Mr. Mervyn Rees and After-School
The appointment of Mr. Mervyn Rees as
the boys' PE specialist, despite the fact that he played rugby for London
Welsh, revitalised soccer at W.C.G.S. It was he who encouraged
regular training & practising, and enabled good soccer teams to emerge
from only 350 boys from 11-18 years to defeat on occasions some all boys
schools of 800-900 pupils. His regime required a pattern of exercise
Monday to Thursday after school ended. Mondays & Thursdays were what
would now be called jogging days, Tuesday he held a P.E. Club and all
people who belonged to any team were required to join. Wednesdays
until end of October we developed basic skills on the pitch and thereafter
we used the hall generally finishing with a rough and tumble, dignified by
the name of handball. Following a shower after the Thursday run we
used to gather at the Hall doors to watch the Folk Dance Club perform.
It was not long before Joan Keen (nee Turner) had us taking part and
further improving our fitness. Indeed throughout the VIth form years
some of us played on Saturdays, a match in the morning and one in the
afternoon and twice a month in the evenings went Folk Dancing to the
Square Dance nights at Cecil Sharp House, H.Q. of the English Folk Dance &
Song Society off Regents Park. Now it doesn't seem possible we had
that amount of stamina!
In retrospect it is surprising that
team games survived as they did during the war. The school's main
playing field off Longstone Avenue was given over to the war time "Dig for
Victory" campaign, where allotments sprung up like mushrooms on any
available ground. It was still allotments when we left in 1950.
The only pitch we had was on the playing field adjoining Uffington Road
and across the back of the school and even that section Mr. Wallis had
converted part to grow vegetables. Thus it was inevitable that until
one reached the heights of the 1st XI football, fixtures were few and far
between. But they never stopped us playing football, even if we
improvised with a tennis ball and were the despair of our parents as shoes
were scuffed to bits playing on asphalt in the middle quadrangle.
That game seemed to start in September with the school year and continue
to the end of July with breaks for holidays. It had no regard for
numbers or the windows of which several were broken over the years.
Harlesden Odeon Saturday Morning
Club Team 1946-47
However in the VIth form fate took a
hand. A form colleague, Eric Gill, recruited both Len Woodford & I into the
Harlesden Odeon Saturday Morning Club Team. In a way we had turned
'pro' for although we had formally to join the Saturday Morning Club we
never attended but were 'paid' by being allowed free into the adult
programme. Remember this was pre-TV days and long queues formed
outside cinemas. Len tells me he traded on those matches played on
the McVitie's ground alongside the main line from Euston long after he
left school and even University as he followed the Assistant Manager at
the Odeon on his career ladder to the Odeon Leicester Square and finally
as manager of the Finsbury Park Odeon! Our big rivals were Watford
Odeon, where the manager was at the same game of securing local 'stars' to
reinforce his team. That year (season 1946-47) we reached the Area
Final (v. Watford of course). Watford arranged for us to be shown
around Watford F.C. ground by the manager Mr. Jack Bray ex. Manchester
City & England half-back prior to playing at the amateur club, Wealdstone.
The photograph (shown below) before the game shows the team had 6 W.C.G.S. players; Les Fitchett,
Len Woodford, myself, Eric Gill, Harry Gigg, and Malcolm Glass.
Harlesden Odeon Football
Club 1st XI 1946-47:-
From left to right:-
back row - L. Fitchett *,
L. Woodford *
, B. Ward *
M. Stoneman, C. Howe, E. Gill
front row - R. Hobbs, D. Priston, H. Dorsett, H. Gigg
, M. Glass *
School Soccer 1st XIs
Stan Lambdon and Derek Vasey were the
first in our year to be selected regularly for the 1st Xl in 1946-47.
The team photo shows them in such august company as Richard (Dickie)
Bates, Tony Herbert (capt.), Ray Prodger and Ullman (an unorthodox but
effective goal keeper) and Ian McCall.
1st XI Soccer Team 1946-47:-
From left to right:-
back row - Vobes, ? , Ray Prodger, D. P. Davis, Derek Vasey? , Stan Lambdon, Ullman
front row - Richard Bates, Tony Herbert, Mr. Rees, Ian McCall, Ling
The experience of Dickie, Ray, Tony
and Stan was available for the 1947-48 season when Doug Boath, Len Davies,
Roy Impey, Gerry Tooth, Len and I were selected regularly and was no doubt
responsible for the team having a successful season.
