Category Archives: Football

Renegade Football at the High School (4)

In the Spring Term of 1915 more than fifty or sixty boys began to turn up for rugby practice every single Wednesday and Saturday at the High School’s Sports Ground in Mapperley Park. “Welcome Back O Orange Arrow” :

This is the sport they were learning. Notice the oval ball:

So far the school was not playing any fixtures but merely learning the game. Official matches began in the Christmas Term of 1915 but the First XV were forced to anticipate their first ever victory for quite some time. One heavy defeat came at Newark Magnus School by 0-43. When they played the return game against Newark, in very poor weather, much was made of the fact that they lost by only 0-8, the team’s best performance so far in the new sport of rugby. Their best quality seems to have been their sportsmanship and they played at least one game without conceding a single penalty. Here’s a rugby game from long, long ago, before anybody thought of playing with a ball:

The Second XV found life equally difficult but much of it was their own fault. The whole lot of them were what Philip Larkin would one day call “Losers, loblolly-men, louts” :

“….the fly in the ointment this term has been the very irregular amount of keenness shown in the Second Game. There are far too many hefty fellows in the Upper part of the School who prefer to spend their half holidays idling about, perchance frequenting picture palaces, or doing something equally futile…It is not as if these fellows spent their afternoons in some profitable pursuit ; that might be mistaken, but it would be to a certain extent excusable. They simply waste their time.”

The first victories for both teams came in the Christmas Term of 1916 when the First XV won five of its six matches. Here is one of the earliest photographs of the High School First XV I could find. It is the team in 1926 and “Guts” Kennard stands on the left and the Groundsman, Mr Albert Onions is on the right:

Here is the team for 1929:

We know who the players are in this photograph:

Back row: BF Sander, MH Pockson, HR Lawrence, TC Doar, GB Green, LCS Sutton, AH Bowman, NH Baker, Mr Kennard

Middle row: CF Carr, AG Payne, JT Thompson, AS Hancock (Captain), RP Lawrence, AV Spencer

Front row: JR Bignall, G Cooke

This is a photograph of the earliest rugby match I could find, played at Valley Road Playing Fields on Thursday, October 6th 1932. The First XV played Mr R A Palmer’s XV, but lost by 0-18:

I did mention in previous posts about this subject, though, the fact that: “The boys, by a substantial majority, would have opted for football.” instead of making the change to rugby. Not that that was enough to persuade the boys actually to attend football practices, of course.

Football, though, always seems to have appealed to the rebellious nature of the boys, especially when rugby took over as the Chosen Sport. Even when football was a school sport, though, some of the younger boys wanted more of it, and they were quite prepared to break the rules of the High School to achieve that aim. The first incident occurred on Saturday, November 21st 1908, and shocked the School Prefects to the core. We’ll see how that came about and why the Prefects had to hold an emergency meeting, another time.

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Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

Renegade Football at the High School (3)

High School Football had provided three captains of England and the highest scorer in the FA Cup. In 1897, Fred Chapman, who would go on to win an Olympic gold medal when he scored the opening goal in the final of the Olympic Football Tournament in 1908, was just a little boy at the right hand end of the back row. At least two or three of the others would appear in the pop group “Madness” :

In summer, he was the wicketkeeper in the School cricket team. You can just about see the ridges on his pads. Can you see any boys who are in both photographs?:

Just eighteen years later, the School had stopped playing football completely, even if hundreds of young English and German soldiers suddenly developed a desire to play the game during the truce of Christmas 1914:

The High School stopped playing football therefore and changed to rugby union. The decision to change sports at Christmas 1914 was made by the School’s General Committee by a two to one majority and both the Old Boys and the parents were in favour. The boys, however, by a substantial majority, would have opted for football. Here are a Year Seven class in 1901, eager to get their chance in the team. That goalie could do with losing a bit of weight, though:

Why did football disappear in the High School when the sport was just beginning to conquer the world? I have already spoken of a long list of “things better to do than football” last time. Films such as “Cabiria” turned our lads’ heads:

But deep down, it may well have been the boys themselves. It was as if football became less and less popular as the years went by. This is shown by a number of reports in the “Nottinghamian” of boys who seemed completely apathetic. Basically, they just didn’t want to play:

“One cannot be legally compelled to play football, but it ought to be a point of honour with each boy to turn out when called upon. Such excuses as “ doing extra work with Mr.——,” “ didn’t know it was footer today,” or “ my things are at the laundry,” are too often merely excuses to cover a desire to skive, and they strike an altogether unworthy note.”

