Memories of a Kings School Kipper Leeds United Fan – by Rob Atkinson


The Kings School, Pontefract – this blogger’s alma mater from 1972-78

For some reason, an inner voice is telling me it’s high time for a nostalgic trawl through some school memories. Mine take me back to the seventies, when I attended a school of mellow, weathered brick atop Mill Hill in Pontefract. For I was, in local parlance, a “Kings School Kipper” – and the teachers I met there were a mixed assortment of individuals, the like of which I suspect you do not encounter these days. It was in these years that my passion for Leeds United flowered and bloomed – sometimes I think it was my nascent love for football that saved me from despairing about the dusty and cheerless environment of a soon-to-be ex-grammar school. It was all boys, of course, no feminine distractions apart from some dragon-like dinner ladies with moustaches that outdid anything in the sixth form as well as most of the whiskery efforts among the hairier masters.

In order to protect the not-quite innocent, I’ll refer to the following erratic examples of the teacher’s art by their commonly-used nicknames. That should be enough for my contemporaries, those lucky enough to go through the KSP experience at around the same time. But, even without nicknames, many of the masters are recognisable by their individual quirks of personality. The teaching staff at Kings School were remote and forbidding figures for the most part, who used to prowl the corridors cloaked academically, like a horde of demented bats. They were as motley and weird a bunch as you’ll find outside the walls of Billy Bunter’s Greyfriars.

My own favourite remains the man with the unforgettable drawling delivery; a French master and perennial form teacher known to us all as “Jack”, because his surname rhymed with that of the bandleader Jack Parnell. Jack was notorious for a series of stock phrases delivered in a characteristic nasal drawl. We’d dread the sound of “Get a move on, get some work done!”, or the doom-laden “Right, lad; fifty lines.” Jack was fanatical about his Chess Club and also his support for the gruelling coast-to-coast Lyke Wake Walk. His finest hour, for me, came when he was delivering sentence on a classmate with the surname Grace. Jack’s nickname for him was “Amazin’”, and when Grace annoyed him this one time, Jack came out with “Right lad. Fifty times in French, backwards: it’s amazin’ what raisins can do”. As the youngsters are wont to say: how random is that?

There was another Jack too, a scary character in the maths department, whose party-trick was to make his voice grow deceptively gentle, lulling a drowsy class off to sleep. Then, when he could see heads nodding, he’d give the blackboard an almighty clout with a board ruler, making a sound they must have heard down at Carleton Secondary Boys’ School. The shock effect of this ensured our wakeful attention and our sadistic teacher was plainly delighted each time he thus traumatised us.

Among the many other odd characters on the staff, there was a music teacher commonly referred to as “Tramp”, for his lack of sartorial elegance; an English master known for some obscure reason as “Bungee” – and a fearsome character whom we dubbed “Chopper”, for the swinging axe-like nature of his disciplinary methods. When another, younger teacher of the same surname joined the staff, he was immediately christened “Chipper”, in a neat tribute to a couple of popular Raleigh bikes of the day. Another English master was a man of rotund aspect, who spoke with an accent straight out of Golders Green, and was also an enthusiastic spare-time football coach. One day, an inspired member of our form looked out of the window and saw “Fat Ron” wheezing up and down as he reffed a game on the pitch just in front of the main building. “Oh look, sir,” he piped up. “There’s a heavy dew on the grass”. It took a moment only to catch his double meaning, and then the lesson dissolved into fairly malicious but honestly not anti-Semitic laughter. As a memorable bon mot, this one passed straight into Kings School legend and was much admired for years afterwards. I remember it more fondly than perhaps I should, as it was “Fat Ron”, the interfering git, who later grassed me up for being an underage member of a local club where I’d often pleasantly wasted time drinking lager and playing snooker or pool.

