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At a recent event at Great Comp House & Gardens in Kent, we presented Sue Chandler (former Great Britain (GB) Captain with 25 appearances) with her GB honours cap alongside a group of ladies from Sevenoaks and Teddington hockey clubs who were re-enacting hockey as it was played in the early 1900s.


Sue Chandler cap presentation 22082022      Boaters at Great Comp

Left: Sue Chandler receives her Great Britain honours cap from The Hockey Museum Vice President Katie Dodd.
Right: Wimbledon and Sevenoaks Hockey Club members pose in boater hats with researcher Frances Thompson prior to their early-twentieth-century hockey re-enactment.


We’ll reveal more on this re-enactment in due course, but it got us thinking: English hockey does not have a long-standing tradition of wearing caps or having any sort of headwear as part of its uniform (kit), for either men or women – as is the case in other sports. Neither has English hockey awarded honours caps to international players, though some caps exist in recognition of county or territorial representation.


The Evolution of Honours Caps | The Hockey Museum


Yet photographs and artwork exist from the late 1800s and early 1900s which indicate that it was not uncommon for women’s hockey teams to wear boaters, berets or other headwear as part of early hockey uniform.


French team in Copenhagen 1922 from Hilda Light scrapbook
The France international women's team wearing berets at a tournament in Copenhagen in 1922.


An engraving, published in 1894, after a painting by the artist Lucien Davis, would also suggest that it might have been common for ladies to actually play in their hats.


A Ladies Hockey Club at Play c1894
A Ladies' Hockey Club at Play, c.1894; engraving after an artwork by Lucien Davis.


Marjorie Pollard, in her book Fifty Years of Women's Hockey, wrote that in 1896 "the distinguishing dress to be worn by the All England XI was agreed upon as follows: white canvas shirts and caps; the badge, the Rose of England, on the pocket of shirt and on the peak of cap; cardinal serge [woollen] shirt and band; white silk (long); sailor hat (for travelling?)".

This lends itself to the interpretation that in 1896 a peaked cap was for playing in and a sailor hat was worn for travel between matches. This is supported by a photograph of the England women’s team of 1896 and a report of the match in The Queen':


"Though the day was not particularly bright, the scene was very pretty, colour being lent to it by the costumes of the players.
The Irish ladies wore light green blouse, and skirts of a darker shade of the same colour. The visitors [England] were attired in white bodices and caps, and red skirts."
The Queen', 14 March 1896.


England women 1896 vs Ireland
The England international women's team which played Ireland in 1896.


During the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) in 1895 it was proposed that "No player shall wear hat pins, or sailor or other hard-brimmed hat [during matches]", but this was defeated and only passed several years later, possibly in 1898. Even back then player safety was obviously an issue and it appears that playing in hats of any description quickly disappeared.


Hockey Headwear: Its Contemporary Relevance

Fast forward 120 years and The Hockey Museum and GB Hockey are now presenting honours caps to all GB hockey players, past and present. These caps have a very traditional look and the heritage appeal of this design has struck a chord with the recipients.


“The GB honours cap is absolutely beautiful. I had no idea what it might look like, but it is beyond my wildest expectations.”
Val Robinson, writing in 2021.


Val Robinson cap award


While English hockey (and Great Britain international hockey) may not have had an illustrious hat-wearing tradition, there are hockey-playing nations and cultures where headwear is more common and deeply rooted: the Sikh turban and the Muslim hijab for example.

Recognising this, England Hockey this week announced revised regulations on playing kit for the 2022-2023 season. When published these will provide clarity on what kit can be worn during hockey matches including, for the first time, making explicit reference to head coverings for players such as turbans and hijabs. These regulations will ban the use of metal fastenings and pins to secure any headwear – a link back to those original 1890s AEWHA regulation banning hat pins!


Creating Flexibility so People Feel Comfortable to Play (New Regulations on Playing Kit) | England Hockey

Harvey J Wood at 1908 Olympics
Harvey Wood, England men's 1908 Olympic gold medal-winning goalkeeper.


The Hockey Museum volunteer James Ormandy spent a large part of 2019 researching hockey in Yorkshire to produce an article “When Hull Got Hooked on Hockey” for the Playing Pasts website.

When Hull Got Hooked on Hockey |

During his research James came across an article on the East Riding Museum website on Harvey Jesse Wood from Beverley, the British goalkeeper from the 1908 Olympic Games. It was part of a panel from the museum’s exhibition Sporting Beverley.


Harvey Jesse Wood Sporting Beverley

The Harvey Jesse Wood text panel from the Sporting Beverley exhibition at East Riding Museum.

Click the image to link to the full exhibition PDF.


Just a few weeks later James purchased a copy of a photograph from the February 1908 edition of The Bystander magazine of “H. J. Wood, the Midlands goalkeeper” in action against the South territorial team.


HJ Wood The Bystander
 Photograph captioned "H. J. Wood" from The Bystander magazine, February 1908.


