Jolly hockey sticks!

Every is­sue, Yours writer Mar­ion Clarke will be re­liv­ing the best bits of our lives. This fort­night is all about team spirit – or not!

YOURS (UK) - - News -

If I tell you that when I see a ball hurtling to­wards me my in­stinct is to duck rather than catch it, you will know which side I am on in the great di­vide between those who loved games lessons and those who hated them. Lynne Mansell knows just what I mean. “I loved hockey and wasn’t a bad player – un­til my friend Anne was hit by a hockey ball. She was knocked out for two hours and al­though she re­cov­ered, she had a very large lump on her fore­head. Af­ter that, as soon as the ball came to­wards me I would run away.” Maybe more of us would have en­joyed games if we lived in a warmer cli­mate. It ran­kled that we had to brave the el­e­ments clad only in our gym kit. Mar­garet Rymer re­mem­bers play­ing net­ball when there was snow on the ground. “Our PE teacher wore a thick duf­fel coat, woolly hat, sheep­skin gloves and fur-lined boots while we were ex­pected to run about with blue legs and arms in an Aer­tex vest and a pair of navy­blue bloomers.” Josephine Or­ren and her team mates re­belled when they were forced to play hockey on a frozen pitch. “Our gym mis­tress wore a coat over her games kit. When it started to snow she said that run­ning about would keep us warm. We downed sticks and marched back to the chang­ing room!” I con­fess to be­ing one of those girls who never ac­tu­ally left the chang­ing rooms if pos­si­ble, but Barb Wilt­shire found a much more in­ge­nious hid­ing place. “I was the small­est girl in the school – the hur­dles were big­ger than me and I was sup­posed to jump over them! On Sports Day, a few friends and I used to lie on the shelves in the store cup­board and shut the door so we wouldn’t have to go.” Sue Row­ley also found an orig­i­nal way of play­ing tru­ant. “When I was at school in the Six­ties, we were sent out on cross­coun­try runs. As the route went past my house it was just too much of a temp­ta­tion to pop in for a cup of cof­fee. My friends, in­clud­ing the deputy head­mas­ter’s daugh­ter, used to come, too. We’d keep an eye on the time and run back to school in time for the end of the les­son.” In­stead of stop­ping for cof­fee, Pat Davies used to munch on a hedgerow snack of black­ber­ries and hazel­nuts on

‘We were ex­pected to run about with blue legs and arms…’

cross-coun­try runs. How­ever, things didn’t go so well on the ath­let­ics field when she at­tempted putting the shot. “I’d never done it be­fore so I was sur­prised at how heavy it was. I re­ally didn’t want to do it, but at the teacher’s in­sis­tence (‘Put that shot, girl!’) I oblig­ingly ‘put’ it – right on her foot. You might say she was hop­ping mad!” At Beryl Bland’s school, the hockey balls were al­ways pristinely white and it fell to her to keep them that way. “What a soul-de­stroy­ing job it was and how messy I got try­ing to hold the ball in one hand while wield­ing a paint brush with the other hand. Dex­ter­ity was needed to trans­fer the wet, slip­pery balls on to the wooden stand CKS! where they were left to dry.” Bren Mor­ris had mixed feel­ings about games lessons. While she loved ten­nis, bad­minton, net­ball and swim­ming, she hated vol­ley­ball be­cause it hurt her hands and cross-coun­try run­ning be­cause she got dirty. And when it came to hockey, she clearly lacked the true urge to win. “I was al­ways left back. Goal at­tack was a big girl called Eileen Rickard – she was a de­mon with a stick. If she came to­wards me, I used to step aside and show her the goal, much to the PE teacher’s cha­grin.” Scary big girls wield­ing hockey sticks never fazed Voila Guppy who rep­re­sented her school at ath­let­ics, ten­nis and hockey – but hockey was her favourite. “When I took the schol­ar­ship, aged 11, all I wanted to do was pass the exam so that I could go to gram­mar school and play hockey. Within two years I was play­ing in the school team and was se­lected to rep­re­sent Devon in the Ju­nior Ladies (under 18) group.” Th­ese days, she still loves to watch all sport on TV. Tracey Holmes feels equally nos­tal­gic about games lessons. “Sport in school gave me some of my best mem­o­ries. I ab­so­lutely loved hockey – even now the sight of a freshly mowed pitch in Septem­ber makes my heart ache, but un­for­tu­nately my legs ache more!” For Carolyn West, it’s the sound of a whis­tle that brings back vivid mem­o­ries of sports days, hockey and net­ball. She sighs: “Oh, to have the en­ergy of those school­days now and to hear once again the pen­e­trat­ing sound of the games teacher’s whis­tle as she in­sisted we ‘try harder’, ‘run faster’ and ‘pick your feet up’!” Ellen Mar­shall went to an all-girls school. “I hated net­ball be­cause I was too short! My best friend was tall and could get the ball in the net every time. “What we loved most was play­ing ten­nis, be­cause it was next to the boys’ school ten­nis court so we would whack the ball in that di­rec­tion and then have to make an ex­cuse to go and fetch it. The boys did the same. Much more fun!”

‘We loved ten­nis… it was next to the boys’ school court’

Mar­ion as a young girl

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