In the science department, we had a tall, thin physics master of amiable disposition who, although afflicted with a speech impediment, was often called upon to read the lesson in assembly. This seemed harsh enough, but the cruelty of us boys went a stage further; we called the poor bloke “Splut”, often to his face. Then there was another physics teacher, of Lancastrian origin, known as “Mad Brad”. He used to say to me, “Atkinson lad, this homework is di-A-bolical” (as it invariably was). His colleague in the chemistry lab, nicknamed Taff in tribute to his origins in the valleys, would doubtless have agreed – when he wasn’t lifting us by our sideburns, that is, to an anguished protest of “Sir, sir, sir, gerroff, it kills!” And don’t even get me started on the nasty little punishment habits of the games masters…

Given the suffering occasionally inflicted upon us by these out-dated brutes, it’s surprising how almost-fondly I now look back on my time as a Kipper. Distance lends enchantment, of course, to those dear old golden rule days – but my only truly positive memories are of the jam roly-poly in the dinner hall and playing football with a tennis ball on the basketball court. Most of us were Leeds fans, but there were a few renegade scummers and one lad who insisted on supporting Arsenal or Derby for no apparent reason. The teachers, meanwhile, were diverse in their football affiliations. One of the English masters was a Burnley fan who I remember engaged me in a serious discussion about the pros and cons of Ray Hankin – and there was a Coventry fan in the Sports department whose chief disciplinary trick was to hand out impositions of ten lines at a time – trouble was, the lines were about three pages long. I honestly can’t recall any Leeds-supporting teachers; perhaps life would have been more pleasant for some of us, if there had just been that little bit of common ground.

It strikes me that there must be readers of this blog out there who were Kings School Kippers, just as I was in the seventies. Please feel free to share your memories of the place and its barmy inhabitants – I’d be really interested to read the recollections of others who went through that particular institution and emerged more or less unscathed. Or just recount your own school memories – all contributions welcome subject to the usual moderation…

38 responses to “Memories of a Kings School Kipper Leeds United Fan – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Yes i remember you posh kippers in the seventies who we used love to take you on at Football, Rugby & Cricket. Best memory was playing cricket for my Cas Vegas school and coming out to bat at KSP, your stumper commented as i took my mark that i ‘was a useless fat twat’ to which i responded ‘i heard that lord snooty’ to which he retorted ‘you were supposed to you fat twat’. Obviously i wanted to twat him with my bat but decided to instead knock his bowler straight to the boundary, after 3 wildly failed attempts i was bowled out, and so that day i learned that the art of sledging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, Young Atkinson you astonish! In the early ‘7Os I was a teacher. After five years at uni, with no idea of what I wanted to do for a living and wanting to give something back, I took a teaching post in Greater Scumchester. I recall the first time I entered the teachers’ common room – as a school pupil this was a place of wonder that I’d never seen. I expected to find great minds debating serious issues but only encountered dull people talking about their mortgages. All had their own chairs and mine was the most remote from the coffee. I sat next to a lonely German teacher who taught me to say “Ich bin dein Freund” (I am your friend)… I found I had more in common with the students than with the teachers and before I quit teaching, after two years, I used my classroom as a lunchtime debating club. I like to think that there are a few free minds in the Scumchester area, probably about your age, who support Leeds.


  3. Steve clowes

    Memories they are definitely not always pleasant ones but your musings took me back instantly to those days when we were supposed to be the cream but perhaps slightly curdled.
    What about Holy Joe who for a vicar had some interesting views on the sexual side of life, The magisterial headmaster Mr peck and his sidekick Cavo.
    The nicknames for teachers were in part brilliant and in part cruel but you can bet they all knew what they were called. We formed part of an end of an era as the school turned into comprehensive and girls appeared one of which was known as thunderthighs for reasons sadly unbeknown to me !!
    Thanks Rob what we wouldn’t give for another game of tennis ball soccer !!


    • Ah, Clowesy. So good to hear from a true contemporary! And there’s so much more I could have said. Speaking of the transition from grammar to comp, I remember Mick Marsh, the Richard Stilgoe of KSP, writing a song to the tune of “Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow”, with the new lyric “They’re digging holes for the girls’ ablutions”. It’s strange what sticks in your mind. I was looking at some old school photos before writing this, and I’m sure I saw your face, along with a few others. Nostalgia is one of those few things which are just as good as they ever were.