With his article on Harvey Wood published on Playing Pasts, all seemed fine – that is until James recently visited The Hockey Museum. Exploring deeper amongst the Museum’s library and archive, James came across a feature article on Harvey Wood (no middle initial given) in the 1 May 1908 edition of Hockey magazine. It claimed that England goalkeeper was born in Staffordshire not Yorkshire as previously believed. This made sense as he played for West Bromwich HC, Staffordshire county and the Midlands.


Hockey magazine 1908 Harvey Wood
The article in Hockey magazine (May 1908) which records Harvey Wood's birthplace:
"Born in Staffordshire, Mr Wood is only 23 years of age ..."


Using the British Newspaper Archive, James set about trying to resolve the issue. Many early reports had Harvey listed on England team sheets as H. J. Wood, but later ones were either H. Wood or by the time of the Olympic Games in 1908, H. I. Wood.


Harvey Wood 01 BNA
Harvey Wood 02 BNA
Extracts from the British Newspaper Archive.


During the Olympic Games the England goalkeeper was listed always as H.I. Wood. The H.I. Woods outnumbered the H.J. Wood references by a factor of 4-1 in the 1908 hockey reports.


Harvey Wood 03 BNA


James set about trying to find H.I. Wood using online genealogy service Findmypast. Only one result fitted the timeline: Harvey Icke Wood who was baptised in late 1884 in West Bromwich, but there were no other references. In the 1901 census James found a Harvey Wood, son of Peter Wood owner of P&S Wood Ltd, the second-generation brickmakers whose father George (Harvey’s grandfather) had left £35,000 to his sons when he died in 1884. His sons followed George into the business. Searching on “Peter Wood” rather than “Harvey Icke” bizarrely brought up Harvey Icke Wood in the 1911 census working as an Insurance Agent. This rather put to question the efficiency of the search engines!


Harvey Icke Wood 1911 census


What do we know about Harvey Wood?

He played three seasons for West Bromwich HC two in the 2nd XI before replacing England international Lancelot Augustus Gurney in the 1st XI goal. West Bromwich would go unbeaten in the 1907-08 season. Wood played for Staffordshire and the Midlands having reportedly outstanding performances leading to his debut for England against Ireland in March 1908. He played in all the home internationals and the Olympic Games earning seven caps but seemingly never played again.


Harvey Jesse Wood or Harvey Icke Wood?

Across the internet, Wiki sites and Olympic history sites list Harvey Jesse Wood as the 1908 Olympic goalkeeper, but the vast majority reference the text from the 2016 East Riding Museum website and offer no other evidence.

Harvey Jesse Wood was born in Beverley, son of the local butcher who was a notable local sportsman playing cricket and rugby and appears in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses as a railway clerk living in Beverley. Even though both Beverley and West Bromwich railway stations were part of the London & Northern Railway Company, it seems highly unlikely he ever moved to West Bromwich.

Harvey Icke Wood was born in West Bromwich into a brickmaking dynasty that his grandfather George (1808-1880) had created. Seven of his nine sons became brickmakers including Harvey’s father Peter. The family could be classed as rich industrialists, part of the upper-middle class as were the members of the England team of 1908. His father’s company P&S Wood Ltd owned the Pump House Brickworks whose trademark was the star of David. They exported Staffordshire blue bricks across Europe with, ironically, Germany being one of their biggest export markets in the 1900s. Harvey visited Canada in 1912 and married in 1916 worked as a bookkeeper living in Bath until his death 1963.

Further research by The Hockey Museum’s Curator Shane Smith and Archivist Marcus Wardle revealed that the Hockey Association’s (HA) England selection book had Wood listed as H. I. Wood and not H. J. Wood. In the book, the I and J appear similar enough to cause a possible confusion, but distinct enough to be identifiably different. Note the J in “J. Y. Robinson” (John Yate Robinson) which loops below the line of the other letters, and the I in “A. I. Draper” (Arnold Inman Draper) which sits neatly on the line with no lower loop.


Hockey Association selection book

 The Hockey Association selection book of England international players.

From The Hockey Museum collection.


So, our evidence:

  • The article in Hockey lists Wood’s birthplace as Staffordshire.
  • The majority of the newspaper team lists record an H. I. Wood (not H. J. Wood).
  • Handwriting evidence in the Hockey Association selection book records him as H. I. Wood in 1908; and
  • He played for West Bromwich HC in the Midlands.

Given all this, it would seem that sports historians to date have credited the wrong Harvey Wood. Once again, the redress of history began in The Hockey Museum’s archive by one of our research volunteers.

