Attitudes to sports

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Attitudes to sports

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:05 am

Younger members of this forum should note that during the time I'm talking about, the palette of available sports (not that we used the word, they were 'games') was limited and you had little or no choice. But bearing that in mind, why was it respectable to dislike some sports but not others? For example, I hated rugby but found it expedient not to say so too loudly. However, most people hated cricket and said so very loudly. I remember, at the beginning of my first summer term, the house captain (Antony Arblaster) in his first pep-talk, said that it was going to be a long term (14 weeks, due to an early Easter) and he was 'afraid' that this meant 14 weeks of cricket (general groan). As a new boy, I was taken aback. And in Thornton B at least, if you admitted to liking gym, you were a social outcast. But when I said, re rugger cup-ties, that 'at least if we lose, we won't have to play in the next round', I was reported to the housemaster, who alluded to it on my report that term.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by sejintenej » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:06 pm

To expand on Michael's post and for the education of younger OBs our choice (?) was rugby (compulsory), cricket (compulsory), stoolball in the prep (compulsory but avoidable), cross country (compulsory), swimming (compulsory), athletics (compulsory) and for a short period basketball (optional) and fives. Snooker in Col A - optional. There was absolutely no teaching / training whatsoever in any of those but there were options in some.

In the prep I hated stoolball. I quickly realised and got slung out of the "sport" because the balls started going pretty fast and I tended to be inaccurate towards the batter's side - nobody actually got hit but Jones understood but didn't want to take the chance.
Athletics; in the summer you were forced to attempt every event and get points for your house depending upon your time or distance or height. With Kit there was always the cane if you didn't get enough points. One day Kit was present when I got an eyefull of sand in the high jump. Kit refused permission for it to be washed out and I simply couldn't see the bar each time I had to jump - big trouble and I still have eye problems. Because we had no instruction I tried to throw the shot like a discus - medical treatment refused and my subsequent bills are terrible.
Rugby; in the Prep Mr Jones was a right ars*hole. We were ordered " never throw the ball forward" (that is all he said) so I turned around and threw it over my shoulder. Big trouble. I was usually in the Col A team and later in a representative one elsewhere.

I got sent home after getting concussion in a rugby match (not even checked out by Dr Scott who had taught us about concussion)- I don't remember anything for the next week including the family funeral I had to attend.

All in all sport at CH was dangerous and not properly overseen. Despite that I have played rugby, cricket, table tennis, badmington, squash and shot since leaving CH and enjoyed them all.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by ZeroDeConduite » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:32 pm

Peele A had a full size snooker table, although billiards was the game of choice. Table tennis was played on the metre-wide dayroom tables, which resulted in players acquiring deadly accuracy on a proper table-tennis table. Not by me, though, as I was not a participant.
Lack of cricketing skills meant I found a niche as scorer (as participation was compulsory). When older there were enough like-minded of us to rewrite the rules of rugby to make it a non-contact sport, though this cunning plan failed when proper players were allocated to the team to encourage keenness, with us regulars not daring to risk being floored in a body-breaking tackle, so passing instantly...
I don't remember 'organised' athletics like high-jumping etc etc, just twice-weekly cross-country runs round Shelley's Wood and beyond.
It wasn't that I was indifferent to organised games, just that I couldn't compete on equal terms.
Peele A did regard itself as different to School House A & B, Sports House A & B, Keen House etc etc. as we named the rest of the school - our name for ourself was Public House...
PrepA 1951-2 Peele A 1953-60

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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:53 pm

School House was MidA, Keen House was LaB.

At least in ThB we had proper rugby instruction: junior housemaster Phil Davies played for England and the British Lions. There were other masters (Fryer, Keeley, Hewitt) who played club rugby at quite high level.

Athletics was mainly in the Lent Term. It was divided into three sections: Standards; Individuals; Relays

Standards meant getting points for reaching a certain standard in a certain event. As you could do your standard on an individual basis, I quite liked it. I remember getting the maximum score in discus the first time I ever threw one. Sheer luck.
Relays were regarded by most of the school, I think, as quite a fun event.

