Hoots from the Archive - A Brief History of Sports Day

Posted by Rachel Kneale on 06 Jul 2022

Modified by Rachel Kneale on 13 Jul 2022

Sports Day Stilts, 1915

We are now in the final week of the academic year when the School will hold its annual Sports Day. This is an event that has a long history at MGS. The first "Athletic Sports" event was held 1873, with a report included in the first edition of Ulula. 

                                                                                                        An early Sports Day

It was held in late June in Heaton Park; the School at this point was situated at Long Millgate in the city centre and had no dedicated playing fields of its own. Ulula records some of the events:

  1. Throwing the Cricket Ball
  2.  Hundred yards Flat Race.
  3.  Hundred yards Flat Race for boys under sixteen.
  4. Hundred yards Flat Race for boys under twelve.
  5. Broad Jump
  6.  Broad Jump for those under sixteen.
  7.  Putting the Shot.
  8.  Quarter mile Flat Face.
  9.  Quarter mile Flat Face for boys under sixteen.
  10. Sack Race.
  11. High Jump.
  12. High Jump for boys under sixteen.
  13. Two hundred yards Flat Race for those under sixteen.
  14. Two hundred and twenty yards Race for Masters and Old Boys.
  15. Hundred and twenty yards Hurdle Race, eight flights.
  16. Hurdle Race for those under sixteen.
  17. Sixty yard Flat Race for boys under eleven.
  18. Three-legged Race for boys under fourteen.
  19. Mile Race.
  20. Consolation Race, two hundred and twenty yards
  21. Consolation Race for Old Boys, two hundred and twenty

Silver and bronze medals were awarded to the winners.

                                                                                                   An early Sports Day - stilts

By 1883, the event had moved to Kersal Cricket Club, and included such intriguing events as the "Stone Race":

"Stone Race - First Prize : Racquet ........................................................ H. E. Watkins.
Second Prize : Knife ............................................................P. Milner.
Third Prize : Pencil Case.................................................... P. Rowcliffe."

In 1885 two extra events were included - the "Bicycle Race" and the "Tricycle Race" - reflecting the "bicycle craze" of the time.

During this period, entrance fees were levied to cover the cost of hiring the venue. The fees in 1895 were:

Over 16 years, each event 6d

Under 16 years, each event, 3d

Entrance money will be returned to all boys under 14 who actually take part in the event for which they have entered.

Espirit de corps was fostered by the form "Tug of War" contest:

                                                                             Tug of War "Challenge Cup", late nineteenth century

By the turn of the century the Sports had moved out to Fallowfield, just across the road from our current site. High Master J.L. Paton brought in another change:

The High Master’s innovation, which induces boys to compete more for the honour of their forms than for individual rewards, met with the success it deserved, as the entries show. No fewer than 503 names were registered by the secretaries, the previous record having been last year’s, viz., 316.

                                                                                                              Athletics c. 1920s

Boys were awarded medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the various events and we have a collection of these in the archives:

                                                                                                     Athletic Sports Medal, 1920s

                                                                                             Medal for 3rd place in the Open Mile

                                                                                                             Steeplechase medal

We also hold a trophy for the 220 yards, awarded in 1899:

                                                                                                              220 yards trophy

Sports Day continued into the second half of the century, being held either at the School or at the Harris Stadium in Fallowfield.

                                                                                                 Athletics at the Harris Stadium

                                                                   Certificates replaced medals by the middle of the Twentieth Century

Now Sports Day is held in the final week of term on the School field.



0 Likes Posted one year ago

This is an insane find! However, I don't understand why we've stopped doing these amazing events…

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