The history of the Women’s Hockey World Cup will tell you that only four countries can call themselves world champions, but the 1975 England team will tell you otherwise.
Since its inception in 1974 in Mandelieu, France, no British team has won a women’s FIH World Cup. England’s best result was the bronze medal at Rosario in 2010 – but the history of the women’s world tournament isn’t easy…
Before merging with the FIH in 1982, the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA) had organized global gatherings of member nations with a parallel tournament since 1933. These preceded and differed from the World Championships organized by the FIH. For decades they had no official winner – it was not a given that ice hockey was played competitively – but the IFWHA conference and tournament in Edinburgh in 1975 was different.
Anita White, captain of the 1975 England squad, puts it succinctly: “Back then [before the introduction of women’s hockey at the Olympic Games of 1980]to participate in a world tournament should compete the first international event for women. I am very proud of what the England squad achieved in 1975 as it certainly stands alongside the achievements of England men’s football and rugby teams in 1966 and 2003.”
The competition, which ran between August 30th and September 10th, featured 21 entrants, a global AZ book booked by Argentina and Zambia and included countries like the Netherlands and Australia, which we now accept as hockey powerhouses .
England – participating alongside other British sides from Ireland, Scotland and Wales – finished fourth but easily got through a complicated qualifying process involving two group stages on each side of crossover play-offs.
The side, emerging from a tight second-round group with New Zealand and Argentina, reached the final where they faced a Welsh side who had defeated both the Netherlands and Australia in the same stage. New Zealand defeated the Netherlands on penalties for the bronze medal and the all-British final proved an equally tense affair, with a goal in each half ultimately deciding the outcome in England’s favour. Despite the successes of various British teams, this remains to date the only English team to have won an outdoor world title.
1975 IFWHA World Championship (Edinburgh, Scotland)
1 Pauline Gibbon – Windsor LHC – Goalkeeper
2 Marie Birtwistle – Blackpool LHC – Right Back
3 Judy Carter – Morlands LHC – Left Back
4 Anne Lunt – Wigan LHC – Back
5 Lesley Hurley – Leicester LHC – right half
6 Sheila Wooldridge (VC) – Wallington LHC – Center Half
7 Jenny Tap – Exeter LHC – left half
8 Ruth Grainge – Norton LHC – Half
9 Margaret Souyave – Hightown LHC – Right Wing
10 Val Robinson – Parkside LHC – Right Inside
11 Anne Whitworth – Norton LHC – Center Forward
12 Pru Carter – Chelmsford LHC – left inside
13 Anita White (C) – Guildford LHC – Left Wing
14 Jan Jurischka – Orpington LHC – Forward
With the exception of the late Ruth Grainge, the remaining members of the roster attended special reunions at the Pride of England event of the 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.
Did you know?
The 1975 IFWHA tournament not only promoted competitive hockey but also introduced the awarding of a trophy for the first time. ‘The Quaich’ – a Scottish friendship and drinking bowl originally sponsored by the Bank of Scotland – remained the trophy presented to the FIH World Cup winner until 2014 and now forms the centerpiece of a redesigned trophy to be presented from London 2018 is used.
Many thanks to The Hockey Museum for their continued help in preserving the history of our sport. Learn more about them below hockeymuseum.net