Alumni & friends/
Sporting Memories of Jesus College

In December 2023 we asked alumni to write in with their stories and memories of taking part in sports and activities at Jesus. This was in aid of an appeal to raise £125k for the creation of a new gym in the Cheng Yu Tung Building, a refurbishment of the Jesus College Boat House and tennis courts, and a much needed restoration of our sports grounds at Barts.


From the many examples we received it is evident that sports have, and continue to have, an important role in the lives of Jesus students. Over the years, sporting endeavours have shaped our students’ College experience positively, and have proven their worth in securing lifelong memories and friends. We hope you enjoy reading this collection of wonderful sporting memories. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from victorious ‘bumps’ and sinking boats, to bringing cricket to the States. As one submission concludes, “Sport in College? Essential!”  Enjoy!


You can support the Sports Appeal by making a gift here.

Jane Lewis (1974, Oriental Studies)

"As one of the first 25 women in College back in 1974, we endeavoured to participate in all sorts of things, including sport."

Read On

Nick Beeson (1972, Literae Humaniores)

"When I arrived at Jesus in the autumn of 1972, I carried no history of sporting involvement. I was very definitely in the “and you lot can go for a run” group."

rEAD ON

Edward Owen (2009, DPhil Atomic and Laser Physics)

Photographs from The Great Row 2012 - a Jesus College Boat Club charity rowing trip from the JCBC Oxford boat house to the JCBC Cambridge boat house.

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Sue Jones (1975, PPE)

During my three years at Jesus, I represented College at mixed and women’s hockey, rowing, tennis and athletics.

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“At Summer Eights in 1957, the Bow caught a crab and was thrown out of the boat. Luckily we rowed over, as there were bumps in front and behind us. We made three bumps and were awarded a bump supper.”

Māris Slokenbergs (1954, Theology)

The 1957 Summer VII crew.


 

“I didn’t play much College sport but did compete in nine varsity matches (two lawn tennis, three rackets, four real tennis) and won eight of them. I fear my only College sporting efforts were for the squash team!”

Alan Lovell (1972, Literae Humaniores)


 

“Strangest memory. It was January 1970. I was selected to play in the first X1 football team. During warm-up I had the overwhelming feeling that something bad was about to happen to me. The feeling was so strong that had there been any reserves I would have withdrawn, but this was in the days before substitutes were allowed. Barely one minute into the match I was involved in a tackle. There was a loud crack and I knew, despite it being painless, that I had broken my leg. So I stayed lying on the ground until picked up by ambulance and taken to the John Ratcliffe where an X-ray confirmed the break. I am forced to believe that premonitions can happen!”  

Graham Clements (1966, Chemistry)


 

Paul D. Smith (1983, Chemistry)

HOCKEY


“When I arrived at Jesus, the men’s hockey team was, how shall I put it, not that competitive, but we played in the usual leagues.  I remember one particular match where, having realised that we were neither going to be promoted nor relegated, we took the match somewhat seriously with two elements of the match staying in my mind.

The first was that Graham Savage, the Groundsman, played for us.  Graham was a very reasonable left-handed cricket player, but of course was using a right-handed hockey stick.  Despite this handicap, his talent and timing meant he could still send the ball the length of the pitch with apparent ease, something I could never do.

The second was that at half time, on came the traditional oranges… and a tray of port for the Jesus team.  It didn’t make much difference to our play in the second half, but it was certainly a jovial way to play the game.”


 

Claire Paye (1989, Modern Languages)

The year Jesus won the Christ Church Regatta, beating Oriel in the final.

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Phil Atkinson (1969, Modern History)

Phil reports on a brief 'Golden Age' for Jesus Rugby, 1969-1973

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Paul Seward (1968, Mathematics)

MEMORIES OF A SPORTS ENTHUSIAST


“I cannot remember a time when I was not involved in sport, albeit when I was very young sport for primary school children was not organized as it is today; we were, however, able to play with our friends in the local parks and even in the roads where we lived without concerns for our safety. The move to senior school came with the benefit of properly organized sports, mainly the popular sports such as football, rugby, cricket and tennis but also the less popular ones where a teacher had a specific interest. As we moved through senior school, those of us with a passion for sport then joined local clubs for the sports of our choice.”

READ ON


 

Will Carter (1975, Modern Languages)

"I got into coxing by accident; attending a “free beer” invitation to a JCBC Freshers Week event in 1975, believing myself to be too small and too unfit to be at risk of being recruited for anything."

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Gordon Moss (1968, Geography)

"Back in the mists of time, in my second year, I was the captain of the Jesus Soccer Team of 1969-70."

