Field Hockey Rules: The Good Old Days 3

The potted history does not contain much information for those who are not familiar with the Rules (or do not have the appropriate rule-books) for/at the times the various changes were made. I can recall some of the changes made after 1957 and can add to the notes below (I now struggle to remember what I did last week or where exactly I left a cup of tea or my glasses a few minutes ago).

…but there are some items which still have relevance to the modern game.

In 1938 any form of interference with sticks was prohibited and
in the same year the intentional use of any part of the body, except
the hand, to stop the ball was forbidden.

Prior to 1938 it was permitted to hook the stick of an opponent to prevent that opponent playing the ball. Nowadays such an action would cause outrage and a yellow card would certainly be awarded to the culprit. Stick obstruction still causes irritation or anger.

Use of the body to stop the ball was a permitted part of the game, and even after 1938 use of the hand was permitted. Use of the hand was later banned, except in self defence. The self-defence exception was certainly in the Rules of Hockey up until 2004. I don’t know why it was deleted, leaving evasive action as the only recourse in cases of endangerment. I recall a period in the early 1970’s when use of the hand to catch the ball was permitted, provided it was immediately released to drop perpendicularly to ground, i.e. the ball was not propelled in any way. The change must have been difficult for umpires to judge and didn’t last long

15. BEHIND.—If the ball be hit by, or glance off, the person of
a defender over his own goal-line, observe that the decision
must, unless a goal be scored, be one of three:

(1) If unintentionally, from not nearer than his own twenty-
five yards l
ine—a free hit.

(2) Ifs unintentionally, from nearer than his own twenty-
five yard
line—a corner.

(3) If intentionally, from any part of the ground—a penalty
corner.

Note that, in deciding whether an ordinary or a penalty
corner should be awarded, the only point at issue is whether
the “behind” was intentional or not. The fact that, in sending
the ball behind, a defender saves a goal, must not ‘influence
an umpire in his decision.

It is amusing that we have come full circle, and since 2016, a ball played unintentionally over the base-line by a defender now results in a restart free ball on the 23m line. (this is not at all a new or ‘modern’ idea). I wonder what signal umpires used to award such a free ball in 1959 ? It wasn’t the broken windmill (there is no section on umpire signals in the 1959-60 rule-book).

Differentiating between a ball played over the back-line within the 25 yard line and from beyond the 25 yard line (a 16yard hit out being awarded in the latter case  ???) was tried for a period in the early 1980’s and was then abandoned. The third clause is still extant, but I think the award of a penalty corner to be extreme and believe that any playing of the ball over the baseline by a defender, intentionally or not, should result in the award of a free ball on the 23m line, that would be fairer and more appropriate.

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