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Researchers uncover earliest-known picture of a hockey player

May 18, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

From researchers Patrick Houda and Dr. Carl Giden From researchers Patrick Houda and Dr. Carl Giden

Sport historians Carl Giden and Patrick Houda discovered a book over two centuries old that includes a detailed description of field hockey and an illustration of boys on skates with a flat puck – which was called a “bung” at the time.

The portrait was printed in 1797, but the historians believe that the scene is from December 1796, when Greater London’s rivers and ponds were frozen due to unusually cold weather.

“In 1797, the word ‘hockey’ had been used in London and its surroundings for about 50 years, replacing the medieval term ‘bandy ball,'” the researchers wrote. “The artist’s intention must have been to picture a pair of skating hockey-players. Later similar paintings are not known until the 1850s.”

The book also makes references to the word “hockey” and now, according to Giden and Honda, represents “the first known contemporary use of the word ‘hockey’ — predating later records by about 25 years.”

Richard Johnson, who is the author of the book the image was first printed in, “claims he played the game at school during the 1740s,” according to the researchers.

You can view original texts from Johnson’s book, as well Giden and Houda’s research notes here.

(Photo credit: Carl Giden and Patrick Houda.)

  1. biasedhomer - May 18, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Hockey like a sir.

  2. comeonnowguys - May 18, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Said Brodeur, “Oh THAT guy. Everyone made fun of his uniform back in the day, but he was a great lockerroom guy. I mean, if we would have had lockers back then.”

  3. rainyday56 - May 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    He was put in stocks later that year for showing up at a coed social drunk wearing a chemise embroidered with”I’d take two fives for ten ” looking up ladies bustles and telling them that they don’t make the grade. :)

  4. hockeyflow33 - May 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Anyone want to go to the ice and play with my bung?

    • imleftcoast - May 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM

      Timmy T wants to teabag your bung.

  5. politicalgraffiti - May 18, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Must be Cindy Crosby’s great great great uncle

  6. Stiller43 - May 18, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    I think they should go back to bandy ball and putting the bung in the basket.

  7. sheapuck - May 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Is that Chelios’s rookie card?

  8. bruinsfan1953 - May 18, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Im not sure what Sadine that is , They both look alike

  9. dawglb - May 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Did Gordie Howe paint it?

  10. ronutah - May 18, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Those pants are in style now, funny how things work in circles eh.

    • biasedhomer - May 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      guys wearing tight?

  11. lbmclean - May 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    I think I know what his position was, power-bottom

  12. blomfeld - May 18, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Yes, this article by Dadoun is original, quaint and very funny ! :) … what isn’t so funny however, is the fact that the modern day NHL rink, has the “exact” same dimensions as the first ice hockey rinks which were constructed in the late 1800’s …

    “modern day ice hockey rink specifications originate from the ice surface of the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, constructed in 1862, where the first indoor game was played in 1875 … it’s ice surface measured 62.3 metres (204 ft) × 24.3 metres (80 ft) … the curved corners are considered to originate from the design of the Montreal Arena, also in Montreal, constructed in 1898” ..

    the bottom line is that today’s NHL rink size may have been fine for the whimsical gentlemen of yesteryear, as pictured above … however, it’s a recipe for disaster for today’s “machine-like” players … I do fear that the “concussion” business will only get worse as we go forward … at least until such time that greed finally gives way to common sense and the common good …

    Executive Summary: the NHL should adopt the European rink size immediately !

    • taytay099 - May 18, 2012 at 9:39 PM

      Maybe they should get rid of these hard plastic shoulder and elbow pads. That’ll make players think twice about hitting guys at top speed. I love the rink size in the NHL right now.

  13. norcalirish - May 19, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Greater London? Hockey is British?

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