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Christs Hospital WW1 Fundraiser 04 BW


These photographs tell the story of a convivial charity match involving Christ's Hospital school (CH) during World War One (WW1). They were unearthed by staff at Christ’s Hospital Museum and shared with The Hockey Museum.


Christs Hospital WW1 Fundraiser 01 BW     Christs Hospital WW1 Fundraiser 02 BW
Photographs of the hockey match fundraiser, 1917. Reproduced with permission of Christ’s Hospital Museum.


CH is an independent charity school with a core aim to offer children from humble backgrounds the chance of a better education. It enjoys a strong hockey-playing history and these photographs are a particularly fun example, albeit with a sincere background that might easily be overlooked.

They are from a 1917 charity hockey match between Christ's Hospital Hertford girls and Regent Street Polytechnic in aid of The Star and Garter Home for Disabled Sailors and Soldiers in Richmond, Greater London. The match took place at Paddington Recreation Ground.


Star and Garter Hotel over Thames postcard 1890s
Postcard, 1890s. The Star and Garter had previously been a renowned hotel (pictured above)
until it closed in 1906. It was used as a military hospital during WW1.


Despite the comic attire you’ll notice that oversized footwear was quite sensibly snubbed, otherwise the penalty corner count would have been far higher!

For more information on the history and various guises of The Star and Garter, click here.

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 event bringing together players from different parts of the world – no small feat with the time zones. For those in Calgary it was a 07:00 start; in Toronto and USA it was 09:00; United Kingdom 14:00; Kenya 16:00; Pakistan 18:00pm and a very late 23:00 start for those attendees in Australia!

The conference was attended by around 20 Olympians and ran for 3.5 hours.

Kenyan Olympians 2

Slide from Dil Bahra's presentation showing the location of Kenya's Olympic hockey exploits since 1956.


Presenting on Kenya’s Olympic history, I heard first-hand about their recollections of the Games. We were all delighted that Reynold D’Souza, who played at Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, was with us and he was able to tell us how the game was played in those days and the long-lasting friendships made with other athletes. Reynold told us that although he did not play at Rome 1960, he still went to the Olympic Games and four years later he was selected for Tokyo. He mentioned meeting the players who had played in Melbourne.

Avtar Sohal, Hilary Fernandes and Silu Fernandes recalled the quarter final match at the Rome Olympic Games which went into extra time. They played eight periods of extra time with Great Britain scoring the winning goal in the 127th minute.

Sohal, Hilary, Silu, Edgar Fernandes and Reynold D’Souza all played in the famous match in Jabalpur in India on 26 April 1964 when Kenya defeated India 3-0 during Kenya’s tour of India. In so doing they inflicted India’s biggest defeat in 184 international matches. Hilary remembered the goal scorers after 57 years. Three months later India won the gold medal at Tokyo. Avtar, Hilary and Silu also recalled when Kenya defeated Pakistan 3-1 in Nairobi before Pakistan went on to win gold in Rome.

Silu Fernandes showed the Olympic Diploma the Kenya team were awarded for finishing sixth at Tokyo Olympic Games and proudly showed everyone his collection of memorabilia in three framed display panels for each of the Olympic Games he played in.

Ajmal Malik was able to recall the last pool match against Pakistan in Mexico. He mentioned that Kenya only needed a draw to go into the semi-finals of Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 but lost by the odd goal, forcing a pool play-off match against Australia. His colleagues in that match, Hilary and Silu agreed that they should have won this match and still progressed to the semis. Another missed opportunity.

The tone for the afternoon was set and the presentation covered each of the seven Olympic Games that Kenya had participated in with everyone contributing their recollections.

Kenyan Olympians 1
Slide from Dil Bahra's presentation showing the Kenya Olympic Team bus from the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games.


The conference participants included:

From the UK: Reynold D’Souza – Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games; Brajinder Daved – Munich 1972 and Los Angeles 1984; Surjit Singh Rihal, Harvinderpal Singh Sibia and Jagmel Singh Rooprai – Munich 1972; and Manjeet Singh Panesar – Los Angeles 1984.

