In the first of a series of exciting posts on the history of University sport, Catriona Donaldson tells us about her discoveries in the University Archives during a Club 21 research placement.
‘Whilst studying History at university, you generally develop a basic knowledge of archives and the service they provide to historians. Many may think of them as merely places to hold documents such as account books, land deeds and various other lengthy legal documents. Not so! The archives at Glasgow University hold a number of fascinating collections including an extensive volume of material from the Glasgow University Sports Association including team photographs, minutes from meetings, correspondence and the odd mystery…
As part of a Club 21 placement I have investigated the history of one of the oldest sports teams at the university: the hockey club.
The Glasgow University Athletics Club, as it was known until 1992, was founded on the 20th April 1881. The hockey club was one of the earliest clubs founded, fielding two men’s XIs in 1906. The women’s hockey club began as the Queen Margaret College Hockey Club before the two institutions were amalgamated, and played its first match on the 9th January 1904. It was however, often referred to as the University Ladies Team and from the start was closely affiliated with the men’s club. Initially the clubs had to find their own grounds: at the 1908 Annual General Meeting there were high hopes of acquiring the Gilmorehill ground, at which point it would ‘be possible for both sections [QMHC & GUHC] to have midweek games’ (GUAC Centenary Handbook, 1981, p. 129. DC 71/9/1) . Play was later moved to the Westerlands grounds in Anniesland and in 1996, university field sport took up its current home at the Garscube complex.
There are extensive accounts in the archives of hockey matches played by the university teams, particularly from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Recorded in notebooks these give the opponents, grounds played on, score and individuals playing in the match.
In January 1947 the GUHC 1st XI had a trip to Ireland, playing Queen’s University, Belfast, and Trinity College Dublin. The scores weren’t the best, Glasgow drawing 2-2 with Queen’s and losing 7-0 to Trinity. However, as reported in the Belfast Telegraph, both sides showed ‘good ambition and stick work’, while the Glasgow goalkeeper, J. Happel, was commended for good work during the whole trip (Newspaper clippings affixed inside the GUAC Hockey Club notebook, 1939–48. DC 71/6/3).
It is interesting to see through these match reports, how the club branched out further with opponents as the club progressed. Further match reports were published in the Glasgow Guardian and show the inclusion of English and Irish teams; by the 1970s a game with Poland’s under 20s is noted.
Always up for socializing, the hockey club, in conjunction with the Queen Margaret hockey club, was the originator of the annual sports dance. This was taken over by the university in 1909 as the GUAC Annual Dinner, now known and loved amongst us as the GUSA Ball. Included in the archive papers is a large amount of information on the dinners, including the recipients of awards. It is fair to say the hockey club have often come away victorious!The dinner of 14th March 1975 was particularly favourable for the women’s hockey club, who received the William Ross Cunningham Memorial Trophy for ‘Best Section of the year’ for the fourth time since the inauguration of the trophy in 1956. ‘Congratulations must go to this section for not only their outstanding performance but also for the number of times they have been Glasgow University’s outstanding team… Yet again Women’s Hockey proves to be one of the most respected teams in the West of Scotland’ (List of awards presented at GUAC Dinner, 1975. DC 71/4/2/1). To add to the success of the evening, the Bob Wilson Memorial Trophy for outstanding sportsperson across GUAC was awarded to Susan MacVicar of Women’s Hockey and two further players were awarded Blues.
Through this placement so far I have both learned a lot about the history of the GUHC (often finding out it has not changed that much!) and gained a deeper appreciation for archive services. It is important that information is constantly submitted to archives, but equally important that it is not forgotten.’
Categories: Archive Services