Renegade Football at the High School (6)

Last time I was talking about renegade football teams which originated in the High School. Even before the change to rugby in 1914-1915, we have at least one photograph in the School Archives of what appears to be an unidentified team with an unidentified member of staff. It may well be that in an era when the High School played football officially, there were still those who wanted to be renegades, playing under a false name at the bottom end of League Division Three.:

Once football disappeared at the end of December 1914, that was it. No going back. School sport was crushed under the weight of a thick layer of gravel and tarmac called “Rugby Union”. But before long, thistles started to grow through. After January 1915, the High School might not allow any boy to play football in a school context, other than kickabouts in the school yard, but there were always at least eleven rebels, totally dedicated to football, willing to dig an escape tunnel to the nearest football pitch.  This may well be the first mystery photograph of a football team from the early part of rugby years:

Here is number two in the series of renegade High School teams. It dates from the years immediately after the Second World War. Here is the team photograph:

It looks like they are kitted out in white shirts, black shirts and, probably, red socks. Here is their badge, Photoshopped quite a bit:

And now a little bit more:

When I started I thought that the badge was an “N” and a “U” entwined but now I’m not so sure. Does anybody have any ideas about it? Any information about this team or indeed, any of the others, would be welcome in the Comments section.

Back to the original photograph. Who is the man behind the team, as it were? I don’t recognise him as a member of staff. Perhaps he was the father of one of the players:

The photograph is captioned on the back:

“An unofficial football team. The Headmaster, Mr Reynolds, didn’t approve of soccer and wouldn’t allow an official team. A group of 6th formers formed this team as “Nottingham United” and played behind the West Bridgford Tennis Club on Wilford Lane”.

A final act of rebellion came in the late 195os according to JA Dixon (1951-1960) who has written:

” While in Lower 5G,  I was also playing with a rebel soccer team,  Kingswood Methodists of Wollaton with a whole host of School ‘rebels’, including  Dick Lovell, Rob Spray, Graham Machin, Mick Hutson. Charlie Graham, Rob Wilson, Keith Richardson, Alan Scott, many of whom ended up being School Prefects!”

There is one final photograph that I have come across, although I do not really think that it is a renegade football team so much as a question, perhaps, of misidentification.  We have a Junior School section of the High School, known years ago as the “Preparatory School” or quite simply the “Prep”. It has always educated boys below the age of eleven. A friend of mine who used to work there, Mr Eddie Jones, sent me a photograph he had taken of an old photograph that they had. It had always thought that the photograph showed a cup-winning team from some long ago forgotten competition in the City of Nottingham, but I am not so sure. Here it is:

There are quite lot of problems. The football is marked “1898-1899” whereas the current understanding is that the Prep School did not come into being until September 1905 when it was:

“…set up in a house at 11, Waverley Mount where Dr Dixon had lived so many years before.  There were thirty two pupils, making up a senior form taught initially by Mr R.Dark and then soon afterwards by Mr H.A.Leggett.  Two ladies taught the other form, one of whom “lived in”, acting as a housekeeper as well as a teacher.”

The two members of staff on the photograph, Messrs JA Jones and D Stephenson are not on any staff list we currently use, and none of the named players are on the School Register, as far as I can see. The boys’ names are:

(back row) L Jones, F Palmer and W Harwood.  On the front row are  G Bramwell, T Rees, L Kirk, SJ Shaw, JF Bamforth,  E Wright (Captain),  N Dass,  F Bramley and  D Richards.

I do wonder who this team may be. In the late Victorian era, the High School did not ever play in stripes of this Notts County type, but wore all black kit with white sleeves. I wonder if the mystery team are anything to do with Notts County?

Nowadays, of course, football is open to any boy in the Sixth Form with no restrictions whatsoever. What happy times we had:

“What larks, Pip! What larks!”


Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

17 responses to “Renegade Football at the High School (6)

  1. How very intriguing. I don’t suppose the badge has any Latin reference does it? Never having being taught it, it is a real stab in the dark and one I presume you have already discounted. Sadly due to the new data protection rules the many photos I had of old school plays I have been a party to as a teacher have had to be deleted and so those records have now sadly gone forever. What a waste!

