Shrewsbury School

Giles Bell's Team of the Week

Thursday 26 September 2019

At regular intervals during term time, Giles Bell turns both his spotlight and his wit on a different sports team within the School.

Giles is a teacher of Philosophy and Theology, Admissions Tutor, Football and Cricket coach, Brighton FC fan and general sports enthusiast. He was also Housemaster of School House for 14 years.

His reports give a good flavour of the wide range of sports at Shrewsbury and the huge enjoyment that pupils derive from playing them, whatever their level of skill and achievement.

It is always exciting when the football season begins. There are the Fantasy League selections to be made. There is the hope that this is the year when ‘that hunch’ that the cheap Brighton defender may outscore more illustrious selections comes true. Then there is the Staff Premier League Results Predictor League to be joined. Can Mr Tonks do better than last year? Were the scientific methods employed by Drs Briggs and Pattenden one-off flukes or tried and tested formulas that will propel them to the top of the league once again? (It looks like the latter at the moment!)

New boots are unfurled from the excessive packaging that would have Greta reaching for a microphone. Their vibrant colours draw attention to the player who is proudly wearing them, giving them a new-found confidence on the pitch. Charlie Criddle likes his bright lemon boots and told me that he found them going cheap. They weren’t going cheap because they were chick-coloured, he assures me. Although he did commit a couple of ‘fowls’ in his match on Wednesday.

There was great excitement among the 1st XI squad when I caught up with them earlier in the week as they were preparing for their first-round Boodle Cup match against Leeds Grammar School. Leeds have knocked us out before and so 1st Team Coach Steve Wilderspin was leaving nothing to chance. “I am leaving nothing to chance,” a serious looking ‘Wilders’ told me. “We are practising penalties as there is always a chance the game could end in a draw and then go to penalties.”

New signing goalkeeper Ben Lees was showing his team mates ‘how to do it’. “By missing my penalty, I am hoping that others will follow my lead and make life easier for goalkeepers throughout the land.” Ben admitted that he is a member of the Goalkeepers’ Union.

I wondered if the coach’s message was getting through to the players and so I asked Finn Samson what he thought about the forthcoming battle. “Although there is a good chance we can win the game there is also a chance we could lose it, so chance has to be taken out of the equation,” Finn said.

Both Luke Bourne-Arton and Finn were taking the build-up the game extremely seriously. “Football is a serious business and I for one don’t want to give the opposition a chance,” Luke told me. “I am adopting my game face from now on in case I lose focus during the next 24 hours.”


Mr Hughes was also looking very serious. “I am a very serious man,” he stated.

Away from the 1st XI squad preparations were going on for the Under-14D fixture against Shrewsbury High Prep. The Under-14 and Under-15D squads have been training together under the watchful eye of experienced coaches Nick Zafar and Matt Barrett. Mr Zafar is a Southampton fan and enjoyed watching the great Matt Le Tissier among other Saints giants. Mr Zafar felt that Le Tissier had learnt a lot from his coaching. “I used to give him plenty of advice at home games,” Mr Zafar told me, “as did a number of other ‘coaches’ in the crowd,” he added.

Mr Barrett is a keen exponent of the Liverpool’s high press. “It’s important to use the high press to help win games,” Mr Barrett told me. “You are a member of the high press,” Mr Barrett informed me, “as you are quite tall, and you are writing an article about football”. I think some of his players may be confused about the exact nature of the high press.

I found that despite my enjoyable recent training session with the D squad where we worked on goal celebrations and how to win a penalty, I needed to raid the Under-14C squad for a ‘game changer’. My eye rested on Charlie Marsh during the Under-14C warm-up. Having promised to attend Chapel more regularly, I was able to sign Charlie. He was told the good news by Under-14C manager Rev Keulemans (or Rochdale Rev, as he generally called owing to his affiliation to a certain football club!).

Charlie clearly knows about the total football demanded by my training regime and was delighted to be part of Team GB. “I am delighted to be going out on loan to Team GB,” Charlie told a news conference earlier this week. Charlie was not the only one delighted to be part of Team GB. Just look at the faces of these happy and focused young footballers as they prepared to walk to their away fixture.

They won’t be so happy when they have to walk to Packwood next week!

You will be pleased to hear that there was a certain symmetry to the results of the top team in the School and the 1st XI. The Under-14Ds were 3-0 up at half time, courtesy of a first-half hat-trick by William ‘Hotshot’ Hughes. The 1st XI were 4-0 up at half-time after good finishing by Guy Gowar, Luke Bourne-Arton and Nathan Day.

After a relaxed half-time team talk by their respective coaches, the matches finished with the Under-14Ds winning 4-3 and the 1st XI winning 5-2. Did you have William Hughes in your fantasy League team?


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