July 2012 saw the first ever Warwick sports alumni reunion. Stuart Wade (BA German Studies 1982-86 and Sports Officer 1986-87), the driving force behind the event, sent in a report:
They say you should never go back; that turning the clock back is a futile call to a time no longer within your grasp. This all may be true but try telling the 60 alumni (going back to the first intake) who attended the inaugural Warwick Sports Reunion in July of 2012 that it was a doomed journey. What started out as a casual conversation between Ian Rickerby, Carol Read and myself gathered a life of its own once we mentioned to a few others in late 2010 and 18 months later the first Reunion was up and running.
Those who attended embraced the gamut of Warwick’s 47 year existence and mixed together as if they were all old friends. We were grateful for the late 1970’s and 1980’s cohort who constituted the majority of those present. Friday night in the Airport Lounge (it may now be called something else but not by us) was a highly appropriate meeting place given the amount of grant income many present had spent in there during their salad days. A social drink or two was rounded off with a few sporting songs of yesteryear including a homage to Bob Locke the former bar manager of yesteryear. The present staff looked perplexed and indeed challenged when it came to getting us out!
Saturday was activity day with the outgoing Director of Sport and loyal Warwick servant, Terry Monnington, kicking things off by conducting in his inimitable style a Volleyball fest which seemed to go on forever. The PE students in particular enjoyed this as it clearly reminded them of the strenuous existence they led whilst at University! Former PE lecturer, Mike Smith, turned up to remind us all how fit...we used to be.
Tearing ourselves away was not easy but football on the astro at Westwood and tennis by the old Corners nightclub (now University administrative offices) was to be experienced. Dave Mussell and Rodney Barker of the 1960’s and John Turner of the 1980’s opted for the more relaxing Campus Tour which was delivered with much enthusiasm and knowledge by a couple of students. The three amigos reported that the students were a credit to the University.
Football and Tennis provided a more energetic afternoon and much was accomplished: strains, fatigue, rolling back the clock but most importantly a hat trick of close in toe pokes by yours truly! Stamina was further tested by the post sport beers in the Varsity Pub on Gibbet Hill Road. A couple of the more professional aka shattered went back to prep[are (sleep) for dinner!
Dinner was a sumptuous repast which took place on the top floor of the Rootes building. In days gone by this area hosted PE parties which would nowadays make twitter screens steam up and the hustings where 700 students would expect the Sports Officer candidates repeat the gymnastic feats of the unforgettable Neville Button of the early 1980’s.
Dinner was clearly a more sedate affair that the follies of days gone by. Rodney Barker (the first AU President) took us through the beginnings of sport at Warwick in the days when England won World Cups. Yours truly painted a picture of Warwick in the 1980’s and recounted true tales of the unexpected involving one or two of the more memorable characters of those times. Terry Monnington spoke fondly of the PE days and brought everybody up to date with the Warwick of the 21st Century. He did not forget to remind us all of the type of character who made PE such a well known subject at Warwick University!
The Dinner was followed by the compulsory “discotheque” in one of the many SU bars. We were indebted to Jimmy Tucker whose ipod was a disco on its own and contained a nostalgic collection that proved beyond doubt that musically at least you can survive without being totally au fait with dancing gangnam, whigfield or macarena style. Those present danced the night away and had to be encouraged to leave such was their excitement at returning to their alma mater. (I think some drink helped as well). The kitchen in Jack Martin provided a crowded but happy venue for the continuing party where the old classic sports songs were heard once more.
We were grateful to Claudie Combelas, Sara Auckland, Gemma Morris and Nathalie Pattinson in particular plus many other Warwick staff members who were always so helpful and encouraging throughout the organisation and weekend itself. The University of 2012 was a very different one to that experienced by many of those present in July during their student days. It would be fair to say it put on a good show for our returning alumni.
So was it worth it? Can you go back? We managed to attract two former SU Presidents and four former Sports Officers. Alumni came from New Zealand, USA, a boat in the Pacific, Australia and even Kenilworth! They came from 1965 up until the early 2000s and new friendships were made. Most importantly we had fun. We should never under estimate the importance of laughing. We did lot of that. it was worth it.
If you are interested in arranging a reunion for your club or society, email the alumni office today.