Hockey

In common with most ball games, hockey can claim to have originated in the remote past, and it baa been said with certain authenticity that during the Roman invasion of England the soldiers played a form of hockey when not engaged in martial activities. The country of its origin is, however, not certain, but there is evidence that it was played by the Greeks in very early times, in the shape of

A bas-relief discovered at Athens in 1922, which depicts a number of youths taking part in the game, two of tlieni actually being engaged in a bully. This piece of sculpture formed part of a wall erected by Themistocles, who flourished 514-449 B.O. The game, as played to-day, dates from 1883. when a standard set of rules was framed by the Wimbledon Club. Previously, play had been in a somewhat unorganized state, and the preparation of these recognized rules gave it a distinct fillip, which was strengthened the same year when Oxford and Cambridge Univer-sities decided to add hockey to the games they played.

Three years later the Hockey Association camo into being, and this was the signal for the formation of similar organizations in the other countries of the United Ivingdora, and also for the institution of a number of county associations.

Hockey is played on a specially marked pitch measuring 100 yards in length and from 55 yards to 60 yards in breadth, the side-lines and goal-lines of the rectangle being marked in white or red. Parallel with and at a distance of 6 yards from each side-line, another lino is drawn, and parallel with each goal-lino, a line ia drawn from each side-line for a distance of 7 yards. A centre-lino ia also drawn right across the middle of the pitch.

In the centre of each goal-lino a goal ia Bet up, with a width of 4 yards and a height of 7 feet, and in front of each a line 4 jards long is drawn parallel with and 15 yards from the goal-line, and this is continued on each side to the goal-line by drawing quarter circles, with a goal post as the cent re of each of them. This area is called the striking-circle.

The chief implements of the game are the sticks, which are made of ash, have a curved blade with a flattened out front surface, and weigh not more than 28 oz., and the ball, which is the size and weight of a cricket ball, from which it differs only in being painted white or having a white cover.

Eleven players Constitute a hockey team, the respective positions being identical with those of an Association Football team. Namely, five forwards, three half-backs, two backs and a goalkeeper. The object of the game is. By hitting the ball with the sticks, to force it into the opponents goal, the winners being those who score the greater number of goals.

In opening the game, which is played for two periods of thirty or thirty-five minutes each, the ball is placed in the centre of the field, where the opposing centre-forwards bully off. In bullying, the players first strike the ground with their sticks, each on his own side of the ball, and then strike each others sticks. This is done three times, when the two players may immediately play the ball. The players of each side pass the ball to one another with their sticks, dribble it, or hit it, but they may not handle the ball, except to catch it, when it must be at onco dropped vertically to the ground, and when one side has played the ball into the goal, that is, between the uprights and below the crossbar, it counts a goal to them.

The laws provide penalties for a number of offences.

The punishment for offences 2 to 6, if committed inside the striking circle, by the attackers, is a penalty bully to the opposing team; 1 and 7 are punishable, if committed within the opponents circle, with a free hit to the defending team. If offence 7 is committed by a member of the defending side within his own circle, it is punishable by an ordinary bully at the spot where the offence took place, a similar punishment being inflicted for a breach of the free-hit law.

When a penalty bully is taken – by the player who has committed the offence and a player of the other side – the ball is placed five yards in front of the centre of the goal-lino and all defending players stand beyond the nearest 25 yards lino.

A player is adjudged to be offside, when the ball is hit or rolled in, if there are fewer than three players between him and the opponents goal; the penalty is a free hit to the opposing side at the spot at which the offence occurred. A player cannot be offside in his own half of the field.

When the ball is played over his own goal lino by a player behind the 25 yards line, a corner is awarded to the opposing side. In taking a corner, the ball is placed at a point on the side-line or goal-fine within 3 yards of the corner flag, and when the ball is hit, all defending players must stand behind the goal-line and the attacking players outside the striking-circle. A goal from a cornor can only be scored by the attacking side after the ball has first been stopped dead, or from a direct hit after the ball has touched the person or stick of an opponent.

When the b.ill is played behind the opponents goal-line by an attacking player, or unintentionally by a defender in front of his 25 yards lino, a bully takes place on the 25 yards line, at a point opposite the spot where the ball crossed the goal-lino.

When the ball is played over the sideline it is rolled in along the ground from the spot at which it went out of play by member of the other side, all other players standing at least five yards away. The player who rolls in the ball may not play it again until it has been played by another member of either side.

At one time hockey was regarded as a game for men only, but women took it up with enthusiasm, and to-day there are many clubs for women, mixed teams of botli men and women also being favoured. Since 1895, when the All-England Womens Hockey Association was founded, similar womeus organizations have been formed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

International games were first played in 1895, when England met and defeated Ireland at Richmond by 6 goals to nil, and Ireland beat Wales at Rhyl by 8 goals to nil. Since then, matches between the countries of the British Isles have been general, except for a break during the years of the Great War.

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