Get Off My Pitch book cover


The Hockey Museum (THM) regularly receives interesting enquires from the public and sometimes even an exchange of information. Back in April 2022 there was one such enquiry from Colin Gallacher. His father Don was Head Groundsman at Wembley Stadium between 1975 and 1985. Colin is planning to publish his father’s memoires in a book called Get Off My Pitch and he was seeking permission to use some of the photographs from THM’s own publication The Magic of Wembley. In particular, Colin sought those of Her Majesty the Queen’s visit to Wembley in 1981 – clearly a proud and stirring memory for Don.

Her Majesty Attends the Women's Hockey at Wembley Stadium in 1981 |

We were happy to share these photographs in exchange for a donation. They were taken by Pat Ward, past Editor of Hockey Field magazine, who kindly donated her collection (and their copyright) to the Museum.

There was a bit of sadness that we had not found Colin sooner. His father’s insights would certainly have been included in The Magic of Wembley. When writing the book, THM had tried (even advertising in the papers) but ultimately failed to trace one of the grounds team. It is always good to receive new information even if it is past the time it was really needed. It all helps to better tell hockey’s heritage stories and expand our knowledge of items in THM collection.

Katie Dodd explains:

“What a shame we didn't find Colin earlier. Nan Williams [co-author of The Magic of Wembley with Christabel Russell Vick] and I did try to get details of any former staff at the old Wembley Stadium to hear their stories, but we were not successful. Neither Wembley Stadium nor the Football Association seemed to have any interest in the history of the old Stadium ... apart from football! The most help we had was from the local Wembley newspaper who published an article about us trying to find anyone who had worked at Wembley. Sadly, we got no responses.”


Harrow Observer 2014
The Hockey Museum's article in the Harrow Observer, 8 May 2014.


However, better late than never. There is now overlap between THM’s past work and Don Gallacher’s memories of the England women’s hockey team playing at Wembley. Sometimes you just need to wait a few years for things to fall into place.

Long-time THM volunteer Christabel (Chris) Russell Vick met virtually with Colin and they had a wonderful time remembering what Wembley Stadium meant to them as part of their family histories, albeit from completely different angles. Chris in the posh seats – her mother Mary was President of the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) – and Colin pitch side assisting a cameraman during the FA Cup final.

Colin has promised us a copy of his forthcoming book Get Off My Pitch (pictured) for the Museum’s library, which we will be very happy to receive as it provides a unique perspective on an illustrious era in hockey’s past.

The Magic of Wembley book – minus Head Groundsman Don – remains available to purchase for the bargain price of £10.00 (plus postage costs). Please enquire using the contact form on THM website: Contact Us |

International touring has a long and distinguished sporting history. Within British hockey, Australasia has been an attractive location to tour to as far back as the early twentieth century. An England women’s side travelled to Australia and New Zealand in 1914, in an era before UK women had the vote (but Australia and New Zealand had enjoyed women's emancipation for some years). England toured to Australia again in 1927 prior to an Anglo-Scottish women’s tour to Australia in 1937. There were International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association (IFWHA) World Conferences & Tournaments in Sydney, Australia in 1956 and Auckland, New Zealand in 1971, which were approached with something akin to a touring mentality rather than formal tournaments. Great Britain men enjoyed an Australia tour in 1966.

Yet touring internationally is not exclusively the domain of international teams. Following in the footsteps of these early pioneers, more recent decades have seen school hockey teams embracing transcontinental touring.


Buford School’s Mixed Hockey Tour

August 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Burford School in Oxfordshire's first mixed hockey tour to Australia in 1997.

Between 5-22 August 1997, twenty 16-year-olds and three members of staff made the 12,000-mile journey. It included visits to Perth in Western Australia, the Central Coast in New South Wales, and the iconic city of Sydney.


IMG 20220617 130941      IMG 20220617 131017
Burford School mixed hockey team in Australia, 1997.
Left: taking in the Perth Skyline.
Right: Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Below: Touring the Central Coast, New South Wales.
IMG 20220617 131107


The tour party experienced many great sight-seeing opportunities, but the highlight of the trip on the hockey field was undoubtedly the 3-1 victory over Sydney Co Ed Grammar School at Holmbush, the hockey venue for the Olympic Games in 2000.


IMG 20220526 WA0012
Burford School and Sydney Co Ed Grammar School share
a group photograph after their match at Holmbush, 15 August 1997.


Theirs was an ambitious and trail-blazing tour. According to Monica Pickersgill, President of the All England Women's Hockey Association (AEWHA), it was “the first school mixed hockey tour we [the AEWHA] have had the pleasure of supporting”.

Toby Douglas of Edwin Doran Sports Tours, the company who organised the trip and is the market leader in school sports tours, states that as far back as 1974 (when the company was founded) he could find no reference to school mixed hockey tours to anywhere outside the UK.

This was the first British school mixed hockey tour outside of the UK ever recorded – unless you know differently.


IMG 20220619 170525
Letter from Monica Pickersgill, President of the AEWHA.


Hockey at Burford School

Hockey has been played at Burford School since the 1930s, a near century-long tradition of girls, boys and mixed teams.

