How a love of sport stopped me from smoking behind the Air Dome

When I was a pupil at Herries comprehensive in the 80s, I had several lessons I enjoyed, but my favourite of all was PE – with not a pen or blackboard or classroom in sight.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:27 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:29 am

Friday afternoons was a double, double period of PE – it was like an early start to the weekend for me.

In this time you could play a multitude of sports, from badminton in our Air Dome, a facility we were very proud of, to football on the sports field or basketball in the lower gym.

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Children taking part in the Mount View pre school, Derbyshire Lane, sports day, 14 July 2006

I never smoked, or wanted to. It was too expensive, plus I liked my sport too much, and never saw the point.

At this time sport was really important to me, I enjoyed it all.

I played for the school football team, which was one of the best in the city.

Outibridge Primary School Olympic Sports Day, June 2011

Out of season I did athletics which was also enjoyable with the 100 metres as my discipline and at which, I must admit, I was quite capable.

For me, and anyone who enjoyed athletes, sports day was the day to shine.

There was a sports day at every school I attended from primary right up to comprehensive.

In primary school we had very different events to the ones at Herries.

I remember the egg and spoon race which relied on a combination of skills from speed to hand-eye coordination.

Also various variations on relay races using anything from large hopes to bean bags.

The sack race was also a popular one. Thinking back I wonder why there weren’t any serious accidents caused by that race, but thankfully there weren't.

Then of course there was the skipping rope race which favoured the girls more than the boys, but was also a difficult discipline

At every school I attended, no parents came to watch. It just wasn't the done thing at any school I knew, back then.

I was able to carry on with athletics when I joined the RAF where I competed at a decent level, even achieving a sub 11-second time for the 100 metres.

This put me in good stead for when my children started school.

Unbeknown to me, school sports days, unlike the ones I remembered as a child, started to be attended by parents, and with parents came the parents’ race.

But after that first race, I missed it again and decided it wasn’t my fault I could run so fast, so every year I ran on behalf of all my three children.

I used to win every year I attended the event, I remember children shouting for me instead of their own dads.

But as the years went by and I got older and slower and the other fathers got younger and faster I had to succumb.

Fortunately my youngest stopped being a pupil at that particular school and I then was free of any obligation to race again.