From Kenya: Avtar Singh Sohal – Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 (captain), Mexico 1968 (captain) and Munich 1972 (captain).

From Australia: Edgar Fernandes – Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964.

From Canada: Hilary Fernandes and Silu Fernandes – Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968; Amar Singh Mangat – Tokyo 1964; Raphael Fernandes – Los Angeles 1984.

From Pakistan: Ajmal Malik – Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972.

From the USA: Ranjit Singh Sehmi – Munich 1972.

There were other Guests of Honour including Shuaib Adam (General Secretary of Kenya Olympic Association), Norman Da Costa (Canada) and Cyprian Fernandes (Australia). The latter two guests were both distinguished hockey journalists in Kenya during Kenya’s heyday.


An Absent Friend

Parminder (Kake) Singh Saini, who played for Kenya at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games had confirmed his attendance at this conference. Sadly, he passed away in Kenya that evening, some three hours after the conference had ended. None of us were aware of this and only found out afterwards.

Kake played for Slough Hockey Club from 1976-79 and is the younger brother of former England international, Bal Saini.

Click here to read his obituary.


By Dil Bahra
1 June 2021

Please note: Interested parties can view the majority of Dil Bahra’s presentation on Kenya’s hockey Olympians on Cyprian Fernandes’s personal blog. Please click here.

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.

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 Scotland but moved down to England and then went to Cambridge University from where he made his international debut in 1920, going on to win a further 24 caps. Not to be outdone, Janet, who was educated at Bedford Grammar School went to Edinburgh University in 1948 to study history. From there her hockey talents were recognised and she was selected for the East of Scotland and then Scotland where she debuted in 1951 as a ‘left inner’ (inside left in modern terms), a position she played for the whole of her career.

Janet, now a fit 92-year-old living in Devon, has spoken to THM about some of her memories of her hockey career and her family.

Scotland team photo
Scotland women's team of 1951.
Janet Macklin is standing back row, second from the right.


The Festival of Britain

Festival of Britain programme 1951By an amazing coincidence the venue for Janet’s first international match was Twickenham Rugby Stadium – the home of England Rugby where her father would have played on many occasions. The match was part of the 1951 Festival of Britain’s Grand International Hockey Tournament organised principally by The Hockey Association (HA) and England women invited Scotland to play them as part of this special event on Saturday 12 May 1951.

Janet’s memories of the Festival match were the size of the crowd (over 6,000 spectators), full of screaming schoolgirls and of the awful pitch – rugby pitches were clearly not ideal for hockey! Janet recalled a competitive match and while Scotland were on the losing end of a 6-1 defeat, the team played well and she scored the only goal.

Hockey Field magazine reported that after being 4-0 down at half time “Scotland kept on attacking but were inclined to fail in front of goal, probably due to the close marking of their opponents. Their reward came at last when Smallwood put in a shot past Dale from a centre by Gibson. Inspired by this, the left wing pair swept down the field again but were checked by Barnes who had a sound and brilliant game”.

To read more about the Festival of Britain hockey tournament and to watch an extract of Janet’s interview with The Hockey Museum, click here.


Touring the USA

That year Janet was also selected for the Scotland Touring Team that travelled to the USA. The players had to contribute to the travel costs but once in the States, they were hosted by local families and the opposition teams. Janet scored many goals, clocking up five in one match alone. She recalled how would have scored six but with the power of her shot, the ball split in two and only one half crossed the line into the goal. After much discussion between the umpires, it was disallowed but the incident remained a talking point at the after-match tea. Scotland finished the tour unbeaten.


Striking a Work/Life/Hockey Balance

After university Janet moved to London for work. She had been offered a post with Cadbury’s, but they wanted her to work on Saturday mornings – not something any hockey player would accept – so she went to work for Simpson’s in Piccadilly as a staff training officer. Janet married in 1953 but continued to play for Scotland until 1956. When the first of her four children arrived, she retired from playing but it wasn’t too long before she decided to pick up her hockey stick again. Now living in Chesterfield, she found that the local clubs were all playing league hockey which Janet, still holding on to the principles of an ‘amateur’ game, didn’t want to play, and so she started a new club of her own.

