This Saturday (5 September 2020) marks exactly 100 years since the gold medal was claimed by Great Britain at the Olympic Games of Antwerp 1920, with the anniversary being marked by a very special event at The Hockey Museum in Woking, England.
Extensive research by a group of volunteers at The Hockey Museum over the last five years on Great Britain’s (GB) player history has produced a record of 366 men and 210 women who have represented GB since the first official international matches. The research concluded that the 1920 team was the first to represent Britain and Harry Haslam, as the goalkeeper, is designated as men’s player No. 1. In recognition of this, Haslam’s family will receive his GB cap at a special presentation ceremony at the Museum on the Centenary Day.
During the coming year, every player to have represented Great Britain over the past century will receive their cap, with the families collecting on behalf of those players no longer with us. It is planned that current GB central training squad members will receive theirs during Great Britain’s home FIH Hockey Pro League games next May.
At the Antwerp Games, where onlyfour nations competed, GB’s route to the gold medal took a late controversial final turn. After victories over Denmark (5-1) and Belgium (12-1) the gold medal was secured by a walkover against France.
Born in Aston, Birmingham in 1883, Harry Haslam first played hockey in the Midlands before moving to Essex in the early part of the 20th century. After two seasons with the Guildhall club he moved to Essex where he joined Ilford HC, staying with them for 18 years until returning to Guildhall in 1929.
He won his county cap for Essex in 1911 and was appointed honorary secretary in the same year. He went on to captain the county and never missed a game for them for over 12 years from his debut. He also represented the East of England and in 1920 made his England international debut aged 37.
He won nine international caps, seven for England and two for GB (Antwerp Olympics), the last against Scotland in March 1921.
According to reports at the time, Haslam’s style of play noted for its eccentricity. A match summary in the Ilford Recorder newspaper in December 1912 reported that Haslam “made several brilliant saves but, for some unaccountable reason, accompanied each effort with a ‘whoop’ like a proverbial scalp hunter.”
During his playing career he was a hockey correspondent for the Chelmsford Chronicle and then the national News Chronicle as well as the regular hockey expert on BBC Radio. In 1922 his book How to Play Hockey was published.
He retired from playing hockey at the age of 48 in 1932 but continued to be active within the game in various administrative roles and as a prominent umpire.
During World War One Haslam served as a Chief Inspector with the Metropolitan Special Constabulary in London, and in 1920 he received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to the Constabulary.
He died at home on his 72nd birthday.