it is for girls. The book disparages this view when one of the coaches is male and the team is mixed gender.

In total, there are 8 players on the hockey team in the book. Their personalities and traits cover a number of typical issues prevalent within any sports team including being nervous before a match, one player taking charge without the agreement of the rest of the team and issues around body image. Through the book we see the characters facing these issues and learning how their traits and the way they each project themselves can affect others in the team. It is a celebration of the unifying quality of team sport.

The only criticism of the book is that in places the translation from the original German is not nuanced. For example, our hockey trio compete in a “read-aloud contest” rather than a “reading contest” in their school class (“read-aloud” being a literal translation of the German “vorlesen”). Although this and other similar errors did not distract from the story, I had to do a double take to check I had read it correctly. As I was reading it myself there was no real issue with this but it did occur to me the issues this could produce if reading it aloud to children or them reading it themselves.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and was feeling nostalgic about playing football at University and it got me thinking about looking in to joining a local team sport again.

Find out more about Sabine Hahn and The Hockey-Kids at

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Great Britain Hockey Story

As hockey fans, seldom do we gain access to a compendium of our national team’s fortunes covering half a century. This book, cleverly crafted by one of hockey’s most respected and enduring journalists, Bill Colwill, offers the reader a tremendous insight into the history of the Great Britain men and women’s teams to the year 2000.

What will first grab your attention will be the sheer colour and vivid presentation of a booklet of 64 pages. Bill, with his renowned attention to detail, also chronicles the playing records of all the Olympic teams and players of this era. This undoubtedly is a challenge for the writer to intertwine existing action shots with the more mundane lists of international statistics.

Central to this booklet is the close connection between Bill Colwill and his subject matter. His prose not only captures the eventful history of Great Britain’s Olympic teams, but also the specific atmosphere of each generation of international play. It is because Bill was a journalist at The Independent newspaper covering hockey on a daily basis, that he was able to present the insider’s view of hockey in the twentieth century.

As a playing and coaching participant during this same era, I have to confess in this review that I may not be 100% objective. Nevertheless, Bill’s coverage of the unfortunate inadequacy of preparation for the Olympics in the 1960s, his view on the sheer tragedy for the individuals caught up in the negative bans and boycotts of the 70s, allied to the thrills and spills of our Olympic medals of the 80s, strike all the cords of sporting joy and desolation that only the Olympiad could engender.

At all times, Bill writes sympathetically with customary understatement on extreme issues, but his probing is invariably effective in demonstrating the contrasts that the world of hockey imposed on the British Olympic scene. Maybe the author could have delved into some of the underlying contentious debates on the dilemma of selecting from four separate national teams, and why it really took so long for our women to come to the Olympic party? Still, Bill Colwill never was one to rock the boat, the text remains positive at all times.

Personally, I would like to have had more words from the playing and coaching icons. Could we have heard from base camp, the views of Denys Carnill, Bill Vans Agnew, Bernie Cotton, Jane Sixsmith, Karen Brown, Roger Self and Graham Nash, all distinguished Olympians?

The Great Britain Hockey Story, brilliantly supported by Peter Luck’s photography, is a feel good book reflecting a topsy-turvy evolution of our Olympic years. You will not read a better account than from anyone as Bill Colwill, who as an admiring schoolboy in 1948, not only then witnessed the special attraction of the London Games, but also became very much a part of them through his coverage.


Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

On The Origins Of Hockey Carl Giden

This work by three members of The Society for International Research reflects years of patient study into the great game we generically refer to as hockey. Academic it certainly is, but do not let that phase you at all, because On The Origin Of Hockey possesses a multitude of gems and surprises, and is a source for great reading entertainment.

At first I was rather daunted by the prospect of tackling such scholarship and historical detail. The reader must never neglect that, of its 268 pages, 38 are devoted to chapter notes and references which offer even further enlightenment on the subject matter. The book undoubtedly carries the contribution of a triumvirate of experienced analysts, intent on delving into journalistic areas where no one else dared to tread, and those areas cover a timespan of over 200 years.

The authors preface this edition with the motivation of discovering the truth and attempting to define the early and developing stages of the sport that was to be broadly termed hockey. Quotes and references from Charles Darwin, Eton College and even on to royalty permeate the struggle to establish where the origin of the hockey species lies. Suffice to say, before this outstanding work, the mere mortals of hockey folk really have been totally in the dark as to how the game evolved from a hit-about with initial walking sticks to a sport destined for huge ice rinks – and AstroTurf stadia!

