History of Sport

History of Sport

Although participation and enjoyment are cornerstones of sport at York, a highly competitive, almost aggressive approach has been one of the ingredients for the success the school enjoys on the playing fields. This stems from the early days when youngsters in Std VI, VII and VIII had to represent York at first-team level. Another reason was the fact that few had played sport at primary school – their own fault – so that they had to catch up in a hurry. It is impossible to detail all the contributions made by staff and pupils over the years. Mention will be made of some coaches and some players but many, equally deserving, will probably be left out. Please be understanding.

Hockey

HOCKEY has proved far and away the most popular and successful team game at York. A start was made in 1975 and by 1976 the girls fielded four league teams. Sandra Farrell was the first to achieve Provincial Colours. By the following year 100 of the 150 girls played hockey with seven teams entered in the league. Annette Mostert and Thelma Farrell laid the groundwork and by 1977 York’s team of that year was regarded as the best in the Southern Cape. York won the league again in 1981 with no goals scored against them. The golden years for York Girls Hockey were probably from 1984 to 1995 when Wendy Oxley was the senior coach. During this period the 1st Team won or shared top spot three times and were unbeaten in two other years but finished second to arch rivals Sentraal of Beaufort West. Equally pleasing was the consistent success of the lower senior teams. In 1984 for example all the sides from 2nd to 6th league finished top. 1986 will be remembered as the year in which York beat Union High for the first time and the inauguration of the annual Hockey Dinner for girls and their mothers. Apart from the many Southern Cape representatives over the years, mention should be made of Desiree Marnewecke’s selection for SA under 21 after leaving school. In 1991 Marjorie Thomas made the SA School’s squad. First team coach for the last five years has been Sandy Farrell – ex York hockey captain. All in all, the hockey girls did York proud. Impeccably turned out, the girls were always an inspiration in their spirit and camaraderie. “Tienie se Trots” (the school bus) literally vibrated with the girls singing and rival schools knew they were in for one heck of a game! The hockey teams were privileged to tour Zimbabwe in 1995 and the United Kingdom in 1998. As ambassadors par excellence it would have been wonderful to have given all York hockey girls the opportunity of such an educational experience.

York Boys’ Hockey today enjoys a nationwide reputation. It started as a small group called the “Bluebottles” (coached by keen parents) and then struggled in the initial stages at York because the Headmaster and Vice Principal wanted to make rugby players of them. A compromise was reached and they were allowed to play hockey as well as rugby. Pee Bee (Peter Bishop) admitted that the rugby helped to toughen them up. In 1975 they struggled to cope with the Std 9 and 10 pupils of schools like Outeniqua and Oudtshoorn. Despite this, York High achieved its first hockey provincial players in Peter Farrell and Evan Lambert. By the next season, York was beginning to show glimmerings of what was to come, with five York boys selected for the Southern Cape. The turning point was the first Inter-Schools’ Tournament held at York at Easter. Don Gibbon of Grey High (PE) had suggested George as the venue because there were petrol restrictions at the time and York High was half-way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The founder teams were Grey, Alexander Road, Westerford, Paarl Gym, Outeniqua and York. In subsequent years, teams from every province in South Africa were invited to participate on a rotation basis. This became known as the prestigious York Easter Tournament. In 1996 the 21st York Easter Tournament was held, hosting 22 of the best school teams in SA.

Exposed to this high standard of play, York hockey simply took off. In 1977 the first team won the Southern Cape Schools’ League for the first time. From then on York dominated the local Schools’ league and looked elsewhere for stiffer competition. Peter Bishop approached local men’s clubs to allow the boys to play in their teams. When this was refused, York entered a team in the George Men’s League. The scene was set for future titanic struggles against teams like Army A and B (from Oudtshoorn) and the George Club. One of the top teams was coach Roger Krohn’s 1978 side (PB’s magic Under 15s) – “unbeaten in winning the school league, the school tournament, the Southern Cape Men’s league; boasting victories over Alexander Road, Paul Roos, Fairmont and suffering defeat only at the hands of Grey High and Pinelands”. Stars of the early days were Neil Hutchinson (SA Schools B and later WP), Peter Rimbault (Natal Keeper) and Clayton Baragwanath. In 1984, after leaving school, Wayne Hill was selected for SA under 21. Who will forget Andrew Dinnie (1986) achieving an 80% success rate at short corners at the Inter Provincial Tournament? Since these days, the standard of hockey has remained high. Often struggling in the pre-season Easter Tournament, York teams have improved with every match. The 1981 S Cape team was all York and they beat some provinces in the Inter-Provincial. Other very successful sides were the sides of 1985, 1992, and 1997. The teams of 1995 and 1998 had successful tours (respectively) to Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. York hockey, in every sense, has gone a long way.

