Renegade Football at the High School (5)

This photograph shows the First Team in the 1904-1905 season. It was taken at Mapperley Park Sports Ground, opposite the old Carrington Lido on Mansfield Road.

Sergeant Holmes is again present, and the players are….

(back row)      S.D.M.Horner, C.F.R.Fryer, M.J.Hogan, R.E.Trease and J.P.K.Groves

(seated)          R.G.Cairns, R.B.Wray, R.Cooper (Captain) and L.W.Peters

(seated on grass)        H.E.Mills and P.G.Richards

On the right is twelfth man, F.C.Mahin. You can read about the incredible life of Frank Cadle Mahin in three of my previous blog posts.

I believe that the photograph was taken on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 12th 1904, just before the High School played against Mr.Hughes’ XI, perhaps to commemorate the game for the old Drill Sergeant. The School won 12-5, and we know that Cooper in defence was the outstanding player, but the whole team played well, and the forwards’ finishing was particularly deadly. This year, the team was amazingly successful. Their season began with victories by 5-4, 2-1, 23-0, 12-5, 9-0, 15-0, 3-1, 4-1, 11-0, 16-1. They had scored exactly 100 goals by November 3rd, in only ten games.

Notice that it is warm enough for the changing room windows to be open, and the design of the ball is still that old fashioned “Terry’s Chocolate Orange”. Horner has forgotten his football socks, and, because this game marked his début for the side, Fryer’s mother has not yet had the time to sew his school badge onto his shirt. Frank Mahin is, in actual fact, in the full School uniform of the time…a respectable suit or jacket, topped with a Sixth Form white straw boater, with a school ribbon around it. Here he is in American military uniform:

Football, though always, seems to have appealed to the rebellious nature of the boys. Even when it was a school sport, some of them wanted more, and they were quite prepared to break the rules of the High School to achieve that aim. The Prefects’ Book records how “an extraordinary meeting of the Prefects was held after morning school on November 23rd 1908”.

AB Jordan reported that a Master, Mr WT “Nipper” Ryles…

“… had complained about a cutting in the “Football Post” & “Nottingham
Journal”, stating that the High School had been beaten 5-1 by some unknown team called Notts Juniors, reported 8 boys out of IIIC, 1 out of IIIB, 1 out of IVB. The boys were Davie (J.R.), Herrick (R.L.W.), Gant (H.G.) Hemsley, Major, Parrott, Wilmot, Tyler, Cowlishaw & Sadler. They had played against a team of Board School boys down at Bridgford, under the name of Nottm High School Third Form. The other team had put the result in the paper. They were told that such teams must not be played, & that nothing must be sent to the papers except the results of 1st XI & 2nd XI matches.   Signed  AB Jordan”.

The School Archives also have a photograph of older boys in an unknown team.  Nobody has any real, definite and provable idea about who they might be. Perhaps they were something unofficial too:

The man behind the team is not a known member of staff. Here he is:

Is the mystery man is one of  Haig’s staff officers from 1914, on an early lookout for likely cannon fodder for the Western Front? Why should I think that? Well, take a look at this photograph of a group of what were probably the cleverest, shrewdest military thinkers of their age, “Field Marshal Haig and the Blockheads”. Perhaps, front left, Tubby Watson?  :

The next team photograph is not one I am particularly proud of. It is the sad result of the practise of using a camera to scan images because it is so much quicker. It appeared in the School Magazine a few years ago  and they seemed to have little knowledge of who it is:

The caption reads

“Is the above photograph a School Football Team of the early 1890s? The only proof that the team is the three merles badge on the shirt of one of the boys. The photograph is supplied by Don E Stocker (1926-1932) and his father EB Stocker (1889-1891). Is the man on the right a master or possibly Mr Onions, the groundsman and cricket coach?

Well, he’s neither a Master nor Mr Onions in my opinion:

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And the badge may mean it is a High School team but not 100% definitely. It might be the only football shirt he has:

And surely, if it was a High School football team, more than one would be wearing a proper football shirt. As far as I can see, the majority of the players are wearing ordinary white shirts such as they might wear in the bank where they worked, or the technical drawing office.

I don’t think the team is pre-1900 either because the ball is made of 18 panels sewed together. Balls from this period tended to be like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange with lots of segments held in place by a circular piece of leather on either side. It may be a renegade team though, because School football stopped in 1914 and this photograph may well date from after that.

More Ché Guevarras of High School football next time.


Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

20 responses to “Renegade Football at the High School (5)

  1. Jan

    I wonder how the boys organized their match against Nottingham Juniors as it must have been a one-off. And did Nipper Ryles consider a match against “Board School Boys” (Board Schools no longer existed in 1908) as infra dig?

    But it shows how little things have changed over the past century-and-a-bit that Nottingham Juniors felt the need to advertise their win – not with a post on Facebook but a few lines in The Nottingham Journal.

