The Second XI Football Team 1980-1981

The Second XI had a pleasant and reasonably successful season back in 1980-1981, although it was possible to organise only seven fixtures. They lost their first match against Becket School, but were only to lose one more of the next five matches. Their record for the season of two wins, three draws and just two losses would have placed them comfortably in mid-table in the Premier League of today. Perhaps another Crystal Palace, Everton or West Ham. We drew games against High Pavement, Bramcote and Clarendon and then defeated Clarendon by 3-0 in the return and Bilborough by 5-2. Not a bad record for a team of eleven players picked from just nineteen available candidates:

asecond THE ONE

The goalkeeper was Richard Clark:

richard clark 700
And his deputy was, I think, David Lloyd:

other goalie

In defence we had Chris Turner:

chris turner 700

Alongside him was Julian Bower:

julian bower 700

Ken Blecher was the sweeper. He was the Team Captain, so he had the shiny satin finish shirt:
For some reason, we played in fairly dark blue shirts of a shade called ‘Admiral’ or ‘Azure’ apparently.  This had been worn as a change strip by Sunderland in the First Division a few years previously. The sleeves had a red and white design on them, as did the collars.

Ken Blacher

Now, back to the players.

Phil Sermon was a 100% team player who, although he was often a little quiet, always gave everything on the pitch:


Paul Chappell was almost surgical in the strength and calmness of his tackles:

Paul Chasppell
Chris Batty was an accurate passer of the ball, with a powerful shot:

chris batty 7oo

Bert Crisp was a strong runner and created many chances:

bert crisp 700
Phil Colley supplied energy in midfield:

phil colley

Chris Ffinch played well in attack:

Chrs Ffinch 700

Robert Harwood was a confident goalscorer:

robert harwood 700

Stuart Burns also contributed well in attack:

stuart burns 700

On the team photograph, two players remain a mystery to me, although this all took place some 35 years ago now. The first is CD Richardson:


And the other is David Nowell, who, as you can see from the comments below, was the left full back, but who was unfortunately injured very early in the season :


Forgive me gentlemen.
Overall, the Nottinghamian reported that the players were “all keen to play and all contributed to a most enjoyable season. Everyone has done his best and given his all.”
A lot of my readers, of course, will not be familiar with any of these young men. Let them stand, therefore, for your own sporting efforts at school. Did you do your best and give it your all?
Perhaps you were not in a sports team of any kind. Well, just look at the faces of these sixteen, seventeen and eighteen year old young men. Look at their expressions. Their inner thoughts.
Nowadays they will be in their early fifties. Their team coach back in the day was in his late thirties. Well now, I am in my early sixties, and I just regret that I didn’t enter more Ché Guevara lookalike contests when I had the chance:

me close up




Filed under Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School

20 responses to “The Second XI Football Team 1980-1981

  1. Were you trying to look like Che?

  2. That really takes me back. I was in a football team at Primary school and we occasionally played teams from higher leagues. We have our all and were very proud of our achievements. More importantly, our teacher looked similar to you!

    • I have a theory that we are most proud of achievements that are not what we are expected to be good at. I don’t.think much of knowing the French for “roof”, but I am proud that when I took over the team they hadn’t won for two and a half years but then we won our third game. And yes, you are right. Little kids always give their all…and they don’t get caught in night clubs at four in the morning!

  3. Thanks again, John. I’ve forgiven you for not awarding me that penalty!

  4. juliancbower1

    BTW on the front row between Chris Turner & Chris Batty that’s Phil Sermon, who played full-back.

  5. I remember you introduced a revolutionary new sweeper system which you had seen work well for, I think, Leeds United. Grafted from my fruitless position in attack I was made sweeper but I’m not sure the system’s superimposition on the 2nd XI had the hoped for Elland Road effect. I vaguely remember playing a friendly against the local borstal and taking umbrage that they were allowed to smoke during the game, but not us. How unfair and out of keeping with the liberal and enlightened attitude (are the boys still allowed such long hair? I hope so!) prevailing at the school at the time! Whatever, it was a great team to play for, not least thanks to having such a tolerant and forgiving manager! Happy days… Merci beaucoup, John.