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Roger Patrick (1974, Chemistry)

"I was at Jesus from 1974-1981 as an undergraduate chemist and then D. Phil student. The only College sporting activity I undertook was rowing, and I was in various crews during this period,

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Melinda Hodkiewicz (1981, Metallurgy and Science of Matter)

HOCKEY


“This might raise a smile. On the back of this photo at the time I wrote: Jesus College ‘Mens’ Hockey XI 1981-82. As you might notice there is one woman in the front row!

To be honest I am not sure why I was playing for the Men’s team. No shortage of chaps in College back then, although I think most played rugby. Still relatively early days for women in Oxford men’s colleges, and we may not yet have had a Women’s team. I was playing hockey for the University, and probably thought playing with the guys would toughen me up! It did.”

Pictured (back left to right) Steve Leonard, Ian Bott, Neil James, Steve Criddle, Richard Stow, Mark Campbell, Simon Ball and (front left to right) Steve Lancaster, Mark Thompson, Pete Jackson (captain), Melinda Rogers, Andy Carter.


 

Marcus Needham (1984, Physics)

CYCLING


“I was an undergraduate at Jesus from 1984-1987, reading Physics, and as I was already a keen cyclist, I joined and raced with the Oxford University Cycling Club.  Although there was not an existing Cuppers event for cycling (there might have been ones in the more distant past), the Club began to hold them, starting in winter 1986.  Jesus won that event, and won again in winter 1987.  I went on to win a half-blue in Cycling in the spring 1987 Varsity Match.”

Pictured left, a letter of congratulations for Cuppers sent to Marcus from the Home Bursar in 1987.


 

Stuart Woodward (1976, Modern History)

"A tale of the triumph of persistence over adversity during Torpids 1979. This was the year when the 1st VIII achieved four bumps despite having sunk about 20 minutes before the start of the race."

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Katelin Williams (1995, Jurisprudence)

Katelin shares some photos of College sports events from 1995-1999

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“My rowing career at Jesus was not a serious affair. I was in the IVths boat at one regatta – the summer term thrash-about whose name completely escapes me. Christchurch, maybe?

We were a crew of great sporting pedigree. There were five University team members in the nine of us. However, our sports were Rugby, Boxing, Eton Fives, and Lacrosse. The only rower was Stuart King, of that year’s University Lightweight Eight….who was our cox! Still, he was instrumental in our win over key opponent Lincoln (I think? Was it Exeter?) They had the slight advantage, and as they burned to pull in front, he called a hard stop from us, shouting they’d taken our water. The umpire agreed, and they were disqualified.

Then, the final. I can remember the out-of-body feeling in the last 200m, praying I wouldn’t catch a crab as lactic acid flooded my bloodstream. We lost by half a canvas.”

Simon Harold (1987, Zoology)


 

“In 1973 Jesus won the inaugural competition of the Colleges Rugby 7-a-side Competition. I still have the very modest trophy we were all given.”

Bryan Bowers (1970, Mathematics)


 

Paul Thomas (1964, Geography)

"I was a member of the Jesus College Hockey eleven which went undefeated and won the First Division in 1965-1966 and as a result was treated to a ‘bangers and mash’ supper... "

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Louise Privett (2009, MEng Engineering Science)

"Goodness, where to start. I don't think it's exaggerating to say that sport at Jesus really shaped my adult life - at least the social side of it! "

Read on

Gerald Holtham (1966, PPE)

RUGBY



“I was due to go up to Jesus to read PPE in 1966 but missed my first term, being in hospital with a detached retina.  I had been keen on rugby at school and subsequently but was now advised not to play.

In my second year, someone had the idea of challenging the College XV with a scratch squad of College members.  The challenge was issued under the satirical name of Jesus College All-Stars. I volunteered to play fly half while Tim Musson (who had been College scrum half but since becoming a graduate student and retired), agreed to make a come-back.  The rest of the team were people who had played rugby but for one reason or another had not taken it up in College, some preferring football.”

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Benjamin Schmittzehe (1987, Oriental Studies)

The JCBC men’s "Monster VIII"


Summer Eights in 1989 and 1990 saw one of the most successful men’s 1st VIII JCBC has ever had. The boat, starting toward the bottom of the Second Division, bumped nine crews in two years, ending in the First division, earning the crew blades two years in a row and the nickname the “Monster VIII”.

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“I was heavily involved in rugby and cricket whilst at College from 1995-1999.

For the rugby team it was a particularly successful time, with a very strong squad, many of whom played for the University sides.  We won the First Division three out of the four years that I was part of the rugby XV.  I believe only Nick Sheppard (1995,Medicine) and I were part of all three league winning sides. 