A final paragraph to conclude must mention some of the members of staff who shared the coaching over the years. Peter Bishop and Roger Krohn – early pioneers – ably succeeded by Rick Coertze, Etienne Grobler, Tony Dingle and Tony Pheiffer. The enthusiasm from coaches of the lower teams is beautifully captured in Keith James’s description of his Under 15 Bs in 1986.

“Affectionately labelled the “Poets, Bums and Philosophers’, this squad nonetheless contains many players who have the potential to be future provincial players. But the intrinsic focus of the squad’s practices is having fun – enjoying the game, to start with. Ebullient, raucous, highly-competitive tournaments were standard fare at practices. Some tremendously skilful hockey, played with almost poetic flair, was frequently the outcome. Groans of disappointment that the hour allotted to us was over. Fierce argument as to whether a side was to be a “skins” or a “shirts” side (the debate see –sawing according to the temperature). Vigorous cheering and exultant soccer-playing-type histrionics every time a goal was scored. Jeering banter and feigned despair when a “sitter” was missed. These are some of the random images that come to mind of the two-term season.

“Yet beyond all this playing-for-fun, seemingly anarchistic approach, the undisputable fact emerges – virtually all the players ended the season as more accomplished players, not only in terms of their individual skills but also in terms of their tactical knowledge. Above all they now have a love for the game.

“York’s 1st Team hockey future is well assured”.
We must agree!!!

Rugby

RUGBY has never proved as popular as hockey at York. Despite every effort to encourage rugby in the school – including making it compulsory at junior level – there was interest from only a relatively small section of pupils. The reasons were obvious. Few juniors had ever played rugby before. The prospect of facing physically much larger sides every Saturday was daunting. Because of potential injuries, many parents were not prepared to encourage their children to play. Hockey offered a more attractive alternative. Yet for those who were keen to play rugby, there was much to be gained, and over the years as the teams grew in confidence they learned to play a running game with courage and commitment. The fact that York won the Sevens-a-side tournament on a number of occasions bears witness to this. In 1978 the white jerseys were introduced and for the first time two York pupils – Gerard van den Bergh and Craig Dugmore where chosen for Craven Week. Probably the best of the early sides was the 1981 team. They played “gutsy”, running rugby and amongst other successes beat St Andrews on the only occasion the two schools have met. All the staff who coached at first team level – John Spencer, Tony Dingle, Ron Wiggett, Ian Stevenson, Willie Jooste, Stan Good, Rob Callaghan to mention some – had first to sell the game with their own brand of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm took off when Stan Good took over. Stan knew all the rugby players in South Africa and most of those in England, Scotland and the rest of the rugby playing world. The result was that 1992 was a very special year with York entertaining three overseas teams.

York lost to Harrow 10-6, St Andrews (Grahamstown) beat Sherborne (UK) in a great running game and a York Invitation side took on the Edinburgh Academy – kilts, bagpipes and all. The 1993 team was described in the magazine as “one of the most successful in the history of York High”. They had a very good record including winners of the Nestle Rugby Tournament. The full programme included a tour to Namibia and the hosting of teams from Argentina, Chile, Scotland and England. Stan Good’s connections, enthusiasm and plain hard work resulted in a wonderful tour for the rugby players to England and Wales at the end of 1994. Schools played and visited included Harrow, Cheltenham, Rugby, Exeter and Cardiff. It was their opportunity to repay the tremendous hospitality which York has accorded overseas touring teams. 1997 saw another tour – this time to Mpumulanga – but also the decision that junior rugby was no longer compulsory. A frighteningly small number – eighteen – opted to play rugby.

Cricket

CRICKET at York was a baptism of fire for the aspiring young cricketers. Described by Peter Bishop, York’s first coach, as “more keen than capable”, a motley crew set out to play the school’s first cricket match – against Knysna Primary U14 – in January 1975. Two weeks later they were chasing leather playing in the SWD under 19 league with one Std 8 and the rest all Under 15.

