Tales of Students Exercising

Exercise in all its forms was enjoyed by the students

Back in August 1979 when deciding upon Brinsford Lodge as my chosen hall of residence, I feel sure that I read somewhere in the literature that it boasted tennis courts, gym, snooker room etc. Indeed, it wasn't lying. However, as with many aspects of Brinsford, expectation and reality differed slightly.

Brinsford's gym was not the sort of fully equipped modern day multi-gym with changing rooms, showers and other such luxuries where young executives go to work out 2 or 3 times a week (which we do now of course -ed). Situated between R-block and S-block, it was a brick building (A rarity in itself at Brinsford!) reminiscent of the 'old school gym' style of architecture but without the equipment. It was basically an empty hall suitable for the odd game of badminton or 5-a-side football. Nor were the 2 tennis courts situated next to the Hammonds' bungalow by the main entrance quite upto the standard of Queens or Wimbledon. The hardcore surface was worn in places and the nets had seen better days. But then we were mostly 18 or 19 years old and many of us were living away from home for the first time. Like we were really going to spend all our spare time playing badminton and tennis! But at least we had the opportunity.

Far more likely to attract the attention of those after some casual exercise on a sunny afternoon were the regular games of football on the make-shift pitch between T-Block and U-Block. But if running around in the fresh air wasn't your thing then there was always the dark and dingy snooker room situated off from the main hall. Somehow Brinsford had come by a couple of full size snooker tables. Like most things, they weren't in the best state of repair but they were serviceable enough if you were prepared to overlook the odd cushion that wasn't true or the inevitable shiny patches where the baize had worn thin. And if you found even snooker too energetic or considered it too far a walk from the bar, then there were always activities such as darts, table football and even a Space Invaders machine for the indoors enthusiast.

Funds for the equipment came from the BLSA so it was hardly surprising that each year the BLSA elected someone to look after the equipment. Actually the responsibility was split between 2 people since for some reason snooker warranted its own non-executive appointee. Thus, the job of the Sports Officer was to keep the sports equipment (A big box into which was thrown the badminton net, badminton and tennis racquets, the football, a set of darts etc) locked in his room and to hand it out upon request to those wishing to partake of such activities. Not the most exciting of roles, you might think, but it was one way to lure girls wearing short skirts and skimpy white tops into your room!

Similarly, it was the role of the Snooker Officer to look after the cues and the chalk (though some people had their own) and to ensure that the snooker tables were kept in a reasonable state of repair. Of course, this was limited somewhat by the BLSA budget. It was traditional each year for the Snooker Officer to raise the issue of re-covering the baize on the tables, only to be voted down due to insufficient monies. Additionally, the Snooker Officer would organise 1 or 2 knock-out tournaments each year in which any member of Brinsford was welcome to participate. He would then spend considerable time chasing people to actually play their matches. I never did win the snooker tournament, though I was twice in the final - only to be beaten by Bob Holloway on both occasions.

I don't think anyone ever ran a serious risk of regular exercise at Brinsford - at least, not from playing sport! Though there was the famous 'potting the yellow' incident but that's another story . .

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