  4. Mark Taylor

    Rob, I went with you to my very first Leeds match v QPR in 1977 resulting in a 3-0 win to Leeds with Brian Flynn scoring one, a Dave Needham own
    goal and possibly Tony Currie getting the third.
    I really enjoyed those games and I still occasionally go with my son.

    Mark Taylor


    • I certainly remember you – Spud, wasn’t it? And I remember going to Elland Rd with you a few times, including one unhappy League Cup semi, I think. Didn’t we also have the company of one of Hilary Robinson’s sisters at one game?? How the time flies – glad to hear your son has an interest in LUFC. My daughter was not susceptible to conversion to the cause :-/


      • Tim Woolley

        Great blog. Took me back a few years! I remember fat Ron taking four of us to watch an England U21 International at Bramall lane! All squeezed into his blue mini clubman estate! A much maligned teacher with a heart of gold really! If I recall it was Ian Bevitt Andrew Greenaway Paul Agar and myself.


      • Nice one Tim, many thanks. I still remember Fat Ron being referred to in the KSP student publication “The Pomfretian” as “Mr. Simpson, who admits to having a fat neck”. It was a bizarre place!


  5. Mick Hickling

    I remember it like it was yesterday. I too am a life long Leeds fan and can remember being humiliated in assembly because I missed 1st XV rugby practice to watch Leeds United at Elland Road one Wednesday night. Next morning Gregory called me out after assembly and the rugby teacher, mr porter I think his name was gave me detention fir missing the training session. Anyway Leeds won so all was good. Happy days. Mick Hickling


  6. Going off the subject slightly , I will always remember thumbing a lift in my youth to a away game at Ipswich (not the easiest place to thumb it to ) anyway me and my mate were picked up on route by two fellow leeds fans who lived 5 miles from pontefract town centre,, the reason I know it was 5 miles is because as we went along the front passenger knew that from his house to ponte town centre was exactly 5 mile , so every time we went past a sign post saying Ipswich 90 mile he would mouth out ponte back ponte back until he’d hit the 90 mile mark !!! This at first we thought was quite funny , but after a while of ponte back ponte back I couldn’t wait to get out haha …


    • AND we didn’t win – I bet!


      • Mr orange

        I think we drew 1-1 rob , but what I do remember is getting a lift back from a transit van full of fans from somewhere in leeds ,, they stopped off on the way back and got tanked up in a village pub somewhere in Lincolnshire, they kindly bought me and my mate a couple of drinks , we were skint hence the thumbing lifts , they eventually called it a night and we set off back up the A1 , about an hour later one of the threw up and I was in the way !!! Oh the joys of following leeds united