In later years Janet’s family again moved to Exeter where she joined Exeter Ladies’ HC. She remembers playing on the sands at Minehead in Somerset at low tide. This was certainly a different experience, especially as the pitch was moved to a new area of the beach at half time! Janet was even persuaded to play representative hockey again, playing for Devon for several years and once for the West of England. She remembers her last game to be in 1975 when she was invited to play for the Mary Eyre XI against a Nan Morgan XI – both women were prominent England international players. She said that she managed to annoy Mary Eyre by not putting the ball exactly where Mary wanted it – she still remembers the look she got! Over the years, she was not the only one to receive one of those ‘looks’!

The sporting genes in the Smallwood/Macklin family have continued to the next generation. Her son Jamie has taken after his grandfather to become a top-level rugby player with London Scottish and represented Scotland B.

Such an amazing sporting family.


By Katie Dodd
May 2021


Festival of Britain programme 1951
Cover of the programme for the Grand International Hockey Tournament during the Festival of Britain, 1951.

Click the image to download the full programme as a PDF.
Credit: the AEWHA Collection at the University of Bath Library.


Seventy years ago in May 1951, a very unusual sporting event was staged at Twickenham Rugby Stadium in West London. It involved men’s and women’s teams from England, Scotland, Holland (the Netherlands), Belgium and France. No, this wasn’t any sort of rugby get together – the teams were international hockey teams who had been invited to play in the 1951 Festival of Britain Grand International Hockey Tournament.

At the start of the 1950s, Britain was still recovering from the turmoil of World War 2 and the Government decided the stage a ‘Festival of Britain‘ with the aim of promoting recovery, celebrating British industry, arts and science, and inspiring the thought of a better Britain.

While sport got little coverage in any of the official reports about the Festival, many different sporting events were organised. The Hockey Association (HA) approached the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) with the view to organising an international hockey event at Twickenham Rugby Stadium. This was a bold move as this was not a venue used before for hockey. While the Rugby Football Union agreed to the proposal, they did set a fee of £900 for the use of the facilities – this was a sum considerably more than the HA took in annual subscriptions every year. Evidently, the HA was confident that a tournament associated with the national festival would pull in the spectators to cover this cost and everyone would enjoy international standard hockey in the May sunshine. It didn’t all go to plan.

The event was organised for 12, 14 and 15 May and the programme shows that two women’s teams took part (England and Scotland) and four men’s teams: England, Holland (the Netherlands), Belgium and France. Throughout the tournament, the England men’s team did not play well with Hockey News magazine describing the home sides first match performance as “pitiful” and that “although Belgium only won by the odd goal, their players were infinitely superior throughout in speed, tactics and stickwork”. They went on to lose 3-2 to Holland on the Monday and while they did beat France 5-0 on the final day it did not raise the spirits much. The standard of the pitch did play a part as it was nothing like the flat grass surfaces England would have played on at venues like Lord’s cricket ground.

The only women’s game in the event was played on the Saturday and by mid-afternoon, the crowd had swelled to nearly 6000, many of them schoolgirls and groups arriving from clubs around the south east of England. They were treated to a much better game that was well contested, but England’s clinical goal-scoring enabling them to eventually run out 6-1 winners. Both the men’s and women’s press of the day complimented the teams for their accurate and speedy attacking play despite the challenges of the very uneven grass pitch.


Scotland team photo
Scotland women's team of 1951.
Janet Macklin is standing back row, second from the right.


Janet Smallwood (now Macklin) was one of the players on the pitch that day. Now in her nineties and living in Devon, Janet gained her first international cap for Scotland in this match and was the scorer of Scotland’s only goal. We think that Janet might be the only player from this event who is still alive. It must have been particularly special for her to play at the home of rugby as her father, Alistair Smallwood, played rugby for England in the 1920s and would have played on the Twickenham turf on many occasions.

Janet’s main memories of the game were the noise of the crowd – full of schoolgirls she recalls – and how bad the pitch was. She enjoyed the game despite being on the losing side and made more memorable by scoring Scotland’s only goal.

