The Hockey Museum is based in Woking, Surrey. Its website describes the museum’s role as, ‘working hard to preserve, share and celebrate the rich heritage and history of the sport of hockey’. One aspect of the work they undertake is researching hockey enquiries that are forwarded to it.

One such enquiry was forwarded by Alan Lancaster. He had two pictures. One  was of a team with an inscription on the back – ‘English Cup Winners’ – Newhey. The second was a picture of his mother Doreen Lancaster, nee Howles, and her two sisters June Taylor and Vera Simpson. The sisters were pictured with the ‘English Cup’. He wanted to know more about the trophy and its history.

Alan believed the pictures were from the 1950’s but he did not know the exact date. He knew the three sisters started playing hockey for Facit, Rochdale and when the team folded they moved to play for Newhey, and then played for Bury Ladies Hockey Club.

The museum did not have any knowledge of the ‘English Cup’. I am a volunteer for the museum and I am based in the North West of England so as Newhey is a district in Rochdale the enquiry was forwarded to me.

 

The enquiry was an interesting one for the Museum as at the time there were very few women’s hockey competitions. The All England Women’s Hockey Association (A.E.W.H.A.) formed in 1895, who ran the ladies game, frowned on the concept of having winners and losers, teams were supposed to play for the love of the game. However in certain areas of the country leagues had been formed and teams were competing for cups. The relationship of these leagues with the A.E.W.H.A. is not yet fully understood and further investigation is required to discover how they all functioned.

The literature on the history of hockey is sparse, and I could not find anything on the internet about Newhey Hockey Club or the English Cup.

However, local newspapers did report on hockey and I visited Touchstones in Rochdale. The centre contains a local studies area and I started looking through the Rochdale Observer. I found a number of references to a team called Newhey playing in the Rochdale and District Ladies Hockey League in the late 1940’s and early 50’s.

Manchester Metropolitan University have an International Sports and Leisure History Research Team (SpLeisH) and I contacted them to see if they had any knowledge of the Cup. Professor David Day put me in touch with Margaret Roberts, a research associate with SpLeisH, who kindly forwarded me a number of newspaper articles from a variety of papers including the “Lancashire Daily Post”. In an article from the paper dated Wednesday October 20 1937 I found the following report;

“The draw for the first round of the English Cup to be played on November 6th takes place tonight. The competition is played under the auspices of the English Ladies Hockey League Association to who the cup was presented in 1934 by Mr Frederick Johnson of Liverpool. Leyland Motors were the first winners beating Liverpool Olympic in the final as they did the following year. The present holders are Stockport”   

So Leyland Motors were the first winners of the Cup in the 1934 – 35 season beating Liverpool Olympic. To date I have found information about the Cup up until 1958 and in these years Leyland Motors went on to win the Cup a further seven times.

From Left to right Vera Simpson, June Howles (holding the English Cup) and Doreen Howles

 

This confirmed the Cup had existed, the year it was first played for, the first winners and the name of the person who had donated the cup. It also confirmed the existence of a rival Association to the A.E.W.H.A, the English Ladies Hockey League Association (E.L.H.L.A.) where leagues and cups were played for. The E.L.H.L.A. was formed by a number of the North West leagues in early 1932. In Jo Halpin’s  article “‘Thus far and no farther’ ; the rise of women’s hockey leagues in England from 1910 to 1939.” she notes, ‘In March 1932, the Manchester, Stockport, Liverpool and Lancashire Central hockey leagues got together to discuss an umbrella organisation and, four months later, the first general meeting of the E.L.H.LA was held at Milton Hall in Manchester.’

The E.L.H.L.A. ran the English Cup, but how the competition was run and which teams entered is not yet fully understood. The research to date shows that only teams from Lancashire and Cheshire joined the E.L.H.L.A. and so it was only teams from these two counties that competed in the competition. More work is required to find why other leagues did not join the Association.

However it did not stop newspapers giving their views on what they thought about the English Cup. In the Sports Special (Green Un), a Sheffield based paper, ‘Penalty Bully’ their hockey correspondent, in an article dated Saturday November 17th 1934 wrote;

‘Now I learn that an English knock out cup competition is to organised on the lines of the present Football Association Cup, in fact the promoters insurance that the rules governing this will be practically identical with that of the F.A. Cup.

