History of Warwickshire Police Sports Club

A search of our records back to 1947 has revealed a rich legacy of individual and team sporting achievements. At that time there were thriving football, cricket and rugby sections with smaller teams representing the force at athletics and cross-country.The force soccer team began to play in local leagues and in the Police Athletic Association (PAA) competitions against other forces.

Bill Selwyn recalls a cricket match circa 1948 where Stratford Police Division took on Warwick Police Division at Stratford cricket club. Percy Morgan took 8 wickets and Jim Ponsford took 2 wickets as Warwick bowled the entire Stratford team out for 0 runs! It made the national papers.

1950 – Home Office Circular – Assistance to Sports Clubs

It was the view of the Oaksey Committee that assistance should be given to foster sports activities in police forces and that organised games would do much to make the police service attractive and therefore police authorities should be prepared to meet out of the police fund the cost of providing sports grounds, pavilions and similar capital assets which would otherwise be beyond the scope of the members of police sports club.

The police authority in Warwickshire already most generously provided a sports ground at “Woodcote” and given authority for the brick and thatched farm building to be adapted as changing rooms.

With regard to the other expenses which may be incurred by a police sports club the Oaksey Committee considered that it was right that members of the police force should themselves make some contribution not exceeding 10/- per head in any year. All members of the Warwickshire Constabulary subscribed 2/6d per annum towards the sports clubs. The Secretary of State said he was prepared to recognise reasonable expenditure incurred by the police authority by way of contributions on the above basis.

In 1950/01 the force football team won the District PAA competition and in the later stages played the semi-final at Leamington Lockheed against No4 District Metropolitan Police.This was the most important game the boys in blue had played and Detective Superintendent Spooner arranged for the players to have several days training immediately prior to the game under the supervision of players from Coventry City. Unfortunately the thoroughness of the training meant that all the players were worn out on the day of the match and lost!

In these early years an Annual Sports Day took place at Police HQ solely for police families, civilian staff and members. Events such as running races, including those for children and families, cape and cycle races, tug of war and throwing a cricket ball, these were very competitive days and trophies were awarded on the day.

PS 5 Fred Dyas appears to have run the sports club single-handedly in the old days. Russ Whiting took over the secretary’s job, followed by the late Jim Hemming, then Les Barnett, Peter Guillaume, Chris Edmond and now Hattie Sibbick.

Force Sports Day became an annual event in 1959 at Police HQ. It was a ‘family day’ and interdivisional rivalry was very strong. HQ and Stratford joined forces to contest against the other five divisions for the Force Team Trophy. In the late 50’s and early 60’s divisional clubs would arrange buses to convey their teams, families and supporters to HQ. Divisional superintendents were on hand to show their support and prizes were presented by the Chief Constable. The three most prestigious events were the ‘helmet and cape cycle race’, where competitors raced round a 440-yard grass track on police cycles wearing a cape and helmet. There was always a huge entry and the final consisted of two tiring laps. The family race involved a child under 10 running 40 yards; mum running 60 yards and dad (a serving officer) running the return 100 yards. The most serious event was the ‘Tyler Cup’ where officers from Midlands Forces were invited to compete. PC Billy McKim who was a sub-4 minute miler won the event and ran the 1500m in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

In the 1960’s it became harder to get time off to represent the force at any level and this started the decline in the number taking part in sporting events. Warwickshire boasted one of the best flat green bowls rinks in the county. The loss of ground staff to maintain it saw it fall into disrepair. Similarly the tennis courts at HQ were first class. £11,000 was spent in the 1990’s to return them to their former glory but they are now purely used as car parking places!

Force boundary changes and diminishing interest in sport saw the last Sports day held in the late 1970’s.Force Sport in the 1950’s and 60’s was seen as a matter of pride. Chief Constables had reputations for promoting particular games. Grimsby Borough Police were regular PAA champions as the Chief scouted constables from football clubs whose players were not quite good enough for the full time professional ranks. Similarly Staffordshire had the best Rugby team whilst the Metropolitan ‘H’ division always won the PAA tug-of-war events. Force amalgamations, loss of identity, loss of support from senior ranks, loss of time for participation, the demise of sport in schools and a general lack in personal fitness have all contributed to the decline in sport.

