Everyone did sports. No matter if you were good or bad there was no escape. When I started the first year I was terribly unfit and overweight. I could not even jog from the changing rooms through the woods to the sports fields, a distance of only a couple of hundred yards, without struggling and gasping for air. By the end of that first year though I had been knocked into shape by all the running, swimming and exercises so that for the remainder of my time I enjoyed most sports and was fortunate enough to be select for some of the school teams.
Being in one of the school teams had certain benefits. It meant that you traveled out of the school occasionally for away games. Until you got to the senior years and apart from school holidays the only times you left the school grounds was for Sunday afternoon "walks" or cross-country runs "around the village". Away matches also sometimes required leaving early enough so that you were forced to miss some lessons. What a shame.
Click on thumbnail images to see full-size versions and further details in a new page. Some pictures are up to 70KB in size and the download time will depend on the speed of your internet connection.
For the first three or four years athletics was the designated sport for the second half of the Spring term. As you probably know in the UK in March and April it is not really always athletics weather. So if the weather was good we did athletics and if the weather was bad we did more cross-country runs. We did not do much athletics.
Later it was possible to do more athletics in the Summer term as an alternative to cricket. As I was not interested in playing cricket this was a much better option for me.
Being a big person the running events were not my best, field events were much better. My main event was the shot putt. This I could do with no problem and competed in this as inter-house competitions, the school team and Norfolk County Schools teams.
Cross-country running was the backup sports activity or so it seemed. As soon as the weather was not fit enough for whatever was the regular activity then it would be cross-country. The route chosen depended on the amount of time there was to fill.
There were two principle routes. The first stayed within the school grounds and went around the sports fields. Starting at the Sports Hall this would proceed down the slope past the new block of classrooms, past the sewerage plant and around the first team cricket pitch to the driveway to Morley Hall. This part would be good firm running but then it would proceed around the jungle pitches and back up the slope at the far end of the sports field and then back round to the Sports Hall. If we were really 'lucky' we would have to do a second lap.
The second route would require leaving the school entirely for a lap around the village route. On a really bad day this would be combined with a lap around the school sports fields first. This would be one of the few times we were permitted out of the school grounds but there was no time to enjoy such freedom.
Although I could manage to get round these routes without much problem I was too big to think of this as a representative sport at anything other that the inter-house competition.
Although this was never an official school sport a small group of 6th form boys, including myself, did get together one evening a week to start learning Judo. We had no proper mat available so we would just spread out some of the regular gym mats on the wooden gymnasium floor and use that. Unfortunately these mats had a tendency to move, so occasionally the landing were quite hard.
We never had the opportunity to test for any of the belt ranks during this time but I did continue this for a short while after leaving Wymondham and was able to get to the first yellow belt level.
This was also never a sanctioned sport for boys. However, during our final year the New Hall Upper 6th boys challenged our girl's house team to an unofficial match. This challenge was duly accepted and we won the match. Not bad for our first ever game of netball.
Flushed with success we then challenged the full school team. Surprisingly the team coach agreed to this challenge and the match went ahead. We now had match experience and knew all the rules. Consequently by half time we were winning so convincingly, the girls had not scored a single point, the coach said we should adjust to mixed teams to balance the sides a bit better. That was our last ever game of netball.
Netball is a strange game when compare to basketball. They seem so similar but could not be more different. Each player is only allowed into certain sections of the court depending on their playing position, no dribbling and the ball can only travel a maximum of one third of the court at a time. The thing that helped our performance was the fact that the goal shooter, only two possible players can enter the area where points can be scored, has to be stationary to shoot for the net. Jump shots are not allowed. This pause in play, as the shooter got set to shoot, gives enough time for the goalkeeper, that was me, to prepare to defend the net. Well at a height of 6' 2" and the rugby 1st XV lineout jumper gave me an impregnable advantage in such a defensive position.
