1960-62 were the years of my Advanced Level G.C.E. examination courses. I had recovered enough from my back injury to play in the school senior rugby and cricket teams and also take part in various athletics competitions. I really enjoyed being involved again, but I was very mindful of the need for careful time management. Any training had to fit around my examination studies. I was aware of the fact that senior school sport could be quite difficult and demand very high standards. This was especially so at regional levels. My training was therefore intensified by the addition of two simple changes.
- If there was no official lunchtime rugby training session, I would go for a run from the school to the local park. This would be about 2 miles in total. The run to the park was generally downhill. Quite easy! Within the park there were lots of slopes with good “tarmac” paths and I could vary the challenge as I wanted – including sprinting. Coming back up the hill to school could be stressful as I had to get back in time for lessons!
- At the end of the school day in spring and summer I would also spend an hour or so practicing the shot putt. The school did not have a concrete circle. This could cause technical problems. Just about all regional competitions used concrete circles. The school did have a large playground away from the school buildings. This had a good tarmac surface which was fine for my shot putt skills training. I would carry the shot putt circle to the far end of the playground, put it together, and immerse myself in both skills and distance. The landing area was an unused rough area of grass near a copse. I never practiced the discus as much – simply because of the possible danger to other people and the fact that I had to retrieve the missiles from so far away!
The school enjoyed a very good reputation for sport and the pupils/students involved in e.g. rugby and athletics were monitored as possible participants for the higher levels of school sport. The call would come and you had to be ready. Several of us were selected for the South Yorkshire senior rugby team which played other county sides. Some were also selected for the Yorkshire Schools’ team or even higher. One boy even captained the England Schools Team. What an honour!
Similarly with athletics. Do well and you could be selected for the local athletics association team which represented our area at the Yorkshire Schools Championships. If you came first or second there, you would then represent the Yorkshire Schools at the All-England Schools Championships. We were usually well-represented. Do well there and you could be selected for the North of England team against the South. The final selection was for the full England team. Not many got that far but one of the students, a Head Girl, certainly did.
The photo below shows me holding the West Riding Challenge Shield in 1961. This was presented to the winning school (boys and girls combined) at the annual Huddersfield Area Championships. It was presented that year by Derek Ibbotson who was the World Mile Record Holder in 1957.