There’s nothing I like more than solving a mystery, so my luck was in when we were approached a couple of days ago asking for help in identifying a picture of a 1906-7 hockey team.
We were approached by Mari from West Wales who had found the photo being used as a backing board for another photograph. In the process of adapting the old hockey photo for use as a backing board it had evidently been trimmed and the name of the club was missing. Mari started some research and thought some of the names in the photo had a Cardiff connection. That’s when she approached us wondering if we could shed any more light on the mystery hockey team.
It has proved an interesting exercise and uncovered some interesting Cardiff history which I hadn’t anticipated. My conclusion is that it is the East Cardiff Hockey team based on press cuttings naming the team and the individuals. But this is where I need your help. Are there any hockey historians out there? Who were the East Cardiff Hockey Team and what happened to them? I haven’t even been able to find out where they played. It’s all still a bit of a mystery.
There is one newspaper cutting from 1914 describing a court case involving the landlord of the Maltsters Arms Hotel in Whitchurch and the East Cardiff Hockey Club. It says that accommodation was provided for 2 guineas a year. Does this imply their home ground was nearby I wonder? I can find nothing about the club after this. I’m wondering if they went out of business or merged with another club. I wondered if they went on to become Whitchurch Hockey Club, still going strong today.
The confusing thing is that the players were based in West Cardiff rather than East Cardiff. Did the club start life in East Cardiff and then migrate to another area? Roath had a strong hockey team at the end of the 1800s and the Cardiff Hockey club website states that their history can be traced back to the Roath club. Could it be that the Roath became East Cardiff became the Cardiff Hockey club. Enough of this postulating and onto the individuals in the photo.
The mystery photo had one important thing going for it – the people pictured were named. Not only that but quite a lot of the surnames were relatively unusual making tracing the individuals so much easier. Add to that the fact that hockey at that time tended to be a middle class sport which meant that the players were somewhat more likely to appear in press cuttings.
And so the task began. How many of the fifteen individuals would reveal their identities I wondered. I made use of the popular genealogy resources such as Find My Past and Ancestry together with Welsh Newspapers Online.
As my research progressed some trends began to appear. The identified players tended to live in the Pontcanna, Canton, Llandaff and Whitchurch areas of Cardiff. Quite a number worked in banks. It wasn’t surprising to find that many were not born in Cardiff but came here to work, or at least their parents did. Many had West Country origins as did a large proportion of the Cardiff workforce at the turn of the nineteenth century. Many of them left Cardiff in later life to pursue their careers elsewhere.
Perhaps the person whose story most surprised me is that of Norman Robertson, the man with the spectacles in the front row on the left. He ended up having a prominent role in Cardiff sport, not in hockey as such but in football. He played an integral part in the history of Cardiff City FC. He was born in Roath, went to Albany Road school and later Howard Gardens and Cardiff High and then went on to become a solicitor. He was the man who drew up the lease for Ninian Park, Cardiff City’s football ground named after Lord Ninian.
The notes on my research are below, and yes they are only notes. Twelve of the players have been identified, some with more certainty than others. Of the twelve identified I’m pleased to say I only found one that fell in WWI, Richard Arnold Mitchell.
L P Matcalf
Lawrence Piper Metcalf b. 1877 in South Norwood, Surrey. Married in 1903 in Bromley, Kent and seemingly moved to the Cardiff area shortly afterwards. In 1911 he was living at St Hilda’s, Mill Road, Peterston-super-Ely with wife and three children. He worked as a Distiller’s commercial traveller and died in 1933 at a hotel in Hereford. An international hockey player. Buried at Llandaff Cathedral.
H W Green
Possibly: Howard Walter Green, b. 1882, Poole, Dorset. Lived in Conway Road, Pontcanna in 1911 with his wife. Worked as a bank cashier at Lloyds Bank, St Mary’s Street. Died 1933 in Whitchurch, Cardiff.
C D Etchells
Charles Dunbar Etchells, b.1883 in Tenby, son of a Wesleyan minister. In the 1901 census he was at 13 Claude Road as a visitor and worked as a bank clerk. By 1911 he had moved to Islington, London and was working as a bank cashier. He served as a Captain in the Welsh Regiment in WWI. In 1939 he was a bank manager in St Albans. He died 1974 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
O T Morgan
Possibility: Owen Thomas Morgan, born 6 Feb 1873 in Newport. In 1901 he was living in Pontcanna Street and working as a hide and skin buyer. Married Florence Jane Lloyd in 1896. Captain in 10th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment in WWI. Died in 1940 in Radyr. His son Owen Kenrick Morgan was killed in 1941 in WWII.
