'Ursula Clarke with the rest of the Launceston Hockey team', c 1910 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)
Hockey was introduced to Tasmania in 1901, and for decades was played only by women. Pupils of the Methodist Ladies' College in Launceston and Friends' School in Hobart began playing in 1903, and hockey quickly grew in popularity, with inter-school games then club games. A Tasmanian team played in the first Australian championships in 1910, and won the national title in 1911. The game spread to the north-west in 1913, and that year the Tasmanian Women's Hockey Association was formed, with five teams.
At a national level, 1925 saw the formation of the Australian Hockey Association (Men's). Only a thousand men were playing hockey in Australia at that time. The first attempts at men's hockey in Tasmania appeared in Burnie in 1934. Expansion to Hobart occurred in 1935 when a meeting of seventeen interested people formed the Southern Men's Hockey Association. The early days of hockey in all three geographic areas saw difficult conditions on often inadequate ground surfaces.
The first synthetic surface was put down at Cornelian Bay in Hobart in 1987. All centres in the south, north and north-west now have fully lit artificial surfaces with shared facilities for men and women involved in this fast-growing sport. Hockey is played at Minkey (under ten), school, club and veteran levels.
Many Tasmanians have played in national teams: Connie Charlesworth 1927–39, captain 1938–39; Judy Humphries 1959–70; Penny Gray 1982–84, Tasmania's first hockey Olympian; Maree Fish 1985–88, who won Olympic gold in 1988; Bianca Langham in the 1990s; and also in the 1990s and beyond, Daniel Sproule, Zain Wright and Matthew Wells. Wells won gold in the 2004 Olympics.
Further reading: Club histories, TL.