Sporting glories remembered

8 Oct 2021 11:56
Published by: Scott Callan

RUGBY players from down the decades scrummed down again to celebrate 90 years of the sport at the King's School.

Together with a group of alumnae netball players, King's welcomed back some of the sportsmen and women who have given the Macclesfield school a national reputation for sporting excellence.

From former England international Jos Baxendell to the only surviving member of the 1945 'Magnificent Seven', William Hancock, now aged 94, King's stalwarts of the game shared the happiest of memories.

Jos, who left the school in 1990, having been a member of the national Oxford Sevens winning team, went on to play for Sale for 12 years with two England caps at centre.

He said: "It was fantastic fun and I'm still mates with all the boys now. King's gave me a great grounding for my professional career but most importantly it was just an absolutely wonderful and immensely enjoyable part of my life."

Former pupil Rick Wright flew in from Ghana for the event, and was a member of the same group of players as Jos.

He has since set up rugby clubs in Beirut, Sierra Leone and Ghana, and went to see Jos play an international in South Africa. He said: "My closest and oldest chums are all King's rugby players and when Jos got capped by England it was an incredibly proud moment for all of us."

The celebration event gave the school's former sportsmen and women a chance to explore the new £60 million King's campus on Alderley Road and enjoy a former pupils' netball tournament and rugby game followed by a hog roast and open bar.

The oldest surviving rugby player of them all, William Hancock, said: "It was the camaraderie and the fun. I can still remember the thrill of playing in from of the whole school and then headmaster T T Shaw, shouting at me from the touchline, 'Go Hancock! Go Hancock!"

William found fame in the local press as a member of the 'Magnificent Seven' that won the Manchester Schools' Championship in 1945 and added: "I still have the newspaper cuttings to this day and very much remember all my great friends of that time."

Katie Hindson, who left the school in 2003, remembered its netball tour to The Netherlands. She said: "At that time the boys were going on rugby tours to exotic places like South Africa, so we said we wanted our turn and went to Holland.

"It might not have been as far, but it was still great fun, meeting up with other schools for an overseas tournament and I have to admit sneaking off at night to go to a club!"

The event also saw some of the school's rugby masters and former sports coaches meet up with their former charges. Guy Mason, a former King's player and latterly its head of rugby, brought his new school side Lancaster Grammar for a series of matches on the celebration day.

And there was a current representative of the fourth generation of King's sport at the event, Grace Cornford, 16, showed her father Robert around the new school and even found a photo of her dad in the class of '83.

Robert said: " I bowled a bit and batted bit and wasn't that good at either, but it was huge fan and I'm delighted Grace is now at the school as the fourth generation of King's pupils, with one of her grandmothers also going to Macclesfield High."

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