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During the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, 130 former Great Britain (GB) hockey players came together across two days at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre to receive their GB honours caps.

 

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Copyright: England Hockey / WorldSportPics.com Will Palmer

 

The Caps and the Presentation Ceremonies

In special ceremonies jointly organised by the Hockey Internationals’ Club (HIC), Great Britain Hockey (GBH) and The Hockey Museum (THM), each player was presented with a beautifully made, carefully embroidered cap by GBH President and former GB and Wales player Sheila Morrow. Each honours cap – produced by THM and financed by GBH – bears the name, debut date, cap (or appearance) total and the unique player number of each GB international. The ceremony was hosted by three-time hockey Olympian Simon Mason.

 

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Mike Smith (Honorary Curator of The Hockey Museum) and Sheila Morrow (Great Britain Hockey President) lead - and clearly enjoy - the ceremonies which were very ably hosted by Simon Mason across the Jubilee weekend.

Copyright: WorldSportPics.com Will Palmer / England Hockey

 

We believe this was the largest ever gathering of GB hockey players in one place. Quite an organisational feat!

It was a wonderful event for other reasons, too. It served both as a reunion and as an occasion for long-overdue recognition. Players who had not seen each other in years reunited; generations mingled, laughed and shared stories. Above all else, there was an overwhelming sense of pride.

A cap might be perceived as quite a simple, unassuming gesture, but it is immersed in 150 years of tradition and prestige. The earliest known honours cap presented in any sport was in 1871 for rugby. The first international honours caps presented in hockey were by Ireland in 1895, followed by Wales. The English Hockey Association passionately opposed the awarding of caps to its players at this time and has only – very rarely – awarded them for landmark appearances since. THM has no record of hockey honours caps being awarded in Scotland.

More than a century later, it fell to THM to lobby for the introduction of GB honours caps supported by its statistics project, and across the weekend an unmistakable joy arose from the recognition afforded by these presentations; presentations which were shared with family, friends, dignitaries and fellow athletes.

 

2nd HA Minute Book p14 rejection of caps
 

Extract from page 14 of the second (English) Hockey Association (HA) Minute Book, held in the archives of The Hockey Museum. The minute is from a meeting of the HA Council held at the Royal Station Hotel, Bath on 7 March 1908.

Transcription: "A proposal by Mr Trestrail that caps should be given to any player who represented England was not seconded and so withdrawn." 

 

Social Photographs From The Celebrations

Gemma Ible John Hurst Hilary Rose Beth Storry Carolyn Reid Joanne Thompson Rose Thomas      Jon Ebsworth Kevin Priday Alistair Seaton Simon Mason John Hurst Simon Triggs
     
Gemma Ible, John Hurst, Hilary Rose, Beth Storry,
Carolyn Reid, Joanne Thompson & Rose Thomas.
  Jon Ebsworth, Kevin Priday, Alistair Seaton,
Simon Mason, John Hurst & Simon Triggs.

 

Karen Brown Jane Smith      Christina Cullen Jane Smith Jane Sixsmith
     
Karen Brown & Jane Smith.   Christina Cullen, Jane Smith & Jane Sixsmith.

 

The Hockey Museum's Research

For the past six years, THM’s Statistics Working Group (comprised entirely of volunteers) has been busy researching, cross-referencing and collating a definitive database of GB international matches and the players who competed in them. Tens of thousands of hours have been spent tinkering with spreadsheets and trawling through match reports in magazines and newspaper archives, as well as through selection books, personal scrapbooks, official match sheets and other fascinating sources of information held in the Museum’s collection stores in Woking.

Decisions, too, were made around what does or does not count as an official match, the criteria for which was hammered out by the Working Group in hours of meetings with GBH, HIC and athlete representatives. This has led to the discovery of new GB teams for both the men and the women. The first GB men’s team and players are confirmed as the Olympic hockey of 1920 (previously thought to be an England team); the first GB women’s team is now recognised as the GB & Ireland Touring Team to the USA in 1965.

 

The first GB men’s team: A Golden Centenary: Harry Haslam and Olympic Hockey Gold in 1920 | The Hockey Museum

The first GB women’s team: The Story Of The First GB Women's Matches: Born In The USA | The Hockey Museum

 

Without this work to create definitive records, it would have been impossible to assign player numbers to GB hockey players past and present. A complete dataset simply did not exist. Yet with the establishment of THM in 2011 and the gradual expansion of its collection and record-keeping, enough sources of information were brought together under one very special roof (even if we say so ourselves). THM really is a one-of-a-kind resource for hockey unlike anywhere else in the world.

Now, with every match and player accounted for, hockey can share with its athletes their own unique numbers – their own indisputable position in the canon of hockey excellence.

Credit for the research project which has enabled the presentation of GB honours caps and player numbers must go to THM volunteers Steve Ellis, Sue Lane, Mike Smith and Katie Dodd.

To summarise what this means to the players, current GB international Ellie Rayer (women’s player no. 193) stated the following when receiving her cap prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games:

 

"I currently wear number 13, but I am merely looking after the number for the moment.
193 is my number and it always will be, which is incredibly special.
A huge, huge thank you for the work you have done."

-- Ellie Rayer #193

 

GB Squads Receive Honours Caps And Their Unique Player Numbers | The Hockey Museum

 

What Next?

Approximately half of the honours caps available to the 581 GB hockey players are still to be presented, either to the athletes themselves or to their descendants. THM does not anticipate being able to trace and more than 150 of these, but if you think you know of a player missing their GB cap, please contact THM to express your interest.

Meanwhile, at THM the Stats Group’s work continues. The Museum has active projects seeking to compile definitive records for England men and women – an even bigger job going back further in time to the 1890s – England U21s, umpires’ records, and the National League. We are also supporting work in Scotland and Wales. Perhaps some of these, too, will result in honours cap presentations. If you think you can assist and help to realise days like those held at Lee Valley, please get in touch.

Contact The Hockey Museum using our website form: Contact Us | The Hockey Museum

THM is a charity and requires the support of the public to continues its great work. If you would like to support THM by making a donation, please visit: How To Donate | The Hockey Museum

 

Photographs From The Presentations

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Copyright: WorldSportPics.com Will Palmer / England Hockey

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