I remember also playing 7-a-side rugby, which, perhaps surprisingly, I quite enjoyed. There was also a category known as 'non-cricketing seniors'. Among the things we did was play hockey on a rock-hard field used for rugby in the winter, and correspondingly smooth and predictable.

Unofficially there were asphalt games: soccer, basketball, and best of all, asphalt cricket, which flowered on Saturday evenings on the larger asphalts (Thornton, Coleridge, Lamb). It had its own rules, which I often think could be adapted to the modern one-day game to liven it up. The main differences from ordinary cricket: if you hit the ball, you had to run; and there were no overs -- there was a bowler at each end and whichever one got the ball thown to him would bowl as soon as he could. Dustbins served as wickets.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by MrEd » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:31 pm

Sport: late 1970s to mid-1980s. In the context of being (like many sleeping on horsehair mattresses, a great benefit I received in that place) asthmatic, and often on pass for runs, and wholly unsporty generally, there was the School's lunatic obsession with rugby. I missed the basic training as a Second Former due to being on pass for all games after asthma developed, I started at a huge disadvantage, as I didn't know the rules in rugby and no one would explain them to me; 'Back Ten and face!' was a random shout to me. I was also average size, so not right for the scrum, and too slow for the line. I failed to see the attraction of the game, with some hideous injuries, many stud marks on fellow pupils shins and a wish to conserve my teeth. I simply could not see the point in it, and loathed it, as well as the talk of 'team spirit', being a fanatical individualist. I was also one of the best chess players in the School as a Second Former, a talent that was almost wholly scorned by the sporting establishment, although I played for the School, great to be going out into the world aged 12 to 13, playing chess in busy Sussex pubs with Space Invader machines squawking in the background.

On arrival, the School's first obsession was swimming, swimming five lengths (not backstroke) was required of all squits and you did nothing else until you passed. Actually a very good idea.

After that, there was rugby in Winter and Lent, then cricket in summer, with the post-lunch lessons safely out of the way. Not any good at cricket either, and just as keen not to lose any teeth on less muddy grass. Basically, you had to play rugby or cricket unless you were hopeless, and then something was found to make sure that you did something. In summer, the odd game of soccer for those left out of some cricket, as if to emphasise how useless you were, you were only good for football. There was also hockey in winter, I recall one bl**dy freezing day on Little Side, a hoar frost and a bitter wind, with only shorts and shirt on, not even gloves, having been told that we couldn't wear track suits.

Steeplechasing was, most years, impossible for me due to asthma, but I made the House team one year when the condition improved. The run up to Sharpenhurst and through Shelley's Wood did give a sense of achievement, my main memory being the peas from lunch repeating on me as I ran on.

Athletics, again, pointless for me, 100m might have well been to Brighton. But we did have Sports Days. When in the junior houses, Maine B seemed to me to actually take it seriously, I said they were acting like East Germany, with their obsession with winning (but I imagine, no drugs). Sillett was not happy to be beaten every year, but there was no stopping Maine B. We were given random events to compete in, regardless of skill. Some delight was brought by Will Turner winning the discus, despite never having even held one before the event. Everyone wanted to do the javelin.

Gym classes with Mr Jarman, ex-Army PT instructor, a standard punishment of his was sit-ups in the swimming pool foot bath, a shallow pool of disinfectant. On a lighter note, crab football in the gym by the sicker, and basketball.

In the Navy Cadets, on a trip to Portsmouth, someone asked Mr Clements if he had been sporty at school, he said no and that he was glad, as his sporty school mates were hobbling around with injuries, and he was fit as a fiddle. Sound advice from a great man.

In Peele A, some Grecians reportedly told some guys in the cricket team to come out of their Maths 'O'-level early if they could, to make a match. I remember the hoo-haa, I suspect it was a wind-up, but it wasn't taken as such.

On a lighter note, rudimentary golf aiming at trees on Big Side, and croquet in shirt-sleeve order on the lawns outside the Houses. A House doubles tennis match, drawn against the two School players, our only tactic, one to serve and the other to grunt, in the hope of putting them off. Also, after 'A'-levels and a thunderstorm flooded the garages at the back of Peele A, getting the canoes out and padding around in them in the flood.