When the Warwickshire Constabulary amalgamated in 1970 with Coventry Police subscriptions were 3d per week to the Force Sports Club and 4d per week to Divisional Sports Clubs. Warwickshire hosted the PAA National cross-country championships and introduced the first ever event for women, which was so successful that it is now a permanent PAA event.

Les Barnett became the first Warwickshire Police officer in 1972 to win a National PAA title at Athletics taking the 400m gold at Durham in a new record PAA time. He went on to win the title four more times as well as reaching a record 11 consecutive finals, the last at the age of 40. He became PAA team manager for track and field for the last 10 years of his service.

In the mid to late 1970’s Warwickshire Constabulary had a thriving freshwater angling section. There were several individual and team competitions for trophies donated by anglers from earlier years and these matches regularly saw up to 48 anglers taking part! Such was the interest in angling that Warwickshire Police arranged a ‘Police Young Angler’ contest for about 10 years in the 1980’s with officers supervising heats and the county final generally in their own time. At the height of the competition they looked after over 1,000 young anglers and managed to obtain some quality prizes for the finalists. The Force Indoor Games championship was a whole day event catering for snooker, billiards, table tennis and darts competitions. The force hired Kenilworth Working Men’s Club to stage the competitions.

In his time as Force Sports Club Secretary Jim Hemming introduced the Force Lottery. Sport was costing a lot of money and the only income was from small weekly subscriptions and a levy placed on Divisional Social Clubs.The ‘divisional levy’ was unpopular and if Force Sport was to continue additional funding was needed. The lottery was born. In order to stop individuals buying a large number of shares the limit of 2 shares was set on the number of shares anyone could hold. Each share cost 5p! It was a huge success. When Les Barnett took over as Force Secretary on Jim’s retirement it was decided to increase the maximum holding to 10 shares. The lottery was also opened up to civilian employees at the same time and the first £1,000 prize was born to be drawn each December.

Time off for sport became harder to obtain; It first came down to individual Area Commanders as to whether time off was granted or otherwise, so sometimes it was handy if you competed in a sport that the Area Commander was interested in. As the years passed it became even harder to get time off for County Sport and the Sports Club began to suffer because of it. Fewer competitions took place and fewer competitors took part, and the demands of members changed. The Sports Club has continually tried to adapt according to demand, emphasis changed from team sports to individual fitness, through the Area Clubs at first, then the County Club supporting various multi-gyms throughout the county.

Area Club sporting sections began to dwindle and the sports requiring larger numbers of competitors such as football and cricket fared worse. Snooker, golf and bowls were the mainstay of Area Club sports.

Sports Club income for 1977 was:

Members subscriptions of 4p per week

£1,827

Police Authority payment – 876 @ 75p (less £50)

£ 607

Levy on bar takings of Social Clubs @ 21/2 %

£2,136

Income from the Force lottery

£1,400

Financial difficulties had been offset by the introduction of the lottery and the raising of the levy on Social Clubs but expenses for travelling, affiliation fees, accommodation fees, costs of sports clothing and equipment had risen sharply. Also the repair and maintenance of mowers and gang mowers showed a large increase in cost.

Home Office Circular 129/1978 – Assistance to Sports Clubs

It had been agreed that the annual maximum contribution per head by police authorities to police clubs authorised in Home Office Circular no 179/1971 should be increased from 75p to £1 beginning with the financial year 1978/79.

Pete Barnes represented the PAA in 1980 in the European cross-country championships in Linz, Austria;he also broke the Midland Regional 5,000m record earlier in the season. The Sea Angling team competed in the PAA Sea Angling Championships at Largs and finished seventh out of 43 teams competing with Dave Perkins finishing as runner up individual. The Force life saving team won the John Taylor cup at Leicester out of 224 teams competing.

WPC S P Davies won both the 100m and 200m sprints in 1984 at the PAA Championships. Pete Barnes continues his good form winning both the Regional PAA cross-country championships and the Midland Road Running Championships at Coventry. Dave Longdon won the Midlands Regional darts.

