Hockey at Christ's College
Archival research regularly creates more questions than it answers – and so it is with hockey. College’s recent hockey success is well documented in the pages of the Christ’s College Register, but what is not so well known is that it was first played at College in the 19th century and sporadically until the 1940s.
The received wisdom about hockey in Canterbury is that it was introduced in Kaiapoi in 1895 by Hugh Henry Mathias (566) when he returned from study at Keble College, Oxford, and was appointed to parishes in North Canterbury. However, Keble College has no committee minute books for hockey in its archives, although there are books for other sports. The Canterbury newspapers of the time report that Mathias organised a hockey club “for youth of the town” in July 1895, when a meeting elected a president (Mathias), vice presidents, secretary, treasurer and five committee members.
Hugh Henry Mathias from the 1907 Synod Collage. Click here to view full image
But this is too late for the information in the College Archives. The Webb Scrap Book when combined with clues in the Games Committee Minutes is very clear that the boys on that committee were well aware of the game in 1863 and wanted to see it added to the games teams that were already in existence.
At a Games Committee meeting held in the Library on 18 August 1863, Arthur Roswell Baker (139) moved and Arthur James Cotterill (63) seconded, “That Hockey be introduced into the School Games”. Henry Thornton Dudley (59) moved an amendment, “That the consideration of the question be postponed until the next meeting”. The amendment stood. On Tuesday 25 August 1863, Baker moved and Cotterill seconded, “That Hockey be introduced into the School Games”. It was carried without dissension. The committee then proceeded to draw up the rules. Others on the committee were Silas James Stedman (130), Thomas de Renzy Condell (123), Walter Harper (56) and Frederick George Brittan (39).
Webb Scrapbook, Christ’s College Archives. Click link to view – Image 1 Image 2
The question then arises – where did they get their information from? Ultimately, the answer may lie in a combination of circumstance.
Shinty, the Scottish version of hockey was played on the Thorndon and Te Aro flats in Wellington from the late 1840s onwards, usually in association with St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. The Attendance and Behaviour Book indicates that Arthur Roswell Baker was at “Rev A Baker’s” before attending Nelson College and then boarding at College. Revd Arthur Baker was an Assistant Master at Edward Toomath’s Thorndon School from 1857–1859. Shinty was being played in Australia from the 1820s and, given New Zealand’s close links to the Victorian gold rushes in the 1860s, it is not surprising that the Trove newspaper data base contains many references to the game at this time.
A research request to the National Library indicates there are a number of magazines and Boys’ Annuals that could have information about hockey in them, but it has not been possible to follow this up. There is also the possibility of a connection to the Blackheath Hockey Club, which claims to be the oldest hockey club in the world. Its history indicates that hockey, football and golf were played probably from the 1840s, but it was not until October 1864 that the hockey and football clubs became separate entities.
There is also one further very tentative clue in the Lyttelton Times of 20 February 1864.The “Well Known Little Shop” is advertising the sale of hockey equipment ex the Balaclava from Liverpool. Why would equipment be imported if it was not locally required?
Then, nothing further is mentioned until the Christ’s College Register of July 1896 where, under the heading School Notes is the following: “NEW GAMES Hockey has been all the rage this term, and sticks with crooked handles have been in great demand. Some fearsome looking weapons have been borne by boys who seemed to stagger under the weight”.
Certainly there was a proliferation of clubs in the Canterbury area following the formation of the Kaiapoi Club, so much so that The Press published The Rules of Hockey on 2 August 1895.
But, again, nothing at College until the Beadel Album, when a photograph appears which, based on those named in the team, must date to 1908. JG Denniston and KW Manning are the only two in the team who did not play either in the 1st XV or the 1st XI. A search of the newspapers of the time provides no clues about whether hockey was played against other schools or clubs, or whether it was just in-house.
L–R: Albert Edridge (2058), William Ivan Kirke Jennings (2268), John Geoffrey Denniston (1990), Oswald Mark Norris (2216), Jack Mervyn Deacon (2199), Gordon Buchan Chrystall (2293), John Desborough Bowden (2309), Keith Wilson Manning (2276), Thomas Edridge (2060), Cheviot Wellington Dillon Bell (2308), Ernest Edridge (2059). Christ’s College Archives Beadel Album CCPAL19/8. Click here to view full image
A further photo provides another clue. This time, seven College boys played against a team of Christchurch Young Ladies on 23 September 1916. The boys won 8–0, a collection of £30.16.6 was made for the New Zealand Branch of the Red Cross Society, and afternoon tea was provided in the United Club Pavilion.
L–R: Thomas Coleman Lowry (2651), Adrian Frederick Hindmarsh (2805), James North Lowry (2811), William Gordon Rich (2591), John Terence Tosswill (2747), Thomas William Compton Tothill (2357), George Vincent Gerard (2715). Click here to view full image
An account of hockey does not appear in the 1850–1950 School List, but the 1965 version recounts that Masters GS Strack and FE Morris organised games of hockey for those boys who were unfit for rugby from about 1929. There were 15–20 boys and they apparently played against girls' teams led by the Headmaster’s wife, Mrs Joan Mary Richards. They often played against the Pukaki’s, one of the top women’s teams that was largely made up of St Margaret’s College Old Girls.
Under the heading “Officers of the School” the December 1942 Register records James Balfour Will (4820) was in charge of hockey, and James William Saunders (4986) was captain of hockey by June 1943, as a result of a Games Committee resolution on 15 April 1943. From December 1944 hockey reports appear regularly in the Register. By 1958 there were 100 boys playing, necessitating the formation of four clubs. It was also the first year that a College team was sent to the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Hockey Tournament. The team won two of their five games.
It took 60 years before a captain of hockey was appointed and 95 years before a team played in a national tournament. Those who play hockey at College would no doubt say, “Good things take time.”
 See Blain, M. A Biographical Directory of Anglican Clergy. Hugh Henry Mathias was assistant curate of Cust from 1890–91 and later in that same period Fernside was added to his cure; from 1891–1900 he was Vicar of Kaiapoi with Woodend. http://anglicanhistory.org/nz/blain_directory/directory.pdf
 Sarosi, Margaret to F J Teal, August 2003.
 The Press 1 and 9 July 1895, Lyttelton Times 15 July 1895. See also Watson, G and W Haskell (2002) A Centenary History of New Zealand Hockey 1902–2002
 Collage of those attending the 1907 Synod of the Diocese of Christchurch. Christchurch Anglican Diocesan Archives
 Edward Toomath, teacher in Lyttelton and Wellington. https://collection.canterburymuseum.com/objects/718086
 Retter, D. (2019) per com Response to Research Query
 The Well Known Little Shop is advertised in the Lyttelton Times of 24 March 1863 as being at 9 Colombo Street. The proprietor is J Younghusband, father of Frederick Younghusband (136) who was at College 1861–1862. See also Lyttelton Times 23 January and 20 February 1864
 Christ’s College Register July 1896 p26
 Christ’s College Register December 1916 p412. See The Press, Sun and Lyttelton Times 27 September 1916. The game was played on 23 September, not October cf College! p330
 Mrs J M Richards was the manageress of the Canterbury Women’s Hockey team in 1934, The Press 22 March 1934, and Vice President of the Canterbury Women’s Hockey Association, The Press 1 April 1936
 The Christ’s College School List 1850–1965
 Christ’s College Register December 1958 p287