THE RYE TEAM WHO WERE NEVER BEATEN.
There can be few football teams in the country who can claim they were never beaten, but sixty years ago a Rye side, only in existence for one season, never lost a match out of the 25 games played. They won the League and Cup Double and the lads owed it all to a teacher.
“We are going to be league champions next year” With these few words Rye Primary School teacher Mr. R. O’Connor set to work to build Rye Primary Schools first and only football team. At the time it seemed an impossible attainment. This was back in 1947, World War Two was barely over and the school had never fielded a soccer team but by May of 1948 he had forged a team of such quality that Rye’s most youthful eleven were proud possessors not only of the Hastings Primary Schools League trophy but also of the J. N. Collins challenge cup.
They played 18 league matches and won 14 of them, the other four being drawn, scored 84 goals and conceded 12. In Collins Cup matches they netted 15 times and had three goals scored against them. They eliminated Silverhill 6-1 and Cilve Vale 4-0 and drew with Sandown 0-0 and beat them 3-0 in the replay at Rye then defeated Mod 3-1 in the final.
“Mr. O’Connor is an all round sportsman he plays cricket for Rye’s first eleven and has really put life into football at this school and has tremendously improved the school spirit” this was the tribute paid at the time by Councillor M.W. Beeves, Primary School headmaster.
Mr. Beevers went on to say “He has welded the team together and has adopted a policy of playing young boys so that some of them will be able to play again next year, an experiment which the people of Hastings are copying.
I think it is a good thing because Rye people are so sport conscious, it must surely rebound to the advantage of the senior club”.
Councillor Beevers added “The team’s success was due to out-of-school practice and the sacrifice by Mr. O’ Connor and his worthy lieutenant Mr. D. J. Dickens, of all their Saturday mornings and very many evenings. The only time football had been played at school was at the period set aside for sport. In no way is it part of Mr. O’ Connors job” he emphasised, it’s purely his own hobby.”
A big factor in the success of Mr. O’Conners team was the help received from the supporters Club, consisting in the main of parents under the chairmanship of Mr. F. Bourn, who had made themselves responsible for travelling expenses. There was no official backing at all for primary schools competitive football. the Supporters Club provided medals for the team and these were presented at a later social, at which Mr. G. Relf. a keen cinematographer, screened shots of some of the league matches and the Collins Cup Final.
The Team – Back Row (left to right) Colin Paine, Ivan Polley, Jimmy Igglesden, Mr. O’Connor, Mick Bourn, David Fuggle and Brian Booth Front Row – Tony Breeds, Colin Relf, Mick Mills, Keith Whitnall and John Vigor.
From “Rye’s Own” January 2010 issue
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