The reader, in approaching this book, must have an open mind to the term hockey and remember that On The Origin Of Hockey was written by two Swedish gentlemen and a French-Canadian brought out of the deep freeze of six month winters! They do, however, accept the fact that hockey evolved from primarily English roots of fenland and metropolitan experimentation as the annual nine months of 'field' hockey gave way to a perilously inconsistent winter time of "hockey on the ice". Their combined journey in this book attempts to underline the juxtaposition and interaction of the various forms of hockey as it mutated into the beginnings of ice hockey.

Some of the early terms for hockey's name were hilarious: bandy, hocquei, shinty and the delicious break-shins! Equally, with further research to its name, the authors made a reassuring case for the modern Bacchanalian player in proving the link between the frothy brew and the actual name, hockey:

"In 18th century England the good supply of these types of beers led to the word of hockey becoming associated with drunkenness!"

The historical debate continues throughout the book in how hockey moved towards a more organised pursuit with the advent of those limiting factors, rules. As of all things Victorian, the game's core values were superseded by the quest for violence and skulduggery with an ever threatening weapon and a progressively harder ball. Inevitably, until later in the century, there was no room for women. Even spectating took its injury toll.

From London schools via military academies to service overseas, the embryonic game was taken to Canada, climatically ripe for the version on ice. Not unknown to the Dominion in its earlier forms on ground and ice, Canada soon moulded hockey into its national identity, even though the first organised ice hockey tournament in Montreal in 1875 took the (field) rules of the Hockey Association of England.

For academics and hockey practitioners of all types, stay with this excellent book that can easily lay claim to be the authoritative work on the origins of the sport of hockey.


This book is available to buy now from online retailers including Amazon (ISBN 978-0993799808).

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Published by, 2012. A British female hockey player's journey to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and the London 2012 Olympic Games …

From Tears To CheersThe dilemma of writing what is essentially a biography about one's own daughter is how to present the book successfully in more than just a subjective way. It will be for the reader of From Tears to Cheers to determine whether Phil Thomas struck a healthy balance. He certainly made it clear in the foreword and introduction that the book was a recording from a proud parent depicting a sporting journey of a double Olympian.

There is no doubt that Sarah Thomas's story has all the trimmings of a hockey player brought up in an unfashionable part of Wales, let alone Great Britain (GB). Merthyr Tydfil born and raised, she was to defy the odds to reach the ultimate heights of world hockey.

Simply to compete beyond Wales at GB level was an outstanding feat in itself. To continue on a path from initial disappointment of non-selection and qualification in Athens in 2004 to the achievement of playing in the Beijing Olympics, then winning the bronze medal at London 2012 reflected greatly on Sarah's drive and character. As a role model for young players, Sarah stands tall, right up there on the podium for all to admire.

Yet, here is where the author stood still in his account of her long sporting tale. Poignantly, there is hardly a single word or quote from the subject matter, Sarah, in the entire narrative. As readers, we hardly get any insight from her, an educated graduate. We are left in the dark about her, her team mates and those inter personal relationships between the squad's coaching and management staff and the GB players.

The author constantly and appropriately reminds us of Sarah's positive qualities in the text but many questions remained unanswered. For instance, how did she cope as a proud Welsh woman in an English dominated team? When advised to improve her overall game in Holland, which areas did the Dutch coaches concentrate on? And why was there so little detail on her seasons at Rotterdam? Finally, what was Sarah's take on her international opponents?

Sarah's input into these parts of her career would have shed fascinating light on to who she really is and how she had developed during her decade at the top. The narrative seldom expands beyond her form, the next game and whether she would be selected or not. Subjectivity remains something of an issue too. There is a barely concealed tendency to shield his daughter from criticism, notably when scenarios did not go her way – a father’s prerogative one might argue – and instead, critique is applied to fellow players, umpires and selection decisions.

Additionally, for such a colourful book cover, it was rather surprising not to have even one page inside dedicated to photographic content. Surely over eight years in international hockey and substantial time spent in the Netherlands could have yielded some instances of Sarah’s experiences in pictorial form?