1st XI Soccer Team 1947-48:-
From left to right:-
back row - L. Davis, Richard Bates , Ray Prodger, Len Woodford, Bernard Ward,
Gerry Tooth, Stan Lambdon
front row - A. Rogers, Tony Herbert, Mr. Rees, Roy Impey, Doug Boath
1948-49 was again a rebuilding season
and the magical skills of Ben Storkey were added to the team. It was
that season Mr. Rees decided that some of the team should be entered for
the Middlesex Schools Under-18 trials. Len Woodford was selected for
the team v. Gloucester with Ben Storkey as reserve for the match on 23rd
The following April 1950 Len Woodford and Doug Boath were
selected for the match v. Surrey at Brentford F.C.'s ground and I was a
reserve. This shows the strength of that year's School 1st XI -
W.C.G.S.' name appeared three times on the programme with no other team
appearing more than once. That I was not fortunate enough to play
was hardly surprising for in my place as right back was R. B. Bassham of
Walpole Grammar School, a leading schoolboy international, capped 3 times
for England in 1948-49!
Middlesex v Surrey
It is interesting to recall how strong
schoolboy football was in the Enfield' Schools F.A. at that time.
Playing in the under-15 side was Johnny Haynes, later of Fulham and
England capt. and Tony Marchi of Spurs & England. I have particular
cause also to remember Doug Boath's powerful shooting. At Imperial
College I played in gaol against L.S.E. and one of Doug's specials
dislocated my right thumb - it still aches on a cold day!
1st XI Soccer Team 1949-50:-
From left to right:-
back row - Doug Boath, Ben Storkey, Len Woodford, Stan Lambdon, Malcolm
Pat Cook, Bernard Ward, Mr. Rees, Pete Chambers, Gordon Little
front row - Ray (?) Ryan, John Glass
Of the players who opposed us, some
were very good. The one who tormented us most was Miles Spector of
Hendon G.S., who played as an amateur for Hendon in the Athenian League
and later for Chelsea and England's amateur side. There was also
Barry Walsh, who later played for Arsenal. Len Woodford met him when
they played for Middlesex v. Gloucester. Being fixture secretary he
suggested a match between ourselves and Isleworth G.S., where Barry was
captain. It was a rare mid-week game at the end of the season and we
were thrashed 10-1, the worst result in our school career, Len our
goalkeeper also recalls the game well! He recollects that Walsh
actually missed a penalty - the only one he had missed all season, and
despite the score, Len had a reasonably good game!
Old Uffingtonians F.C.
In the 1948-49 season the Old
Uffingtonians F.C. was re-establishing itself after the war. The
nucleus of the group were the Barnard brothers, one of whom was the
Secretary and No. 1 supporter, Arthur Sills, Norman (Nosher) Robertson and
the very dynamic Ken Fletcher. As they found it difficult to field a
full side every week, they invited members of the 1st XI to play. In
these early days it was the odd Saturday afternoon and more regularly a
Sunday morning fixture in Gladstone Park. Len believes he was the
first to accept this invitation playing for the Old Uffs in a friendly
against an R.A.F. XI at a Twickenham base arranged by Ken Fletcher, who
was ex-RAF. I played regularly in the Sunday games. The Old
Uffs F.C. still survives to this day playing in the London Old Boys'
The other winter
sport taken very seriously was table tennis, which was very popular at the
time. Fostered not only in school but also in the many youth clubs,
it spawned many good players. The only good table at school was kept
in the Prefects' Room and was widely believed (but wholly untrue) that
they hired it out for House Matches. The School had so many good
players, who could easily make six teams of four players, and these were
fairly evenly divided between the Houses. The Inter-House matches
were ferociously fought out after school in the Arts Room and usually
watched by more people than would watch the Inter-House Football
competition. The names which come readily to mind were Maurice
Bernstein, (a star of N.W. London Jewish Boys Clubs and knocking on the
door of the County side,) New, Shorrick, Stan Lambdon, Tony Rogers, Robin
Keen, Len Woodford and myself; and they were the pool from which the
school team were selected.