Read more about Janet’s hockey career here, and hear a short clip or her memories immediately below.


From the press coverage afterwards, the HA were criticised heavily for taking on such a high-risk financial undertaking with little guarantee of support from the hockey-playing public. The weather wasn’t great, particularly on the final two days where spectator numbers were less than 1500. On the other hand, the women’s part in the event attracted much bigger crowds. Maybe this is not surprising as this event was not long after the first ever women’s hockey international match to be played at Wembley Stadium (March 1951), where 30,000 spectators attended. This would have undoubtedly provided a ready pool of people keen to attend another event.

In the end, it appears that the Rugby Football Union took a charitable approach to the issue of a fee and their records note “It was agreed that in view of the small attendances at the Festival Tournament at Twickenham on the 12th and 14th May and the heavy expenditure involved by the Hockey Association, that the usual charges for the use of the ground be waived”. So not the financial disaster for the HA that had been anticipated.

The event did finish on a high with a black-tie dinner at the Café Royal for all the players, organisers, and many representatives from around Britain and the rest of the world. Maybe this should be considered the success of the event as it helped to build friendships across the hockey family?


By Katie Dodd

A recent piece of research on the 1908 Olympic Games together with a study on hockey in the East Riding of Yorkshire by museum volunteer researcher James Ormandy, has unearthed a mystery that spans both hockey and social history.

James’s research on hockey in the East Riding has revealed an amazing amount of hockey in the area at the end of the 19th century and the early 1900s. There was as much hockey being played in the north of England as in the south. The difference was that most of the clubs in the north did not affiliate to the Hockey Association so their exploits have gone largely unnoticed and unrecorded. That is until James began investigating.

One such club was Beverley HC whose goalkeeper was one Harvey Jesse Wood, a 15-year-old railway clerk and son of a local butcher. This characterised the difference between hockey in the suburban south and the rural and industrial north which was much more cosmopolitan. Labourers, shopkeepers and clerks (like Harvey) were the mainstays of many hockey teams.


Harvey J Wood at 1908 Olympics

Harvey Jesse Wood in 1908. Harvey featured in one of James Ormandy’s recent articles,
published on the sports history website Playing Pasts.

You can read "When Hull Got Hooked on Hockey: East Yorkshire's Edwardian Sporting Boom" by clicking here.


Harvey Wood stood 6’4” tall – a giant of his day – and his imposing stature would have drawn attention. By 1907 he was playing for West Bromwich HC in Staffordshire, some 75 miles away. How Harvey came to make this move is a mystery, but it certainly had a positive effect on West Bromwich.

In season 1907-08 West Bromwich were the only unbeaten team in the Midlands, thanks in no small part to Harvey’s goalkeeping. This was recognised by his selection for both Staffordshire (county level) and the Midlands (territorial level). He made his debut for England against Wales in March 1908. Harvey went on to play in England’s seven matches in 1908, which included the Olympic Games at the White City in London where he won a gold medal. The Olympic-winning team of 1908 consisted entirely of upper-middle-class ex-public schoolboys, apart from the imposing Harvey. He conceded only six goals in his short international career but never again played for England after the Olympic final. He was 23.


1908 England Olympic Hockey Team Finalists 300dpi
The gold medal-winning England team of 1908 featuring Harvey Jesse Wood, third from the right in the back row.


This story begs so many questions. How did Harvey come to move from Beverley to West Bromwich? Why were his England, Midlands, Staffordshire, and West Bromwich careers so short? Did he play hockey again after his return to Beverley? What has happened to his gold medal – in 1908 they were solid gold? And finally, what did Harvey do during WW1? Chances are that he did not enlist – railway workers were considered a ‘reserved occupation’ and exempt from military service. Nevertheless, he probably had an interesting story or two to tell.

William 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 bandying in Verona streets”.

Some commentators have attributed this reference to a game called bandy, which they explain as being a form of hockey because it involves the use of a curved stick and a ball. This might lead to the conclusion that Shakespeare wrote about hockey!

This article briefly explores the origins of bandy, a thriving sport which is unrelated to hockey.