      • Such golden memories 😆


  7. Don Crossley

    Rob – excellent blog. When I introduce friends to people, I generally begin with, ” This is my mate **** – we went to different schools together.” I do this for two reasons – firstly it puts folk on the back foot as they try to work out what I’ve actually just said and secondly……well I just like to annoy people. So it appears from the photo caption that you and I went to the same school…..just not together…..Anyway our incarceration at KSP must have been separated by the extent of the school holidays in 1972 as that was the year I left after an heroic if forlorn attempt at A-levels. The teachers you speak of and their nicknames strike an ever-present chord in my memory. I’m sure the Spluts, Choppers, Tojos, Taffs and Holy Joes of the rarefied KSP world breathed a collective sigh of relief when I finally hung my satchel up that year. They had I am sure, done their very best to instil wisdom into Crossley DA 6Sc1B but I must have appeared a reluctant recipient….though to be fair, I had just discovered girls and I was catastrophically distracted in my last two formative years (I was a late developer – it was an all-boys’ school then and I felt compelled to make up for lost time). Oh Lord – have I put the apostrophe in the right place in that last sentence….!?
    I have posted quite a few of my musings on the school facebook page so I won’t repeat too many of them here. Discipline was strict when I first started there in September 1965 – I recall a boy being sent home for having yellow socks on; punishment for particularly heinous crimes was detention on a Saturday morning and lines were handed out profusely. Both woodwork/metalwork teachers were psychopaths and would hit you repeatedly on the head with a piece of 2 by 4 for the slightest misdemeanour – in my case, I referred to one of the tools as a knife; apparently it was a ‘cutting’ knife. Such violence in a school environment these days would result in arrest. Pupils up to the 4th year were required to wear their caps outdoors and doff them on seeing the Headmaster (Mr Alan Aldous at that time). Notable events….. Ken, the lab assistant’s cacophonous scream when he inadvertently drilled through his thumb half way through an A-level physic’s exam springs to mind. Mr Dunn, the Deputy Head stalking the corridors with smoke perpetually billowing from his gown – the result of forgetfully stowing his still-burning pipe there. A fifth year biology test which required every participating pupil to bring something to dissect. Most brought a frog or a rat. I brought a worm. Peter Tune brought a swan! His Dad had allegedly run over it the previous day – the entire school stank for days as Mr Skire the biology teacher boiled it to get the feathers off.
    I harbour fond memories of my years as a King’s School Kipper (rose-tinted glasses notwithstanding) and it undoubtedly had a positive influence in shaping my future self though I do still live in constant dread of ‘being asked questions later….’ And of course, I often wake up in the early hours anxiously trying to remember if I handed my physics homework in.
    I am amazed and more than a little disappointed that I have never seen even one of my contemporaries make the on-line effort to be accessible via the KSP facebook site or in any other way for that matter. With the exception of two and a half ex-classmates, everyone I knew there seems to have vanished from the face of the Earth (the half relates to Jeff Clarke who much to the Headmaster’s chagrin, left half way through his A-levels to play football for Manchester City – Jeff is now ‘somewhere in Scotland’ seemingly without internet access so doesn’t rate as a full friend any more.) Perhaps it’s just me they are avoiding……..
    I do have other recollections – some even printable……and I will follow your blog with interest. Good luck with it Rob.

    Don Crossley BSc (Hon) in Frustrating Simple Enquiries, City & Guilds in Grinning.


  8. Fantastic, Don – exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for. Thanks so much.


  9. To balance the impression of reaction mention must be made of a young Economics teacher from the North East who was already a member of the SWP when we renewed our acquaintance in1977. At least those old Grammars didn’t go in for the vetting young teachers have to go through nowadays. In retrospect the abolition of Grammars was an error of historic proportions – with their passing went the chance to create a middle class and republican culture in this country. A combination of (middle class) snobbery and misguided (working class) egalitarianism did for them.


  10. during my time there 71-75 we had the notorious Atack twins in our year who had their own band called reincarnation, who were discovered by the manager of the Bay City Rollers, were re-named Child and had a couple of pop hits with old Conway Twitty numbers, they were the brains behind the incident of us picking up Bungee’s car, a Fiat 500, and placing it inside the Quadrangle and resulting in us all receiving 4 weeks of Saturday morning detention from “Wedgie” Peck although Bungee did see the funny side of it and swore blind it was “Jimmy” Barber the metalwork teacher who put us up to it.
    I also remember the music teacher “Tramp” Davis used to forget where he’d parked his car when he went downtown in his lunch break and have to walk back to school, then rather than have a lesson at school used to send us out to find it.
    And when we studied “To kill a mockingbird ” in English Literature “O” level Bungee arranged a private viewing of the film at the pictures and became one of my all time favourite films because of him.


  11. Duncan Massive

    I’m guessing the Economics-teaching SWP member referred to by Irving08 was Roger ‘Georgie’ Telfer….I well remember being shocked to the core by his ‘Stuff The Jubilee’ badge adorning his leather car coat/safari jacket (Doc Brad had a similar garment – actually most of the teachers did in them days). Whither Bill Shorey? Briliant teacher. I could go on for hours. And probably will if you feed me enough Pernod and Egnaro.