And a second one:

“The interest of the School in its own football, and in that of its representative teams is much less than it was four or five years ago. The feeble attendance at School matches, the falling numbers of spectators during the “Eight-a-side” competitions, the widespread objections when House matches fall on a Wednesday-half day holiday, the complete disappearance of cheering of victorious teams on their arrival in the Hall for Prayers—all these facts prove a lack of interest and “esprit de corps” that is nothing less than lamentable.”

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that the boys, far from any sinister motives imputed to them, were merely beginning to expand their expectations, as regards what might be available for their two half days of leisure per week, Wednesday and Saturday. In the last post, I looked at the possibilities of the new technology which gave them a whole range of new pleasures outside school. Personally, I have always thought that the falling numbers of boys at football practices is connected to the invention of the “What the Butler Saw” machine, even if you have fallen asleep by the time she’s got her cardigan off:

“The Nottinghamian” had already complained in December, 1915 of how boys were “frequenting picture-palaces, or doing something equally futile.”

Even inside School, the possibilities were seemingly endless, with various editions of the School magazine reporting the activities of the Officer Training Corps, with lengthy accounts of their camps and their Field Days, School Musketry, the Debating Society, the Literary Society, the Voluntary Gymnastic Club and the N.H.S. Boy Scouts.

Here are those High School Boy Scouts, still working for their “Car-jacking Badge”:

Here’s the Officer Training Corps in 1907. To the left of the stairs is the present day Language Centre. The rooms to the right were demolished in 1938 in a vast cloud of dust, to be replaced by a new three storey science block. The latter was to be erected gradually over the course of the next five years. The Officer Training Corps was very popular among the boys, especially with a World War on the horizon:

“We’ll show those damned Boers and those damned Germans and those damned Turks and those damned Austro-Hanoverians and those damned Japanese……”:

Between 1910 and the beginning of the First World War, many older clubs such as the Literary and the Debating Societies seem to have been extremely popular, and numerous other activities were expanded, especially the military ones such as the Boy Scouts or the O.T.C. The latter pursuits were presumably in response to the increasing militarism of the era.

One other factor about which we know very little is the academic side of School life. It may well be that as other schools in the area, such as High Pavement, for example, were increasingly successful, and raised their academic standards, then the High School was forced to respond, and boys found themselves quite simply with more work to do:

“The Nottinghamian” complained at one point that the excuse “doing extra work with Mr.——,” was one used far too frequently to get out of football practices, but the fact remains that the excuse may well have been true.

Who could resist the lure of Cambridge, and the promise of fish, chips and mushy peas in such wonderful academic surroundings?

 

 

 

 

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“Hilarity with Heraldry” (1)

Dr Sheldon Cooper is famous for his series of podcasts “Fun with Flags”:

I have always enjoyed vexillology enormously but I would have to confess to an even greater love for heraldry, the study of coats of arms. I don’t really have the time to launch “Hilarity with Heraldry” in any great depth, but I don’t think anybody would find it particularly boring to take a brief look back at some old football, or soccer, badges.
I used to read a comic called “Tiger” when I was a boy and in one issue they sowed the seeds of my interest when they gave away, free, an album of football club badges. This was on an unknown date in 1961, so we are looking back quite a long way. Here’s the album:

The picture comes from ebay where the albums can sell for quite good prices. So too do the 1967 versions of the album, entitled “Roy Race’s Album of Football Club Badges” in honour of the fictional star of the fictional Melchester Rovers. Roy Race was Tiger comic’s “Roy of the Rovers”:

In both 1961 and 1967 the buyer was given the booklet and then in the succeeding weeks, he received sheets of paper with around 30 small badges printed on them. He then had to cut out the badges carefully and then stick them in the booklet with extreme care and glue.

Most boys couldn’t do this, which makes it extremely difficult to buy a booklet where they are stuck in straight, and are not over-trimmed, or, in some cases, they are not stuck in upside down.

