Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): White City Stadium, London
Date Started: October 29, 1908
Date Finished: October 31, 1908
Format: Single-elimination tournament.
|Bronze:|| Great Britain-4
It was initially proposed by the English Hockey Association that a combined team from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales should represent Great Britain at the Games. The Irish did not take kindly to the suggestion, rejecting the proposal at an Emergency Committee Meeting on 21 November 1907, and after Scotland and Wales followed the Irish line, four seperate British teams took part. They were joined by a German team from the Uhlenhorster Hockey Club of Hamburg and a French team made up of players from Club Athletique International, Racing Club de France and the Stade Fran‡ais.
The first match of the tournament was between Germany and Scotland, who were unable to call on a number of their leading players because of injuries. A last minute inclusion in the Scottish team was Ivan Laing, who opened the scoring against Germany and has the distinction of scoring the first-ever goal in Olympic hockey. But after playing in Scotland's second Olympic match against England, Laing never represented his country again. Scotland defeated Germany 4-0, France lost to England 10-1 and the following morning the first round losers met in a "friendly" with victory going to the Germans, who scored the only goal of the match. It is possible that this France/Germany match should probably not be considered as part of the Olympic tournament, but we have included it below for reference.
In the semi-finals played that afternoon Ireland beat Wales (3-1) and England enjoyed a comfortable victory over Scotland (6-1). The final was the sixth match to be played on the same pitch within three days and, understandably, the playing surface was not in the best of condition. Accurate passing and related skills became something of a lottery but England was clearly the better team and won, 8-1.
In view of their clear superiority it came as no surprise that England provided the outstanding player of the tournament. Reggie Pridmore individually scored 10 goals in three games, just one short of the combined total of 11 goals scored by all the other five competing nations.
When the England versus Ireland match ended, late in the afternoon of 31 October, the Games of the IVth Olympiad also ended, with virtually no fanfare. The "closing ceremony" had taken place months earlier, on 25 July, at the end of the Stadium events. There is no record of any ceremony on 31 October denoting the closing of the 1908 Olympic Games at the end of the match. However, The Times did note that this marked the end of the Olympics and the final official function of the 1908 Olympic Games came that night with a banquet at the Holborn Restaurant for Olympic officials and any remaining competitors. We give further details of this function in the opening chapter on "Background to the Olympic Games."