Was Allhallows good at sport? by George Hayter
Did we usually win or were we more often the losers? And which sport were we best at?
To find out, I have spent years researching the results of matches between Allhallows and other schools.
I have compiled the results of hundreds of fixtures by consulting school magazines going back to 1940.
That has given me a detailed picture of 1st XI and 1st XV match results over half a century for all three major sports: hockey, cricket, rugby.
I was never in any of those teams and my only part in first-team matches was to spectate. Just a casual curiosity started my statistical enquiry but, as I came across more match results, my curiosity grew.
Ours was a small school. “But Allhallows punched above its weight in sport,” I have heard OHs say. This article tests that claim. Perhaps you should stop reading now, so as not to risk disappointment if Allhallows is revealed as a frequent loser. But for all you know I could be about to reveal a victorious past.
There is much to tell so in this month’s article there is space to summarise only what happened in matches between 1940 and 1969. For match results in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s you will have to wait for my March 1st website article.
Draws are neutral so this analysis considers only matches that Allhallows won or lost – what I call “result matches”.
The harsh truth is that, in matches where there was a winner, the winner was usually the other side. In the 1940s, 50s and 60s there were 745 result matches and Allhallows won 315 of them, which is just 42%.
The least successful sport in those 30 years was cricket, with just 39% of result matches won. Hockey won 42%. Rugby 50%.
Results worsened over the period. In the 1940s 54% of matches were won but in the 1960s the victory rate fell to 32%.
Hockey declined most steeply, with more wins than losses in 86% of seasons in the 1940s, 33% in the 50s and just 20% in the 60s. Hockey’s reversal of fortunes happened in a single year. More hockey matches were won than lost before 1955 but for the next 14 years, with the exception of the almost unbeaten 1963 season, we lost more than we won.
Depressing seasons without a win – there were three of them: Hockey in 1942 and 1966, Rugby in 1965. By the way, the regrettable ’65 season must have been a particular disappointment for Gethyn Hewan, a new headmaster who had arrived that term. Hewan loved sport. He followed VAL Hill, a head with little interest in sport. The statistics show that one of the first things Hewan did was arrange more fixtures.
Bear in mind that losses were not quite as frequent as analysing only result matches suggests, because even disastrous seasons often included at least one draw to provide relief.
Undefeated seasons? Only one: Rugby in 1948.
1965’s rugby team had a similar distinction but the other way round: Eight matches and no wins.
The following year results were even worse for hockey: 12 matches, 12 losses.
To find out what happened next to Allhallows sport, read next month’s column, where I will summarise results from 1970 to 1992 (when recording of results faded out). Did Allhallows manage to ascend from usual losers to usual winners? Did rugby continue to be our strongest sport?
Cricket had a poor five-year run up to 1969, when every year for five years we lost more than we won. Next month find out how long it took to recover from that.
Rugby had an excellent three-year run up to 1969, when results showed the number of matches won averaged twice the number lost. Next month I will reveal how long our rugby glory years went on.