Janet Beverley explores the strong connection between the early years of women’s hockey in Australia and in England.
I remember being quite excited to learn that the University of Bath held archival material from the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) and the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA). Such news would be exciting to a select few people - and I was one of them. In 2015 I was early into my PhD research on the history of Australian women’s hockey. I knew that there was a link between Australia’s hockey history and that of AEWHA and IFWHA, and also, I realised it would be difficult to find such material. Here was my chance.
I live in Ottawa, Canada, and cannot just pop over to Bath whenever I want to check out some information. In October 2016, I visited for two days, and then again in August 2018 when I attended the Women’s Hockey World Cup in London. I had never visited Bath before, so I was surprised to find that it is located deep in a river valley, that the Royal Crescent was situated halfway up the side of the valley, and that one took a bus up a very steep hill to get to the University.
From my first visit to the archives, I remember Lizzie Richmond bringing me piles of boxes of AEWHA and IFWHA material from the first half of the 20th century. An English touring team visited Australia in 1914 and again in 1927, so I was keen to find material about either visit. Miss F.I. Bryan’s diary from 1927 indicated that they were surprised to defeat Tasmania only by 4-2. This 4-2 close call prompted England’s captain to reflect that “we underestimated Tasmania’s team - have decided not to play all reserves in a game again.” England was a much better team than any that they played in Australia. They scored 227 goals against their opponents’ eight and in the three test matches scored 32 goals to Australia’s three.
Perhaps the most useful archived material for my research was that of IFWHA, especially IFWHA’s 1933 2nd Triennial Conference held in Copenhagen. In 1927 Australia became a founding member of IFWHA but was unable to participate in the 1933 IFWHA Conference and Tournament due to the economic situation caused by The Great Depression. However, Kate Ogilvie, the immediate past president of the All Australia Women’s Hockey Association, was in London training to be an almoner at St. Thomas’s Hospital and attended as Australia’s delegate.
Ogilvie was a smart young 30-year-old woman in 1933 who had particularly good analytical and diplomatic skills. Ogilvie’s suggestion at the conference allowed IFWHA’s members to resolve a sticky membership issue that previously seemed impossible to work out. There would have been no way of me knowing that piece of information without the AEWHA Collection.
I looked through the listing of the AEWHA’s collection before writing this piece to remind myself of its contents. The Collection contains considerable information for historians and student historians to write many, many papers on women’s hockey or the IFWHA. On my next visit to the archives, pandemic permitting, I will be looking through more boxes to get IFWHA’s perspective on the negotiations to get women’s hockey accepted as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee.