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Neil Eckersley, Former Pupil and Theatre Producer

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Treble National Success for Water Polo Boys

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The U14 Water Polo players completed the School’s hat-trick on Saturday by winning the third and final English Schools’ National Championships title!

The Boys’ Division had already proved its dominance in the sport at a national level in March, when an incredible performance from the U18s team allowed them to defend their title without suffering a single loss at the national event while scoring 10 or more goals in every one of their matches and conceding less than 10 throughout the whole day. Despite an early defeat in the national group stage and a difficult final, the U16s were also victorious in their age category to secure the double for the School.

The U14s team therefore entered their age group final with the possibility of winning all three titles – a feat which has only been achieved twice before, both times by Bolton School pupils!

The boys were feeling the pressure as they took to the water at Walsall. In the group stages, the boys defeated Dulwich College 5-3 and King’s School Grantham 6-4 to earn a place in the semi-final.

It was here that the team found its feet at last and began to play to the usual high standard. The Bolton School players came together to give an impressive and confident performance throughout. They defeated Alleyn’s School with a crushing final score of 9-3, which is all the more impressive given the short duration of each match.

However, the boys’ nerves started to get the better of them yet again in the final. They faced Dulwich College for the second time, but their earlier victory did not alleviate the tension and some mistakes from the Bolton School side cost them two goals. However, Dulwich College were not able to take the lead by the end of the match, and the Bolton School boys won with a score of 4-2 to bring home the third championship title!

The boys’ coach Mr McGinty was delighted with their success and said, “The U14 team are an exciting team. They are a team we have always felt have had huge potential and so it is really pleasing to see them begin to deliver on that promise! I believe the best is yet to come for these boys but the U14 national title is an incredible way to start.”

Winning the three titles is an outstanding achievement as we are the only school ever to have achieved this feat. I am very fortunate to have worked with such enthusiastic, talented and dedicated players across the age groups, from our leaving players right through to our youngest teams. It is especially satisfying to see the hard work paying off. It is not something which will be easily repeated.”

Dr Yates, who also coaches the water polo teams, added, “It’s a credit to the players, of course, and to the parents who were there supporting the boys as well. They not only play for the School but for Manchester City as well, and it takes a lot of dedication from both players and parents to go to all the training and matches. It’s a fantastic achievement that all three teams have won the ESSA Water Polo Championships this year.”

The last time the School won all three titles simultaneously was in 2003, and the following year the teams successfully defended their titles. Bolton School remains the first and only school to achieve this level of success. At the time of the previous triple win, Old Boy Ed Scott, who went on to play water polo for the United Kingdom in the London 2012 Olympics and captained the England Water Polo team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, was a member of the School’s teams. Fellow alumni from Ed Scott’s era include Ed Grundy, who played water polo for the Scottish side at the last Commonwealth Games, and Olympic water polo players Charles Booth, Andrew Crawford, Richard Lawlor and Rob Rae.

A number of current pupils are set to potentially follow in their footsteps. On the U18 team, four of the boys have joined national sporting programmes for their performance in water polo; six are members of GB Water Polo squads, and some have been selected to play for their country in international matches. Four players on the U14 team are also on the England Talent Programme for water polo. The School’s strong Water Polo legacy, both in School and among the alumni community, therefore seems set to continue for years to come.

 

Full Team: Jos Winstanley (Captain), Jack Phillips (Vice Captain), Sam Barrett, Richard Birtwistle, Gareth Edwards-Williams, Dominic Hardy, Dylan Hill, James Larkin, Jacob Male, Elliot Mathieson, Aaron Murray, Matthew Schaffel, Kurtis Watson

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The U14s team with their trophies

The U14s team with their trophies

Vice Captain Jack Phillips, Captain Jos Winstanley and top scorer Kurtis Watson

Vice Captain Jack Phillips, Captain Jos Winstanley and top scorer Kurtis Watson