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Guests brave the elements to attend annual Sporting Club dinner

The unseasonal snowy weather did not deter over 180 guests returning to campus to attend the second Loughborough Sporting Club annual dinner (Friday 22 March).

The evening provided an opportunity for Sporting Club members to return to Loughborough and network with their former colleagues and team mates.

The ‘Friends of’ groups were out in force, with good representation from the sports of cricket and tennis.  But Friends of Football deserve a special mention for having over 30 members in attendance.

Sporting Club members also had the chance to rub shoulders with former and current staff members alongside some leading lights from sport and the Loughborough University Sport Hall of Fame.

Guests included former 5,000 metre world record holder David Moorcroft and Arsenal’s goalkeeper from the 1971 ‘double’ winning season Bob Wilson, alongside current students including London 2012 Olympic Games triathlete Lucy Hall and emerging tennis players Amanda Elliott, Scott Whitbread and David Scales.

The evening began with a welcome from Loughborough University Vice Chancellor Professor Robert Allison, who stated that:

“Sport is part of the DNA of this University. It is not just about the huge success we have in elite sport but it is in everything we do, from the Inter Mural Sport we run for our students, to the academic research we do.”

“It is about the people that represent the history of sport at Loughborough, many of who are here tonight, as well as the coaches, the people who support our athletes in teams and individuals

 “Finally it is also about the proud work that the Athletic Union and the Loughborough Students Union do.”

Professor Allison also welcomed former Vice Chancellor Sir David Wallace, and reminded him about the ‘Wallace Trophy’ which he instigated, stating that is the ’most highly prized trophy’ on campus, played for by the Student Union and University executive teams at the start of academic year.

Following dinner David Moorcroft compared the Hall of Fame ceremony, ably supported by Christine Fisher, Chair of the Loughborough Club Advisory Group, who read out the inductees’ biographies.

During his introduction David Moorcroft, who has been a fine ambassador of the University for many years, stated:

“There is no other place in the world like Loughborough. No other institution has had such an incredible impact on sport in totally as Loughborough has.

“Certainly in terms of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Loughborough was at the sharp end of everything. But this was under pinned by the incredible work that has been achieved here over many years.”

The ‘Class of 2013’ entering into the Loughborough University Sport Hall of Fame saw 12 members inducted on the evening, including for the first time coaches.

John Disley, the co-founder of the London Marathon and himself and Hall of Fame member, received the accolade given posthumously to athletics coach Geoffrey Dyson.

Geoff coached the British Olympic Team in 1952, 1956, and 1960. In 1962, he first published ‘the Mechanics of Athletics’ which was translated into several languages and ran for numerous editions.

John described Geoff as the ‘Father of Coaching’ and that Loughborough should be very proud of him.

Also inducted from athletics was Captain Frederick Webster – an influential athletics coach during the 1920s and 30s.

During his time at Loughborough Webster launched the Amateur Athletics Association ‘Summer Schools’ at which he would coach the coaches. He was also the driving force behind improvements to campus sports facilities including a new athletics track.

Webster’s grandson Michael and great grandson Jonathan were in attendance to accept the award given posthumously.

Michael stated that his grandfather had ‘realised that to be successful you had to learn about how the body worked and how to coach.’

He also stated that Webster had been influential in bring Geoff Dyson to Loughborough, after his stint in the army, to carry on the great tradition of athletics which has continued through to the present day.

From football, former international goalkeeper Tony Waiters was inducted for his successful coaching career, which led to his appointment as Manager for the Canadian World Cup and Olympic Teams.

Although he did not complete his studies in order to take up the opportunity to play professional football for Blackpool, Tony stated in a letter, read out by fellow Hall of Fame member Bob Wilson, that:

“My two years at Loughborough had a profound effect on my career, particularly as a coach and a teacher. I was at my best on teaching practice and the template we used then to prepare lesson plans remains with me to this very day.

“I have now written over 20 coaching manual books aimed at mums and dads who coach our youngest players in Canada and the United States and are the lifeblood of the game. The Loughborough lesson plan template is the foundation that I still work from.”

The other coaches to be inducted on the night were Allen Wade (posthumous) and Charles Hughes from football, and from rugby union Ray Williams.

The Hall of Fame also inducted six sportspeople including former rugby league international Bev Risman, Olympic badminton player Donna Kellogg, and Wales and British Lion John Taylor, who were all in attendance to collect their awards.

John Taylor confessed to starting his rugby playing career at Loughborough playing at centre, alongside fellow Welsh great Gerald Davies.  However he soon realised that ‘if I wanted a future in rugby I needed to move away from centre to the back row.’

This ‘catalyst’ to move positions clearly worked for John, who was voted as the greatest ever No 7 to play for Wales.

In keeping with the theme of the night, John was also asked about the influence of coaching at Loughborough, and stated the importance of fellow Hall of Fame member John Robins, who worked in the PE department from 1959-1968.  John stated:

“John Robins was the first guy to be selected as ‘the coach’ for the 1966 Lions Tour. He was a wonderful influence to us.  His sessions in Victory Hall were horrible, but he set new standards for fitness and skills in the sport, and was a real pioneer.”

Also inducted on the evening was Olympic silver medallist middle distance runner Wendy Sly, legendary Lions rugby captain John Dawes and former England rugby 1957 Grand Slam winner Jeffrey Butterfield, whose son Giles collected his award that was given posthumously.

Full information about the 38 Hall of Fame members, including the Class of 2013 can be found on the Loughborough Sporting Club website at:

The evening concluded with a key note speech from the University’s new Director of Sport Peter Keen, who provided his own unique insight of understanding the reason why Loughborough is renowned for sport.

During his time at UK Sport Peter was credited as being responsible for developing and implementing ‘Mission 2012’ a strategic performance management system and reporting process for all Olympic and Paralympic elite sports.

This process not only underpinned the success achieved by Team GB and Paralympics GB at the 2012 Games, it is also considered to be the benchmark for evaluating public funding for elite sport.

Peter began by stating how ‘humbling’ it was to be at Loughborough with all of its history and tradition, alongside the fact that it had taken him 30 years to have his ‘application accepted’ by the University, but he had finally made it.

During those 30 years Peter had visited the campus on many occasions to attend various courses and camps, as well as signing off funding at UK Sport for facility development and performance programmes for governing bodies based on campus.

As such he thought he knew what sport at Loughborough University was all about. But he soon realised that he didn’t. Peter explained further by saying:

“Just six weeks into the job I finally got it! It’s not about the medals, the research publications or all the big profile stories or the personalities that are all products of Loughborough sport.

“It’s the simple fact that you do it here. You do sport, you do it on mass, and you do more than anywhere else that you are likely to go.  Sport is woven into the fabric of life here in the most extraordinary way.

“The energy and passion of the place – the simple fascination for playing, competing and training and scale that it happens here – has absolutely blown me away.”

The Loughborough Sporting Club is a joint initiative of the University’s Development & Alumni Relations Office (DARO), Sports Development Centre (SDC), Athletic Union and committed alumni.

It is designed to create a structure to involve and engage alumni and friends with Loughborough Sport.

To contact Loughborough Sporting Club email