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Biddy Burgum scrapbook England vs Belgium 1953
Biddy Burgum's scrapbook which chronicles England women vs Belgium at Empire Stadium, Wembley in 1953.



March 2023 is the 70th anniversary of England women’s thumping 11-0 victory over Belgium at Wembley Stadium – a match played in front of an impressive 50,000-strong crowd of mainly schoolgirls.



1953 England vs Belgium Wembley programme cover

The beautifully illustrated programme from the England vs Belgium match of 1953.



March is also Women’s History Month and The Hockey Museum (THM) has taken this opportunity to celebrate the career of one of the players who featured in the 1953 match: indeed, the eldest surviving England women’s international hockey player, Biddy Burgum.

The report of the 1953 match against Belgium reveals Biddy to have been a pacey, dynamic winger: “It was a joy to see Burgum, marked by her half, gather a pass on her stick, pull the ball back as if her stick was either a spoon or a magnet and then set off at full speed on the right of her opponent.”

Biddy, aged 95, is currently living in a care home in Hailsham, East Sussex where she enjoys looking out at the garden and watching the birds from her room. She recently donated her personal collection of hockey memorabilia and archive material to THM and had great fun reminiscing before releasing it into our safekeeping. She misses her hockey friends.



Biddy Burgum and her kit 01     Biddy Burgum and her kit 02

Biddy Burgum, aged 95, reminiscing over her hockey kit before releasing it into the safekeeping of The Hockey Museum.

Photograph courtesy of Ruth Hine.



Biddy’s career in hockey: international player and respected teacher and coach

Biddy, who played her hockey on the right wing, earned 51 England caps during her career. Her first cap was on 4 March 1950 against Scotland at The Oval cricket ground in London (6-2 win); her last match was on 2 September 1961, a 1-1 draw against South Africa. A talented multi-sportswoman, Biddy was not intimidated by the prospect of making her England hockey debut at The Oval – she had played there several times previously representing Surrey Ladies at cricket!

Biddy’s childhood crossed over with World War 2 and the Birmingham Blitz. She became a teenage evacuee for a short period, though she spent most of the war at school in Birmingham.

For more information on Biddy’s wartime experiences: Burgum Family History Society

As a teenager, Biddy’s school physical education (PE) teacher Rena Lewis had offered her the chance to join a local hockey club in Birmingham and she played for them for three years until 1945. After the war, Biddy continued to hone her hockey skills at Bedford PE College. After completing her studies, she taught at Sutton High School and played county hockey for Surrey before teaching at Nottingham Girls' High School (where she introduced extra-curricular cricket sessions) and playing for Nottinghamshire. Having received help to get into a Birmingham hockey club when she was a child, throughout her teaching career Biddy sought to help aspiring students get into local hockey clubs. She also had a regular coaching column for schoolgirls in Women’s Hockey Field magazine.

Complementary to her teaching and playing, Biddy would go on to become a respected All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) advanced coach and in 1969 began lecturing prospective PE teachers at Chelsea College of Physical Education (Chelsea CPE) in Eastbourne. Under her instruction, the Chelsea CPE First XI won many PE colleges tournaments and the inaugural AEWHA Club Championships in 1977. That qualified the team to play in the European Clubs Championships the following year. Many Chelsea players went on to earn representative honours for England and Wales Under 21s and Under 23s, as well as full England and/or Great Britain caps. Among them were Barbara Hambly, Ruth Hine, Sandie Lister, Sue Wilson, Helen Bray, Jane Powell, Steph Garner, Karen Price, Sue Thomas and Janet Millar who were all from the same Chelsea era.



Chelsea CPE First XI 1976 77 low res

Chelsea College of Physical Education First XI, 1976/1977.

Back row (from left to right): Sandie Marrison, Barbara Holden, Jan Grainger, Ruth Hawes, Biddy Burgum, Jane Powell, Sue Rowarth, Helen Stother. Front row: Linda Kelly, Jean Walker, Julie Abson, Gill Scamell, Sue Powell.

Photograph courtesy of Ruth Hine.

Biddy was able to combine her teaching with a 12-year international hockey career that saw her play at Wembley Stadium and travel to distant parts of the world.

In 1950 she was offered the chance to tour to South Africa for the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA) World Conference and Tournament. Even though Biddy had played in all the England women’s matches that year she did not go; she was not selected in time to get the money together. She did eventually tour South Africa with England, first in 1954 and again in 1961. During the 1954 tour, England competed against the South African women’s hockey team in five test matches, as well as playing regional clubs. England visited Cape Town, Johannesburg and crossed into Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe).

Between her trips to South Africa, Biddy was crowned an unofficial World Champion with England at the IFWHA Conference and Tournament in Amsterdam in 1959. England defeated USA (4-1), West Germany (3-0), Switzerland (8-0), Argentina (2-0) and South Africa (4-0) at the Conference.



England womens team 1959 low res

The England women's hockey team of 1959. Biddy Burgum is seated one in from the left.


Thanks to Biddy’s generosity, THM now holds her scrapbooks in perpetuity – a treasure trove of documents and memorabilia which chronicle a fascinating and fulfilling career in hockey.


Joan Wall Elaine Turner Brenda Coleshill Biddy Burgum and Joan Hassell

England internationals Joan Wall, Elaine Turner, Brenda Coleshill, Biddy Burgum and Joan Hassell at the England internationals reunion event in 2018.

Former captain Brenda Coleshill remembers Biddy as a classic right wing – speedy, hugging that touchline, and getting in fabulous hard crosses that so often led to goals: “I had the privilege of playing in the same team as Biddy on many occasions – she was a great teammate and we had memorable times on the tour to South Africa in 1961”. Brenda and Biddy have remained good friends and in later life went on numerous holiday cruises to places like Norway and Iceland.

Photograph courtesy of England Hockey.


Her hockey life in her own words

In 2014, The Hockey Museum interviewed Biddy as part of its oral history project, which aims to capture the lived experience and memories of notable members of the hockey family. You can listen to Biddy recount her life in hockey in her own words by following the link: Oral History Interview: Biddy Burgum (

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