The league championship in 1995/96 (Captain: Rob Casebourne (1994,Physics), Vice Captain/Secretary: Rhys ap Gwilym (1994,PPE) was the first league championship since the early 1970s (1973/4) I think. The 1998/99 League Championship (Captain: Haydn Parry (1997, Engineering), Vice Captain/Secretary: John Packer (1997, Modern Languages), I believe this may be the last time Jesus has won the First division.

We also won the league in 1997/98 with Ben Llewellyn-Jones (1996, English) as Captain, and Sam Adlen (1996, Physics) as Vice Captain/Secretary; Sam went on to get a double blue whilst studying for his DPhil. 

Sadly, we were only runners up in 1996/97 with Ben Preston (1995, Mathematics) as Captain, and me, Phil Rees (1995, Physics) as Vice Captain/Secretary.

During this period, we also had good runs in Cuppers to the semi-finals, and won the OURFC VIIs (I think in 1997/8).”

Philip Rees (1995, MPhys Physics)


 

Graham Ward (1970, Chemistry)

"I won three Boxing Blues, and was Captain of the Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club for the 1973/74 season. The team I captained beat Cambridge 7 bouts to 2".

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Bryn Hopkinson (1966, Jurisprudence)

"For two and a bit years, rowing played a large part in my life at Jesus—possibly too large a part."

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Stephen Morillo (1980, DPhil Modern History)

Stephen shares his memories of being 'a multi-sport star' at Jesus College in the early 1980s.

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“As we know Jesus never likes to be mainstream. Has any other college ever had its fan base sent off in a game?

It was Spring 1985 – a season that saw Jesus promoted back to the first division. But along the way was a painful loss to Worcester, with foul play afoot. So biased was the referee that our supporters were loudly questioning his parentage in song with the results seen in the news article below.

For the record our two supporters that day were Adrian “Griff” Griffiths and the late Don Renshaw – the latter still memorialised to this day in choruses of “Don Renshaw’s green and white army…”

Alistair Lee (1983, Philosophy and Modern Languages), JCFC Captain 1985/86


 

“My time at Jesus was a wonderful juggle of sports timetables behind English tutorials and lectures.  In my first two years I competed in the Varsity Match in Modern Pentathlon, and in my third year concentrated on running.

The pentathlon (running, swimming, shooting, fencing and horse riding) attracted a mix of serious athletes (Steph Cooke went on to win Olympic gold in Sydney) and eccentrics with a ‘have a go’ attitude.  It was a great leveller because everyone had their stronger and weaker events. Fencing was a new discipline for me, and I loved learning that skill.  Somehow, without mobiles or internet, we organised it all ourselves – training at the University sports centre (which was very hick in those days, no fancy gym, not sure we even had showers) and often with the army pentathletes in Aldershot at weekends.  A trip to Paris to compete against the École Polytechnique was a highlight – they were incredible hosts.

In 1991, I was thrilled to represent the blues cross country team (OUCCC) on Wimbledon Common; a freezing cold day which is etched in my memory.  Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway were helping put out the flags and support the athletes. There were some outstanding runners in our squad – Sian Brice (née Pilling) ran in the Commonwealth Games and also went to the Sydney Olympics as a triathlete. 

We had no coaches, but I learnt a huge amount from my team-mates. The training techniques I learnt at Oxford stood me in good stead and I’ve been a runner ever since. I’m slower now, but still get a real thrill from racing and come back to Oxford to take part in the Town & Gown 10k, the Bannister Mile and the Oxford Half Marathon whenever I can.  Many former teammates now have children coming up through the sports – it’s always fun to see them.  I’m looking forward to giving back – and staying connected – as a trustee of the OUCCC charitable foundation this year.”

Emma Huepfl (1989, English Language and Literature)


“The late 1960s and early 1970s was the very good era of Jesus Football: the 1st XI won promotion from the Second Division in 1967-68; were Cuppers semi-finalists the following year; and then won the First Division (now called the Premier Division) the following season and made the Final of Cuppers in the same period, the first time this had occurred in a generation. At this time the College had two Football Blues, in Frank Smith and John Reid; and in addition to Alan Simkin, who captained the Centaurs, had several members of the Jesus XI which represented the University 2nd XI, including John Peters, Ian Ross and Brad Wilson. Truly, it was the ‘Golden Generation’ of Jesus Men’s Football!!”

Bradley Wilson (1967, Geography)


“I played a bit of football, tennis and cricket at Jesus but not to a high standard and not helped by poor weather in my first Trinity term. I’m the tall guy in the back row in each photo.”

Jesus 2nd team

Jesus Football Team

Jon Arch (1967, Biochemistry)