These negatives are a shame because there are areas of the book that are genuinely interesting and enjoyable to read. Phil Thomas’s adventures in Beijing, for instance, reveal how tough it was to adapt both on and off the field to cultural contrasts! Indeed, more could have been written throughout the book on the struggles of living a newly found full-time professional life style, and both how Sarah and her parents had to adapt to this as a requirement for selection.

Phil Thomas has definitely made a case for his daughter's legacy; however, the content seldom strayed from narrow personal achievement and ambition. Sarah's journey was certainly long and impressive, though it is a shame that the author did not let us know very much of her personally.


Phil's book is available to buy now from online retailers including Amazon (ISBN 978-1291115918).

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Published by Amazon, 2012.


1309 Days Later John PenningntonJohn Pennington's account of the plight of a never ending losing team may resonate with small sports and hockey clubs up and down the land, its rendition of a three year period when Grantham, a backwater hockey club in the east of England, experienced three entire seasons of losing every league game. The book will definitely strike a chord amongst the broad church which makes up the recreational hockey player in this country.

He hides his frustrations very well within a light and attractive style, seldom explaining away the pointless pursuits of his club's players at hockey's margin. Nevertheless many participants out there will identify with and almost champion the absence of players, the scarcity of quality pitches and the reliance on schoolboys and ringers to make up the numbers as testament to the spirit of hockey.

The irony of the title, 1309 Days Later, is that they were reached, indeed breached with a league win at just over the half way stage of the book. The remaining sector following this climactic occasion continued on in the same vein as a rather dreary catalogue of match reports. To labour through the monotony of the text describing the team's matches from season to season meant that the reader could easily flick through the 110 pages and regrettably report, just more of the same.

The author surely missed a trick here when he could have delved behind the scenes to take a look at the personalities off the field and how their hockey interacted with their professional lives; even to debate their combined efforts to improve, willing or not. Notwithstanding some amusing articles in the local press, his own sense of humour was rather underplayed in the book as there were and must have been more introspective and irreverent instances that would have provided an interesting insight into hockey at the blunt end.

Regrettably, the reader is left not really knowing any details of the lives of these loyal sportsmen other than through statistics, score lines, and league positions. The title of the book really does overshadow its content, but it remains a quaint but genuine reminiscence of the author's fond memories of what might soon become the forgotten breed of men and women in English hockey.


Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Published by Gall & Inglis, 1860.


Ernest Bracebridge WHG KingstonA surprising number of hockey books are published every year and sometimes it takes The Hockey Museum (THM) a while to become aware of them as hockey is not mentioned in the title. In the case of biographies and autobiographies it can take even longer for us to learn of references to our sport. The library at the THM has some 1,500 titles but, if you know of any book that contains a reference to hockey that is not in our list, please let us our Librarian know (contactable through our contact form).

The subject of this review was published over 150 years ago and contains a chapter on hockey. It is a book about school days in early Victorian times and gives a very good description of how a match was played at this particular school, the name of which we do not know. The rules described are vaguely similar to how we know hockey was played at that time. The pitch tended to accord with the piece of ground available, often bounded by hedges. There were goals, although not described, with a line twenty yards in front to define the striking area. The number of participants would vary according to how many were available and, in this instance, it was forty-a-side! The game was played in four sessions – so nothing new in the modern rules then! The game finished as a 3-1 win for the team portrayed by the author to be "the good guys".

Not a riveting read but an interesting observation on the game we all love. For those who also play golf there is an interesting chapter on how golf was played 165 years ago with a number of rules very different from today.

This book was only brought to THM's attention at the end of 2015 and, together with other older gems from the library, leads us to conclude that there are hundreds more titles waiting to be discovered.

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Hockey Dynamic GFeatherstoneThe Hockey Dynamic is a thoroughly good read which will appeal to all hockey lovers, but will also be of great interest to general sports fans. Gavin writes in a style where his enthusiasm for hockey shines through honestly and clearly.

His years of experience across the world lend authority to the text supporting the widely held view that he has always encompassed the many changes that have influenced the sport's development over the last half century.

The Hockey Dynamic successfully juxtaposes the role of individual pioneers, previously unheard of, with the ongoing technological forces in the game. This is a big book in terms of its coverage across the continents, even promoting the lessons that hockey has learned from rival sports. Yet, the personal emphasis is never forgotten as he interviews the 1972 Ugandan Olympic captain sent to the Games, but banished on his return, swaps views in an enlightening exchange with German Director of Coaching, Heino Knuf, and tells the extraordinary story of hockey video and a Californian playboy surfer!