The plus side of cricket was going into Horsham in cricket flannels and blazer rather than Uniform made it considerably easier to buy alcohol.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by rockfreak » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:31 pm

I quite enjoyed games but was on the small side and had poor eyesight. These factors were not taken into account in the 50s. If you dropped a pass you still got shouted at. Slacking was not an option. In Col B we first had Buck and then Fryer. As PWB has recorded elsewhere you counted for more with Buck if you were a player at cricket and rugby - the traditional sports of public school gentlemen. And I remember Fryer grabbing some young unfortunate by the ear in a rugby match and and dragging him along shouting "come along little man!" because said youth wasn't running fast enough. It was only much later in life that I discovered rock climbing and snow and ice climbing, the activity that I was physically designed to do. That wasn't on the menu then. Do they have an indoor climbing wall these days?

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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by scrub » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:42 am

OK, so from memory, during my time you had house level comps for rugby and cricket plus hockey(?) and football. At the junior house level it was just a round robin thing, everyone played but I don't remember it meaning much. When you got into a senior house sport got split into two leagues/levels, one serious, one not so serious. The serious one had most Grecians/Deps who played 1st/2nd rugby plus a bunch of randoms who were sort of the right shape to fill in the scrum/carry the kit and score. You could get away with not playing much after your UF if you were lucky. You could stop playing inter-school rugby after your GE but if you wanted to carry on the standards (besides the 1st team) were low enough that even a bum like me could drift through and not look too bad.

Thinking back it seemed like most male house captains were in one of the 1st teams for something, usually rugby but also cricket. Probably a coincidence.

At my time, rugby was the schools' main winter sport, cricket its summer one. You could play a bunch of other ones and some, like hockey and football, could be played at an inter-school level but I can't remember many people caring that much if you didn't. There was a separation between kids who played in the top team and those who didn't, but it wasn't that great from what I remember.

Outside of that you had the yearly steeplechase that every one who couldn't get out of had to do. Not my favourite thing as I had shin splints, childhood asthma, and was a fat kid. Also didn't like running. Not a great combo.

I enjoyed sport much more after I left CH, played at a higher level too. Not by much I have to say, but against oly/nat level rather than high school/uni level. I was hopeless, but for some reason I tried harder than when I was at school.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by sejintenej » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:38 am

rockfreak wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:31 pm
. It was only much later in life that I discovered rock climbing and snow and ice climbing, the activity that I was physically designed to do. That wasn't on the menu then. Do they have an indoor climbing wall these days?
We used to climb at Stone Farm Rocks every couple of weekends - difficult sandstone but not too much exposure. A couple of extreme overhangs. Tried Harrisons one weekend but a bit too far, crowded and nowhere to pitch a tent
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:57 am

Ah, yes, croquet. Played on the front lawns of some houses. I remember on one occasion playing on ColB lawn when a member of the visiting Hurstpierpoint 2nd XI saw us and invited us to play at Hurstpierpoint. We approached David Jesson-Dibley (who played croquet at a high level), who agreed to drive us there. Things started badly, because they used a set of rules which JD said were 'plain wrong', but we agreed to play one game with their rules, and one by the official rules. The result was a draw.
It was also quite interesting to see how prefects in other schools lived.

Later that term JD took four of us to a first-class croquet club (Hurlingham?) which was also an eye-opener. We had never played on a proper court before, as smooth as a golf green, and about four times the size of a house front lawn. This involved a totally different playing technique. About halfway through the game, a bell tinkled. 'Ah, that's tea,' said JD. 'You have to make polite conversation.' (With the mostly elderly players on the other courts.)
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by Foureyes » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:00 am

I enjoyed games but was always very bad at them - poor eyesight and a lack of coordination were my main failings. I remember the annual gym competition which involved passing a whole series of tests (headstand, handstand, vault, rope and so on) with a scoresheet kept in the dayroom so that everyone could see how good, or, in my case, useless you were! On some occasions there were rugger games where 30 people turned up, the two captains chose themselves, and then they took it in turns to select the remaining 14. I was always the last, a ritual humiliation to which I eventually became hardened. However, there was another side to it, in that no matter how useless you were there was always a chance of a game. When I went to Sandhurst there were no second teams - you either played for the Academy or for your Company, or that was it - no games for you.
Back to C.H. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned fives or squash. Always rather fun, provided you swept the cigarette butts into a corner before starting.
As for asphalt cricket - what a game! Fast, furious and never dull, and nobody ever argued with the umpire, because there wasn't one.
David :shock:

