Hockey's Military Stories

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This style of feature appears regularly in many publications and websites. Because hockey was blessed with excellent magazines for both the women’s and men’s games throughout the 20th century we are able to pick up on statistics and news from half a century ago.

The same cannot be said of a century ago as that was WW1. However, when we do come across information from that dreadful period we will publish occasional pieces on "Hockey 100 Years Ago".

The end of season and mid-summer editions of both the women's and men's magazines had a great deal of coverage of the Easter Hockey Festivals. These wonderful sporting and social events are not completely gone from today's hockey calendar but they are a shadow of what they used to be. An article in Hockey News entitled "Do These Moves Sound The Knell Of Easter Festivals?" was perhaps somewhat prophetic:

"I wonder how long it will be before we shall find it necessary to revise our thoughts about Easter Festivals in general, and also about the future of invitation clubs in particular. There seems no doubt that there will always be a demand for 'playing-for-fun' festivals. At the same time, it seems highly likely that official hockey will encroach, and that we shall see the day when, for example, the Folkestone Festival will be devoted to County Under-23 teams, or even County teams come to that."

The reports from just a handful of festivals listed hundreds of clubs and teams that used to journey to dozens of Easter Festivals throughout the British Isles. It is probable that in this post WW2 era a thousand teams took part in the revelry and rivalry of these great events. The Ramsgate women's festival on its own had 51 teams in attendance. All this would mean that over 10,000 hockey players would be filling up the hotels and boarding houses of Britain's seaside resorts. Such was the popularity of these events that most festivals had waiting lists of teams who wanted to attend. It was not just Easter though because in the month following, the Thanet End of Season Festival and the Isle of Man Festival both regularly attracted over 100 teams each.

Happy days!?

Hockey's Military Stories: An Introduction

This research project was prompted by the enormous interest and publicity that has surrounded the centenary of the start of WW1. We knew that many, indeed thousands, of hockey players were involved and that many lost their lives. The stories do not just relate to serving men but also those...

India's First International Match: Indian Army Team Tour to New Zealand, 1926

India's First International Match: Indian Army Team Tour to New Zealand, 1926

  Captain H V M Cox's hockey stick from the Indian Army Hockey Team tour to New Zealand in 1926.The engraved plate reads:1926 Indian Army Hockey Team v New Zealand.390 goals for. 37 against.Stick used by Captain V M H Cox throughout the tour.   This stick is one of...

Lt Campbell: The First Hockey Player To Die In WW1

Lt Campbell: The First Hockey Player To Die In WW1

Lt Charles Arthur Campbell   It seems highly likely that Lt Charles Arthur Campbell was the first hockey player to make the ultimate sacrifice in WW1 as there were so few others killed, officers or soldiers, before the Battle at Mons. Lt Campbell was born in London but grew up...

Hockey Heroism At The Only Major Sea Battle Of WW1

Hockey Heroism At The Only Major Sea Battle Of WW1

Once the First World War had begun it became obvious that the Royal Navy, traditionally the pride of the British Nation for centuries, would have to play a vital role in what would become both a domestic and global conflict or perish in the attempt. Not for nothing is the...

Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN

Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN

Perhaps the first Naval hockey player to become a casualty of the Great War? Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN was on the left wing for the Royal Navy in 1912 and in 1914 he was reported as "the best player in the Navy team". That was to be his...

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