Old Scholar Sports Report

Waking up the morning after playing in the Ackworth School Old Scholar's sports fixtures is rarely an immediately pleasant experience. Firstly, there is every chance that you no longer have a homely base near the school and you are waking up in strange surroundings; a friends sofa, perhaps a spare bed if you're lucky. Secondly, the first attempted movement of any part of the body returns a sharp pain, most likely followed by the release of a mild squeal that you hope no one has heard. For it is the case that Old Scholars return each year in a physical state that diminishes occasion upon occasion. Far from the physical condition they held on leaving school, hurling their lumbering bodies through both a football and a hockey game wreaks havoc on aging muscles.

Yet even knowing this is likely to happen, two things are certain. One - little attempt will be made to improve the physical shape of these bodies in the corresponding year. Two - people will return regardless.

Old Scholars is a day for nostalgia. The pain of tomorrow is pushed aside by the enjoyment of today and the chance to remember the games of yesterday. For some, the invitation will supersede any other that may cause a potential clash. A chance to return to the patch of grass that brought so much adolescent enjoyment. Hope springs eternal - will any returning student manage to recreate a mazy dribble, a crunching tackle, a solo strike that they can still picture from a Wednesday afternoon games lesson, or a Saturday morning fixture against Bootham. Current pupils see the game as equally important. This is their chance to prove themselves against what came before. They are prepped for weeks in advance by Steve Davies, the 1st XI coach who knows the returning players inside out. He organises his young players so as to hinder any chance that what's left of the Old Scholar's talent gets to shine through. Old Scholars by comparison enjoy no preparation whatsoever, only working out the team sheet whilst gathered around in ill fitting white shirts before kick off. Once reintroductions are over, a makeshift formation is decided and the game begins.

This of course is the Inns Yard, not the San Siro, so the standard will not win any plaudits. The game this year however gave the small audience some interest with a lead that exchanged three times by the time the full time whistle was blown. A cagey opening twenty minutes delivered few clear chances for either team. The deadline was eventually broken by School, following a highly controversial decision from the real hero of the day, Martin Gosney. The fondness and respect shown at dinner towards the semi-retired sports master was temporarily absent as shocked faces argued, in good spirit, the decision to award a penalty for a foul that appeared to have been made outside of the 18 yard box. As is rightly the case, the referee's decision is final, and School took the lead 1-0 from the penalty spot past stand in goal keeper Rob Gopinath (2006).

The goal lifted the confidence of the younger team who held their lead till half time. But the second half handed the advantage of the slope back to the Old Scholars and after a tactical reorganisation, managed to level the tie through Ben Maiden (2007). Belief restored, Old Scholars continued to press and won a penalty of their own after an uncontested handball decision. Unwilling to risk making it two years without appearing on the score sheet, Charlie Lockett (2003) gave captain Jason Beaumont (2004) no choice with who was going to take it and slotted away the go ahead goal. School did not lose hope and after a tactical reshuffle of their own, began taking control of the game again, managing to mark out of the game one of their key players from last years game, Dav Kular (2008). New faces stood up to take the honours and School equalised and then took the lead through two goals quick counter attacking moves that caught the back four off guard. Defenders Nathan Foster (2001), James Balliger (2002) and Jamie Dockerty (2002) will not give any similar favours away on their return next year.

The rigours of 90 minutes left Old Scholars with little left in the tank to attempt much of a comeback and the game left the returning players disappointed to lose 3-2. Post match analysis quickly began and continued well through lunch and was still to be heard at dinner. A promise to return next year will hopefully be kept by all.

The biggest thanks for the day must of course go to Martin Gosney for his continued efforts to bring Old Scholars back each year for what is a much loved event (this year ably assisted by Hannah Grimoldby (2004) in organising the returning girls) . All current Old Scholars hope the annual matches will continue as Martin settles into retirement, if only to give those currently at School the opportunity to experience again the enjoyment they currently take for granted.

Old Scholars 1st XI

  • Nathan Foster (2001)
  • Jamie Dockerty (2002)
  • James Balliger (2002)
  • Charlie Lockett (2003)
  • Karthik Ramulu (2004)
  • Jason Beaumont (2004)
  • Robert Gopinath (2006)
  • Joe Leatham (2006)
  • James Roberts (2007)
  • Ben Maiden (2007)
  • Dav Kular (2008)
  • Sam Dyson (2008)