It’s the question everyone wants to know when joining an institution with as much history as Cambridge. Where did it all start? Yeah, we’ve all heard the stories about how some Oxf*rd students decided that there really should be an alternative to dreaming spires and weak chat, but how did the important stuff come around? This guide will help you through these tough questions, whilst also sneakily being the weekend preview (cunning I know). It might be slightly biased at times, whilst at others being entirely fictional.
c. 580 bc – “Hockey” may or may not have been played in Greece. People hit objects around with sticks much before that, but the objects tended to be other people and the sticks designed for maximum damage rather than maximum flair. There is also evidence of a sport involving hitting a ball being played by the Nomadic tribes of Asia, such as the Bedouin. They still play the sport today having migrated to Cambridge, this weekend they’ll play Royston 1s away at 1pm. Interesting aside: The Royston home pitch seems to have been funded by Pizza Express founder Peter Boizot (at least, it’s named after him), who also funded the original Catz astro.
1284 – Peterhouse founded. Doesn’t really have much to do with hockey, though according to a photo in their bar they have had a team in the past. It is the oldest college though, and so I’ll use that as the start of Cambridge as we know it. It’s main claim to fame is having the “Oldest non-secular building in the world still in continuous use for the same purpose since its construction”.
1827 – First sports game between Cambridge and the other place. After two days of cricket, it ended as a draw. Research was immediately started by some of the brightest minds in Cambridge to find a sport that didn’t take so long (ideally about 70 minutes, though 4 quarters of 15 would also be acceptable) and was more likely to end in a Cambridge win. With its close ties to cricket, usually being played on the same pitch, hockey looked like a promising concept.
1836 – The long term planning having started to form the ultimate sports club, it was decided that the colour was quite important. To this end, the boat club was instructed to see what shade of blue would be best. Over the years they tried a few, and discovered that light blue made the boat go faster and was therefore the most suitable colour to use (observant F1 viewers will notice the use of a similar colour to Cambridge Blue on the Mercedes cars. This is yet more proof if you needed it that light blue is the correct shade of blue).
1869 – Girton, the first college for women, is founded in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I think their claim to be the first womens college in Cambridge is incredibly dubious, given that Newnham was founded in 1871, before Girton relocated to at least be near Cambridgeshire in 1873 (seriously, has no-one looked into that and contested the claim?). Both were set up with the long term plan of being able to field a womens hockey team of course. The result of that long term investment is now called the Womens Blues, who play this weekend against the Dragons 1s (yes, the same club both the Nomads and the Squanderers played last week). Push back is at 12:45 at the Dragon’s Den.
1886, 1889 – In order to avoid being accused of creating niche sports with which to demolish the residents of the 2nd best university the X5 visits, Cambridge had to make it appear as though the game was nationally accepted. To this end, in 1886 and 1889, The Hockey Association and the All England Women’s Hockey Association respectively were founded. Hockey was the first team sport deemed acceptable for respectable women to play, and remains the most progressive club in the university for the integration of mens and womens teams (football and rugby only got around to joining the clubs last year). The discovery was quickly made that whole club mixed socials are a lot of fun, as they contain double the chat.
1890 – The first Varsity is played by the mens blues (who play against bottom of the table Chelmsford 1s at home this weekend at 1330). Cambridge lost. Oxf*rd were unable to field a womens team, so we’ll claim that as a 5-0 win. Since then Cambridge has won more obviously, Men are 53-45 up and Women are 49-41 up. The cuhc website has a pretty close to complete archive of Varsity results since 1890 here.
1894 – Without actually bothering to consult an actual source other than wikipedia, this is when I reckon the first womens Varsity should have been. According to Wikipedia, the men have played 116 now, and the women 114, but the women played in 1915 and 1919 when the men didn’t as well. Therefore the first one should have been 4 years later than 1890, QED. The archive has results since 1898 but we know it was definitely played before that.
1896 – First time Cambridge wins mens Varsity. As said, Womens results are unknown to me so they may have beaten the men to the first win.
1912 – I never knew that this page existed on the website before googling for information for this page.
???? – The Nomads, Wanderers and other teams are founded. I have no clue what year this happened, all I know for certain is the Wanderers do exist and will be playing this weekend away to City of Peterborough 2s, pb at 2:30pm.
1976 – Materials scientists at Cambridge had long known that grass was inadequate for the game of Hockey, and so begin trials of a new “artificial turf” at the Montreal Olympics. The new turf still had some refinement needed, but would allow much more flair than is possible on grass (sorry Johns’ 6s, fun you may be but the flair isn’t quite there). Some of the gameplay from the final is on youtube here and here, my main observations are: Keepers used to be crazy (literally just wearing cricket pads and gardening gloves) and the umpires are really well dressed.
1980 – The olympics knew they’d missed their chance to start playing hockey in 1890, so decided 1980 would be a good year for the first womens olympics. I have no idea why it took so long when we’d had about 81 varsitys by that point.
1999 – Iffley Rd built. They named their astro the Fletcher Field, possibly to try and appease a rampant Pete Fletcher who was already showing signs of aggression even in his childhood. Last year the 2s/3s Varsity games were played here, with the Nomads winning. They’ll be hoping for their second win of the year this Saturday too, playing the Bedford 2s midday at Wilby.
2004 – The Wilberfortress is constructed. The imposing structure is designed to intimidate any opposition coming up from Wilberforce Road, using perfectly calculated bends in the road to further confuse teams wanting to play CUHC. It also features an athletics track so the Sqs can compete in their annual athletics contest, though they are at Wilby on Saturday at 10:30 for a different purpose: beating the Pelicans 1s.
|Team||Position in table||Opposition||Opposition position in table||Venue||PB Time||League Form|
|Men's Blues||9||Chelmsford 1s||12||H||1330||LLLWL|
|Women's Blues||6||Norwich Dragons 1s||2||A||1245||WWLWL|
|Wanderers||6||City of Peterborough 2s||2||A||1430||LWWDL|
2017 – Every team wins Varsity.