‘The OBA has, in one form or another, been in existence for over 50 years. In its early days there were occasional dinners and get- togethers. An Old Bexleians Football Club operated in the Kent Amateur League.
1974 Arriving at Bexley Grammar School
After a brief interview with Mr Le Feuvre, I was appointed to the school with a brief to take the cricket sides and teach a bit of Latin, English and PE and introduced to Frances Coutts, then Head of Latin and Robin Ackerley, who was later to write a definitive history of the school but then was Head of English and producer of the most extraordinary school plays.. I then had no awareness of the Old Bexleians Association, but by a quirk of circumstance immediately found myself in front of a class with four Jacquelines, one of whom was Jacqui Weller, now Snelling, who has been the OBA secretary for many years and still is!
1975 and Old Bexleians Football team
Don Wellman, however, involved me in the Old Bexleians football team and I soon became its goalkeeper. At that time Pete Emery was running the first team. However, we endured a difficult season or two and only just about kept it going. Alan Jelf and his father deserve the credit for that. Regulars in that era included Roger Ladbrook, Bob Cummings and Mick Johnson. Other OB’s were drawn in, amongst them them Ian ( Percy) Palmer and Bob Turgoose. The team grew. We added Ralph Abbott and Graeme Jarman and we persuaded recent and current school sixth formers to complement us. Rob Bond, Gavin Sargent, Matt Hammond and Roger Jarman played reasonably regularly. For a season or two Don, Roger, Bob, Alan and I regularly went to the Bulls Head and later the Ramblers’ Rest, both in Chislehurst, to wind down after games and dissect our successes and failures on the pitch.
1977-9 Joining the OBA Committee and getting in touch with 25 years of Old Bexleians
Around this time, initially in an attempt to build the football team, I got involved in the OBA and joined its then Committee soon to be chaired by Graham Godley. We wrote a new constitution and to celebrate 25 years of BGS wrote to every ex pupil, with staff and pupils hand-delivering letters to last known addresses and issuing invitations to a celebration reunion at BGS in 1979. The hall, dining area and music rooms were packed out. At that time I found myself corresponding with Old Bexleians all round the globe. We began linking the project to a reinvented school magazine which Glenys Strickland edited. It had an Old Bexleians section. At this time I had a great deal of support from Ron Sawyer and David Jones within the school. David went on, after retirement, to be a mainstay of the OBA producing its excellent newsletters and more besides. John and Peter Collins held legendary status within the school’s history. I met Peter through the OBA. He set up the 100 club now run by John Floyd. John Collins rejoined the Maths Department when I was on the staff. Both John and Peter and his wife Faith ( Ex-staff) have supported the OBA ever since.
1978- Old Bexleians FC win the Kent Amateur League Junior Section Challenge Cup and have three teams
Meanwhile in 1977/8 the Old Bexleians FC won the Kent Amateur League Junior Cup in a thrilling evening match defeating rivals Town Social 2-1 ( a high point of all our footballing careers. See my replica cup below!) The club grew to the point where three teams were put out each Saturday. Jim Ody ran the second team. Greg Fayers came out of retirement to play and then to manage the 1st team. One sixth former we had recruited to play was Chris Langley who went on to play for the OBA for many years. Keith Slatter was another important OB player as the teams went forward. There was also a Vets team which OBA stalwart, Bev Atkins, occasionally assembled. At the peak of this period the football teams filled the Ramblers’ Rest on many a Saturday evening.
1978 ff Other OBA Sports Teams/Events
At around this time the OBA started a netball team and there were also basketball teams. From that day to this there have been more or less annual golf days and trips away.
1978-82 and Cricket
The OBA football teams continued through this period and I played until 1982 when I left the staff for pastures new. Quite a few Old Bexleians had regularly featured at Eltham Cricket Club. This tradition continued for many years. Many of the footballers also turned out for Bexley Cricket Club and for me this led to a transition from Eltham, where I was privileged to captain the side for a couple of seasons before joining Bexley Cricket Club for whom I was playing football. In the early 80s I became junior coach there and this led to my inviting a number of now OB’s to join. Amongst them were BGS cricket regulars Simon Day, Michael Ottley, Jim Doble and Adam Goldhagen.