Bandy In The 12th Century And In The 19th Century

William Fitzstephen was a cleric and administrator in the service of Thomas Becket, being present when the Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered in 1170. He wrote a description of London in the 12th century, including a section titled “Sports and Pastimes of old Time used in this City”.

There have been differing translations of this description from the original Latin, one of which was by the celebrated historian and Antiquarian, John Stow (sometimes ‘Stowe’), who wrote A Survay of London in 1598.

Stow’s translation of part of Fitzstephen's description included the following:

“Every year also at Shrove Tuesday, that we may begin with children's sports ... after dinner, all the youths go into the fields to play at the ball. The scholars of every school have their ball, or baton, in their hands.”

In his celebrated book The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, first published in 1801, Joseph Strutt presented a chapter on games with a ball in which he translated Fitzstephen's description differently, as follows:

“Annually upon Shrove Tuesday, they go into the fields immediately after dinner, and play at the celebrated game of ball; every party of boys carrying their own ball.”

Strutt discussed this passage at length, and concluded:

“There are many games played with the ball that require the assistance of a club or bat, and probably the most ancient among them is the pastime now distinguished by the name of goff … In the reign of Edward the Third [1327 to 1377], the Latin name Cambuca was applied to this pastime, and it derived the denomination, no doubt, from the crooked club or bat with which it was played; the bat was also called a bandy, from its being bent, and hence the game is frequently written in English bandy-ball."

Strutt provided an engraving, reproduced below, which he described as “two figures engaged at bandy-ball, and the form of bandy as it was used early in the fourteenth century”. His engraving was derived from a manuscript book of prayers, beautifully illuminated and written about that time, which is held by the Bodleian Library, Oxford.


Bandy engraving after the manuscript Book of Prayers 14th century
An engraving of bandy, after the manuscript Book of Prayers, 14th century.

Bandy Today

Today, Bandy is a game with similarities to ice hockey which is especially popular in Scandinavian countries. It is played in an ice-rink with a ball rather than a puck. A BBC archived web page from 2014 included the following paragraphs:

“We may not be familiar with it, but bandy is certainly not a new game. Records dating back to 1813 reveal that the village of Bury-on-Fen in Cambridgeshire had a bandy team that were unbeaten for a hundred years. And it is thought that Shakespeare was referring to the same game in Romeo and Juliet.

In its earliest incarnation the game had no set rules, and different versions were played by different groups, agreeing on the rules before they started each individual game. It wasn't until Charles Tebbutt, of the Bury Fen Bandy Club, set out the official rules that the game of bandy was properly recognised.

The Norris Museum in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, has a copy of the Bandy Code of Rules, developed in 1882. As an example ... rule number 11 states: If you drop your stick during a game of bandy then any of your opponents is entitled to pick it up and throw it away. “So it’s that type of game,” says Bob [Bob Burn-Murdoch, who is (or was) curator of the Norris Museum]. “Not quite as elegant and gentlemanly as ice hockey.””

A lot of the games would have been organised by the local gentry, but the workers would have been encouraged to take part in order to keep them out of the pub! So, all classes were involved in playing bandy. There was a famous exhibition match at Windsor Castle in 1853 in the presence of Queen Victoria, with Prince Albert playing as one of the goalkeepers!”

Once the rules of the game were established, Charles Tebbutt decided it was time to introduce the rest of northern Europe to the sport, and the first international bandy match took place in 1891 between England's Bury Fen Club and Haarlem in the Netherlands. From there, Tebbutt took the game to Sweden, and the rest is history.”



Bandy in ancient times was the name of a club used to hit a ball rather than being the name of a sport. ‘Bandying’ as used by Shakespeare may have referred to hitting a ball with a bandy in a game, the nature of the game not being known.

Goff (or golf) in the 19th century was sometimes known as bandy-ball, but that name went out of popular use. A game played on ice with a ball in an ice rink, which became known as bandy, was created in the Fens of eastern England and has become popular in Scandinavian countries today.


Mike Barford

Frank Benson
Frank Benson, actor and hockey players, in
William 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 much to promote the game across the country since 1890s.

