Sporting Vernacular 29. HOCKEY

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THE WOMEN'S hockey European Nations Cup final came to an end yesterday, with the men's version about to bully off.

The first known reference to the game was in 1838, when William Holloway's General Dictionary of Provincialisms called it hawkey, a West Sussex term. The word is thought by some to be related to the hook - the stick's curved end. Another theory is that it comes from the French hocquet, a shepherd's crook or "hookey". By the 18th century the game was being played by English schoolboys and young men.

The game developed from its Gaelic cousin - hurling - in 1527. The Galway Statutes referred to the "hurling of the little ball with hockie sticks or staves", although 4,000-year-old Egyptian tomb images show games with hooked sticks. "Bullying off", the now obsolete way of starting the game, is thought to come from an Etonian term for scrimmage.