    • I think you may have something there. The school motto is the Latin “Lauda finem” which supposedly means “Praise the end”. That doesn’t mean a great deal to me, in actual fact. Does it mean “Praise the end product” ? Or does it mean “Thank God that’s over!”, (My own private translation). Keep these three letters in mind…. L and F from the initial letters of the two words of the motto, and then the M as the last word of the motto. Now look at the shirt badge. I can definitely see an upside down L, a small F and an upside down M to go with the L.
      Well……you never know! It sounds a bit too subtle for a fifteen year old boy, perhaps.
      The Data Protection rules are strange. Do we want to keep our history by preserving the files, for example, of both staff and pupils? Because if we get rid of them, there will be little left in a school about either category . Personally, I just try to be sensible.
      Most of the photographs I have posted so far come from probably 1975 or earlier. Firstly, I would expect many of the people on many of the photographs to be deceased. A fifty year old teacher even in 1970 would be over ninety by today and most of the pupils are in their fifties and sixties. Having said that, the bus load of footballers in the colour pictures above are in their early thirties although I would not really see how either photograph could offend.
      Perhaps the best conclusion would be to say that anybody who wants me to take a photograph down only has to ask.

      • I totally agree with you John. Those I had were the first few years of my teaching career. I recently bumped into one of the children I taught. Now in their 20s I’m sure they love to see them again, sadly though, it is not to be, and after a teacher was fined some £5,000 I’d rather press delete than take the risk. There must be a cut off though, what it is I don’t know, but hopefully common sense will prevail and we’d be allowed to preserve our history even if it is in a simple photo. I quite like the idea of the motto being “thank god that’s over” it would be suitable for many of my days, I might just ‘borrow it’.

  2. To me that monogram looks like NOJ to me. I found one acronym that says “Null-on-Jam, does that make any sense?

    • Without wishing to be over harsh….not really. On British Google, N-O-J is a village in Mazandaran Province in Iran. It’s a word in Serbo-Croatian and in the Dictionary of Urban Slang, it means “A person with good intentions, who seems to always get the short end of the stick.” And the example they give is “He was out hiking and bit his tongue in half trying to put his backpack on. What a Noj.”
      Well, I bet we’ve both learnt at least one useful fact there! But thanks a lot for trying. I suppose the relevant phrase would be “Close but no cigar”

  3. Have you explained – or have I missed – what the rugby v football clash was about?

  4. There were a number of different reasons. Boys would not attend either practices or the proper games (attractions of the cinema, girls, whisky etc) and other schools were making the change, thus limiting the number of possible opponents. The war was threatening to take some of the teachers away, and rugby supervises pupils thirty at a time as opposed to twenty-two.
    I explored the reasons with more detail in “Renegade Football at the High School (2) and (3) and (4)”. These are at :

  5. Jan

    I am at a loss to place the team photograph. It most certainly was not taken at the WBLTC ground off Wilford Lane; the houses in the background are wrong.

    • Thanks very much for your input. I can only presume that the picture was not taken at a home fixture but at an away game. Alternatively, they might well have arranged to meet at a venue which suited the photographer.
      What is on the back of the photograph and what you have written are not contradictory. I just wish I could find out something that was positive and also subject to scrutiny.

  6. William Payne

    Re Lauda Finem, I have named my racing sculling boat that and definitely subscribe to the translation being “thank God that is over” after yet another race is won or lost.
    Bill Payne 1943/1949

    • Thanks very much for that. There seems to be no 100% certain explanation of the motto. Apparently on Friday, November 22nd 1512, the Royal Seal was attached to a charter which granted permission for the “foundation and building of a certain school” for the “teaching of boys and their instruction in good manners and letters.” At the very end of the lengthy handwritten document comes the first mention of the High School’s present Latin motto…“Lauda Finem”. Perhaps the poor scribe felt exactly the same way that countless thousands of schoolboys have felt ever since that day…“Praise the Lord that it’s over! ”

  7. Another well researched post, John. I’m at a loss about the emblem …. perhaps something in Latin? And all I could think about as I looked at the pictures of those boys, was how many of those “rough and tough” boys ended up dead due to war? Horrible thought yet I couldn’t help it.

    • Having researched the Second World War casualties, I think I would recognise most of them and as far as I can see, none of the young men in Photographs Two and Three were killed in that war. Picture One is so old that, if they were war casualties, it was surely in World War One rather than Two. Statistically, the boys from the High School volunteered in huge numbers for the First World War. At least one thousand five hundred boys and staff went willingly from a comfortable, safe, and usually moneyed, family background in Nottingham, to fight in one of the most murderous wars in history.

  8. Enjoy reading your great research story’s, an interesting journey back in time, still believe it is reminiscent of the old black and white movie Goodbye Mister Chips, virtually the same scenario, high school, football and war.

    • You are absolutely right. And it’s a world that’s gone for ever, although the younger generation still seem quite interested in it. They seem to identify with the events and problems faced a hundred years ago as not being very different from their own.
      I worked at the High School for nearly forty years and recently I have started to worry that I am gradually morphing into Mr Chips. I will know that I am in real trouble when I start to see the world in black and white, not colour!

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