Friday, 9 May 2014

Colin Davis writes

OP Colin Davis has written a few words in the May edition of the Bourne Society's Local History Records about PGS....

By Colin Davis
Reading about the history of Purley
County somehow brought back a rush of mostly happy memories - -
perhaps it's something to do with age! 
I do claim to be a few years older than Martin Jones, having l
started at the Old Coulsdon establishment in the autumn of 1945. .
Memory starts to play tricks after all that time but, having been an
average pupil at Smitham Primary in Coulsdon, I sat the Common
Entrance exam at Purley in February, was it, of 1945. Probably more A
by luck than judgement, I passed, and along with the likes of Brian
Simmons, John Roberts and possibly Leslie Perry, we all trooped up
to Old Coulsdon in the September of 1945. I have to say that there '
were few instances when I absolutely ‘hated’ grammar school life, V
and having gone through the school even went back in the autumn
of 1953 for what would have been a ninth year!
Fortunately, my great pal Stan Tisshaw persuaded me not to
continue at school when I only had about five lessons a week and
the rest of the time was spent sitting in my non-existent classroom
on the stage. This had to be hastily vacated every mid-morning so ’
that Mrs Smith and Slinger, in the canteen, could set places for the
Head's and Secretary's luncheonsl So, with some degree of regret, I
departed the scene, took a temporary job in the chalk pits by
Coulsdon South station, eamed a few bob, caused a great deal of 1'
havoc with the loading trucks, all before setting off for military r
service in November 1953. "
Certainly, my early days at the school were somewhat easier
because my father, Ted Davis and uncle Wilfred ‘Biff’ Davis had both ‘
been pupils in the Godstone Road, Kenley days. Biff, it was, who
excelled at soccer, and this attribute was eagerly recalled by the W
likes of Tubby Hurst and Thick Hill, both of whom had been
stalwarts of the OP's soccer team, along with Biff. Even dear old I
Polly Hambrook did enquire on one occasion if I was, in any way,
related either to Ted or Biff! I wouldn't say it made my life any easier *
academically, but there was this very friendly old family link that we »
all enjoyed! Biff went on to play amateur soccer for Dulwich Hamlet -
possibly one of the top sides in the south east pre-World War II and 1
was also on the books of Arsenal. One appearance, in an
intemational against Belgium, went a bit haywire as the team went
on the batter, hopefully after the match, and came home in disgrace!
In the late 1940s it was quite a regular occurrence to go out after
the school day and kick a pill up and down the rugby pitch, probably
along with Jack Williams that mercurial ex-London Welsh fly half, I
believe. There were a lot of other after-school activities from stamp
clubs through to am-dram, all willingly cared for by members of the
teaching staff.
I do possess, in my little den at home, a picture of the ‘Old
Purleians FC 1st XI‘ dated 1925-26. What names are conjured up
from that picture. The brothers Nick and Eddie Jones, R B ‘Punji'
Barnes, Alf Paver and Eric Austen - all such illustrious names and
giants of the OPs’ set-up for many years. It must have been around
that time that the school, probably now in the throes of moving from
Roke to Old Coulsdon changed its sporting code from the round to
the oval ball. What a great move that turned out to be. Apart from
Terry Brooke, who for some God-forsaken reason, pinned his colour
to Warlingham RFC, Purley CGS didn't achieve great success at
international level. That said, weren't there so many highly talented
players who graced the rugby field from George McAlpine to Dave
Simmons, from Mick Tidy to Greg Sylvester, just to mention a handful
of names? In those halcyon days, in the 1950s and 1960s, Old
Purleians managed to field generally five XVs each week, with an
additional XV during Christmas and Easter breaks from university or
college. With the demise of Purley CGS as we all knew it, so the
quality of rugby descended into the darkest depths. A change of
name to ‘Purley RFC’ did little to stem the flow and, finally, came the
amalgamation with John Fisher OB's. As the noble game of rugby
football went professional, so did the flow of talent into the Old Boys
diminish even further. ‘Boot money’ or whatever it was called in
those early pro days, was more than enough to lure talent away from
old boys clubs into the paid ranks of such clubs as Wasps, Quins,
Saracens etc etc. What a travesty and how on earth did
‘professionalism’ do any good whatsoever to middle-ranking, junior
county sides OPs’, Reigatians, Whitgiftians, Walcountians, and
the like?

Purley CGS, or whatever other name it enjoyed over the past century,
still holds a lot of affection in my mind, as it doubtless does for many
hundreds of others around the district, all of whom were
beneficiaries of an excellent standard of education. I remember, with
very clear lucidity, talking to Dr Birchall, who said that after his
lengthy spell in secondary education, how very few boys were not
academically improved by their time at schools such as PGCS.
Shame to all those, then, who systematically fought, tooth and nail,
to n'd society of this level of alma mater forgetting that it was never
geared to privilege but simply to boys who were able, at the right
time, to sit and pass a straightforward, common entrance

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