A Decade of International Hockey

In the 1950s, Riverina Hockey was thriving with international players and matches as well as games against some of the best Australian hockey players of the time.

Team Photograph of Wagga City Hockey Team.
Wagga’s City Hockey Team before their match against the R.A.A.F team -in the late 1950s. (From the Lennon Collection RW1574/616)

In 1952 the Wagga Hockey Association made a bid for a match against the Pakistan team that was travelling though N.S.W. on a tour sponsored by the Pakistani government and organised by Hockey N.S.W. The Royal Pakistan Air Force team played in Wagga on Wednesday, June 11.

They arrived on Wednesday morning and first played a team of trainee Pakistani airmen from Forest Hill. The Royal Pakistan Air Force team won this match seven to nil before playing a Combined Riverina team in made up of players from the R.A.A.F, Lifesavers, Waratahs and Uranquinty Men’s Hockey teams. The Riverina team was captained by F. Browne; later the coach the Australian Olympic Hockey team in 1956. The match was held at the Wagga Cricket Ground at 3pm and was a one all draw.

In the same year Welsh player Geoff Powell, a centre forward, joined the Cootamundra Hockey team after just three weeks in Australia. In his first match he scored six goals.

In 1954 the five Men’s Wagga Hockey teams were asked to pay twenty pounds each to pay the New Zealand team to play in Wagga. This team had recently defeated Australia three to one at the beginning of their tour before arriving in Wagga on August 11,  to play against a Wagga team, which included a Pakistani substitute player from the R.A.A.F team.

The Manager of the Wagga team was C.C. Holland, whose brother, Sir George Holland was the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Sir George Holland had also brought a New Zealand team out to Wagga in 1938. In the 1954 match, New Zealand won 11 to 2. It was their 21st game on the tour and their 20th win.

Team photograph of Wagga's team that played New Zealand
The Wagga Hockey team that would play against New Zealand at the Wagga Cricket Ground in 1954.

In 1955 a Wagga representative side played in the grand final of the NSW Country Championships, the first time this had happened in seven years. The team lost 6-2 to Canberra.

In this year Arthur “Pall” Young was president of the Wagga Hockey Association. He had previously represented NSW three times and was in the 1939 Australian team to play against New Zealand, before the match was cancelled due to World War Two.

In 1956 the NSW Hockey Team played a Wagga side on their way to the Olympic trials in Melbourne. Wagga was defeated fifteen to nil.

Also in this year a combined Women’s Hockey team of Narrandera, Leeton and Griffith played a Scottish team, on their way to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, at Narrandera. On the same day in Lockhart, a Central Riverina Women’s team played Holland.

An attempt to hit the ball by a Wagga player in muddy conditions.
A female hockey player in Wagga Wagga from the Lennon Collection RW1574/615).

In 1959 the junior NSW team played at Wagga, bringing a renewed junior interest in the game and the successful decade of Riverina hockey to a close.

A player running towards the goal.
Charlie Elliot chases the ball towards the goal while Alex Gordon, keeper for the Harlequins runs out of the goal to stop him. The score at the end of the match was three all. (From the Lennon Collection RW1574/1012)

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