Frank Benson, an Oxford University graduate, began his professional theatre career in 1882 by appearing in Henry Irving’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He then joined Walter Bentley’s touring company, only for Walter to abscond with the company’s revenue to Australia leaving them high and dry. With £100 from his father, Benson would take over the company and it became the Benson Shakespearean Touring Company. Benson’s career as an ‘actor manager’ had begun and it reached its pinnacle when in 1916 playing Julius Caesar at Drury Lane Theatre, he was knighted in the Royal Box by King George V.

From the very beginning of his management, the Bensonians would be engaged in rehearsals in the morning and various sports in the afternoon. Their sporting prowess at cricket and hockey was such that clubs leapt at the chance to play against the Bensonians. It was claimed that, as well as a talent for speaking verse, for admission into the troupe one needed to be a ‘rugger blue’ – a blue is the highest honour granted to individual sportspeople at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in this case for rugby – could run a fast quarter mile or make a useful member of a cricket or hockey team. Benson’s philosophy of combining athleticism with aesthetics in acting was considered revolutionary but unpopular with the theatrical establishment. Benson’s plays were criticised for being overly athletic and his actors overly muscle-bound. Yet many of the troupe, like Oscar Asche, went on to have great careers even if he had spent his afternoons as the hockey team’s goalkeeper.

The Bensonians were the first English hockey club to play in Ireland when they played the High School and Dublin University in early 1894. Their annual Christmas tour of Ireland would see them play against Ireland’s top clubs such as Cliftonville who they once beat 3-1 with Asche in goal and Benson scoring a hat-trick from centre forward. Though hockey was preferred, the Bensonians could be found playing rugby and even water polo. The leading hockey clubs across the country would face closely fought contests: they lost to Leeds HC 5-2 in a “fast and pleasant game”, won 1-0 in Bournemouth and thrashed Kidderminster 6-1.

Benson’s Hockey Club, as it was known, would build up a creditable reputation in the hockey world as attested to by the Bournemouth Graphic:

“Mr F R Benson’s hockey team is almost as widely known as his famous dramatic company from which it is selected. The actor manager himself is an ardent hockeyite and has communicated enthusiasm to his colleagues the result being a combination capable of meeting and defeating some of the strongest teams in the kingdom.”


Norman V Norman      Silverstream HC 1907 08
 Actor and hockey player Norman V Norman.    Silverstream Hockey Club, 1907-08

Though never well acclaimed by the theatre critics, Benson likely enjoyed that other touring companies followed in his wake. The Norman V Norman Touring Company played some 24 men’s and mixed hockey matches in the winter of 1905-6, winning just four games (against Barrow in Furness, Felixstowe, Sheffield Handsworth, Tunbridge Wells). Like Frank Benson, Norman V Norman played centre forward and was the team’s top goal scorer with 19 goals. By 1907-8 their playing had improved. Out of the 36 games played, they won 16 and drew 6 including a 5-5 draw with Lincoln and a 6-0 win over Middlesbrough. The following season in Belfast they played Silverstream HC, the 1908 Ulster Junior League winners, in a 4-4 draw. Norman V Norman scored all four goals.

Frank Benson’s philosophy that athleticism went hand in hand with the performing arts was now seemingly accepted with hockey playing thespians regularly appearing across the country.


James Ormandy

By Katie Dodd


First Scotland womens team
 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 Hockey Federation (FIH) Umpire, and co-author of the book 100 Years of Scottish Hockey, published in 2000. Evlyn and The Hockey Museum (THM) were keen to commemorate the beginnings of international women’s hockey in Scotland, but first a vital question needed answering: On which date in April did this match take place?

The centenary book had a report of the match played in Dublin, a team photo and information about their travel but, sadly, it was only recorded as being “played in April 1901”. Clearly some further investigation was needed to ascertain the exact date.

The first step was to look at our records of all international matches – this archive was compiled from years of research by Patrick Rowley and is now held by THM. The 1901 game is listed as the first match played by a Scottish women’s international team, but again it was only recorded as being played in April 1901 with no date.