When arriving as a first year back in 1968 we were launched straight into the rugby season. Well, not may eleven-year-olds then had any idea of the laws of the game let alone any playing experience. Something had to be done fast to get the Under 12s team together quickly as the first match fixture was not far away. So at the start of the first games lesson all sixty or so of us new kids were line up together at one end of a rugby pitch. The object was to get to the other end a quickly as possible. The first thirty to arrive at the other goal line were in the squad. As I have already said my starting fitness was not up to scratch so I missed the cut. This assigned me to "The Rabble".
The Rabble was basically all the strangers, weaklings and the unfit. This group was basically exiled to "The Jungle Pitches", which were some pitches that had been marked out on a relatively new area at the lower end of the sport fields beyond a line of trees. Each games lesson then just consisted of informal games of randomly selected teams of individuals with either no talent or no motivation for the game.
As the weeks passed I managed to get into some sort of reasonable shape and my much larger stature that most other eleven and twelve year olds soon attracted the attention of the Instructors. I was then promoted to "The Opposition" half of the top squad. The Opposition is another strange concept. This is basically all those in the top group not in the actual school team. They would turn out each games lesson and line up as practice material for the top teams to torment and punish. Their chance for selection would come if someone was injured or there was some exchange in relative performance compared to the opposite team member. This would be a career position for some player though. At the beginning of the second year I made it into the school Under 13s school team as was able to remain in a team throughout the remainder of my time at Wymondham finishing with two full seasons in the First XV Team.
The Under 15s team pictured below is probably one of the most successful teams I have ever played in. We had a perfect season winning all twelve matches we played. Perhaps more amazing than that statistic alone was the fact that we averaged over 50 points per game with our highest score being 102-3(?) against Cambridge High School. This may not seem so unusual now but at the time it was as this happened before the laws changed and it was still only three point per try.
As well as being selected for school teams I was also fortunate enough to be selected to play for Norfolk County School teams at both Under 15 and Under 19 levels. I also was selected twice for Eastern Counties Schools at Under 15 level when I was first a substitute and as a starting player the second time.
So, without any further delay:
Pull 'em down you Wymondham Warriors,
Pull 'em down you Wymondham Chiefs,
Zigger zagger, zigger zagger, oi, oi, oi,
We will beat them, if we can,
Zigger zagger, zigger zagger, oi, oi, oi.
I enjoyed swimming. Having a heated indoor pool at the school meant that at least one PE lesson per week, and occasionally during games afternoons, there would be swimming lessons. The only bad parts about swimming were the black rubber swimming caps that had to be worn or you could not go near the pool and the unreliability of the heating. Sometimes the water would be so hot steam would be rising from it's surface and at other times it would be so cold that you would almost have heart failure jumping in.
I was not an outstanding swimmer but strong enough to get most of the swimming standards and compete in the inter-house competitions. Surprisingly, based on my performance in one of these competitions, I was selected for the school swimming team. I was only in the team for a few months and fortunately few, if any, records exist of my performances. One race that I can remember was at an away meeting, I can't remember where though, and I was select for the 100m breaststroke. We lined up as usual but I miscued my dive and went far too deep. By the time I had fought my way back to the surface the race was well down the pool and the result was not in question from that point on.
The other main achievement that I can remember was during one swimming lesson. We were all lined up at the deep end, in groups across the pool, and given the task of diving in and attempting to swim as far as possible underwater. This we had done many times before and one length of the pool was a pretty normal performance for the stronger swimmers. So when I lined up I decided to give it a shot and see how far I could go. The shallow end was reached with little effort so I turned around for the return lap, but made sure to remain underwater. The return journey started well but the oxygen was running out and it was difficult to stop the breathing reflex but I pressed on. On reaching the deep end wall I came to the surface, I had been the first of the entire group to get past the half way mark on the return trip. My celebration was short lived though as one of my house colleagues had been following a couple of strokes behind me and seeing me complete the second lap promptly turned round again and swam a third length. You can't win them all.