This album has a pretty good start to page one. although there is a slight crease:

This is average:

I would not buy this. They are crooked and cut out wrongly. At least two are in the wrong position:

These three are shockers:

And these two badges below are simply the wrong way round. Blackpool is a seaside holiday town with seagulls and BW may conceivably stand for “Bolton Wanderers”. And if this page is like that, the other ones will all be of a similar quality:

I was at an indoor market a few years ago when I bought several colour pages of football, cricket and rugby club badges which dated from the 1950s. The badges seemed to divide into four groups. The first were obviously based on the coat of arms of the town which the club represented. This is Notts County with the tree from Sherwood Forest. Whoever or whatever holds the shield up is called the “supporters” and Notts County have the normal two, namely a lion and some other unknown mammal, possibly on otter, or perhaps a weasel. On top of the shield is the “crest” which, in this case, is a tower from Nottingham Castle. “On top of the shield” is just an optical illusion. The crest actually used to rest on top of the knight’s helmet, so a tower is, to say the least, a challenging choice for his neck muscles. The only bit of the helmet that you can see is the padding between the tower and the metal helmet, which is yellow and green and is called the “wreath” or, because it is twisted, the “torse”:

This is Nottingham Forest with the same type of thing. The supporters are stags and on the shield is a green rustic type cross with three crowns that I know nothing about, I’m afraid.

A similar badge was used for the Nottinghamshire cricket team:

In heraldry, what we would call colours, or tinctures to use the technical phrase, are divided into two groups. The first group is called ‘colours’ and the second is called ‘metals’. All of them have Norman French names. The metals are ‘or’ and ‘argent’, which are ‘gold’ and ‘silver’. The colours are red or ‘gules’ which comes from the word for the mouth of an animal, “la gueule”. ‘Azur’  is easy as it obviously comes from azure blue. ‘Vert’ is green and it has survived a thousand years into modern French, much like ‘purpure’ which is actually a very rare colour. ‘Sable’ is black and comes from the fur for coats, It’s a sort of rich man’s ferret, apparently:

There is just one rule about all these tinctures. Colours cannot go on top of colours and metals cannot go on top of metals. This is because Heraldry was designed for the purposes of identification in battle so everything has to be exceptionally obvious and visible. Here’s the somewhat over dressed queue for the fish and chip shop after a hard day’s peasant slaughtering:

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Filed under Film & TV, Football, France, History, Humour, Personal

Renegade Football at the High School (2)

Last time, I spoke of the actual end of High School football at Christmas 1914, and the reasons that brought it about. Basically, they were mostly connected with the idea of “other things to do”.

There were picture palaces and films. Exciting films about beautiful women such as Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford. Beautiful Lillian Gish was once the Number One star in Hollywood yet today she is forgotten. Years ago I bought her autograph for next to nothing on ebay. Mary Pickford was equally famous. She was a Canadian and my grandfather, Will Knifton and his brother, John Knifton, worked as bricklayers on her mansion,  shortly after their arrival in Canada, before the First World War :

 

Some of the films were comedies about “bathing beauties” whatever they were:

The Boy Scouts attracted some of the boys:

Strangely enough, though, this unwillingness to give up their valuable time and participate in football did not seem initially to have a direct relationship with the success, or lack of it, of the School’s First Team.

Indeed, the football teams, both First and Second Teams, may actually have been too successful for their own good. Playing so many matches, both on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and occasionally after lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, meant that the supply of younger talent was denied the facilities or the opportunities to train or to practice.

Match reports are incomplete for the 1911-1912 season, but those that do still exist show an impressive start to the year, which read:

Played 11        won 10                        drew 1             lost 0

Even in the 1913-1914 season, things were far from disastrous:

Played 13       won 7                          drew 0           lost 6

We  know only a little about the social aspirations of the parents and staff but the School magazine provided some of their views, and they were certainly in favour of rugby, the upper class game. “Follow the money” as the Americans say:

“Rugger is the finer game and produces better all-round development.”

“Rugger is much superior”

Here’s an early rugby team:

A lot of the parents’ ideas were based on class prejudice. This is a rather unusual opinion below, but this parent would like to see the public schools and the amateur football players exert more influence on the professional game :

“I shall always be sorry to see the Public Schoolboy seceding from Soccer. For good or ill, it has taken a hold upon the working classes of the Kingdom, and the more the game is leavened by pure amateurism, the better. There is a field of real social reform in the Association of Public School football with the professional and League variety.”

At least one other parent thought along similar lines:

“Soccer is England’s game at present, and the more Schoolboys drafted into it the better ; we do not want the national game to drift into the hands of professionals.”

