‘Will you walk into our parlour?’: The rise of leagues and their impact on the governance of women’s hockey in England 1895-1939
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AbstractOne of the main aims of this thesis is to supplement and further develop the very sparse body of academic work on hockey, and on women's hockey in particular. Despite being the premier team game for women and girls in England for much of the 20th century – as well as popular with men – the sport has been under-researched by historians. Another aim is to explore how the concept of amateurism influenced, and was moulded by, a team sport played by women. Much has been written about the ethos within British sport, but mostly in relation to men’s athletic pursuits. The AEWHA’s unique position as the first sport governing body in England to be run exclusively by women allows this thesis to redress the balance and offer a female-centric view of amateurism. By focusing on an aspect of hockey in England that has not been explored before – the emergence of women’s league competitions and their impact on the governance of the sport up to World War Two – this thesis makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the philosophy. It chronicles the foundation of the Lancashire and District Ladies’ Hockey League (LHL) in 1910 and the reaction to this competition of the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA), which banned its members from taking part in leagues or playing for cups. The uneasy and constantly evolving relationship between those who wished to uphold these amateur ideals and those who wished to compete for points and prizes will be examined over three decades up to 1939. This thesis will posit that – in common with many other sport governing bodies – the AEWHA’s interest in, and attitude towards, leagues and amateurism changed according to its own particular needs. Unlike any other (male-run) governing body, however, its sustained resistance to competitive hockey was less to do with class differences and increasingly to do with a desire to prevent male administrators from being involved in women’s hockey. In support of this overarching narrative, this thesis will take a fresh look at the origins of the AEWHA, and a first look at the emergence of a rival governing body for women’s hockey in England – the English Ladies’ Hockey Leagues Association (ELHLA). New biographical information about many of the members and early administrators of both organisations will be revealed, in support of another aim of this work: to give a profile to women who played a significant role in the history of sport. As well their athletic achievements, this thesis will touch upon hockey players’ involvement in the war effort from 1914- 1918, and their support for the campaign for women’s suffrage. It will also examine the interconnections between women’s and men’s hockey, both nationally and internationally. As an amateur team game of significance to both sexes, hockey is well placed to inform the debates on gender and class in sport – but, surprisingly, it has attracted very little attention from academics. It is hoped that the wealth of new information in this thesis, and the fresh perspective it offers on amateurism, will prompt further research into hockey’s history and the lives of the women and men who played it.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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