Fri 17 Jan 2020 07:00

This Saturday the Blood and Sand make the first of our two visits to the Borough of Greenwich, this time to take on Old Elthamians. The 3rd XV stay at home and play Shelford III.

Old Elthamians was founded by the oldboys of Eltham College, which was then a school for the sons of missionaries. In this Olympic year it is probably worth mentioning the schools most famous sportsman. The Scottish rugby international and olympic athlete Eric Lidell - who was imortalised in Chariots of Fire. Having been born in China to missionary parents Eric was sent back to England for his education. After his education at Eltham he went up to Edinburgh where he excelled at athletics. He was also a fine three quarters, playing for the University and scoring four tries for Scotland in the Five Nations over two seasons before retiring to concentrate on running.

At the Paris Olympics, at the Colombes where he had made his debut for Scotland as a wing, the 100m and the 400m relay heats were scheduled for Sundays and as a good Christian Eric would not run on the Sabbath. Instead he gave the sermon at the Scots Church on Rue Bayard. He therefore ony entered the 200m,winning a Bronze medal and the 400m winning Gold. The following year in his last races he won the 100 yards, 220 yards and 440 yards and the 440 yard relay at the SAAA meet

Having gain his degree in Pure Science he tspent a year studying theology before returning to China, and for the next twenty years - apart for two visits home - spent his life as a missionary, teching at the Anglo-Chinese School in Tianjin. Eventually the twon was over run by the invading Japanese. Eric ended up being interred. He soon becamea leader of the prisoners. Those who survived and wrote about their time praised his good humour and love of life. In 1945 he died of a brain tumour - five months before the camp was liberated.

Old Elthamians play on the college fields - which are also shared with City of London School and the Blackheath and Old Elthamians Hockey Club, the world's oldest hockey club which in 1858 or earlier added football before separating into two clubs a few years later. The second pitch is past the hockey field and across a ditch.

Old Elthamians are a bit of a bogie side for Cambridge. We first met them in our promotion season - when we won at home and drew at the College. But since they joined us in National 1 they have won every match. But records are made to be broken. We have won four in a row, which again we have not done since promotion.

Old Elthamians have one of the smallest home support in the league - so a good turnout of Blood and Sand supporters should be able to drown them out. It is not a long drive - so do come long and be the 16th man. However, if you cannot make it, then the 3rd XV are at home to Shelford III. The 3rd XV are guaranteed to finish fourth in the table and will progress to the plate.

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