It has been a very dry six months for sports fans across the nation, whether you usually participate or spectate, this has had a huge effect on the wellbeing of many. However, with the recent easing of lockdown restrictions, it has been uplifting to see some of our favourite sports being played once again.
Despite the lack of sporting events of late, Old Bedfordians, pupils and teaching staff spanning our school community have got straight back in the saddle and have led the way in their respective sports, both on and off the field.
Lower Sixth Former Darcy McBride proved that his shot is as hot as ever when he placed first in Juniors (an under 21 competition) at The Churchill Cup at the weekend. Not only was this a superb comeback after a long period off, but at the age of just 16, it makes him the youngest winner in 72 years!
OB Benedict Eggeling (14-17) of RC Favorite Harmonia was in the German gold medal men’s eight in the recent European Rowing Under 23 Championship held in Duisburg, Germany. In calm conditions, Benedict’s crew established a strong rhythm to take an early lead in a competitive field, beating the Romanian and Italian crews into silver and bronze by over a length in a time of 05:44.40.
OB Ethan Vernon (07-18) represented Team GB at the recent European Cycling Championships in Plouay, France. Taking part in the Under 23 individual time trial, over a distance of 25.6km, he finished 14th with a time of 31 mins 28 secs, with an average speed of 47.3km/h! If that was not enough, he then competed in the Road Race, covering a distance of 136km. Unfortunately, the onset of cramp, while in the leading group with 10km to go, robbed him of a high finish. He now has his sights set on the 2021 Olympics.
It is not often that you find four Old Bedfordians playing in the same squad. Emilio Gay (11-18), Alex Wakely (96-07), Charlie Thurston (07-14) and Harry Gouldstone (12-19) are an integral part of the Northamptonshire County Cricket team and were showcasing their cricketing prowess over the weekend of 5/6 September. Emilio, Charlie and Harry all played together against Gloucestershire in the Bob Willis Trophy match. Unfortunately, play had to be abandoned just before lunch during the first session of play, when it came to light that a non-travelling member of the squad had tested positive for COVID-19.
Completing the Old Bedfordians cricketing foursome, Alex played in the Vitality T20 game last Thursday for Northamptonshire Steelbacks, seeing them through to a four-wicket win over Glamorgan at Edgbaston.
Sir Alastair Cook (98-03) has finished a strong season scoring consistently for Essex County Cricket Club in the Bob Willis Trophy competition. The current statistics for this competition show Sir Alastair and Charlie Thurston ranked fifth and eighth respectively in the number of runs scored, so some healthy OB rivalry.
After being selected for Eddie Jones’ England squad in the last Six Nations Championship, George Furbank (13-15) and Fraser Dingwall (13-17) continue to be an integral part of the Northampton Saints squad, regularly taking to the field in the Gallagher Premiership campaign. Both recently renewed their contracts with the club. Not forgetting, of course, Kayde Sylvester (17-19) who, fresh out of the Upper Sixth, joins the club’s Senior squad.
For all those armchair sports fans enjoying live sport again, we have seen a whole host of Old Bedfordians in the commentary box exhibiting encyclopaedic knowledge in their chosen sports.
Ned Boulting (78-86), known to legions of British cycling fans for his work covering pro cycling for ITV, is the lead commentator on this year’s Tour de France on ITV4. Ned has covered every Tour de France since 2003, along with a host of other live sporting events.
Those of you who enjoy triathlons may have heard Matt Chilton (76-81) commentating on the recent Triathlon World Championships held in Hamburg. Matt has also been the voice of skiing on British television for the last decade and a half, and is currently the lead commentator for Ski Sunday.
Former England and Lions rugby international and broadcaster Martin Bayfield (80-85) has worked as a presenter and reporter across the Heineken Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Premiership Rugby Cup, and regularly presents the weekly live debate show Gallagher Premiership Tonight. Recently, you may have seen him as the Gallagher Premiership Rugby anchor man for BT Sport. Those of you who tuned in to the Leicester v Sale game over the weekend will have also spotted fellow Old Bedfordian and current Teacher of English in the Prep School, Sam Roberts (85-96), commentating on the game.
The need to comply with the myriad of rules and regulations associated with the return of sport has shone a spotlight on sports governing bodies and administrators. Old Bedfordians Mark Darbon (87-97), CEO, Northampton Saints and George Wood (83-94), Swim England, Sport Development Director, have both been involved in the safe return of their respective sports.