This the playing field in Holt where I took part in games from 1960 until 1963. Behind the hedge to the right a B12 steam locomotive would shunt trucks in the autumn air while we played with a leather Rugby ball. The station was a hundred yards further ialong to the right. The station still took passengers until 1964 when it closed completely. In my first year,1959 (when I was only 10), I played football instead of Ruggger for which we were deemed too young. Football was played on the field behind Crossways where Grove Road meets Pearsons Road. This field has now been built on. The land between Crossways and the rugger pitches was taken up by an orchard; it was not school property. This land has also been built on, and the junior school classrooms imust have sprung up somewhere here since the disappearance of Old Kenwyn which used to house them. Where the classrooms had been before 1958 when (Old) Kenywn was still a boarding house I have no idea.
Note that I have called the game rugger; this was the universally used word at the time, although I think we were a bit old fashioned in doing so. Rugger was very much the Public School word for the game. The equivalent word for football was soccer (from Association Football) but that was not a term we used, although soccer was what I played until I was 11. After my first term I was into the annual round of hockey (Lent term) cricket (Summer term) and rugger (Michaelmas term) which continued throughout my school career.
The first picture however is a record of my son Peter’s visit to Holt during his first term at Norwich School in 1999. This was November 6th – actually his sister Polly’s birthday. I was a late autumn as you can see because a lot of the trees are still fully covered in green leaves. I don’t think a day school can ever have the same emphasis on sport that a boarding school can have, and Gresham’s Under 13s certainly thrashed Norwich school at Rugby on that day. The Holt school is outstanding at Rugby having produced the Youngs brothers Tom and Ben; they are about the same age as my son Peter. They are currently in the England squad. So Gresham’s is definitely the more sporty school, but Norwich school is rather better at academic subjects and consistently comes significantly higher up the annual league table, so it is a matter of swings and roundabouts. I wonder which kind of excellence most parents would prefer?
If I have any readers who are not familiar with the school colours Gresham’s shirts are black and white hoops, while the Norwich School’s are navy blue and claret. Peter’s shirt was a secondhand one and so looks rather faded (all the others’ shirts seem new). You can see him at the edge of the loose scrum. At least Peter got to play in a match against another school, which is something I never achieved. Despite his grounding in Rugby the game of which he is the keenest follower is football. Even at school he wrote a regular column in the school magazine (The Grapevine) on the Canaries and he is still a visitor to Carrow Road when he can make it. As he is currently living in Brussels this is not very often! Personally I am not a football fan (nor a Rugby fan either come to that). I have been to one match at Carrow Road, a Derby match against Ipswich which Norwich won. It is several years ago now when both teams were in the Championship (as of the 2014/2015 season neither are, so there will be another Derby match in Norwich). I couldn’t have chosen a better match to attend. Although I quite enjoyed the experience I have no urge to repeat it.