Here is an amateur boys’ team of the period:

Such comments in the “Rugger or Soccer ? ” debate make it abundantly clear that football was perceived as a sport where the professional players , and the working class, were taking over from the amateur player , and the upper class. Of the two Nottingham teams, Nottingham Forest, for example, indubitably represented the working class and wore red shirts. Notts County, on the other hand, had been founded by young men from the professional classes such as bankers, lawyers, and lacemakers, who, in 1862, after enjoying playing football in “The Hollow”, a piece of waste ground near the Cavalry Barracks in the exclusive Park Estate, had decided to form a club.

As we saw last time, the General Committee at the High School, presumably of School sport, and made up of Masters, had voted 2-1 in favour of adapting rugby as the new school sport. The boys in the Upper School were thought to favour very strongly the handling game “because of the novelty of the suggestion”, and the parents, had also voted for rugby by a 3-2 majority. The Old Boys favoured the same sport by a majority similar to that of the parents. The only group who seemed to favour football were the smaller boys, those who were not about to go off to university, but instead were in the First, Second and Third Years. I suspect that the Fourth and Fifth Years were probably divided in their opinions but I have no irrefutable evidence for that. Indeed, I did find at least one source that said that overall, the boys in the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Forms would probably have opted to continue with football. What was certainly true is that hardly anybody, parents, boys, even the staff, had ever seen a game of rugby played.

By today’s standards, the voting procedure about the taking up of rugby was hardly carried out in a particularly unbiassed way. The envelope sent out to Old Boys and parents containing their voting slip also contained a short article summarising “the advantages claimed for Rugger.”

Even the article in “The Nottinghamian” was at pains to point out how many other schools would be available to play rugby fixtures, if the change was made. They included recent converts such as Trent College, Denstone, Newark, Grantham, Retford, Oakham, Leeds, Bradford and the Birmingham schools.

In many ways, therefore, the decision to adapt rugby would seem already to have been taken, long before any Old Boys or parents were asked to rubberstamp it in a postal ballot.

 

 

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

Renegade Football at the High School (1)

The High School plays rugby nowadays. Before this, they used to play football, (or soccer) and were very, very successful. They provided nine England players, who were Frank Ernest Burton, Arthur William Cursham, Henry Alfred Cursham, John Auger Dixon, Arthur Cooper Goodyer, John Edward Leighton, Tinsley Lindley, Harold Morse and Frederick William Chapman who was an Amateur international. Many of these Victorian superstars are now long forgotten. Who would recognise Arthur Goodyer if he walked in through the High School’s front gate?

Three of these men captained England. One was Arthur William Cursham who captained his country on two occasions, namely against Scotland in 1878, when he scored a goal, and against Wales in 1879. His second goal for his country came against  Wales in 1883.

The most famous captain of the three was Tinsley Lindley, the man who had a career total of fifteen goals in thirteen appearances for his country. He also held an England scoring record of having scored in nine consecutive games between March 1886 and April 1889. This record was eventually beaten by Ian Wright of Arsenal, more than a century later.

The High School also provided the highest scorer in the history of the FA Cup, Harry Cursham:

The High School also gave us Frederick William Chapman, who appeared in the Great Britain team which competed in the Olympic Football Tournament in 1908. Great Britain won the final 2-0 against Denmark, and Chapman scored the opening goal. Always called simply “Fred”, he is the only Old Nottinghamian ever to win an Olympic gold medal, and, given the limited number of countries who were playing football at this time, he had good reason to consider himself a champion of the world. Chapman went on to play for the  England amateur team on twenty occasions, captaining them at least once, thereby becoming the third captain of England to be provided by the High School.

Here is a picture of the Nottingham High School 1st XI in 1897. Frederick William Chapman, the winner of an Olympic Gold Medal, stands at the right hand end of the back row. A determined detective could make a code out of the bricks in the wall behind the team, and discover where the picture was taken. A large clue is that the team were standing in the modern Dining Room, at the end opposite the area where the meals are served:

And here are his international caps:

The High School switched to rugby after Christmas 1914. Ironically, this was shortly after football was seen to be an amazing peace maker during the First World War with the Christmas Truce which brought much of the Western Front to a temporary stop for a few days. Even so, it was well worth it, insofar as British casualties were running at the time at an average of 4,000 men a day killed or wounded:

The two prime movers in the High School’s change to rugby were Mr Leggett of the Preparatory School and Mr Lloyd Morgan. When they volunteered to go to the war, Mr Kennard took over. He had captained the Lancashire XV and played for the North of England in an England trial. Here is Joseph Kennard with four of the First XV  in 1929:

Mr Kennard could be a hard man sometimes, and occasionally he could justifiably be described as rather strange.