  12. Andy Smeaton

    I was there from 1967 to 1972, and can remember the names of quite a few of the Gestapo serving in those years.
    Mr Tomlinson aka Boo Boo (Maths Teacher) – this guys life must have been a misery, he had no control over the entire class whatsoever, even the classmates who were normally well behaved, were disruptive in his lessons. He had this unfortunate habit of billowing his cheeks and blowing out, to which a lad called Alan Haywood would exclaim “Arr she blows, Moby Dick style” – the whole class responded by singing “How much is that doggy in the window” – God knows why.

    “Splut” Charlton
    “Moggy” Myers – Art
    Keith Toye – English
    “Our Nell” – a quite camp Geography and French Teacher.
    “Tinner” Tinsley – Metalwork
    “Dicky” Renton – French
    “Esther” – the deputy head
    and of course Jack Lever.

    and there was also those who one didn’t muck about
    Mr Buckroyd,
    “Humph” Hinchcliffe, etc
    and a small Welsh chemistry teacher, who ran one of the rugby teams, but who’s name fails me,

    Happy days, in retrospect although at the time I couldn’t wait to leave the place, and did so after my “O” levels to go to Art school for 7 years.


  13. That’s it “Taff Jones” – he was the one who after I’d broken my collar bone playing rugby for the school, the medical staff at Pontefract Hospital having to cut the shirt off before placing my arm in a sling, asked on my return to school for the money for a new shirt, I remember my mother calling the school and telling them in no uncertain terms that the money would not be forthcoming…..


  14. can’t be arsed with the long speeches but I remember Jack Parnell or froggy Parnell has we new him


  15. Trevor SHay

    Was Leeds and fev fan at kings 64-72.just two relevant memories . Rog telfer told me he played mixed doubles with Virginia wade st uni . I asked what she was like. He said her legs were very hairy. Jack lever – played Leeds school at rugby but match attended by Jack Charlton a couple of years after 66 . Mr lever asked him if he was head of rugby at John Smeaton . Liked mr nattrass French even though he wrote that I was wending my lonely path to idleness . Later in sixth form I was described as the leader of the school lunatic fringe . Funnily enough they were both spot on .i enjoyed my time but soz if I disrupted you . Heads up to Evo baz allen Pete Tate and all other colleagues. Cheers


  16. Richard Pontey

    KSP 1959 – 64 Atkinson House (Yellow)
    Mr Aldous was the headmaster, I think he became head in ’59.
    My memory is faded now but I remember “Tinner” was my woodwork teacher. He had a different ‘stick’ for for each day of the week, used for punishment purposes. I got a Wednesday afternoon detention for standing on a workbench vice to see how tight I could make it.
    “Humph” gave me detention for handing in unreadable homework. Hardly suprising, the exercise books they gave us were made from blotting paper and the ink from the fountain pen oozed everywhere.
    Peter Cookson arrived in my 2nd or 3rd year as the new maths teacher. He had little control over class discipline but was a great teacher. Thanks to him I finally started to understand mathematics.
    The chemistry teacher whose name I can’t remember started a small fire during one lesson when he ‘lost’ a small piece of phosphorous under the benches. On another occasion he lost control of a demonstration to make oxygen when he used too much Manganese Dioxide and rapidly ran out of collecting jars. It was like a volcanic eruption.


