"There was a great buzz and excitement about the event, as we set off early in the morning -
two coach loads of us. We'd drive in smoothly through the gates past the waiting crowds. We
felt like lords. We certainly had first class treatment. ' In the evenings, we could finish at any
time, depending upon the matches. When we came out to get on the coach, it was often dark
and there would be a crowd queuing up and camping out for the following morning's tickets.
It was a great feeling, knowing we'd be back the next day without any waiting around. ' We
had much more freedom than was allowed at Goldings. We could wander around Centre
Court. The first year I was there, I was a ball boy on the outside courts. The second year I was
on Court No. I. They are very special memories. I've never experienced anything like it, before
or since, in my life.

Peter Haldenby 1955 - 56

Wimbledon Was Privileged

This part of our site is dedicated to the many lads that represented our school at Wimbledon and the outstanding
contribution they made to the success of this championship, of which not only was Wimbledon aware but the tennis world
throughout. This is borne out by the fact that Goldings, and only Goldings supplied the ball boys from 1946 to 1966, and
would have still been providing this service now other than the fact the school closed in 1967.
So come along with me on a trip of nostalgia and read about the many experiences these lads were to encounter being a
“Wimbledon ball boy”

On a personal note I cannot offer my own story of Wimbledon, as Mr Nixon never chose me, but allowed me to train for
Wimbledon every year until I got wise to this fact, and ended up quite a decent tennis player while you lot ran your guts
out for him as I played tennis, and you lot had to collect the ball on my behalf, quite a laugh, but sadly I never did go to
Wimbledon as me and Mr Nixon didn’t see eye to eye.
That being the case lets all sit back and have a laugh about our former pupils, and the antic’s they got up to on there
Wimbledon adventures !!
Dave Blower 1962 - 65

"When we first started as ball boys, the balls used to fly all over the place. We used to throw
the balls from one end of the court to the other - not roll them along the ground - and so there
seemed like lots of balls in the air at times! ' I used to be a ball boy on Centre Court, which was
obviously the place everyone wanted to be. I loved it. Six days a week away from Goldings. We
had a lot of fun. ' We used to get there at 12 noon and be issued with a lunch and drinks ticket.
We used to get fed in the Lyons tent and made the most of the meal, as we didn't get much else
at the end of the day. I remember being absolutely ravenous after running about and only
getting sweaty jam sandwiches, which had been left on the bus all day for tea! ' When I first
worked on Centre Court, it was pretty overwhelming. I'd never been in front of so many
thousands of people before. Still we had to concentrate hard and after a while, I didn't pay them much attention. I
remember once making a brilliant catch and everyone clapping me. 1 also remember the heat. It got pretty hot on centre
court and we always had to wear our heavy grey flannel trousers. The players didn't talk to us much, although Ted
Schroeder, the champion was popular with us boys. I believe he was an exiled Pole who played for Britain. After every
match he said thanks boys and meant it.
Jimmy James 1946 - 49

' Like the best ball boys on the then Centre Court (now No. I Court), I was small and nippy.
That's how I did so well. It was a wonderful time. Every time we got on the coach in the morning,
it was the start of an adventure. ' Although I am not entirely sure the name is correct, I think
the Wimbledon official who organised all ball boy activities was a Mr Fagg. ' We considered it
a privilege to be "set free" (almost) from the restrictions of daily life at Goldings and to be
allowed to roam virtually anywhere within the All England Tennis Club's facility. At the end of
each day, we'd be absolutely exhausted as sometimes play would go on until 9.30pm at night.
That's because matches were a lot longer There were no tie-breaks then. If players were equal
in a set, they just kept going. ' Another particular memory was when one of the lads I worked
with on Centre Court, Charlie Stevenson, was selected by BBC television to appear on What's my Line? It was the purest
stroke of fortune. On the programme, a panel had to judge someone's job from a mimed movement. The show was presented
by the rather ascorbic Gilbert Harding. We were all jealous that he'd got to be on telly and not us! 1 don't suppose as teenage
boys we fully appreciated the honour of representing Dr Barnardo's Homes at an event that was televised and seen across
the globe. We enjoyed the experience-and got extra pocket money as well!!!
Brian McCarthy 1953 - 55

