The History of Field Hockey - 2000 BC - 20th Century
The origins of hockey go back to antiquity with a form of the game played in Egypt 4000 years ago, in Iran in 2000 BC and Ethiopia around 1000 BC. This relief from ancient Greece from around 510 BC depicts a ball game that resembles hockey.
The Scottish sport of Shinty started in the 17th and 18th Century and has many similarities to hockey. In shinty, however, players were allowed to use both sides of the stick, called a Caman. Players were allowed to tackle using the body as long as it was ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.
The organised game that we know today undoubtedly started in the mid-1800s with the oldest hockey club, Blackheath Football and Hockey Club’ being formed in 1861. However, the sport was played in schools for some 25 years prior to this.
England’s first men’s international hockey match took place in 1895 against Ireland and England won 5-0. The first recorded women’s international match was also England v Ireland in Dublin but it was the Irish who won 2-0.
Men’s hockey was included in the Olympics for the first time in London in 1908 when England (not GB) won the gold medal – women were not included until 1980.
The earliest known image of a Grays stick & ball is from a brochure released in 1890 and By the 1950s technology was being included in hockey sticks with the Grays Super Blue featuring a damp-proof head: -
In the 1960s Grays launched the first Karachi King, which set the gold standard in hockey sticks for 30 years. The famous orange flash was later added for greater on pitch visibility.