In 1982 during the PPA Championships Les Barnett won the 400m, Pete Barnes the 1,500m and WPC Little; a new recruit won the high jump and long jump and came second in the 200m event. Bob Kibblewhite was Captain of the England Skeet team and won the international skeet event.

Achievements in 1984 included Bob Kibblewhite winning 4 gold medals, three silver medals and a bronze in addition to two trophies at the National PAA Clay Pigeon Championships at Chester. Pete Barnes won the regional cross-country and was a member of the European Police team winning the event in London. Nigel Hill and Alison Evetts won the force mixed doubles and PAA regional events.

Warwickshire also had two badminton teams in the Coventry league and they were both were promoted. In the Regional event S Gregory and Nigel Hill won the men’s doubles, Bob Duxbury won the veterans singles and partnered Bill Fitzsimmons to a win in the veteran’s doubles event. Dave Longdon and Pete Grinham won the men’s darts and Alison Evetts and Angela Heath won the ladies doubles event and all qualified for the National finals.

In 1985 the force football team won the premier division of the Coventry and North Warwickshire Saturday League despite problems early in the season with the miner’s dispute. S. Gregory won the badminton regional singles and together with N Hill won the men’s doubles event. Pete Barnes won the midland regional cross-country and finished third in the National event at Rotherham. Les Barnett was appointed team manager for the PAA track and Field Team. Warwickshire took first place in the British Police Orienteering Championships at Sutton Park with Pete Guillaume taking second in 1hour and 27 minutes. Geoff Allman and Bob Candelent represented English Police in National competitions. Paul Lathbury qualified for the PAA Nationals at Crown Green Bowls and the team were promoted to division one. Bob Kibblewhite and Phil Isham won several prized at major clay pigeon events.

The New No3 PAA region was formed in 1986 – Warwickshire hosted the regional freshwater angling championships on the River Avon but the West Midlands Police won the event. Pete Brookes won the Regional Sea Angling championships in Brighton with 118lbs of fish.He also won the Force Championships with 89lbs.Hilary Cramphorn came second in the British Archery Championships in Lichfield. John Leach, Terry Palliser, Pete Guillaume and Gary Holtby won the Snowdon 7 Orienteering event. The sailing section was formed. The tennis section has three teams playing in local leagues.

Pete Barnes won the PAA mile road race in 1987 at Hendon, becoming the first officer to retain the title in its fiftieth year. Les Barnett continued as team manager to the National PAA athletics team. The Snowdon 7 team won the event for the second year running. The Netball section won promotion from division 4 to division 2 in the local league and were runners up in the PAA national event. Pete Storer won the men’s open at squash; Lesley Amps took the ladies open event and John Ardern the veteran’s event. Bob Duxbury and John Ardern won the Regional tennis doubles event and were narrowly beaten in the National Finals by the eventual winners.

Pete Barnes success continued in 1988 when he took gold in the Regional 10 mile event and took three further medals at the National Championships in Birmingham. The Snowdon 7 team won the event for the third year running. Lesley Curtis won the Women’s Plate at the Nationals in Felixstowe after partnering Paul Freeman to a win in the Regional mixed doubles event.

Lyn Attwood retired in 1989 but the football team he nurtured won the ‘Mark Cotton Cup’ and were runners up in another event. Stewart Barnes judges at several major AAA meetings. Nigel Hill and Mark Rowlatt won the regional badminton doubles and the team got promotion to division 3. Bob Kibblewhite, John Timmis and David Isham all gained selection for the English clay pigeon shooting team. Alan Martin and Jenny Martin together with John Burrows and B Hampson formed a team to win the British Police Flying ‘Spencer memorial shield. The Snowdon 7 team added Chris Edmond to their team and went on to win the event for the fourth time in succession. Lesley Dawkins (nee Curtis) defended her tennis plate at Blackpool successfully.

In 1990 Hilary Cramphorn took the ladies and Bob Wills the overall British champion titles at archery. Men’s hockey team gained promotion to division one of the Midland Services Hockey league.

