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Friday, 25 August 2017

Let's Exercise!

This week's prompt photograph shows,  what to me,  is a fearsome looking gymnasium  and a regimented group of girls exercising and wearing what looks remarkably like black bin liners.  I would have hated it - even in the cause of walking gracefully!


Sporting activities did not feature much in my collection of family photographs,  until my granddaughter appeared on the scene.     It was said my mother was good at the high jump, but no photograph exists of her prowess.   However my father was very proud of playing football.

Dad is on the second row right  as vice captain of his school team at Broseley, Shropshire  

In his own words:
"I was mad keen on soccer, so much so that I had a trial at Birmingham with the English schoolboys.  My teacher took me in his car to that and to a second trial at Shrewsbury.   
One Saturday when I was working as an errand boy, two directors from Birmingham Football Club came to see Dad and Mum to sign me on   - they refused, saying I was too young to be away from home.   I was not told about this until later and sulked for a month!

But a bit of glory followed, when my school team entered a cup competition.  I was vice-captain and we got to the final - and won the cup, the first ever for  Broseley.

One of the supporters took a carrier pigeon along with us and set it loose at the end to let Broseley know the result and to prepare a welcome, as we were bringng home the cup!"
My father often mentioned that a photograph had been taken of the team's success, but  that it had disappeared  or been thrown out - he felt quite bitter about that.  So I set out to try and trace it.

Unfortunately I only had a broad indication of year for the event.  I contacted  Shropshire Archives who gave me a copy of the entry in the School Log Book noting the team's success  and naming the team.  Broseley Historical  Society  put my enquiry on their online newsletter.   I was dellighted to hear  from three members of the society with more personal memories of the pigeon story  - and even better  a photograph of the  football team itself with my father identified as Perce Weston. I always thought Dad hated his middle name of Percy, but he seemed to be known by that as a youngster.

This is the  earliest photograph I have of my father and I was so grateful  to the Society for filing this gap in my family history.   My father retained his love of football all his life and was an avid watcher of matches on television,  right up to his death at the age of 91.  


On a generation to a similar photograph of my brother in the hockey team of Broughton School, Edinburgh.
 My brother is front row - second left. 


What about my own keep-fit activities?  I have plenty of memories - but no photographs.

The egg & spoon race, bean bag race, sack race, three legged race & wheelbarrow race (no doubt some of these  have since been curtailed for  "health and safety" reasons), plus the humiliation of dropping the baton in a relay race - these are my early memories of Primary School keep-fit activities.  Do UK bloggers remember the  "Musical Movement"    BBC Radio Schools programme,  where we danced around the hall pretending to be a roaring lion or a a leaf blown about  in the  wind?  That was more my idea of physical activity.  

Nifty at Netball - At my first secondary school, I loved netball  with memories of crisp autumn days and sunny skies glinting through the trees as we dashed across the court, jumping high for the ball and shooting at the net,  in our sports kit of sky blue aertex shirts  (a polo short today) and short navy pleated  skirts.   I felt like a promotional poster for Healthy Active Britain. 

Hopeless at Hockey - But at 14, we moved across the country and I began a new school with new subjects - such as hockey.  I hated it and my mother was not too keen on having to buy me hockey boots and a hockey stick.    I had never played it before, compared to my teammates who had two years play ahead of me.  I hadn't a clue and dreaded getting hit on the shin by a hockey stick or even worse on the head by an over-excited player and losing my glasses.   Being chosen to play goalie was even worse, having to don the heavy shin pads, and either stand still and be bored if the play was all at the other end of the pitch - or face a mob determined to get a goal passed me.  Hockey meant being cold, wet and miserable with frozen knees and hands and muddy boots and legs. If netball represented brightness, I saw hockey in shades of gloomy grey.

I was an unadventurous creature, so Rounders was Risky - the shame of not managing to connect bat with ball,  or hand with ball if fielding, or again the risk of getting hit on the head by someone eager to run me out as I dashed for the first base.

Tennis was Terrific - I loved it - the grass courts and the white tennis outfits.  From the age of 12  I was converted to being a lifelong Wimbledon fan  (for the uninitiated,  this is the British Lawn Tennis Grand Slam Championships held in summer with wall-to-wall TV coverage).  I still get excited by it, as I did then and a few years ago visited Wimbledon on Men's  Championship Day - purely as a ground spectator, sitting on the hill to watch  play on  the big screen, savouring the atmosphere and enjoying  the traditional strawberries and cream.    So at least I have school to thank for introducing me to this lifelong pleasure!  


Family talent in sport improved with my daughter joining her school gym club team and winning the regional cup.

 An early start to exercising in the park

 Grand-daughter followed in her footsteps, liking nothing better to run,  jump. climb  somersault, and vault  etc. from an early age.  She doesn't need to go to any exercise class to keep fit.


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share 
their family history and memories through photographs.

Click HERE to see what has exercised the brain of other bloggers. 


  1. I hated field hockey too. My school wasn't so serious about it as yours and we had no shin guards or anything. ugh!

  2. I was never good at any sports. I have never heard of "netball" or "rounders," though maybe they are just different names for games we have in the U.S.

    1. Netball is usually played by girls and is bit like basketball, but has its own rules, about moves and who can shoot goals. Rounders is a tamer version of baseball, played in schools- you score points by hitting the ball and running round three bases back to the fourth home base. You could easily set up an informal game in a field or on the beach by using any bat or raquet and marking the bases with jackets or bags. My father took part in a parents v pupils match at a school fete day, ran to catch a ball, collided with someone and cracked some ribs - outch! Another sport hazard!

  3. Wonderful post, and I love your story to track down the championship photo. Reporting by pigeon makes it special. In my early years I tried baseball without success as my nearsightedness left me unable to throw or catch with any accuracy. Marching band was a safer activity, and a kind of exercise too.

  4. I love the photos of the grandchildren flinging themselves about.

  5. ILoved Rugby League at School. 'was quite good !Once (because of a frozen winter pitch ) our game was postpond,so we played Hockey against the school's girls team.Never Again! Man,They played hard & dirty! We were quite relieved to get back to the relative safety of rugby the following week...!

  6. Excellent sleuthing to get that photo of your dad's winning team. I played soccer, basketball, and loved (sorry!) hockey. But have definitely settled into a more sedate lifestyle now! Walks are my main exercise.

  7. Thank you all for your comments and memories of exercising. Like Barbara, walking is my main way of exercising today, and I live in a lovely rural area for that, but I also enjoy aquafit - I recommend it for a real "feel good" feeling!


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