It took courage (and four stitches to an ear) for thirteen year olds to face P W Botha School’s opening bowlers – both regulars for the SWB U19 team. No wonder York found themselves 0 for 5 wickets on two occasions and 8 runs all out against Point High in a later match. Within two years some exciting progress had been made. Concrete nets were built, a turf wicket was laid and there were two under 15 elevens. For added experience, the school entered the Outeniqua Merchants League and experience they certainly got. On occasions, with players providing the umpires, the strange sight of the umpire actually appealing for an LBW was not uncommon. It was in one of these matches that history was made on the Postage Stamp field when the first century appeared in the ample shape of Peter Rimbault who scored 169 in 30 overs against Banks “B”. Gary Ackerman helped York to dominate the Merchant’s League by scoring three successive centuries. In 1980 the turf wicket was used for the first time (see anecdote) and York was producing SWD players in all the age groups. Wayne Hill won the award for the top U15 all-rounder in the South African Country Districts tournament. In 1981 the school was no longer part of the Merchants League and in addition to local school matches, fixtures were arranged with traditional rivals like Muir and Union High. For the first time in 1982 our senior teams played all-day cricket, something we’d advocated for a long time. An early star was Harold Donachie who emerged to establish one of the best records of any York batsman. Tribute must be paid to Peter Bishop who laid the groundwork and his successors like Roger Krohn, Pat Huddy, Tony Dingle and recently, Rob Callaghan. It was a blow in 1989 to have to return to 35 over restricted play matches. This was not suited to York cricketers, who were technically sound but not as robust as their competitors. Luckily York was included in the annual Cape Cricket School’s week and teams have benefited from this sort of exposure. To select a best team since 1975 is very difficult. Great individual performances dominated the seventies. Scott Stedall’s 1994 team was excellent. Over the last few years contributions from gifted players like Bruce Philp (SA Schools) deserve mention. Even the girls are playing cricket (since 1997). Would a future star be allowed to be part of the 1st XI?

CRICKET ANECDOTE

In 1980 the turf wicket was ready to be officially opened. Peter Bishop writes, “After seasons of practising at Outeniqua Park and magpie-like playing away from home, the turf was eventually laid. The opening match saw Ron Dugmore (founder Principal) take first strike. Up came this lollipop – a vicious hook – caught at square leg. A hush around the ground (the entire school was watching). As he walked out “silly” point he was asked “How is the pitch playing, Sir?” Posterity does not (officially) record the Headmaster’s reply!”

Cross Country

CROSS COUNTRY, like some of the courses, has been an up and down affair at York. The basic reason for its introduction was to make pupils fit for the winter sports. Elaborate attempts were made to encourage, cajole, and bully the school into participating in the training runs. In some years the turn-out was excellent (90% in 1981) in other years the excuses were so ingenious that there were far fewer participating in the Inter House Competition. The first course, 5 kilometres in length, was in the direction of Pacaltsdorp and back to the school along the uncompleted national road. Then in 1977 York had its own course in the Witfontein Forest Reserve. Interest in Cross-Country peaked over this period but in 1989 we were forced to break with tradition and use the Van Riebeeck Garden course. Interest was not the same. In 1994 it was decided to hold the Inter-House run during school hours and again the venue changed, across the Rooi River near the King George III Hotel. This too had its problems and today a course has been marked out on the bottom fields. The Cross-Country squad was usually a small one, but they were keen and trained regularly throughout the season. Provincial colours were achieved in the very early years by Jane Jeffrey and Evan Lambert. In the early eighties two real stars were Michael Meyer and Dominique De la Croix. Highlight of the 1995 Cross Country year was a meeting with Winchester College (UK) and Grey (PE). I’m sure all York pupils over the years who participated in the Inter-House Competition (perhaps reluctantly) will want to thank staff like Peter Swart, Hal Cable, Ilse de Waal and Dave Griffiths.

CROSS COUNTRY ANECDOTE – by a STD VI pupil

The following essay was handed to Mr Cable as a result of the author not having attended a practice (1982)

“Cross Country is not the most enjoyable of all sports, especially when the cross-country coach or teacher is a fitness fanatic and tells you to chivy on while you are so egsausted and tired and just can’t take the pace with the others because they have long legs – and I have short legs. Your throat is sore and dry and you are gasping for breath. The hills are steep and you come across a live snake (although it is just a mole snake). But when I meen steep hills I meen steep hills and hills and hills etc, and they are not tared but can you beat it gravel that you can easily slip and fall on and make a fool of yourself. It is a nuisance when you have to ware a special colour shorts and tops and when you have only 1 shirt and 1 pair of shorts and the one is in the wash and you get into trouble when you have not got the right shirt or shorts on. The other things in cross-country fitness it is not so hot when you have to come back to school from a long relaxing sport I mean swimming, roller skating, going fishing on a fancy boat named Wahoo of our next door neighbours from Cape Town (not the sport running uphill and downhill) ADVANTAGES: Slimming, Improves the look of your legs”

Athletics

ATHLETICS for most York pupils probably centred around Sportsday. A day off school, the grand parade, the flags, the banners, the hysterical cheering. It was a day when even those with little athletic ability were important for their Houses. In 1975 with only three Standards, the sports day was run on an inter-class basis.