'I really enjoyed every minute of it. They looked after us. It was a completely wonderful
experience and very interesting. We had a routine to follow each day. The whole event was
very well organised. I remember having to collect all the balls - they came in boxes then - from
a dark room and having to sort them out for the games. ' I started on Court No. 14 and worked
my way up to Court No. 2. Once I watched a match on Court No. I, but never went to Centre
Court. 1 remember Jack Kramer as the best player He was injured the first year I was there,
but he won the championship the second year; without losing a set. ' During the second week,
we had more time on our hands and were able to watch some matches ourselves. We also spent
a lot of time sitting on one of the balconies watching cricket matches that were being played on
a pitch near by. ' Of course, I also remember the ladies. We really looked forward to the mixed company which was
something we weren't used to coming from an all boys' home. The lady players, in particular; stood out to me! I've always
loved playing tennis myself and, until very recently played a lot I also go back quite regularly. Some things have changed,
but the famous Wimbledon colours, the strawberries and cream and the fierce competition - they've all remained the same.
John ‘Sammy’ Sansom 1946 - 48

'I understand that after the war; there was a flu epidemic on at the local school that usually
provided ball boys and that was why Barnardo's was contacted. They were so impressed with
us, that we were asked back each year after this. ' It was quite a thing to be picked. Apart from
fitness, you couldn't be too tall, too small or stand out in any way. You had to blend in. It was
very hard work, particularly during the first week when there were so many matches to be
played. By the second week, of course, it was a bit easier as it got to the final rounds. Being a
ball boy on the outside courts was hardest going of all, as you had to keep score as well as look
after the balls! ' One year; I remember the Daily Express put up a cup for us to play for in our
own tennis championship. That was good fun. I remember the event as a one-off, but it might
have continued for other years. ' The players, were always giving things away like sweatbands, balls and stuff like that. The
Americans were the most generous, as they had the most to give! A couple of years ago the BBC commentator Max
Robertson died ,which was sad. I remember him as a great supporter of us at the championships
Robert Pegg 1950 - 52

I was at Wimbledon 1963-1966 from 13 to 16 years old. My job was on the lower courts.
Sport was such a big thing at Goldings that me and my brothers, along with other lads, used
to get the chance every year to take part in one of the UK's biggest sporting events . . .
Wimbledon. My mother was quite surprised to see me on the TV as a ball boy. All the ball
boys used to come from the home. I saw some of the greats of the game, including people like
Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. It was a nice little earner for us because after the match the
players used to give us their sweatbands and we would sell them to the fans.
"The funniest thing I saw was a line judge fell asleep”.
Tommy Hill 1963 - 1966

Champions All

October, and the famous Centre Court at Wimbledon is silent. There is no crowd, no cheers, no clapping. A solitary footstep
will echo through the empty passageways. The paraphernalia of radio and television, the batteries of cameras, the notebooks
of reporters and journalists are busy elsewhere. The high days of summer are over and autumnal breezes are about. The
champions have departed (probably to sunnier climes) and the ball-boys . . . they have returned to the William Baker School
to studies which occupy their year. Yet memories remain. Memories of the pride a ball-boy felt on being chosen to be one of
that famous squad. There was always the thrill of the daily coach journey, and at Wimbledon, the feeling of the great occasion.
It was a real surprise to see a famous name of tennis just walking around the courts. There was pride and great delight when
a champion played on our court. But mingled with all this the embarrassment felt even today, of that missed ball. Was it
imagination, or did the crowd go quiet when the ball remained there at the net? But what was the crowning glory for a
ball-boy at this year's Wimbledon? Surely to discover that the Champion had been a ball-boy. Then to be photographed with
him. What a scene that was! Photographers all crowded at an umpire's chair, cameras, arms, legs, heads everywhere. Cameras
clicking, reporters chattering, then silence for Manuel Santana's every word. What did that reporter say? The Champion had
said 'the ball-boys were the best in the world'. Then we are champions, if we are the best in the world!