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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by J.R. » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:33 am

Asphalt cricket. Known as 'Tip and Run' if memory serves.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by LongGone » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:47 pm

As others have pointed out, in the 50s sports were elevated to an almost religious level. So, for people like me, it didn't work out so well. I was the classic 'weed': I couldn't run, had no coordination, was very weak and really disliked getting hit. So, it quickly became apparent that I was of no use on any team, even the 3rd eleven! I was put to work as a touch judge but, since I was hopeless at judging just where the ball crossed the line and routinely getting overturned by the ref, I was quietly dropped. In the same way, my inability to keep a correct score in cricket (by the third wicket the other scorer and I might be off by a factor of two), led to being put in charge of oiling bats. In other areas, cross country, track, gymnastics, boxing, swimming, etc. I was pretty much hopeless: I think my best achievement in Standards was to pass three events at the lowest level. Even asphalt hockey on roller skates was not on, since I didn't own a pair.
My only pleasure came from cycling. When I was allowed to bring my bike (and usually being left out of the organized activities) I would cover much of the Sussex countryside (including pubs and transport caffs) and trips to Bramley became routine after one of the school dances. On a long afternoon I could run home (Brighton) and enjoy a home-cooke meal.
Despite this, I seem to have been forced to exercise enough during those years to make a positive difference to my level of fitness (though, as a geneticist, I have to wonder how much is innate). When I finally found a sport I liked, and was good at (Fencing), one of my advantages was that I could usually wear down my opponent simply because I was in better shape. Even now my overall fitness level keeps my doctor off my back, though the downside is I have no excuse to get out of shoveling when we get one of our New England blizzards.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by wurzel » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:20 pm

80's we had Rugby in Michaelmas, Hockey or Football in Lent and Cricket/athletics in Summer. I think Football had been introduced by Hailey, he definitely seemed to be the force behind it. By then we had coaching in Rugby even in junior houses although it was obviously not up to club standards. There was ample school rugby (U12 & 13 went to i think a D team at least i definitely remember hooking for the D's vs John Fisher away). Everyone had a gum shields which wa s aproperley moulded one done my the school dentist and if I remember rightly charged to us at £1.50, somewhere i still have my last one sat on the cast of my teeth. Other than cricket i found sport fine, Rugby was a good laugh but that may be because my house team never lost a game during my 7 years but i hated cricket finding a waste of a perfectly good afternoon. Non cupties cricket in senior houses was played by those not in a school team and i distinctly remember being threatened with a communal punishment when the umpire (I think Sutcliff) realised we had conspired with the opposing team during lunch as to who was going to win and were endeavouring to be all out asap (I think we got 11 of which 9 were extra's), Athletics was bearable i was never a sprint runner so the odd 1500 and Javelin were an ok way to spend some time near the tuckshop.

Swimming we had in junior house and PE but then on my Deps the storm ended that - house swimming was a fine institution seeing how far you could push the boundaries before a master intervened (remember somebody diving off the balcony) and the inter house cup was a very loud (and humid) affair

in 2nd & 3rd form PE we did the odd other sport which could then be done on thu hobbies afternoon such as fencing (with Neil Fleming) but i tended to opt for things like Torkington's modelling club (airfix not hasselblad) or Woodwork

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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by J.R. » Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:01 pm

I didn't mind rugby too much though with both housemasters in Col B playing at senior club level, you were expected to be brilliant which I wasn't.

Loved cricket. I was a pretty good pace bowler and a mean third slip fielder. Unfortunately, my batting skills were not that great.
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Re: Attitudes to sports

Post by Foureyes » Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:14 pm

Talking of sport, oldies among us will remember the athletics track, which was dug up some years ago and turned into a carpark. Now, under a revolutionary plan, the carpark is to be dug up and turned into - would you believe? - an athletics track. That's progress. No wonder the school has to keep advertising for funds.
David :shock:

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