The next port of call was to contact our colleagues at the Irish Hockey Archive – surely, they will have the date recorded. Peter Agnew and Steve Hiles responded swiftly, sending us images of the pages from their hand-written book of Irish international match reports. It records all of the Irish ladies’ matches in 1901 but, to our surprise, there was no match against Scotland amongst them! This match was turning out to be a bit of a mystery.

The search for the answer was now widened to ask more of THM’s volunteer researchers for help and before long we had our answer. Volunteer Archivist Marcus Wardle delved into the British Newspaper Archives and came up trumps with an article from the Dublin Evening Mail of 13 April 1901. The Mail reported the match being played earlier that day and recorded that the Irish team ran out as 2-0 victors.

THM’s extensive network within the sporting heritage world includes Jane Claydon who works with the archives of St Leonards School, St Andrews. St Leonards is a school with a great hockey tradition; it provided many of the early Scottish international players. Jane was able to confirm the match and date, courtesy of the school magazine from 1901.

By this time Peter Agnew had found more evidence from The Irish Times of 20 April 1901 (see extract below) and could report that the Irish team was at full strength that day.

With all this harmonious evidence from a variety of sources, Steve Hiles, a Hockey Ireland Director and Chair of their High Performance Committee, was happy to update the official records of Irish international matches to include the 13 April 1901 match. Scottish Hockey, THM and Hockey Ireland are all happy that the match took place and could be celebrated at the first Scottish women’s hockey international.

A full report of the match itself can be found on the Scottish Hockey website: click here.

Hockey International – Ireland v Scotland (Ladies)

Cartoon Ireland vs Scotland first international 13 April 1901Extract from The Irish Times of Saturday 20 April 1901.

"The weather was delightfully fine on Saturday when the first game between ladies representative of Scotland and Ireland was played at Milltown. In the first half of the game pressure was exerted for the most part by the home team and Miss Clarke scored a fine goal. It has been said that Scottish Ladies have not taken much interest in the game but anyone who witnessed the manner they defended their citadel against the perfect shower of shots poured in by the Irish have very good ground upon which to base a doubt of the accuracy of public rumour. Notwithstanding the warm attack made by the Irish Ladies the teams crossed over with Ireland leading by a single goal. In the second half the ‘North Country’ ladies played very strong and looked liked sweeping all before them; but the Irish Ladies seemingly thought it time to add to their score and Miss Parr for Ireland hit through despite a most stubborn resistance made by the Scottish defence. A series of hard knocks from Dame Fortune marked the career of the Scottish team in the remaining portion of the play and the final score read: Ireland ... 2 goals; Scotland ... Nothing.

"The Teams were :

"SCOTLAND – Misses Simpson, H Movi, M.Harvey, J Shaw, F Todd, W Littlejohn, Rutherford, D Robinson, Wedgewood, G Lindesay and T Stewart.

"IRELAND – Misses Cotter, Sealy, Atthill, Boyd, Hon. J Pritte, and Misses J Boyd, Fottrell, Parr, Obre, L Knox and Clarke."

Not that many years ago Easter festivals were the much-anticipated climax to the hockey season. Many hundreds of teams, certainly well into four figures, would travel to play in one of over fifty festivals that took place around Britain. The most popular venues were seaside ones, from Bournemouth to Bridlington and Lowestoft to Llandudno. It was all very competitive good fun ... well, usually!


ELHC Ramsgate 1950s      WKNHM201778716 Bachannalians HC at Folkestone Festival 1966
Ealing Ladies' Hockey Club at Ramsgate Easter Festival, 1950s   Bachannalians HC at Folkestone Festival, Easter 1966


The Folkestone Festival Fracas of 1969

From The Times newspaper, 7 April 1969

“Hockey festivals are supposed to give players some friendly games to wind up their season. But this year at Folkestone there have been rough ones, which culminated yesterday morning in the Clansmen, the Scottish side, and Real Club de Polo of Barcelona being sent off collectively nine minutes from time.

The first half had produced some splendid play with a superb goal by Segura for Barcelona the highlight, but the second half degenerated into a disgraceful exhibition. I am sorry to say that the Clansmen, who are nearly the Scottish national side, undoubtedly started it but the Spaniards were not slow to follow. Finally, Mr Eaves, an international umpire, had no alternative: he threw the whole lot off and well they deserved it.