PC Wills won the Metropolitan and Nottinghamshire PAA archery events in 1991. Stewart Barnes continued to officiate in Athletics at the highest levels.The Badminton section had three teams in the local Coventry league. In flat green bowls Geoff Allman, Dave Longdon and Mick Brain were selected for the British Police team. John Timmis continued to be selected for the Great Britain Police at Clay Pigeon Shooting.The Fell Running team retained the Snowdon Seven Trophy for a record sixth time. Judith Maxwell represented the force in PAA competitions and won the ladies prize at the West Mercia Open full bore shoot.Terry Palliser again represented British Police at the World Police Games in Italy at skiing. He was the first British skier home. Paul Freeman and Lesley Curtis won the regional tennis doubles for the fourth year running. John Newbery and Graham Hole represented the force in a regional water polo team winning the short course championships in Guernsey.

Dave Sutcliffe was the manager of the Nation Full Bore Squad in 1992. Dave and Judith Maxwell won individual titles in the Scottish PAA championships. Geoff Hale won the Hampshire Police event at Clay Pigeon shooting with John Timmis winning events at Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Leicestershire. WPC Lesley Curtis progressed to the semi-finals of the National at tennis. Warwickshire hosted the Regional badminton event and PW’s Colburn and Cheek reached the semi-final of the doubles event. Effie Morgan finished runner up in the Regional fly-fishing event at Draycote Reservoir and represented England at the sport. Geoff Allman and Mick Brain were selected to play for the English Police team at flat green bowls and Derek Pope did well in local leagues. Diana Craig was ladies champion in the athletics cross-country. The Fell Running and Orienteering team John Leach, Gary Holtby, Des Peters and Terry Palliser won all three major events.

Terry Palliser represented the PAA at skiing in Germany in 1993 and Sharon Brennan represented the region at squash in Ulster and Paul Lathbury qualified for the crown green bowls finals. The rugby section was undefeated in the courage league division 4. John Timmis represented England at clay pigeon shooting.

The Sports Lottery shares were increased to 25 per person resulting in a £1,000 payout plus several £100 other prizes every month.

Sky TV was introduced in 2002 in Police Clubs to give something to the vast majority of members who did not partake in sport but still paid their subscriptions. No limit on number of Lottery shares any one person may hold. The sailing section took delivery of their brand new Laser dinghy. Fishing was prohibited at Police HQ on Health and Safety grounds.

A proposal was made to bring the Area Clubs under the umbrella of the County Club in 2005 and to bring the Area Club sections under the banner of the County Club Sporting section for that event. This got rid of some of the bureaucracy that existed, saved money and around £11,000 was transferred back to the coffers of the County Clubs as the Area Clubs were wound up. Rugby Social Club closed, followed shortly afterwards by the club at Leamington Spa as the police station there began to be revamped into a new Justice centre, this resulted in some members pulling out of the County Club, some in protest and others who no longer had any benefit from being a member.

Further increases in Sky subscriptions in 2006 made Sky TV no longer viable and Sky TV was cancelled and membership fees reduced from £5 to £4 per month. Membership services were introduced and this appears to be the way forward. This enables members to obtain discounts as various outlets and with certain organisations. Membership of the Sports Club continues to decline but more slowly than of late and new measures were taken to target the new recruits. Fishing resumed at Police HQ lakes.

In 2007 the sports club had the following sections:

Angling – Freshwater

Keith Turnecliff

Angling – Fly

Nigel Hill

Angling – Sea

Bob Melling

Association Football

Gwyn Wright

Athletics and Cross Country

Mike Bennett

Badminton

Sasha Taylor

Bowls – Flat Green

Pete Harwood

Bowls – Crown Green

Dave King

Cricket

Alan Pearson

Fell Running and Orienteering

Pete Guillaume

Golf

Alan Forsyth

Hockey

Andy Davies

Indoor Games

Keith Turnecliff

Multi Gym

Andy Parr

Muy-Thai Boxing

Paul Greewal

Rugby Football

Graham Moreton

Sailing (including offshore)

Henry Scutt

Shooting – Full Bore

Dave Sutcliffe

Shooting – Clay Pigeon

Allison Wiggin

Squash

Alan Pearson

Swimming and Water Polo

Norman Stephens