Reading about the plans to expand Collyer’s onto a small part of its playing fields in Hurst Road, Horsham - a proposal which I am happy to support- brought back a flood of sporting memories from my time at Collyer’s, 1962-9.
When I started in fact there were no playing fields for about a year - as they were being re-seeded - so in the winter, sports practise took place in Horsham Park and a kindly resident of Richmond Road allowed us to use two cricket nets (erected for the purpose?) in his back garden.
The following bitter winter meant that the playing fields were out of use so games ‘lessons’ were ‘murder ball’ in the gym comprising a medicine ball and two teams of about 30 boys each.
Around that time, the fields were out of use anyway because of the many stones that had appeared so ‘stone-picking’ was the standard (and frequent) punishment for minor breaches of discipline.
Three hour Saturday morning detentions were monthly events and corporal punishment was still ‘administered’ by the headmaster in the early 1960s until Mr Slynn (of fond memory and a member of MCC) took over.
From about 1965, however, sport really took off on beautiful level fields with the CIBA building dominating the background by the railway line.
Cross-country was compulsory with a ‘Muddy Lane’ for the first years graduating to ‘Junior Pondtail’ and then ‘Senior Pondtail’.
The cross-country practises were followed by the main event which started at the CIBA end so you had to run across the whole playing field before starting the run proper in Hurst Road!
Unfortunately, rugby was dispensed with from 1962 but soccer (not my forte) thrived as did cricket.
There were two fine cricket squares as well as four or five cricket nets where visiting county coach George Cox enlightened many of us.
Indeed, Mr Brooshooft regularly took a carload of us down to the county ground at Hove to be coached by Sussex professionals on weekday evenings.
The net effect of all this was that at least one Collyer’s cricket team (under 14) were Sussex cup winners and the first team (as I recall) was unbeaten in a season.
All this was down to the dedication of a number of Collyer’s staff (not all PE teachers) such as Mr Thomas (geography), Mr Burke (history) and the aforementioned Mr Brooshooft (science) as well as Mr Slynn who always bowled the first over for the staff in the annual staff v school cricket match – which the school invariably (?) won!
There were aspects of Collyer’s Boys Grammar School which do not bring back fond memories but there were many staff that I also remember with affection and gratitude away from the sports field:
(I will omit the nicknames!) – Miss Young, Mr Wilson, Mr and Mrs Davis, Mr Collins, Mr Fison, Mr Hamer, Mr Alner, Mr Henderson, Mr Whitbourn, Mr Hodgson, Mr Twidale and Mr Park.
I can still sing the old school song – and do!
Every best wish to the Collyer’s of the present and the future.
GERAINT (GERRY) THOMAS
Aldingbourne Close, Ifield, Crawley