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In ancient Ireland, Persia…Selangor, Malacca, Ipoh and Penang…

Hockey, the stick and ball game, was played in antiquity, as far back as 4,000 years ago, the origins mired in myth and fact, from ancient Ireland to the Nile Valley, to Ethiopia and Persia of old.

A form of the game, according to evidence offered by several museums, was played by Romans and Greeks and by Aztec Indians in South America well before explores from the “Old World” set foot on the “New World”.

A bas-relief, discovered in Athens in 1922 on a wall built about 500BC and a fresco, found inside a Pyramid in Egypt, show two men crossing sticks over a ball like how a “bully” was made before the start of the modern game.

By 1886, the game was sufficiently played in England for it to be organized with a set of rules and the Hockey Association was formed in England.

It didn’t take long for the game to make its way to Malaya, and the first formal match played was between Harris’ XI and Whitley’s XI on Nov 30, 1898 in Kuala Lumpur.

Inter-Club matches were played between Selangor and Singapore as early as 1904, and other British-dominated clubs in Malacca, Ipoh and Penang also had their matches. By the 1920s, there were more Malayans playing the game. The Federated Malay States versus Colony series was started in 1925.

Penang claim to have formed the first State Hockey Association, though all records were lost during the World War, the “memory of the old-timers” says the association took shape about the 1924-25 season.

Perak, however, were the first to officially form a State Hockey Association in October 1927, and so too Negeri Sembilan. And in Perak, the Constitution was amended in 1936 to provide for District Hockey Association. Six districts formed their Hockey Association the same year.

Records show that the game was played at the club level in 1931 by Tamilians’ Physical Cultural Association, Selangor Malays and Selangor Chinese Recreation Club in Kuala Lumpur.

The game went “international” with the visit of the Indian Olympic team in 1932. The Indians treated the local fan to a delightful display of hockey on their way to a 7-0 win over the Malayan XI.

By the 1930s, regular Inter-State matches were held. The 1939 records show that Selangor were a hot number, beating Negeri 9-0 on Nov 4, Malacca 2-0 on Nov 18 and Penang 1-0 on Dec 2.

Hockey was up and running in the country and the game was played at club and district levels nationwide by the late 30s (Taiping HA organized the first district league in the country in 1946-47) with Hockey Association having been formed in many states.

The Quadrangular hockey matches over three days were regular features of Malayan hockey and it “made possible for teams situated in the extremities of the country to meet each other in friendly matches”.

The hockey season ended with the classic North v South match. North was made up of Kedah, Penang, Perak, Pahang and Selangor while South had Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor and Singapore.

In the first season – 1940-41 – North beat South 4-1 in Kuala Lumpur. When the series resumed after the War, North and South drew 0-0 in Kuala Lumpur. North either won or drew the next six in the series, with South posting their only in, by 3-2, in 1953-54 in Singapore.



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