Mixed hockey was the vehicle for three major overseas tours to Australia in 1997, Canada in 2000 and Australia and New Zealand in 2003. It played on three visits to Burford's twin town, Potenza Pocena in Italy, as part of cultural visits in the late 2000s. These also included a full orchestra and choir!


Ernest Hartley
Ernest Hartley, the most famous Old Burfordian.


Many former Burford School pupils played county hockey, but the most famous Old Burfordian is Ernest Hartley, who played hockey for The Isis Club in Oxford and for England. Ernest earned the first of 17 caps for England (three as Captain) in 1922. In an amusing coincidence, one of the matches he captained was, of all places, in Perth – though this was Perth in Scotland (for Scotland vs England), not Australia! The hope is that Ernest's family will receive a posthumous cap at some time in the not too far distant future.

As of August 2022, the groundwork is being completed for an all-weather pitch at the school, specifically for hockey!


By Bill Williams
Bill was Head of Physical Education and Sport at Burford School between 1987-2019. He organised the 1997 Australia tour alongside his wife Mandy, who led girls Physical Education at the school.

Mike Smith, Hon. Curator and President of The Hockey Museum (THM), describes the process of uncovering hockey’s history as being like a jigsaw puzzle:

“Putting together the history of hockey is like doing a jigsaw puzzle where many pieces are missing. Ultimately, we hope to find enough pieces to make the picture recognisable.”

Visitors to the museum may be under the impression that THM already has all the answers – that couldn’t be further from the truth. Staff and volunteers are undertaking a constant process of investigation and discovery that requires creativity, attention to detail, and often, consultation with the wider hockey community. THM’s recent delve into umpiring history is a perfect example.


F S Brabham whistles 1920s      F S Brabham 1908 referee brooch
Three engraved silver whistles and a referee's brooch from the 1908 Olympic Games.
These items previously belonged to international umpire F S Brabham.


We recently acquired three silver whistles engraved with dates from the 1920s. These belonged to F S Brabham, a relatively unknown umpire. The engraved information on the whistles opened up new avenues to explore, revealing Brabham’s involvement in an Ireland vs Scotland match in 1923, an Ireland vs Wales match in 1924 and a France vs England match in 1925. A further whistle was awarded for umpiring the Easter Hockey Tournaments in Norwich in 1925 and 1926.


1925 FRA v ENG team 2331925 The Times newspaper
1925 FRA v ENG 641925 The Times newspaper
Reports on the France vs England international hockey match in 1925 from The Times newspaper.
Neither report mentions the umpires!


Having searched through THM’s partially verified statistical records of England matches as well as the British Newspaper Archive (see above), we were unable to find details of the umpires for that England vs France match in 1925. Undaunted, we reached out to our friends at the Irish Hockey Archives to see if they knew of Brabham. Drawing on their records and with help from the Irish Times newspaper, they confirmed Brabham’s presence as an umpire at the Irish matches. This helped prove the provenance of the whistles.


Ire v scot 03031923 F S Brabham one of the seated umpires

The Irish hockey team from the Ireland vs Scotland international match played on 3 March 1923.
Umpire F S Brabham is one of the two jacketed men seated at each end of the middle row.

Image courtesy of the Irish Hockey Archive.



Cross-referencing Sources And The Whistles' Impact On The Hockey Museum’s Statistical Research

Following the rollout of Great Britain (GB) honours caps by THM (in partnership with the Hockey Internationals’ Club and GB Hockey), we have increasingly been asked why there has been no recognition of international umpires. The implication being: why should the players get all the fun/credit?

The GB caps were the culmination of a meticulous six-year, volunteer-led research project by THM to create the statistics to determine definitive match and player records for GB hockey players back to 1920. Without definitive records, it would have been impossible to provide an athlete’s unique player number. To do this it was vital to know every GB hockey match ever played in history and every player who featured in them. Miss one player or one match and the numbering goes awry! The same is true for appointed umpires. THM must research and assemble complete and indisputable records for every British umpire and the matches they officiated, or we cannot be sure that the awarding of umpire numbers and appointment/appearance totals will be correct.

Our search to discover F S Brabham – we still don’t know his given names – and prove his officiation at international matches, demonstrates some of the inconsistencies within historical sources. You might think that paper records would be the most helpful kind of source, but this is not necessarily the case. Different sources prioritise different pieces of information. The edition of Hockey World magazine from the 27 March 1925, tells us that the Easter event engraved onto one of the whistles was Norwich’s inaugural hockey tournament. Yet Norwich is not even mentioned in the following year’s issue and there is no mention of umpires in either.

Similarly, with the England player records (which our volunteers are currently collating), whilst the England players are recorded, the umpires are not, making it necessary to find additional confirmatory sources. Records can often result in more questions than answers and sometimes physical objects, such as these whistles, can prove invaluable for research. The whistles are a highly unusual source for discovering appointed international umpires, but they are symbolic of the variety of sources THM needs to engage with before it can create definitive umpiring records and even consider umpires’ caps.