By the next year there were two Houses – Royal Blue and Light Blue. It was only in 1977 that the Houses were named Tudor and Lancaster. It took ten years before Tudor recorded its first win. By 1991 enrolment had jumped to 638 pupils and two new houses were formed – Stuart and Windsor. One of the comments was, “if you don’t come first, you don’t necessarily have to be last either.” Inter-House meetings were held at PW Botha Technical High (mainly) or Outeniqua High. In 1978 a 300 metre track was marked out at the School (thanks to Peter Swart and Oom Bossie) and jumping pits were prepared. Soon after the Inter-House, an athletics squad was chosen and it wasn’t long before York athletes were making their presence felt in the highly demanding SWD athletic meetings. Jane Bailey was York’s first athletic colour award. With the arrival of Dale Griffiths (and girls) Hal Cable, York athletics really took off. An average of 15 school records were broken each year and in 1985 York achieved 10 first places, 23 second and 25 third at the Annual SWD Inter-Schools meeting. It is difficult (and unfair) to single out the stars but Helen Griffiths and Marjorie Thomas had a tremendous influence on York High and SWD Athletics for many years. Both competed at South African Junior level and Marjorie as a long jumper progressed to the SA Senior Championships. The De la Croix family provided some first class athletes over the years as well. Apart from coaches already mentioned, thanks go to Peter Swart and Elize Cronje (nee Kemp) and Deryk Eckersley for their contributions to York and Southern Cape athletics.

Swimming

SWIMMING at York really started in 1987 with the establishment of the Southern Cape Swimming Association. Within three years York completely dominated swimming in the Southern Cape. This was due to: Young swimmers from the Convent Junior School, the generous offer of the George Suid and Kruinsig pools for training, the enthusiastic team spirit generated by Willie Jooste and his helpers and the benefit derived from club coaching since 1992.

In 1984 York became the first school other than Oudtshoorn High to win the Inter School Swimming Gala. Since then, York has won it every year. The bulk of provincial representatives have come from York and some swimmers have been selected for Eastern Province as well. The first ever SA Country Districts Gala was hosted in the Southern Cape. As the level of competition increased, so has the standard. The 60 strong squad of 1995 dominated gala after gala and won 5 medals at the SA Country Districts. 1996 was a special year for York. Eight of the top swimmers were invited by the Taiwanese Government to participate in an international age group gala. Unchallenged at school level in the S Cape, York achieved many Top 5 and Top 10 places at the SA Championships in Bloemfontein in 1997. Excellent results were achieved in the Red House River Mile and in distance races in Worcester. EP colours were awarded to Peter Hardcastle and Melissa Pienaar. In 1998 York captained both S Cape teams to the SA Schools A and B meetings and Peter Hardcastle was awarded the EP Victor Ludorum Trophy. What a wonderful record. Well done all you York swimmers. May it long continue?

Horse Riding

HORSERIDING – As early as 1975 York’s colours were proudly flown for the first time at the Inter-Schools Horse Trials in Port Elizabeth. In 1976 York won its first trophy at the Red Cross Inter Schools Two Phase competition beating Grey High and St Andrews into second and third place. 1978 saw four York pupils being part of the Polo Crosse team which won the Cape Championships. A succession of great riders made their mark over the years at local, provincial and national level. In some years the EP eventing team were all York. Early stars included Bryan and Gareth Turner, Kim and Leigh Rivas, Kate Turner who was awarded Eastern Cape colours in all four disciplines and Luke Meiring and Sian Jose who rode brilliantly against the top South African Juniors. In 1993 Glen Haldane achieved Springbok Colours (U21) for Polo Crosse for the fourth time. In 1994 three York pupils were part of the first Eastern Cape Team to win the SA title in any discipline. In recent years Natalie Trauernicht won the ED Cape Victor Ludorum and was presented with a special colour award. Interest in horse riding seems to be on the increase, with two York riders scheduled to attend the SA Arabian National Championship in Bloemfontein this year. This discipline takes courage, dedication and, from the parents, much sacrifice. York has basked in the success achieved by all these young riders.