    • I suspect that “Nipper” Ryles would have known nothing at all about the state school education system, and merely called them by the name that came into his mind. He would certainly have considered such opposition beneath the High School’s consideration, but perhaps he should have taken a look at the School Register, with a cab driver, two clerks, a coal merchant, a grocer, a miner and a teacher in a state school as well as two “Gentlemen”.
      The game was doubtless set up by boys who knew each other from the same state school, but whose paths had separated somewhat since some of them moved to the High School. That’s my best guess. I think boys will always organise football matches. Our School Trip played “Teenagers of the Warsaw Pact XI” in East Berlin, and it was all organised without anybody having any language in common.

  2. In the last image, the “boys” look too old to be high school. I like your eye for detail, such as in the football construction.
    The man behind the unknown team doesn’t really seem to be part of that group – he looks as though he amused himself by getting into the picture.

    • I agree with that and I should be kicking myself for not noticing it. Nottingham High School at the time had pupils from around six or seven, right up to eighteen years old. Some of the ones in the last picture though, are eighteen going on twenty eight (bottom right).
      I had never considered that the man behind the team in the other picture might well be a person who just wanted to be in a photograph. My best suggestion was that he was the driver of the coach that had brought the team to the match. Your idea is better, though.

  3. Some rugby scores in there, John

  4. Yes, there certainly are. I think that in those days, if you could beat a team 16-1, then you went ahead and did it. It would make up, presumably, for the days when you yourself were beaten 1-16.
    For four or five years in the seventies, I ran an U-12 rugby team, and occasionally, we would play a team from a local sate school. Because these boys had very little grounding in rugby and very little knowledge of the rules, even, it would have been easy to have beaten them perhaps 70-0 or 80-0. If this ever looked likely, the referee would start penalising us in the second half, so that we didn’t score anywhere near as many points. Hopefully, this might have stopped the losers being traumatised for life and never playing football again.
    A similar themed tale has been told about the 2014 World Cup where Brazil, the hosts, were 0-5 down to Germany at half time and were lucky it wasn’t 0-10. Legend has it that a FIFA official came into the German dressing room at half time and asked them to take it easy on the hosts of the tournament who duly lost y a mere 1-7.

  5. Your scope of knowledge through research and your eye to detail is amazing, John! Another great read! Thank you!

  6. I played for our Primary school football team and we often played against older teams for the experience. Never expecting to win we often gave them a run for their money. However, playing in our own league, I remember one particular game we played where we scored such a high score that their goalie just burst into tears whenever we got close. I felt so sorry for him and to be honest wished the ref would call it a day. By that point, it wasn’t a football match at all.

    • The referee should have spoken to the two team managers and asked if they thought it was OK to swap some players to even things up in a second “unofficial” match.
      I one took our Second XI to play at a Sixth Form College and we were massacred. When it got to 0-9, our goalie walked to the edge of his penalty area, took his gloves off, threw then to the floor and announced “That’s it! I’m off. I’ve had enough of this.” And he marched off the whole length of our pitch, across the unused pitch next to us, and then off to the deserted changing rooms. He never played again. I reckon he must have been the only recorded case of PTSD in the whole history of the Second Team. With a midfielder playing in goal for us, we finished up losing 0-11.

      • It must be absolutely soul destroying to be in a position like that, and the sad thing is it’s not necessarily the goalies fault! Being the last line of defence, they are often the ones that get the flak. Let’s hope he had some good counselling!

    • Thanks very much for that. It was very kind of you to think of me. Evacuation was a strange phenomenon. Lots of parents, particularly working class Londoners, did not send their children away. A large proportion of the poorer ones who were sent were found to be chronically underweight with lots of infestations, and even more psychological problems. Many of them had never seen a bed before and were happy to trampoline on them for m hours on end.
      This is about Nottingham, although it does go on a bit:
      For me, the best bits are paragraphs 1-8 and then a paragraph all about the problems faced by Hoveringham School, three or four paragraphs from the end.
      The best evacuation story I read was of a child of ten or eleven from the slums of London who spent three or four years with an aging childless couple in the countryside of Cornwall. They saw him as a “gift from God” and they were very upset when he had to go home in 1945.
      They had no need to be upset. He ran away from home and returned to live with the old couple in the country for the rest of their days, calling them “Mum” and “Dad”.
      And thanks again for the link.

  7. You have a very unique site my friend, well researched and you combine School sports history in the early 1900’s and include military relationships in many cases.
    A pleasure to visit and read.

    • Thank you very much. You are very kind to say that. I do try hard to interest people with something different every time, although it’s not easy after 450 odd posts. On the other hand, I do still enjoy thinking about what to write and then writing it up.

  8. It is really interesting to think about people who we see on old photos. What were their lives like, what did they think and so on. Thank you for your interesting posts.

    • My pleasure. There is nothing more fascinating than thinking about the past, and no better place to see the past than in old photographs, with postcards a good and relatively cheap first place to look.

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