Around 1935 he was living at 58 Ebers Road in Mapperley, a small semi-detached house. By 1936, he had moved to No 41, a very much larger detached house with a larger garden. For some reason he was violently opposed to the Salvation Army and continually expressed his disgust that they would come and play outside his house in Ebers Road on a Sunday morning. By now he was seen as, in the words of Geoffrey Tompkin, as “exceedingly fierce with a bald head, a black military moustache and spectacles”.

We’ll have a more detailed look at the reasons why the change from football to rugby was made next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eagle Comic (3)

Last time we were trying very hard to get the Ovaltineys song out of our heads. I was trying to make the point that Dan Dare was not the only character in the comic:

Eagle had sporting personalities. I have even written myself about the first one ever to appear:

There was cricket coaching, and, thirty years before its time, and in a largely all white society, it was presented by a black man, Leary Constantine, a cricketer who achieved more in his life than most of  us do:

There were features about how to make models:

There were two written serials with solid text rather than just pictures. “Plot against the World” was the first ever to appear:

There was a half page about road safety. It was presented by Billy Steel, the famous Derby County footballer of the day:

During the 1950s lots and lots of children would be killed on the roads, because the drivers in England knew very little about how to drive safely and the children of England, accustomed to just a couple of cars a day going past, had very little road sense. Around 1963, a little boy in our class called Nigel Sparrow was killed by a car as he cycled along country lanes looking for bluebells for his mother. He was in hospital for two weeks or so before he passed away. We prayed for him every day in our school assembly but it was all in vain. He succumbed to his injuries and died. That was the first time I ever had any serious doubts about the religion I had been given. I think about Nigel regularly, poor little boy.

Billy Steel offered a lot of very good advice:

He offered advice a lot better than he played football for Derby County.

Years ago, I actually wrote about him, but only in the context of my Dad, Fred, who thought he was “a right twerp”:

“As regards football players, in the late 1940s, Fred was always less than impressed by Derby’s then record signing, a young man they bought as they attempted to stop their slow but inexorable slide out of the First Division. This was a handsome young forward called Billy Steel, whose dark tousled hair was, for Fred, his best, and probably only, positive feature. Fred was just unable to stomach how Steel would miss an easy chance to score a goal, and then merely laugh about it as if it were nothing important.”

Next time, the other features that made Eagle the best selling comic in English history:

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Prices slashed on “History of the High School” !!!

Those of you who follow my blog will be familiar with the many stories I have told over the years about Nottingham High School…its Founders, its coat of arms, its war heroes, its caretakers, its heroes and its one or two villains. These stories all appeared in “Nottingham High School, the Anecdotal History of a British Public School” which was published some time ago now:

The reason I am reminding you now of this book is that the price on Amazon has now gone down to £23.48 with Free Postage if you are a member of Amazon Prime. This is fantastic value for money.

Most non-fiction books cost roughly £10 for every hundred pages, so £23.48 for a book of this length is an excellent price. The book has 394 pages (and my computer says around 130,000 words, which is roughly the length of either “The Two Towers” or “Return of the King”).

Above all, this is a hardback book with a nice dust jacket and to be honest, it surprised me with its quality in terms of its looks. It looks really professional for a book written by an amateur author.

The book is written in diary form and runs from Thursday, June 30th 1289 to Thursday, July 12th 2012. I have divided it into forty chapters whose titles range from “Lost in the Mists of Time”, “A Personal Friend of Guy Fawkes”, “The School is Closed Today because of Plague”,  “Old Boy Cuts Off King’s Head”, :

In the more modern era, the chapters run from “The DH Lawrence Years”, “Major General Mahin : A Yank at the High School”, “Albert Ball and the High School go to War” to “The Golden Age of Teachers”:

I have tried to keep the tone of the work an interesting and light one, but at the same time, as you know from my blog posts, I can show my more serious side when occasion demands. A very large number of former pupils from the High School died in the two World Wars and their sacrifice is reflected in my book:

What a price !

£23.48

And more than that, what a price for 394 pages of new, original and interesting ideas!

Incidentally, please don’t think that I’m being greedy and I’m trying to make loads-a-money from this. I am merely pointing out the existence of this new, lower price, because previously the two companies publishing the book have both asked for a higher price. In one case, a much higher price.

 

 

 

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