B. L. Nixon
Goldonian March 1967

Manuel Santana surrounded by his ball boys

All images and text copyright © to Goldings Old Boys reunion members

DEAR oh dear in the last Guild Messenger (summer issue), I was interested to read of those young fellows who were ball
boys in the 1950s.
I was in the Barnardo's home in Clapham Common in 1926 when the superintendent came around one lunch time picking
out tall boys and telling them they were to report to the office, which we did.
We were told that we were going to Wimbledon to act as 'ball boys'. We all looked at each other 'Ball boys, what are they?'
Don't forget, there was no radio or television and we didn't have access to newspapers, so we were pretty clueless as to what
went on in the outside world.
We duly arrived at Wimbledon in a charabanc (solid tyres) and were duly initiated into the mysteries of being ball boys,
which we embraced with great enthusiasm. We got to know the game very quickly. The players were all very nice, thanking
us after each match. The best part was the strawberries and cream afterwards.
By the way, am I the oldest ball boy around?

Ronald Mills.
Ever Open Door, Belfast 1925 Clapham 1926 Boarded out 1926 Boy's Garden City 1926 Felixstowe 1927 Boy's Garden City 1927-31

The Oldest Ball Boy

Page Compiled June 2005

Goldings Hard Tennis Courts

Wimbledon Continued

I was Wimbledon Ball Boy 1960-63 on courts 8/9/10 etc plus No 1 Court. Then I found myself
doing the stencilled score cards for the large outdoor Score Board which was placed for the
benefit of all tennis goers, and TV cameras, this required us to have up to date scores almost
immediately, from all the courts, so that tennis fans could move from court to court to follow
the most interesting games! I could never understand why we attracted such a large following
of female fans ourselves, until it was pointed out to me that every time we climbed the gantry
all the girls would come to look up our shorts, as we hardly ever wore underwear because of
the heat.
I loved the whole thing, the initial training with the Rev Nixon, the coach journey to and fro,
that feeling of importance in such an illustrious setting.
We used to collect hundreds of Photos from the press room, then race around trying to find
the subject for their autograph.
Have met most of the Royal Family, at Wimbledon.
I most enjoyed meeting Karen Hantze - Susman, she was Billie Jean Kings double's partner,
and I fell madly in love with her, I also tried to be on her court if she was playing, and once had the pleasure of knocking up
with her prior to a game. I also greatly admire Henman.
Bob Cox 1960-1963

Old Boys Revisit Wimbledon 2004

Those were the days at Wimbledon

Press release

Little Wimbledon 1961

Old Boys Revisit Wimbledon 2016

Ah, fond memories of Wimbledon.
My first year, 1965, I was on number 1 court. I'm not certain but I think Tommy Hill and
Jimmy Street were there too. Before play started we would form up 2 abreast and lead the
line judges and players in. I remember one day we had the idea of having a bit of a laugh.
When did we not?! So we formed up and ran in. We did a circuit of the court whilst the
crowd stood and applauded in anticipation. We then ran out again! Oh, boy, did we laugh.
The next year I was on Centre court and had one or two memorable moments there too.
On one occasion, I don't remember who was playing, a player played a forearm smash and
the ball headed straight for the crowd. Without thinking, my cricket experience kicked in
and, I leapt into the air and caught the ball with one hand earning a trickle of applause.
The other occasion was an end of day mixed doubles match. Again, I cannot remember who
was playing except for one: Nicki Pillich (sorry if spelt wrong). I was on the net and he hit a
shot into the net, much to his annoyance. I pelted across to pick up the ball and, at the same
time, he flung his racket on the ground. It bounced up. I grabbed the ball with my right hand
and caught the racket with my left, stopped, gave him his racket and carried on.
The crowd erupted. I got a look of thunder from Mr. Pillich.
John Olbisson 63-66