THM’s project to research and collate umpiring and technical official statistics is being led by volunteer Steve Catton, himself an active international official. This research will become an asset to THM and prove fruitful for future projects. The challenge makes these discoveries all the more rewarding, resulting in the occasional whistle while we work!


Umpiring And Technical Official Statistics – Can You Help?

Steve is keen to hear from active or retired GB and England international umpires and officials who can provide accurate records of their appointments, which will assist with building up this side of THM’s valuable data resource. Steve can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Following the Platinum Jubilee last weekend to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s record breaking 70-year reign, we look back on what is arguably her most iconic hockey moment: the visit to Wembley Stadium in 1981.

The Queen made an appearance at the England vs Wales women’s international match at Wembley, much to the delight of the crowd of 62,000 schoolgirls eager to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty. There was a lunch before the match that was attended by many former players and officials. Before meeting the players, the Queen toured the stadium in an open-top Range Rover alongside All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) President Mary Russell Vick and Welsh Women's Hockey Association President Ceri O’Donnell. An exciting moment for them both and a wonderful way to acknowledge the sport of hockey, its players and fans.


1981 queen tour      1981 Wembley Maggie Souyave introduces Jan Bartlett to the Queen image credit The Hockey Museum
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attends during the England vs Wales
women's international hockey match at Wembley Stadium in 1981.


Memories of the Queen’s Visit to Wembley Stadium

Pat Ward, former Editor of Hockey Field magazine, recalled how her interest in photography led to an exciting opportunity to photograph the Queen at Wembley Stadium – a memory that has had a lasting impact on her life and career.

Our interview with Pat Ward, which can be found among our oral histories on THM’s website, reveals her fond memories of this day and the nerves she felt from the pressure of the job and of being in the presence of the Queen. The atmosphere was magical. The crowd sang the National Anthem at the end of the match, much to the delight and surprise of Her Majesty, who later mentioned how she felt extremely touched by the love shown to her.


Mary RV and Queen Elizabeth II

All England Women's Hockey Association (AEWHA) President, Mary Russell Vick with the Queen at Wembley.
Photographs from the Pat Ward collection held at The Hockey Museum.


Oral History Interview: Patricia (Pat) Ward | The Hockey Museum

Maggie Souyave, England captain on the day the Queen attended: Oral History Interview: Margaret (Maggie) Souyave | The Hockey Museum


In The Hockey Museum’s self-published book, The Magic of Wembley, Christabel Russell Vick (daughter of AEWHA President Mary) recalls how “the thrill of singing God Save the Queen when you can see the Queen was very special. A once-in-a-lifetime memory.” She also remembers her mother coming back from a meeting in late 1980 where she declared, “I have not yet had a refusal from Her Majesty, and I am getting worried that she is going to accept!” As Patron the Queen was invited to Wembley every year.


Patron 19 Nov 1979

A letter from Buckingham Palace confirming the Queen's patrongage of the AEWHA (dated 19 November 1979).
From the Mary Russell Vick collection held at The Hockey Museum.


Approval of Programme 28 Jan 1981

A letter from Sandringham approving the programme for the day the Queen was to visit Wembley (dated 28 January 1981).
From the Mary Russell Vick collection held at The Hockey Museum.


Despite the upheaval that the visit caused (such as Wembley Stadium having to re-paint the banqueting hall as the Queen was coming to lunch) the Royal visit provided a very memorable day for every attendee. Katie Dodd who played in the match remembers the excitement of meeting the Queen and recalled that the team probably spent more time practising curtsies than short corners!

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s reign has touched many people, but for hockey players past and present, this moment was a defining point in the history of hockey which, considering the size of the Wembley crowd and the age of our Monarch, is unlikely to be matched on such a scale ever again.


Thank you latter from Buckingham Palace page 1 23 March 1981      Thank you letter from Buckingham Palace page 2 23 March 1981

The thank you letter to Mary Russell Vick sent from Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen (dated 23 March 1981).
From the Mary Russell Vick collection held at The Hockey Museum.


Joyce Hatton Vera Cox and Frances Heron Maxwell colourised

Joyce Hatton, Vera Cox (wearing her AEWHA blazer) and Frances Heron-Maxwell.
This photograph was colourised for Frances Thompson's talk at The Hockey Museum.


Last Wednesday 4 May, Frances Thompson travelled from Australia to The Hockey Museum (THM) for a rather personal research visit, and we asked her to give a talk.

Frances presented on the work she has been doing to piece together the fascinating life of her great grand aunt, Vera Cox. Vera played for Atalanta HC, Kent, the East and then England between 1908 and 1912, captaining the team in 1912. Her international hockey career was brought to an early conclusion following a knee injury sustained in the 1912 fixture against Ireland but she continued to play club hockey and went on to coach, select players for representative honours and umpire. Vera umpired at international level until the early 1930s. She was also involved in hockey administration and then in support of her friend, Frances Heron Maxwell the early feminist and suffragette, went on to be one of the driving forces behind the setting up of the England Women’s Cricket Association and the development of international women’s cricket.

