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1954 - 7: school athletics

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Jan. 1st, 1970 | 03:07 am

A piece found in the BFI Library, thought to be from a press book for "Up the Junction", has this to say about Michael Gothard's athletic accomplishments:

"During his schooldays he was something of a wonder athlete and won cups, plaques and medals for practically every athletic event you can think of. 'I seemed to have a natural talent for running, jumping and so on,' says Michael, 'and enjoyed it into the bargain. I imagine my long legs helped …!'”

Sports day at Parliament Hill Fields race course 1954/5

This picture, courtesy of Michael's friend H., shows Michael and a senior girl (possibly the Head Girl) at sports day on Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, probably 1954/55.

Sheila Dickens (née Hellyer) says: "I remember Michael Gothard. We both attended Haverstock School but he was a couple of years older than me, so would not know or remember me. He was a fantastic runner. We were both chosen to run in the All London Athletics at Hurlingham Stadium.1

Some friends and I were watching his race, and it was a false start; everything went quiet and all you could hear was my friend shouting 'Gothard!'"

Jean Orbell (née Miller), who also attended Haverstock School, say: "Michael was a great runner. I am not the girl in the picture, but I remember him well. I always wished I was in the same house as Michael, as he always won all of his races. He was in Kenilworth House (green colour). The rest were Camden (red), Primrose (yellow) and Maitland (purple). If you had a track suit at Haverstock it was your own, so you decided the colour."

Michael's schoolfriend H. says: "Michael was an excellent athlete: good in most sports but he excelled in the 100, 200 and 400 yards races."

Michael's schoolfriend Baz does not remember Michael representing the school, but says that "Michael ran the 220 yards and trained at the track at Parliament Hill fields."

1 This must have been at one of the earliest athletics meetings a Hurlingham, where according to Wikipedia, "the opening meeting of the track was on 11 September 1954 ... The running track was originally made of cinder ... It had a capacity of approximately 2,500 on bench type seating. The track was the base of London Athletic Club, and the straight was last thought to be used for a race in 1979. The meeting ... included a 220 yard straight race (200 metres)."

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