Gavin explores in detail the introduction of astroturf and the scientific evolution of goalkeeping kit; topics which are primarily aimed at those who have played hockey, but also at all sports enthusiasts (especially those that have moved from amateur to professional) who will find substance and value in his treatment of video analysis, academies and institutes, umpiring and rule progressions and governing body politics.

This book is very much written in the third person, but it is very difficult to shy away from the conclusion that the author has been intrinsically involved with the fascinating themes that make up this objective story.

A highly recommended read from one of hockey's great personalities and thinkers.


Gavin's book is available to buy now from online retailers including Amazon (ISBN 9781591642381).

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Most people take playing hockey and a long life for granted. For one English hockey player, these things have never been taken for granted but hockey has proved to be his saviour …


How Have I Cheated Death Tim WottonTim Wotton has spent his whole life battling the hereditary illness cystic fibrosis (CF) and recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes and four years ago he reached 40; an incredible milestone for CF sufferers. He has also written a book, How Have I Cheated Death? which charts the importance of hockey to his survival.

Tim says, "Without a shadow of a doubt, a large part of my longevity in defying CF can be credited to the amount of sport I have played throughout my life; mainly hockey."

However, exercise is not at all straight forward for most CF sufferers as the build-up of mucous in the lungs means that less oxygen is available which causes problems for breathing and general fitness. It involves a two-hour daily medical regime consisting of 40 tablets, nebulisers, inhalers, injections and physiotherapy which make it an extremely exhausting condition.

But to counter this debilitating condition, Tim has found that regular exercise has become a necessity to keep his lungs 'tuned', allowing him to keep up with his peers and conduct a relatively normal life.

Tim, from a family of hockey players which included his dad and brothers, has played hockey for countless teams and at many levels. As well as playing for club (Trojans, Southampton, Old Kingstonians and now London Edwardians), county and for his region, he had the honour of being selected for England Juniors which toured Germany in 1986, a team which included Danny Kerry, the current England Hockey Performance Director. In 1987 he trained with the British Olympic winning squad at Bisham Abbey, even scoring a goal past the legendary British goalkeeper Ian Taylor!

Indeed, he was playing first team hockey until he was 32 and still plays at a reasonably competitive level for London Edwardians; though this is ad hoc depending on his health and parental duties for his eight year old son, Felix.

His memoir describes the physical trauma of playing in league games, how he met his wife Katie through mixed hockey, touring with his beloved 'Phantoms' team, a near-death experience while playing and how a comment from an umpire about his coughing almost caused him to retire from the sport.

"When I’m struggling on the pitch, the chaps (who know about my CF) ask me if I'm OK, but the opposition jokingly check if I had a night on the town or have a bad cold. It's especially tough in England with the inclement weather. This has been magnified with my diagnosis as a type 1 diabetic. Now just getting on the pitch, let alone actually playing, takes more and more effort" explains Tim.

He adds, "I might not be able to fully make a difference to the outcome of the game anymore as I could in my younger playing days. Plus my coughing at times can be pretty shocking for those on the pitch. But while there's breath in this body of mine, I'll keep playing on for I know it makes a difference to the outcome of my health. I would go as far as stating that it's a matter of my life or death. I'm desperate to still be playing hockey at 50 and to coach my son to play."


Tim's book is available to buy now from online retailers including Austin Macauley and Amazon, as well as in WH Smith, Waterstones and Foyles bookstores (ISBN 9781849637190).

Editor: the opinions presented in this article are those of the individual assigned to review this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

Our Library at The Hockey Museum is without question the largest hockey library in the world, with over 1000 titles. Our earliest book is dated 1810 but the vast majority of the collection dates from 1900 to the present day. We are still discovering previously published titles from around the world and there are also new publications appearing. Our library wishes to obtain copies of any books about hockey and also books on people who have played our great game. If you know of any books or pamphlets that include a reference to hockey please let our Librarian know via the contact form.

This feature on our website will give reviews on new publications that we receive and occasionally we will do reviews on significant hockey books from the past. Please give us feedback on any aspect of our book reviews.

Hockey’s Five-a-side Future?

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Get Your Hands On Newsletter Vol.6

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Irish Match Statistics

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The Barry Middleton Collection

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

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The Hockey Museum Gains International Recognition

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FIH President Drops By

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