S R Harmer
Scotford Russell Harmer, born in Cirencester 1885. Started work in the Midland Bank in Cardiff Docks in 1899. In 1901 he was boarding in Neville Street and working as a bank clerk. Married Elsie Margaret Scott in Canton Parish Church in 1913 when living in Teilo Street, Pontcanna. Served in the Royal Artillery in WWI. In 1939 he was working as a bank manager and living in Croydon. He went on to work at the Midland Bank central office in Threadneedle Street, London. Died 1967 in Kennsington, London.
I S Owen
J J Thomas
A M Thomas
E R Metcalf (Vice-captain)
Edward Robinson Metcalf, born 1872 in Croydon. 1901, married Ethel Mary Hodgson in Croydon. Played cricket for Cardiff Rambles (1907). Director of Harding & Co, aerated and mineral waters. Had a licence for a wine and spirit merchants at 6 Wyndham Crescent (1910). Living in Caerau (1910). In 1911 he was landlord of the Butcher’s Arms in Crickhowell where he lived with his wife and four children. Played cricket for Whitchurch, Cardiff (1913). In the 1939 Register he lived in Herne Bay, and was described as a retired bank official, married to Ethel M Metcalf. Died in Herne Bay, Kent in 1952.
J L Hamblen
Possibly: Lionel James Hamblen born 1886 in Yeovil, who was living in Neville Street in 1911 and working as a shop assistant. Died 1947 in Loughborough.
Norman Robertson. Born 18 Jan 1882 in Weston Super Mare, son of James Robertson, a master tailor. Moved to Cardiff shortly afterwards and lived at 2 Glenroy Street. Attended Albany Road School before going on to Howard Gardens school in 1894 and then Cardiff Higher Grade School (Cardiff High on Newport Road). By 1901 the family had moved to Column Road and Norman was an solicitor’s articled clerk. In 1904 the newspaper reports that he obtained a first class honours degree and Law Society prize, third in the country and the highest place among any Welsh candidates. In 1910 he acted for ‘a local association football club’ in taking up a lease on a land in Sloper Road to become a football ground. The club became Cardiff City and the ground Ninian Park. In the 1911 census he was a qualified solicitor. His offices were at 9 Park Place.
A B Sessions (Hon Sec)
Arthur Bertram Sessions b.14 May 1884 in Cardiff, son of Arthur Session, a prominent Cardiff businessman and deputy-chairman of the Parks Committee and a Quaker. His mother was Eliza Cory, daughter of the prominent Cardiff ship owner John Cory. Arthur Bertram Sessions married Ethel Jane Morgan in 1908 in Cardiff. By 1916 had moved to Newport and later he became a director of The British Dredging Company. His brother Herford Sessions fell in WWI. In 1939 the Arthur Bertram Sessions and family lived in Plymouth Road, Penarth.
R A Mitchell
Richard Arnold Mitchell, b.1882 in Cardiff. In 1901 the Mitchell family lived at Wyndham Crescent, Canton. He worked as a bonded store warehouse keeper, the same as his father Charles Mitchell. In 1910 he was Captain of the Taff Rowing club. In 1911, aged 29, he lived in Romilly Road West, Victoria Park, Cardiff still with his parents. He married Dora Mayman in Birkenhead in 1912. In WWI he served as a Private with the 15th Battalion, London Regiment. He was killed in action in France on 1 Sep 1918 aged 36. He is buried at the Rancourt Military Cemetery in France.
T H Woosey
Thomas Holmes Woosey was born in Cardiff in 1881, son of John Woosey, superintendent of the Cardiff Health Department. In 1901 he was an articled clerk and living with his family in Penhill Road, Canton. He passed his final exams with the Law Society in 1904. In 1908 he became Vice-captain of East Cardiff Hockey Club. He also rowed in the Cardiff Rowing Club. In 1911 he was a qualified solicitor and living on The Avenue, Whitchurch, Cardiff. In June 1912 he married Mabel Shearman at Llandaff Cathedral and lived in Heol Don, Whitchurch. He worked in the solicitors department of Cardiff Corporation and in WWI was a Second-Lieutenant with the South Wales Borderers. Later moved to London where he died in 1946.
P J Norman
Percy John Norman, b. 1884 in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. He was son of Rowland H Norman, a farmer, and in 1901 the family were living in Eldenfield, Worcester and Percy working as a bank clerk. In 1911 he was working as a bank clerk and living in Grove Place, Penarth. He later moved to Paignton, Devon and became a bank manager and married Constance Ella Tilley from Monmouth.
If you could help shed any more light on this picture then we and I’m sure Mari would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org