History of Hockey

Games played with balls and curved sticks can be found throughout history. Pictures that date back 4000 years ago have been found in Egypt depicting such games, and there are recordings of various hockey-like games played throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The first written recording of the word hockey can be found in the Galway Statutes of 1527.

The modern game of hockey originally grew out of a game which was played in English public schools in the 19th century. The first official club which resembles hockey clubs found today originated in Blackheath in South East London in 1849. The modern rules supposedly developed from those used by members of the Middlesex cricket club, who played the game as their winter sport. However, it has been argued that the modern form of the game resembles the style associated with the Teddington Hockey Club. The players of this club introduced the idea of a striking circle, and changed the original rubber cube used as the ball into a sphere.

The Hockey Association was formed in 1886, and the first international game took place in 1895 between England and Ireland. The International Rules Board was formed within the association to govern all competitively played games in 1900.

The history of hockey in competition

Hockey was introduced into the Summer Olympics in 1908, and was played again in 1920. However, it was dropped in 1924, which led to the foundation of the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH). This became the international governing board of 7 European countries, and hockey was reinstated in the Summer Olympics of 1928. Men’s hockey remained united under the FIH until 1970.

The first ever international match was held between England and Ireland in 1895, with England triumphing. The men’s hockey World Cup was founded in 1971, and the English team had their best result in 1986.

Hockey was taken to India by British servicemen, where it has flourished greatly. The first hockey clubs were formed in Calcutta in 1885, and the Beighton Cup and the Aga Khan Tournament commenced within ten years of this. India won the Olympic Games when hockey was introduced back into the competitions in 1928, and then went on to win at every Summer Games held after that until 1956, and then again from 1964 to 1980 (neighbouring Pakistan winning in 1960, 1968 and 1984).

In the 1970s, there was a shift within hockey at a competitive level with the introduction of artificial turf. This completely changed many aspects of competitive hockey, particularly the new speeds which could be reached on this type of ground. The new astro turf allowed the ball to be transferred more quickly, which in turn increased the rate at which the game was played. New tactics and techniques developed due to the way hockey could now be played on this surface, and new rules were subsequently established. Due to the expense of this new surface, India and Pakistan could not afford to use synthetic turf, and this largely ended their leading role in competitive international hockey.