Boys v. Girls
It is perfectly understandable that we can recollect little of the girls'
prowess at sport. There was an annual match between the Hockey 1st
XI and the Soccer 1st XI as a bit of fun. The boys had to play
left-handed and generally lost. We also played an annual game of
netball against them and this we generally won despite some harsh
refereeing decisions because of the lads' insistence on bodily contact!
Mr Rees also introduced Cross-Country
Running, which is difficult in a London suburb. A circuit of King
Edward Recreation Ground led to a run along Doyle Gardens, around
Roundwood Park, a return to the Recreation Ground, another circuit and
back to the school. Most of us hated it but all turned out for the
Annual House Race unless you were hospitalised!
Most of those who were keen on sport
took happily to the nets at the start of the Summer Term even though late
April & May are sometimes difficult to associate with cricket. The
term is also a short one and includes public exams so there were always
gaps appearing in the school team. Robin Keen was capt. in 1949-50
and although some of the same names from football kept cropping-up others
also appeared. From the football ranks perhaps Ben Storkey was the
most gifted, excellent in all aspects of the game but there was a lad
called Young, who played for an Ealing side and occasionally for
Middlesex. For as a left arm spinner he was regarded as second only
to the great Jack Sims, who like so many top sportsmen lost the best years
of his life to the war. Dickie Bates was perhaps our most stylish
bat and Ray Prodger like John Warr were accurate medium paced bowlers.
There was always a special tension when we played Kilburn Grammar School,
the other Grammar School in the area. They had a good fast bowler to
whom as we recalled we could find no answer.
I learned to swim in the open air pool at Gladstone Park near my home.
The Inter-House Swimming was held in the last week of term and the whole
school decamped to the King Edward's baths next door. I was cajoled
into taking part for the Danes, but I didn't enjoy it. I even
managed to be disqualified in the breast stroke for turning my head from
side to side. Whereas Len Woodford revelled in it although there was
little style about his swimming as he would be the first to admit.
Must be because he was born under Pisces.
Summer was also the time for athletics. The first event was the
Inter-House Competition held in the enclosed King Edward's Recreation
Ground. It was again Mr. Rees, who improved the standard. An
outstanding athlete himself, he knew all the techniques required for track
and field events. Based on the results of the House competition, a
team was selected for the County Sports at Alperton and the best athletes
there were selected for the All England County Championships.
Training for many consisted of a few laps of King Edward's cinder track,
which in one place was like ploughing through gravel. Most of us
were pretty fit and this was not our idea of fun. Nevertheless some
outstanding people spring to mind. David Presland broke both school
and county records for the discuss and shot, which had been set several
years before. Then there was Gerry Schwarz, who with his eight foot
stride fairly "gobbled up" the track in the mile. We cannot remember
his times but in a House race against him Len recorded just over 5 minutes
and he was way behind Schwarz. In 1950 I recall that I came second
in the 440 in about 45 seconds and first in the long jump with 18' 6".
At Alperton in the 440 the elastic in my shorts broke but I still finished
When Mr. Eddon returned after War Service he introduced the boys to the
concept that tennis was a man's game as well as cricket. The problem
was facilities. Such as we had, the girls had first call and so it
was difficult for us to find times to play. However tennis was
becoming popular in the wider world; Tony Mottram and other English
players then appeared regularly on the Centre and No. 1 Courts at
Wimbledon. The now defunct Evening News organised a knock out
competition in the London area to try to find new talent from among the
many who used the public courts. Several of us - Stan Lambdon, Gerry
Barker, Robin Keen, Len and myself alternated between Queens Park and
Gladstone Park courts.
We frequently had to wait and as a consequence rather than do nothing we
began to play bowls on the indifferent green in Gladstone Park. We
soon realised this was a game of real skill and not just for the elderly!
Jack Eddon managed to fix up an
arrangement with South Hampstead Tennis Club, whereby we could join at a
reduced subscription, playing at off-peak times.
It is perhaps appropriate to end these reminiscences with the fact that
the strong link with South Hampstead and the old days of W.C.G.S. still
exists through Ted Ducker, Ken Fletcher and several others.
G. Bernard Ward