login continuous email location arrow-point-to-right phone calendar translate search facebook

Welcome To

The Old Honitonians Club

Call Us Email Us Find Us

Sports results in the final three decades

Sports results in the final three decades

by George Hayter


Last month I revealed that in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s Allhallows was usually the underdog in matches against other schools.

    That February article, still available here on the website, showed that in First XI and First XV fixtures during those 30 years, we lost 430 matches and won just 315.

    Did our losing habit continue? To find out, I have analysed hundreds more match results to learn how we fared against other schools in the 1970s, 1980s and – as far as is known – in the 1990s.

    I will reveal which of the three major sports we were best at in the school’s last three decades, and in which periods we were usually winners, and periods when victory was generally illusive.

    My disappointing conclusion is that our long-term tendency to lose in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s continued through the ’70s and ’80s. And it looks as though we didn’t do any better in the ’90s, though we can’t be sure because school mags weren’t produced in the school’s last few years, so most ’90s sports results are lost, probably forever.

    Draws are neutral so I have ignored them. Instead, I have analysed only wins and losses – what I call “result matches”.

    Of the 887 known result matches in its final three decades, Allhallows suffered 508 losses and savoured just 379 wins. In other words, when it wasn’t a draw, we lost 57% of the time. I prefer the more cheerful view: 43% of the time we won. That was a slight improvement on the ’40s-to-’60s period when we won 42%.

    I admit a flaw in my methodology. By ignoring draws I have exaggerated our losing tendency – even disastrous seasons often included at least one draw to provide relief.

    Our best sport? In the final three decades that continued to be rugby, with 50% of matches won, the same as in the earlier period. Our rugby winning ways of the late ’60s continued into the ’70s. The effect was that every year for 13 years we won more matches than we lost, with the exception of two years. In other words we had 11 years out of 13 when we won more than we lost.  Particularly glorious among those 13 years were the impressive ’70, ’74 and ’78 seasons, when rugby victories were so numerous that they became routine. The number of victories in each of those three outstanding rugby seasons was at least 14. But after 1980 Allhallows rugby declined. As far as any record exists, there would be only three more rugby seasons when we won more than lost.

    Less successful than rugby was cricket, with 40% of result matches won. Cricket enjoyed what might be called a silver age from ’77 to ’81, when we won at least as much as we lost, with ’78 and’79 almost totally triumphant.

    Least successful in the last three decades of Allhallows was hockey, with 36% of result matches won. There was no return to hockey’s all-conquering heydays of the ’40s and early ’50s. However, ’78 to ’83 did see six almost unbroken years of winning at least as many hockey matches as we lost.

    In all sports, the odds of victory depended on our opponents as much as us, and I understand that opposing schools usually had a numerical advantage over us. Most opposing schools were bigger than Allhallows and so had a larger field of talent to select teams from. However, sometimes that effect was cancelled, when our first team was pitted against an opponent’s second team.

    Where we failed to shine in hockey, cricket and rugby, we more than made up for it by positively dazzling in shooting. In the 20 years from 1951, Allhallows was only four times out of the top nine in the Ashburton Shield rifle shooting contest with 80 other schools. We were a national wonder when our little school actually won the shield – and that happened six times.

    Former team members in the three major sports need not be dismayed by reading of the school’s losing tendency. On the contrary, players can look back on their success with added pride, knowing that their victories were against the odds.

    This is all just maths. Scores and descriptions of particular seasons and even individual matches await you in the pages of school magazines, available in the Archive section of the OH website.