The English Cup as it is styled has been presented by Mr F. C. Johnson and it is hoped to present gold and silver medals to the winners and runners-up.

I have not heard of any teams outside the Lancashire area who intend competing and no doubt it will be carried out by the enthusiasts of Liverpool, Manchester and Stockport with all the seriousness of a national affair.’

I still needed to find out when Newhey won the cup. The Rochdale Observer had the answer. The paper contained reports on how their teams performed in the English Cup and I was able to find Newhey Ladies Hockey Club won the English Cup in the 1950 – 51 season. Their run to the final was;

2nd December 1950 – Round 1 – Newhey 3 – Eagley Mills (Bolton League) 1

13th January 1951 – Round 2 – Details not found

3rd February 1951 – Round 3 – Newhey 2 – Christ Church (Bolton League) played at Firgrove,    Rochdale

3rd March 1951 – Semi – Final – Newhey 3 – C.S.O.S. (Rochdale League)

7th April 1951 – Final – Newhey 1 – Poynton 0 played at Clifton Choride (Exide), Pendlebury

The paper contained detailed match reports on both the semi-final and the final. The report on the final appeared on Wednesday April 11 1951,

Ladies’Hockey

 English Cup Comes to Newhey

The English Ladies Hockey League’s English Cup was won by the Newhey Ladies’ Hockey Club on Saturday when they beat Poynton ladies 1 – 0 in the final on the Clifton Choloride (Exide) ground at Pendlebury.

The game was played almost entirely in hail and rainstorms, but this not deter either team, who both played grand hockey. Newhey took the lead after five minutes when good work by V. Simpson and B. Eastwood ended by the first named putting across a wonderful shot which deceived the Poynton goalkeeper and rebounded off the post over the line. Towards the end of this half Poynton began to take command and Newhey’s defence had some very anxious moments and did very well to hold out to the interval. 

On the resumption of play there was some fine end to end play by both teams during which Poynton had a goal disallowed for an infringement in the circle, and Newhey missed an almost open goal by shooting outside the post. Newhey now took full command, and the Poynton team were all in their own circle defending desperately. After Newhey had got the ball in the net again only to be adjudged offside, the final whistle went with Newhey worth winners of a very hard game.

The cup was presented to the winning team during tea in the Exide Works canteen by Mr. W. Wood, treasurer of the English Ladies’ Hockey league Association. Unfortunately the finances of the Association do not allow them to give medals, but Newhey certainly earned them on Saturday by being the first team in the Rochdale and District Ladies Hockey League to win the English Cup.

Newhey had a great season that year winning the Rochdale Ladies Hockey League and finishing runners up in the Turner Cup (a Rochdale Ladies Hockey League Cup) losing 2 – 1 in the final to their rivals C.S.O.S..

In a strange coincidence while conducting this research and quite by chance, I met one of the ladies who played in the winning Newhey team. Edith Ford  was guest of honour at a swimming gala I was at and I spoke to her about the Newhey team. She was able to add names to most of the players in the team photograph and she also had a cloth badge that was presented to the winning team.

 

This one enquiry has uncovered an enormous amount of information about the history of a Cup which had been forgotten. I am continuing my research and hope to find out further information about the Cup. My thanks go to the Lancaster family, Professor David Day, Margaret Roberts and Edith Ford who have all helped to uncover the history of the English Cup.

Further information about The Hockey Museum can be found at www.hockeymuseum.org, facebook.com/nationalhockeymusem, and twitter.com/hockeymuseum .

Back Standing – Edna Cannon (Full Back), Irene Thwaite (Half Back), Nora Henthorn (Goalkeeper), Jean (surname not known), Vera Simpson (Centre Forward), Jean Gowridge

Front row seated – Doreen Howles (Half Back), June Howles, Brenda Callard, Edith Ford, B. Eastwood.

 

Bibliography

Rochdale Observer

Lancashire Daily Post

Sports Special (Green Un)

“‘Thus far and no farther’; the rise of women’s hockey leagues in England from 1910 to 1939.” Jo Halpin