  17. Ian Pawson

    I attended the Kings School from 1961 until 1968 and remember a good number of the masters. The school had around 600 pupils.
    On my first day age 11 during the morning break, the older boys took the new starters on to the terrace outside the Headmaster’s office and with one boy holding your arms, the other your legs, threw each of us down the bank.
    Every master wore a black cloak, which they flared as they walked quickly through the corridors and the quad
    The Headmaster was Alan Aldous, a first class English master, though he taught very few classes, and always in Room 7. The vice-Headmaster was ‘Cocky’ Lovett. He’d been there a long time, certainly prewar because he taught my dad, still under the same nickname. He never taught me.
    The Latin master was ‘Esta’ Dunn, a fearful master nearing retirement in Room 9. He also taught my dad Latin prewar. Esta would walk through the Latin class asking questions. If you faltered or got it wrong he would pick something up from your, or an adjacent desk and hit you over the head with it to the rhythm of the words in the question. It always hurt! One afternoon he did this to Mike Harrison who had a soft pencil case on his desk, the long zipped one, and Esta hit him over the head with it. Unfortunately there was a Quink bottle in one end of it and he really hurt Mike. He was very apologetic and more careful for the rest of the term. At an Old Pomretians meeting at the school a few years after I graduated, I attended with my father. When Esta saw my dad walk in the hall, he immediately pronounced ‘Eric Pawson, how are you”. That was at least 30 years since Esta had seen dad as a pupil.
    In room 1 was David Ellison, who taught us both English and English lit. He was quite an authoritarian
    Holy Joe was in Room 2 teaching Religious Instruction. If any two boys misbehaved he would make them noddy-men. That meant gripping each by their hair and shaking, indeed banging their heads together. We were in fear of holy Joe, a vicar I think in Carleton in his part time..
    Room 4 was ‘Tojo’ a Jew and history master. A quiet and excellent master nearing retirement who we all respected.
    Room 5 was ‘Humph’, our Geography and O level maths master. I think he was really David Humphries. An extremely meticulous master, tremendous attention to detail, and impeccably handwringing on the blackboard, so much so he inspired me to write in a similar style for the rest of my life.
    Then there was a French master called Natrass, don’t know his first name, he had no idea how to discipline a class, always chaos. Renton was the German master
    ‘Spitfire’ was the ageing chemistry master; no one messed with him. Ian Smith was the physics master, again a strict authoritarian. Peter Dunn joined the school as Chemistry master later, he drove a red Mk1 Cortina GT which we had to push up the hill on snowy wither mornings. Spitfire’s successor used to take disobedient pupils into the chemistry prep room, make them bend over and beat them hard with a slipper.
    Alan Lever taught 6th form maths and applied maths in room 11. He could throw the wooden board rubber at any pupil with deadly accuracy and inflict injury. Alan used to drink in the conservative club and the Blue Bell. I frequently drank with him in my third year 6th, a truly inspirational man. Alan Lever helped us 2nd year 6th formers create a theatre club which became the only approved club jointly with Pontefract Girls High School. Alan would hire a coach every 2 weeks to take us and the girls to the theatre on a Friday evening. We went to theatres all over Yorkshire and got to know a lot of the 2nd and 3rd year sixth girls.
    ‘Hughie’ Green was the 6th form advanced maths master, a slightly portly guy, commanding a lot of respect in room 10
    Around 1967 Mike Hebditch turned up teaching English in room 12. He had been in the 6th form when I was in the 4th form.
    Mike Smith taught music and played the organ in assembly
    I won a confirmed place at Uni in London after taking A levels a year early. I stayed on for my 3rd year 6th but by Easter I gave up and won a student sponsorship with IMI, so asked Alan Aldous if I could leave to work for them for 6 months before going to Uni. Aldous was very brief and told me quote “every time I see you, I see a walking example of idleness that risks never making anything of life”.
    That made me reflect hard, and work on it. In my early career in automotive I headed an R&D team, achieving a string of patents to my name.
    Eventually I was appointed CEO in a listed global group for my last decade of working
    I owe a lot to The Kings School and the outstanding Masters and Headmaster


  18. I was in that chemistry class to which Richard refers when ‘Spitfire’ lost the piece of phosphorus and started the small fire. We were all evacuated to the playground. I wasn’t in Richard’s year so perhaps Spitfire did it regularly??


  19. Spike Pedestal

    You may not be totally surprised to hear that Keith Hudson turned out to be a Conservative voter.


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