The only trophy the High School Football Team ever won

In late March 1981,  the school’s footballers won the Nottinghamshire Schools’ Football Association Seven-a-Side competition. This was the first time that a High School football team had ever won a cup at any level. Here is the squad:

six-a-side BETTER BEST BESTxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The competition was organised into a number of groups, and in their initial group, the High School won two games, and lost just one, to Worksop College ‘B’ team. The High School therefore qualified for the next stage of the competition as the best losers.
This next stage was the semi-final, where they beat Worksop College ‘A’ team by one goal to nil. They therefore went forward to the Final, strangely enough, against Worksop College ‘B’ team. This ‘B’ team was the very same one which had already beaten the High School in the group stages.
In this game, the score was 0-0 at full time, and two periods of extra time did not produce any goals either. As there was no winner as yet, therefore, penalty kicks would be needed to decide the contest. The first five kicks were successful by each side, and the score was 5-5. Everybody would have to try again. The first Worksop player, though, then missed his second kick, leaving the High School needing just one goal to win the cup.
Norman Garden, who had come on as a half time replacement, took the kick, arguably the most important in a minimum of 110 years football at the High School.


By his own admission, head down, he took approximate aim. The ball hit both the post and the crossbar but screamed into the back of the net for the winning goal. The High School were the victors by the unusually high score of 6-5.
The team was coached, as always, by Tony Slack:


Team members were Raich Growdridge as captain, Simon Derrick, John Ellis, Norman Garden, Chris Ingle, Tim Little, Neil McLachlan, Richard Mousley and Chris Peers.

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This remains the High School’s only ever official trophy:

ta cup

Strangely enough, the cup was never contested again, and despite various attempts by High School teachers to surrender it back to the relevant authorities, nobody ever came forward to take responsibility for it. As far as is known, the magnificent cup, at least twenty pounds of almost pure, locally mined Worksop silver, still remains somewhere deep in the bowels of the School, locked away for safe keeping by Tony Hatcher, the school caretaker at the time:

tony hatcher



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

29 responses to “The only trophy the High School Football Team ever won

  1. What a terrific moment for those kids and the school.

  2. I could have been a famous footballer if I hadn’t gone to school in Rugby where soccer was banned!

    • The High School stopped football in 1914 but then brought it back in n1968 for the sixth formers who weren’t needed for rugby. That was the 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th XVs although the teachers with the 3rds and 4ths only ever played on Saturdays, so they let us have whoever we wanted because we only ever played on Wednesdays, Overall, the two school football teams were picked from around 40-50 possible players, a group which would not include the 30 best ball players who were all busy with rugby.

  3. Fascinating story John. Interesting that the trophy was never contested again. At this rate the school will remain eternal champions!

    • Absolutely…unless of course, some smart person goes down into the school safe (which is room sized) and takes out all of the many old silver cups and trophies and sells them on ebay!

  4. The only win was an eternal victory for them! Terrific.

  5. Wonderful memory John. Best bit was the reaction of the rugby staff in the common room the following morning – not exactly overjoyed by our success!

    • You do surprise me, Tony. I would have hoped that they might have been a little bit more magnanimous after all those years and all that money spend on rugby. And you, of course, were playing against state schools whose main sport was football, which made it ten times more difficult to be successful.

  6. Is the cup shown to the public during some important school function ?

  7. I always said penalties were an awful way to end a game but this was really nail biting to the end! Perhaps the trophy should go on show in a Nottingham museum!

  8. If you’re gonna win you may as well do so in a way that is not forgotten easily. What a story, John! How proud those boys must have been!! ❤

    • Yes, Amy, they were very proud of their achievement but I am sure that they were not as proud as their coach, Tony Slack. His skill was to pick the correct seven players to make a good team.

  9. Good story John. I could almost hear “We are the Champions” play in the background.

  10. Crikey, I remember this. Everyone was surprised, even the team members themselves. Tony Slack (I’m sure we used to call him ‘Dave’, though I’ve no idea why and never to his face) was my tutor and I remember him carrying the cup around with him.

    Astonishing that it was never contested again. In these days when everything is documented and there is so much scrutiny of spending, the idea that someone would make a silver cup for schools then just forget about it seems absurd. Different times!

    • Legend has it that the cup is still in the school safe. Most people think that the school safe is just a small metal box like in an office but it’s a whole room. full to the ceiling with forgotten treasures. Tony Slack had enormous regards for your talents, and he has never forgotten winning that trophy.

  11. Pingback: Staff cricket : the Golden Years (4) | John Knifton

  12. Chris Mann

    I suspect that the fact that the cup was never competed for again was because around that time staff in state schools stopped putting out school teams for any sport. When I first taught at the High School in 1979 we had rugby matches against several local comps (Arnold Hill, West Bridgford, Fairham, Carlton, etc.). I think these had all stopped by 1982/3.

    • I think that might correspond to the well. We used to play Fairham and Forest Fields but they eventually disappeared from view. Nowadays,I think that they either pay people to run their teams or run the teams themselves. And football still gets played, one way or another!

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