Century of competition on the line

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A century of competition will be celebrated at Olympic Park, Sydney, on Saturday, March 7 when Sydney University and Melbourne University men’s hockey clubs do battle.

The centenary match will be followed by a women’s clash between the two universities, marking 98 years of competition.

This is Australia’s longest running hockey competition for men and for women. It is also seen as the longest running club team competition in Australia where the men’s and women’s teams have equal billing.

“We are proud to reach 100 years of matches with Melbourne Uni” said Khevyn Williams, President of Sydney University Hockey Club, “But we are probably even prouder that our women’s teams have been playing against each other for 98 of those 100 years.  Several team sports have reached their centenary or even sesquicentenary recently, and we congratulate them, but they have traditionally been a male-only domain. Hockey has always been equally popular with men and women, and since 1911 our clubs have have fielded teams of men and of women. It’s fantastic to reach this 100 year milestone for the men. It’s also fantastic to think that in just two years the women’s teams from our clubs will also have been competing against each other for a century.”

“It’s one of the best sporting rivalries in Australia” said Genevieve Grant, President of Melbourne University Hockey Club. “It’s unique to have some of Australia’s best men and then women players playing on the same pitch on the same day in the same team colours. The men’s and women’s teams are always there to support each other, too. For 100 years our men and women have battled each other on the field and had a great camaraderie off the field. It’s what sport is all about.”

Sydney University Hockey Club and Melbourne University Hockey Club are two of Australia’s oldest hockey clubs. They were both formed in 1907, and the first game between them was played in 1909. That year the Sydney team took several days to travel to Melbourne for the match, which MUHC won. Sydney won the return game in 1910, and also won the first women’s game in 1911. 100 years later both clubs remain amongst the strongest clubs in their cities. Their men’s and women’s teams play at the highest levels, as do their Juniors and Veterans teams.

The Centenary Match on 7 March will be a special occasion for a number of players from the teams of 1959, who will travel to Olympic Park to watch the games.  “The men’s and women’s teams in the late 1950s were some of the greatest teams our clubs have seen” said Khevyn Williams. “It will be an honour for the current players to have some of those players in the crowd. We will also have many of our other former greats there – including potentially one from the game between the clubs in 1930!”

Graham Croker