To find out more about Mrs Frances Heron Maxwell, click on the following link: Feminist Icon Frances Heron-Maxwell |



England women c1910
England women's hockey team c.1910. Vera Cox is seated middle row far right.


Frances’ talk gave a fascinating insight not only into Vera’s many early achievements but also Vera the person – one of ten siblings who wrote constantly to each other. These letters still exist and are held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Frances has been researching them and the talk covered the period up until the beginning of World War 1.

Hockey Shorts will cover details from the talk including a video of the presentation itself in a later edition. Meanwhile, you can listen to Frances's podcast 100 Years of Cox; series 3, episode 17 uncovers Vera's hockey life through her letters.


Subscribe to the Mailing List |

100 Years of Cox S3E17: Vera - The Joys of Hockey | Apple Podcasts


Prior to her talk, Frances Thompson spent the day at THM in Woking pouring over copies of Hockey Field magazine and other items that our Archivist Marcus Wardle had unearthed in our collections management database. Among these were four large scrapbooks containing photographs, programmes and other memorabilia relating to Kent and England women’s hockey from the early 1900s. While we knew we had these books, our records revealed nothing about how they came to be created or by whom. Amazingly, as soon as Frances looked at them, she recognised the handwriting as Vera’s – having read so many of her letters, the style was so distinctive! These four scrapbooks have now been identified as Vera’s record of her hockey career from 1906 through to 1912 – such an amazing find for all of us. Frances was thrilled. As Mike Smith, THM’s Hon. Curator reflected later, discovering the link between the scrapbooks and Vera is what makes all the work at THM worthwhile – positioning more pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of hockey’s heritage to create a better image of our sport’s fascinating past.


Vera Cox scrapbook 1911
One of the four scrapbooks from the Pat Ward collection held at The Hockey Museum in Woking, now identified as having been created by Vera Cox.

A total of 581 players (men and women) have represented Great Britain (GB) over the years. Many of these players have enjoyed illustrious international careers with seven men and 13 women having exceeded 100 appearances – yet this piece is about those players who only made one single appearance.

To achieve international player status takes a huge amount of physical and mental hard work and dedication. To become a GB international normally means progression through their ‘Home Country’ national team, so it is fair to assume that the players would be quite well known to the selectors by the time they reached consideration for GB. Selection by a panel of appointed ‘selectors’ was the traditional method of choosing players for county, regional and international duty during much of the twentieth century. This familiarity might imply that players could expect at least a few games to show their mettle.

Each case will be slightly different, but through our statistical research The Hockey Museum (THM) has discovered that 35 men and 18 women have played representative hockey for GB just once. It would be fair to assume that most of these 53 individuals would be a little disappointed at only being selected once. However, there is one concrete exception!


The GB & Ireland tour to South Africa and Kenya, 1951

In 1951 a GB & Ireland team visited South Africa for a Five Test Series. They flew home via Nairobi in Kenya having accepted an invitation to play one match against Kenya (& East Africa). The very enjoyable South Africa tour was also very gruelling. By the time the party reach Nairobi they were somewhat depleted. This was aggravated by a couple of players returning home separately meaning that when they reached Nairobi, GB were struggling to find 11 fit players – in 1951 there was no such thing as substitutes, so, if they could scrape them together, 11 would be sufficient. Significantly, GB only had four forwards and no centre forward. These were the days of ‘positional hockey’ rather than the fluid systems employed today.


Cartoon 1951 GB tour of South Africa

 A cartoon commenting on the GB & Ireland team tour to South Africa in 1951.

It proved to be a gruelling trip with many players having picked up injuries by the time
the team arrived in Nairobi to play Kenya on their journey home.


It transpired that a young Brit had recently moved to Nairobi; a very competent hockey player called Peter Johnson. He was a recent Cambridge University ‘Blue’ in an era when many Oxford University and Cambridge University ‘Blues’ progressed rapidly into international hockey. Peter had played in the Varsity matches of 1946, 1947 and 1951 – a rare and lengthy span which must confirm his competence as a hockey player. On 20 September 1951, Peter was called upon to play for GB in a narrow 3-2 loss for the visitors at Nairobi’s City Park Stadium. In doing so he earned his one and only international cap, albeit in very unusual circumstances.

We can be certain that Peter Johnson would have been delighted to have played in just one international match, unlike many other one-cap internationals who might have hoped for more appearances.


GB Ireland team cloth badge 1951

Great Britain & Ireland team cloth blazer badge from the 1951 South Africa tour,
previously owned by goalkeeper Sir Derek Day.

Peter Johnson would not have owned one of these badges as he wasn't part of the original
touring team. However, we may still be able to present him with a GB honours cap.