    • Thanks a lot for your comment. In reply to a couple of your questions. We didn’t ever play a borstal but if you played cricket you are perhaps thinking of Woodthorpe Grange, who I played more than once with my cricket team in the Fourth Form. They had long hair, some of them, but were always very well behaved, because they knew that if they weren’t then they wouldn’t ever play again. The most striking impression was their poverty, even in a Government establishment with tatty uniforms. They had dirty white plimsolls most of them, but just for a few hours they were free so they enjoyed it. The sweeper system came not from Don Revie but from fellow Yorkshireman, Tony Slack, who had used it in previous years with the First XI. Boys at the High School are allowed to have hair, but it mustn’t touch their collars, although that was often forgotten about by some. I am proud to have told a black kid in my class that he should take advantage of the collar rule, and not too long afterwards he had an Afro out to his shoulders. Ironically it was not the repressive High School who made him get it cut but his repressive Dad. And yes, they were happy days. The happiest days of my working life were when I was running the school football team. I was so tolerant because I thought that you all ought to have at least a couple of hours of the school week where you were free to express yourselves. Again, thanks for your contribution.

  6. David Nowell

    Thanks, that description perfectly sums up my seven years at the High School. One of the reasons you don’t remember me was that I was injured for much of the season. I think it was the first game I finally got to play football instead of rugby when I was scythed down from behind by mild mannered John Ellis. You compared us to fornicating giraffes and told us to get up. Alas I couldn’t. I think you were blissfully unaware that my Dad had to pick me and take me to hospital, where they re-set my ankle. Still, I enjoyed it when I returned to fitness.
    I played at left back and my name is David.

    • Hello there! Thanks for getting in touch and filling in those extra details. You are correct to say that I was unaware of your injury although after nearly 40 years I am a little sketchy about the details. Overall, we had comparatively few serious injuries over the years, and I can only remember one broken knee at Dayncourt School. Anyway, I hope that my blog post brought back a few pleasant memories. Most people seem to have fond thoughts about my abilities as a football coach so I must have been working on the right lines more or less!

    • juliancbower1

      Good to see you, David! I remember you being injured. The same year, the son of the then Chief Constable suffered the same mishap in his first game, didn’t he? It’s good you were able to return to playing. I hope you’ll be up for the next reunion of the Class of ’81. But then you, John & all ex-High School inmates are always welcome to come along to any ONs events – lunch at Beeston Fields, dinner at Trent Bridge, a drink at The Bell Inn etc.

  7. David Nowell

    Hi Julian, yes that was Neil MacLachlan. He followed this up by impaling his hand on a spiked fence whilst retrieving a football Raich Growridge had booted away (Steve Toft tells this story much better than I can, some of it may even be true)..

  8. Chris Ffinch

    A very belated thank you, John. I only saw this yesterday, which means that I’m about as late as some of my tackles. We were the lucky few.. If I remember correctly, any half-decent rugby player wasn’t allowed to play football. So being deemed sufficiently rubbish at rugby was a fantastic day – I enjoyed playing for the 2nds so much that I’m still playing in the Brussels ABSSA league.

    • I’m glad to hear that you are still playing football, Chris, although, with due respect, the Brussels ABSSA League doesn’t really sound like a particularly viable way into European competition. The rules as laid down by Clem Lee were that ………

      Anybody that might ever play for the First XV……NO FOOTBALL
      Anybody that might ever play for the Second XV……NO FOOTBALL
      Anybody that might ever play for the Third XV……NO FOOTBALL
      Anybody that might ever play for the Fourth XV……NO FOOTBALL

      That began to change in the 3rd and 4th XVs when Messrs Clayton and Cooke looked after them. They were both really nice guys and they worked out that as their two rugby teams hardly ever played fixtures on a Wednesday, and that the football only ever took place on Wednesdays, it would hurt nobody to let the tiny number of boys who wanted to do football have Wednesdays off for football fixtures, provided they never missed a Saturday rugby match when asked to play.
      And everybody was happy. On a more serious note, I do wonder about the future of rugby in schools as it gradually comes out about how many adult players have brain damage and /or degeneration of various sorts. Back in the 1980s, it was back injuries that some parents worried about, but now they’ve got something even more serious to think about.

    • juliancbower1

      Good to know you’re still putting your boots on, Chris. Football was not only below rugby, but also hockey and cross-country in the picking order!

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