Squash

YORK SQUASH – particularly the boys’ – has always been excellent. The girls never lacked for individual stars but the same general enthusiasm was not there which meant fewer participating and less depth. By 1978 the boy’s team had travelled to Cape Town to beat Rondebosch, Wynberg and Bishops. It was only in 1981 that York lost to another school for the first time. A measure of the standard of the boys in the late seventies was that with four York players the S Cape side played in the A section of the SA Schools Inter-Provincial for two years. Today S Cape is part of the SA Country Districts Tournament and still does very well.

Boys’ and girls’ teams gained valuable experience in the adult leagues. Setting off in the school combi’s towards late afternoon along the Garden Route were magical moments. A close bond developed amongst staff and pupils on these excursions. I’m sure the staff like Roy Simpson, Bill Schroder, Thelma Farrell, Hal Cable, Peter Swart and Derek and Barbara Eckersley look back with great fondness to those times. In the last seven years York squash has benefited tremendously from the enthusiasm and expertise of Bev Pollock. In 1998 York entered five boys’ teams in the men’s league. Two were entered in the 1st league (which they won). York also won the 4th league and were second in the fifth.

Looking back one can single out Sandy Farrell (1st York Girls Colours who represented S Cape at senior level), Craig Dugmore (1978) and Nanette van Rooyen (1981) who were in the top 10 in the country, Cameron Dugmore (1981) who reached the last 16 in the SA Schools Championship, Carol Heathcock (1990) who reached the final of the S Cape Women’s Championship, Declan Nurse, Bruce Good, Marjorie Thomas (1992), Gillian Thomas and Bridget Graaff (1994) who all made the SA Country Districts team, Gary Hughes (1994) ranked 35 in the country, Bridget Graaff again (1997) who won the SA Country Districts U19 title. On three occasions (1992, 1997, 1998) the York boys’ team has been invited to participate in the country’s Top Schools Tournament – a singular honour. Many thanks to all who coached and encouraged York squash over the past 25 years.

Surfing

SURFING – gained official status in 1997 when the Southern Cape (Mossel Bay to Storms River) was accepted as a member of the SA Surfing Association. In the early years, York surfers gained experience in local competitions and at the SA Schoolboys’ Championships in Jefferys Bay. From then on, York pupils have represented their province, and even their country as both surfers and judges. The first Inter-House Competition was held in 1983 and became a regular feature on the York sporting calendar. Many early surfers achieved top ten spots in the SA Junior Championships, but in the early nineties there emerged two outstanding surfers in Sean Holmes and David Pfaff. Both won Springbok colours, toured Indonesia and Brazil and finished high up in the South African seeding’s. Sean’s decision to turn professional in 1995 came as no surprise. Following their example York surfers and body boarders continue to excel. George McHugh (7th in SA Boarding Champs, Kim Pfaff (Junior Springbok colours as a judge), Angelo Camacho (3rd ranked Body boarding judge), Janet Hageman (11th place in World Championship in Bali and ranked at No 2 in SA (U18) and No 5 in Ladies Division) have all put York Surfers in the national spotlight.

Tennis

TENNIS – at York needs to be measured in terms of enthusiastic participation rather than producing top flight players. Although the demands of athletics and cricket restricted many from playing tennis, there were never enough courts to provide opportunities for team practice and social players. From the beginning, court space was provided by neighbouring schools and the local tennis club. Even when our own courts (6) were built in 1980 we still needed outside court space. In 1975 pupils were offered the opportunity of some professional coaching and in 1976 York played league tennis for the first time. Over the years York teams won the second league and occasionally braved first league. The 1987 Girls team lost only one match (to Point High) thanks due to two very fine players in Sharon Hayward and Alison Ripsold. Unfortunately we lost Alison and promising young Deon Giles to Point High where they were able to benefit from top professional coaching in Mossel Bay. Another fine performer was Cuan Dugmore (1983) who was the York singles champion from Std VI and the Southern Cape No 1 in his final year. He was also invited to play for the senior provincial side. Many happy hours were spent by players and spectators watching tennis from Thesen’s Hut. To coaches like Vaughan Jones, Ron Wiggett, Elna Geyer, Wilna van Heerden and Wendy Oxley – many thanks for all your time and effort.

Sailing

SAILING – has proved a popular pastime with many youngsters at York. Encouraged from the beginning by Rod and Thelma Farrell, with daughter Sandy now at the helm, these young York sailors have proved a formidable challenge at local regattas and at the annual Inter Schools Regatta in Redhouse. Some, like Ian and Ronald Paxton earned a place in the South African SP 14 World’s team and travelled to Ireland to represent their country.