Harrow County School for Boys

Tony Rhoades - Obituary from Dennis Orme of the Athletics Club

I first came to know Tony some time before I went to Harrow County as I was in the same class, for most of my time at Roxbourne Primary School, as his eldest daughter Carole.   At Harrow County during the 1970's, I remember him as a vociferous campaigner against the school becoming a comprehensive and I knew that the outcome greatly saddened him.

Tony was instrumental in reforming the Old Gaytonians Athletics Club in March 1951 after it had disbanded during the War years.   He was a committee member for 22 years variously holding the posts of Club Secretary, Officials Secretary, Captain, Vice Chairman and finally Chairman.   He was made a Vice President in the 1950's.

As a competitor, Tony won the Club's mile cup in 1951 and was runner up in the Senior Championship from 1951 to 1953.

To quote from his article in the Club's Diamond Jubilee magazine from 1981:

"It was estimated that there were 21 members at the beginning of the 1951 season, but the report for the year tells us that nearly 40 athletes represented the Club during the season, which was an incredibly healthy rebirth.

Inevitably, the fixture list and indeed the whole structure of the fixture programme in those early post-war years was very much different from what it is now.   Training, recognised more in the breach than in the observance, was held at the School, where our home fixtures were also held.   At this time, Old Boys' athletics was at its height, and we enjoyed keenly contested and enjoyable matches against Fullerians, Haberdashers, Latymerians, East Barnet Old Grammarians and others, as well as against local business houses such as W.H. Smith and Glaxo, and open clubs such as Finchley Harriers, Shaftesbury and Ruislip & Northwood.

Apart from these matches, the highlights of the season were the match against the School, and our participation in School Sports Day, when we staged the 100 yards, 880 yards and Javelin events of our own Club Championships, and also sponsored a relay held between teams representing the sporting sections of the Old Gaytonians - athletics, rugby, tennis and cricket.  This latter was always a highly entertaining, keenly-contested and sometimes hilarious event, with undertones of 'nobbling' and 'ringing'!   Victory went to the Rugby Club more often than not, as they were usually more successful at these nefarious activities!

Apart from the athletics, School Sports Day was in those days a highly successful and enjoyable social occasion, providing a welcome reunion between Old Boys and their former masters.   It was followed in the evening by what was then described as the Club's 'Flannel' dance held at a local venue." 

After leaving the Club committee he officiated at Club fixtures for some 25 years although he hadn't been active in recent years.   However, I often bumped into him in Rayners Lane and he would ask after the Club's progress and he expressed a desire to return to the Club's activities again.  Sadly, it was not to be.

His first love, as an Old Gaytonian, was rugby and I understand he represented the OGRC as a competitor for a remarkable 35 years.   His daughter Carole also competed for the Old Gayts Athletics Club when it briefly had a ladies section in the 1970's.

Without Tony, the Athletics Club would not have been as successful as it was in those post War years.   He set us a great example with his dedication, enthusiasm and loyalty.

Dennis Orme


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