Above: the figure in white is believed to be Isobel Stanley from about 1890.
A HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-FIVE years ago today (1889), thirteen-year-old Isobel Stanley organized and played in the first recorded all-female hockey game. She was the daughter of Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley, famed for donating the 35-pound silver cup that has been presented to the National Hockey League champion every year since 1926.
Isobel and her brothers fell in love with hockey as youngsters and talked their dad into creating the Stanley Cup, arguably most famous of all professional sports trophies, in 1892. From 1892 to 1925, the Stanley Cup was presented annually to the best amateur hockey team in Canada.
In 1889 or so (some sources offer different dates), Isobel’s Government House team played and defeated another women’s team in what is thought to be the first all-female hockey game ever played.
On marriage Isobel Stanley took the last name Gathorne-Hardy. In 2000, Canada introduced the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award, presented every year to a female athlete who embodies the values of leadership and sportsmanship.