Can You Help?

We have no further information on Peter Johnson. If he is still alive he would be nearly 100 years old, but he or his family are entitled to received his GB honours cap. We would very much like to make this presentation, so unique is Peter’s story.

Please help with any contact details for Peter or his family. Contact The Hockey Museum using the website contact form: Contact Us (

The Hockey Museum recently received a 42-year-old document that has a particular resonance with contemporary events that are consuming the world’s media today.

The document in question is a copy of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s letter of 19 February 1980 to Sir Denis Follows, CBE, Chairman of the British Olympic Association. The letter on 10 Downing Street headed notepaper was a response to the British Olympic Association’s wish that the Moscow Olympic Games be moved away from Russia because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1978. Prime Minister Thatcher’s response was to advise British athletes to boycott the Moscow Olympic Games. She requested that the British Olympic Association should “accept the advice of the Government in this matter and reflect it in [their] response to the invitation of the Moscow Organising Committee to take part in the Games in Moscow”.1

The Prime Minister (PM), in tones that are eerily familiar today, observed that the “Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on a flimsy pretext and its continued military occupation of a sovereign country violates all the principles governing relations between states and peoples”. This commentary could apply equally to the situation in Ukraine today. The PM later stated that “for British athletes to take part in games this summer would be for them to seem to condone an international crime”.2


Prime Minister letter Moscow 1980 Olympics 1

 Extract of the letter from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on 10 Downing Street headed paper.

Correspondence from The Hockey Museum's archives.


The Thatcher Government embarked on a press campaign to support the boycott of the 22nd Olympiad. Bernard Levin in The Times commented that “our athletes might win medals in Moscow, but they would be tarnished badges of shame”. Subsequently the Government prohibited civil servants and serving members of the military to take leave to attend the Olympic Games.3 There are parallels in the Western nations’ boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980 and today’s economic sanctions being levied on Russian businesses and individuals linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Similar pressures have been applied by governments to Western businesses to boycott Russia now, as were applied to the British Hockey Boards 42 years ago.

This governmental pressure led to the Great Britain Hockey Board (men) and the Women’s Hockey Board of Great Britain and Ireland voting to withdraw from the Moscow Games on 22 March 1980. Both groups had met independently prior. Roger Self, Manager of Great Britain (GB) men, spoke to the Hockey Association (England) meeting the previous day and confirmed that the “entire [men’s] squad under present political circumstances prevailing wanted to go to Moscow”. The players saw the decision to be a “political one and not in the interests of the game”.4 This stance pitted the men’s players against their governing body which voted 25-6 to boycott the games despite the players’ strong desire to participate.

Despite trenchant opposition, the boycott went ahead and hockey, along with yachting and the equestrian team, were the only British sports wholly absent from Moscow – other sports sent depleted teams.

The British men had missed out on qualification for the Montreal Games in 1976, so the Moscow boycott meant a whole generation missed the opportunity to play Olympic hockey. The Soviet Union’s aggression also deprived the GB women of the prestige of taking part in the inaugural women’s Olympic hockey tournament. Despite men’s hockey having been an Olympic sport almost without exception since 1908, women’s Olympic hockey had been forced to wait 72 years for admittance and, like the men, many elite players lost the chance to compete at an Olympic Games.


The Olympic Hockey Tournaments, Moscow 1980


Moscow 1980 Olympic Games poster low res

Official poster from the Moscow Olympic Games of 1980, featuring Games mascot Misha.

Poster from The Hockey Museum's collection.


The inaugural women’s Olympic hockey tournament was subsequently a depleted affair with most of the Western nations boycotting alongside Great Britain. It was played on a round-robin basis and in a spectacular result was won by Zimbabwe. Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union took the silver and bronze medals respectively. The sole group for the women’s tournament also included India, Austria and Poland.


Zimbabwe Golden Girls 1980 c Wikipedia RIA Novosti

Zimbabwe women's hockey team celebrate their unexpected gold medal at the Moscow Olympic Games, 1980.

© Wikipedia RIA Novosti.

Zimbabwe's first Olympic gold and the forgotten hockey fairytale of 1980 |


The original format of the women’s tournament (as would have been before teams boycotted) is not known, but initially GB men were selected in Group A along with Argentina, India, Kenya, Netherlands and Pakistan. After multiple countries pulled out, the men’s tournament comprised of six nations – Spain, India, Soviet Union, Poland, Cuba and Tanzania. Spain topped the round-robin tournament only to lose 4-3 to India in the Gold Medal match. Spain’s Juan Amat, competing in his fourth Olympic Games and the tournament’s top scorer with 16 goals (8 goals in an 11-0 demolition of Cuba), scored a hattrick in a losing effort.


Moscow 1980 ticket
 Ticket to the Olympic hockey tournament at the Dynamo Minor Arena, Moscow, 1980.