It is always difficult at Folkestone to know which games to watch. The tendency is obviously to see the sides with the big names. But after yesterday morning's effort I think in future I shall go to the four pitches round the corner, collectively known as Siberia and enjoy true festival spirit watching such sides as the Old Felstedians, Bandits and Royal Artillery.

The afternoon was devoted mainly to the Festival XI against the senior guest side, the Uhlenhorster Club of Hamburg. I have seldom seen so many good players gathered together on a perfect pitch produce such negative hockey. The Festival XI with five Englishmen, two Scots, two Irish and a brace of Germans were about as united as the United Nations and seemed to argue just about as much.

Uhlenshorster, for all their two west German internationals, were little better. Krause spent three parts of the game offside, neither wing could make any telling move and their attack was almost carried by Suhl. For the Festival XI, Harris of Cambridge University, whose selection was bitterly criticised, was as good as anyone and Hade of Ireland had a fine game at left half. Ten minutes from time Christensen on the left produced a dazzling run, centred, and Lawson shot home; the one flash of satisfying hockey in a dull game.

The day ended with two splendid games on adjoining pitches. Buccaneers had a struggle with Cambridge University. Svehlik soon scored for Cambridge but McNulty and Hennessy put Buccaneers in front. Ladykillers put the Ghosts in their place with goals by Land and Martin to one by Lawson.”

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 publicity this year with the release of the Netflix film The Dig, starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, and following this THM unearthed hockey’s links to the excavation in a series of articles. These included Edith Pretty’s links to the founding of the All England Women’s Hockey Association and the revelation that the archaeological dig was recorded by two hockey-playing photographers, Barbara Wagstaff and Mercie Lack – more on those stories here and here. Yet these pale in comparison with this latest discovery, which has seen THM work with the British Museum, custodians of the Sutton Hoo treasure.

A plan of the archaeological discovery shared with THM by the British Museum reveals how the deceased – believed to be an Anglo-Saxon king – was laid out with all his possessions. Whilst there were famously no human remains left at the Sutton Hoo ship burial, there was a void amongst the buried possessions where the body would have been. This is shown as a grey shadow on the plan.

Sutton Hoo grave with stick

The layout of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo.
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

To more clearly read the labels, either Zoom in on your device or right click the image and open it in a new tab.


The burial layout is unusual because for a right-handed person (i.e. the majority of people), the sword and scabbard would be on the left hip so that the sword could be drawn by the dominant right hand across the body. The British Museum’s Curator of Early Medieval European Collections, Sue Brunning, suggests that this indicates the deceased to be left-handed, hence the scabbard on their right side. Left-handed swordsmen are highly unusual in the Anglo-Saxon period.

Closer examination of the plan shows traces of a stick-shaped object along the left side of the body and it is for this reason that the British Museum reached out to THM.

Originally this stick was believed to be a ceremonial walking stick, but our collaborative research has shown it to be a primitive ‘hockey stick’ of the type widely used in Nordic countries for what later became known as bandy. Bandy is played one-handed and mainly involves striking the ball rather than the close-control dribbling game of modern hockey. A left-handed swing across and behind the body would have generated more striking power and so the game would have suited players with a dominant left hand. Players like the man entombed at Sutton Hoo. In burial, it would be correct for the stick to have been placed by the deceased’s left-hand side.

The stick, being made of wood – actually chestnut – left a distinct impression, much like the ‘rib cage’ of the ship itself which can be seen in Barbara Wagstaff’s photographs and in the film shot by Harold John Phillips. It is likely that at the time of burial a rudimentary ball would have been included, but as these were made from organic animal material it had long since disappeared.

It is only through the emergence of The Hockey Museum that the true interpretation of this amazing piece of history has come to light.

Sutton Hoo excavation public domain
The Sutton Hoo excavation showing the 'rib cage' of the ship.
Still from the film made by Harold John Phillips. 
Public domain.

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20 January 2016
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