By Phil Bailey.
Great interest was taken in the game between Wales and Ireland at Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay on 11th April 1923. This was the Wales’ Ladies first international game since the match against the same opponents at St Helen’s Swansea on 8 March 1907. In the latter game Wales lost 0-11 to the Irish, the team they had also met in the very first Welsh ladies international in 1899 at Rhyl.
History shows that Wales met Ireland eight times between 1899 and 1907, before the game in 1923, with Wales failing to score a goal but conceding 66! In fact, Wales had never won an international match in those eight years against any of the home nations.
Despite their record, Wales started brightly on an excellent pitch. There was a large crowd watching in anticipation and the weather was brilliantly fine for such an important game.
Miss Foulkes Roberts, the Welsh left wing, went close early in the game following a break away from an Irish corner. Orsman again nearly scored for Wales and they were also denied by an offside decision. However, Ireland were not going to let Wales dictate the game and Hornridge shot inches wide.
Williams in the Welsh goal made some splendid saves to keep the visitors from scoring, but Miss D McCann put the visitors in front and Wales’ losing record looked to continue. After ten minutes history was made when Miss M Stockwood scored their first ever international goal and the score remained 1-1 at half - time.
After the interval the pace was fast with both teams going close until Miss BV James, who was to play for Wales until 1938, scored their second. Victory then looked a distinct possibility when Waddel made it 3-1 to Wales.
As befitted a competitive Irish side they continued to attack and scored through Hornridge to make it 3-2 and still on a knife edge.
Wales rallied and put the game beyond Ireland’s reach when Miss S Perkins scored the final goal of the game to give Wales a victory by four goals to two.
This was a historic game: Wales’ first ever international win, their first ever international goal and clearly having improved from the games in the 1900s.
Reports indicate that Wales ‘deservedly won, for they showed better combination, and were more enterprising’.
The match was umpired by Mr WH Evans of Swansea, a Welsh international, and Mr H Randall of Bridgend.
After the match both teams were entertained and had dinner together. Mr. Doughty Davies presented both sides with an inscribed ball on a silver pedestal.
This was also an historic occasion as it was the first match played under the newly formed Wales Ladies’ Hockey Association.
The officers had met at Newtown on 3rd March 1923 followed by a general meeting at Shrewsbury in April to draft the constitution. Mrs Randles was elected President, Miss Marjorie Orsman of Penarth and Miss Cooke-Denbath, joint Honorary Secretaries and Treasurers.
Miss Orsman of course captained the 1923 Wales side and was a giant of Welsh hockey as a player and administrator.
Miss F Williams - North
Miss M Orsman - South
Miss D Evans - North
Mrs Gunson - South
Miss BV James - South
Miss O Williams* - North
Miss D Waddel - South
Miss G Jones - South
Miss S Perkins - South
Miss M Stockwood -South
Miss E Foulkes Roberts -North
*in some sources Miss O Williams is named as Miss O Hughes
Miss Olden - Munster
Mrs Charley - Ulster
Miss Williams - Munster
Miss I Cummins - Munster
Miss P Archdale - Ulster
Miss N Rawlins - Leinster
Miss H Wallis - Leinster
Miss D McCann - Leinster
Miss C Dunn - Leinster
Miss P Hornbridge - Leinster
Miss Kirkwood - Ulster