Wigan Grammar School

Athletics

   
The intermediate hurdles race in 1942
In 1909 the second annual athletics sports were held on June 11th at Springfield Park, heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon.  Most events were handicap events, and in all of them the first two received prizes.  Thus in the high jump the winner received a golf club, in the 220 yards intermediate a cruet stand, and in the bicycle race a jam dish.  There were 13 events ;  100 yards (senior, junior, under 13), 220 yards (intermediate, junior), high jump, throwing the cricket ball, half mile, sack race, bicycle race, three-legged race, all-fours race, and Old Boys’ race and a tug-o’-war.  The prizes were paid for by subscriptions from parents and friends In many events there was a system of handicapping; in 1913, for example, the winner of the half-mile had 140 yards start.  Times were not recorded, or if recorded, they were not published

.

The Hampson Cup
  A protest in the School Magazine of 1914 reads, “It is beneath our dignity to let the sports degenerate into that type of entertainment which is commonly known as a School treat.”  After the introduction of the House system in 1926, the Sports became a House event, and the prizes gave way gradually to bronze medals.  After some years even these tangible rewards were abolished, as it was soon realised that a capable athlete could during his School career accumulate more of these medals than he knew what to do with.  Thenceforth boys competed for the House Trophy, and there was no individual reward except for the champion of each class, the O’Donahue Cup for seniors, a cup presented by Mr and Mrs F W Hampson for the intermediates and one presented by Mrs D G Baker for juniors.
  The system of handicapping was gradually eliminated and the last traces disappeared in 1931.  In 1932 the sports were completed re-organised. The three classes, senior, intermediate and junior, were established and a complete list of events arranged for each class.  The junior sack race was for some time an annual event, and there have been other similar relaxations for the spectators such as pillow fights and obstacle races, but these have always been non-competitive.
 

The Sports continued to be run at Springfield Park until 1934, although it was sometimes necessary to postpone them until the grass had been mown there.  In 1935 they were held at Central Park, and in 1936 at the Rugby ground at Standish, where strange as it may seem, several records were set up.  In 1937 the Sports were held for the first time on the new Mesnes Field and with this a new chapter opens in their history.

 

Spencer wins in 1949
For the first time the competitors had opportunity for preliminary practice and a good track to run on.  At the same time the system of standard points was gradually introduced, by which a boy gained points for his House if he reached a given standard in any event.  These changes not only increased the entries to well over 2,000, but improved the standard out of all recognition.

 

A. Worthington (Shot)
Athletic Sports of 1963
There were several innovations in the regulations for this year’s Athletic Sports.  The first was the abolition of points awarded to any competitor who was able to achieve a standard time or distance in events.  In 1937 when this system was started, entries for the sports were not obtained as easily as now and the general standard was much lower.  Standard points have played their part in rousing enthusiasm, discovering hidden talent and raising the average level.  But it does take a long time to get through all the preliminaries involved, and as there has been less and less time each year recently, the system has been gradually reduced for some time.
This year sports entries were accepted on a restricted basis, each boy being able to enter for two track and two field events.  There were also two open events for seniors and intermediates.  In addition the intermediates for the first time had a mile and a half mile race.The Sports were held at the Stadium, Woodhouse Lane, on the afternoon of Monday, May 27th.
It was the first time the sports had been held on a ground fully equipped for athletics, and the organisation was easier.  The weather was fine, but windy, though not quite so windy as last year, and the few spectators in the sunless stand were very cold.
J. Reinke (440yds)
One record was broken and one equalled, but there was some very keen competition.  The juniors and seniors on the whole had a higher level of performance than last year.  More enthusiastic finishing was also brought about by the fact that all six finalists as well as all six Houses in the relay races scored points.  The individual points in each event were 10, 7, 5, 3, 2, 2, and in the relays these figures were quadrupled.
The combined school’s first Sports Day in 1964 must have appeared as a challenge to both the competitors and the organisers. Because of the large numbers involved, the Junior School had its Sports Day on Monday 25th May, whilst the Seniors ran off their events on Thursday 28th May in front of the whole school and (unfortunately) only a few parents
In 1970, because of track resurfacing at Woodhouse Stadium, The Athletic Sports made a welcome re-appearance on the Mesnes.  It was decided to combine the Junior and Senior Sports into one, held on Wednesday 20th May, all other events having been decided previously.  For the first time all distances were expressed as metric which, although being in line with present trends, meant that all time records had to be abandoned since the distances over which races had been run had all been altered.