Despite the heroics of the competing nations, in Britain the Olympic hockey tournaments in Moscow will for ever be remembered for who was not there, and why.

Whilst the public support for a sporting boycott of Russia because of the Ukraine crisis remains strong and more importantly, both appropriate and proportionate, the hockey boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games by the GB women and men’s teams remains a painful and, for many, a contentious issue 42 years on.


Ian G Jenkins, March 2022


NB. The research undertaken by Ian for this article unearthed considerable further material. Subsequently, Ian recognises the need for a more detailed study, including a thorough exploration of The Hockey Museum archives but also interviews with those involved or impacted by the Moscow 1980 Olympic boycott. If you have information or consider yourself a potential person of interest to Ian’s ongoing research, please contact The Hockey Museum: Contact Us (



  1. Letter from Margaret Thatcher to Dennis Follows, 19 February 1980 (The Hockey Museum Archives).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Riordan, J. Great Britain and the 1980 Olympics. Sports Relations and International Understanding (1982) pp 144-158 Vol 5 No 2.
  4. Hockey Digest, Summer 1980. pp 5-7.


Oral Histories Referencing The Boycott Of The Moscow 1980 Olympic Games

The following oral history interviews available on The Hockey Museum website offer insight into the personal experiences of players, coaches and umpires in relation to the 1980 Olympic hockey boycott. You can search "Moscow" within each oral history and jump to the relevant point in each interview. Alternatively, listen to them in their entirety.


1896 England women vs Ireland first England international match

The first England women's hockey team (1896).
Mary D’Oyley is seated middle row, right of centre next to the lady holding the ball. Mary has her cap on her stick.


When England’s Mary D’Oyley (nee Piper) lined up against Ireland at Alexandra College, Dublin, on 2 March 1896, she made history in more ways than one.

Not only was the East Molesey centre-forward participating in the first ever women’s hockey international, but she was also the first married woman – and the first mother – to represent her country at the sport.

The Norwich-born player had married civil service clerk Arthur Frederick D’Oyley in August 1891, and the couple welcomed their first child – Charles Tristan – in July 1892.

Master D’Oyley would, therefore, have been a few months short of his fourth birthday when his mum – aged 33 – made the trip across the Irish Sea to take part in the historic match. She was unable to get on the scoresheet, however, as Ireland won 2-0.

It would be Mary D’Oyley’s only international appearance, and her second son, Paul Arthur Austin, was born in January 1900.

She wasn’t the only member of her family involved with English hockey, however.

Mary’s younger brothers Charles and Arthur played for East Molesey, and Charles represented the club at the 1886 meeting that led to the formation of the men’s Hockey Association (HA). In 1895, he was on the HA committee that turned down a request for affiliation from the All England Women’s Hockey Association! But that’s another story…


Jo Halpin

Follow Dr Jo Halpin on Twitter (click: Jo Halpin (@JoHalpin) / Twitter) or reach her through THM's website contact form: Contact Us (


Indian political party crop
Punjab Lok Congress Party symbol


The image shown above is being used by a political party as its logo (see here). This may seem a rather strange adoption, yet it has occurred in the Punjab in Northern India. Not only is hockey the national sport of India but the Punjab is undoubtedly the spiritual home of Indian hockey. It could be argued that it is very appropriate for a hockey symbol to be adopted in a sports-mad place like the Punjab.

Apart from the sport of hockey, the city of Jalandhar in the Punjab is the home of the Indian sports industry which has been responsible for producing much of the world’s hockey equipment for the past seventy years. The actual introduction of hockey to the Indian Sub-Continent and the birth of the manufacturing industry is the subject of another and much longer story that goes back to the days of the Raj.

However, your writer, The Hockey Museum’s (THM) Curator Mike Smith, has a story to tell about the predominance of hockey in the Punjab. He was a frequent visitor to India over four decades and when his younger son wanted a ‘gap year experience’ where better than a visit to the welcoming, friendly Punjab and Jalandhar in particular. A few miles outside Jalandhar lies the rural village of Sansarpur – this really is the spiritual home of Indian hockey. It is a fact, which we are confident cannot be contradicted, that more Olympic and World Cup hockey medalists have come from this village than any other town on the planet. The basic but strong playing facilities nurtured India’s greatest players through the twentieth century. They have a very cosy clubhouse within which are proudly shown all the great hockey players who are the sons of Sansarpur. It is one of those rare places that makes the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand up!

Through time-honoured friendships, our Curator’s son and his travelling companion were invited to daily practice and training at Sansarpur – what an amazing privilege. The ‘travelling companion’ was the Curator’s godson, the son of THM co-founder David Wareham. It is not surprising that the fathers decided to visit India to coincide with the end of their sons’ gap year visit. The highlight was undoubtedly for the fathers to umpire a game on the pitch at Sansarpur, contested by teams which included both boys and watched by the bemedaled sons of Sansarpur. Money cannot buy unique occasions like that.

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