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9 months ago By Tom Slater

The personal views of David Shuttleworth

Manchester Weather!!
It has been said about Manchester weather that if you don’t like it just hang about for a few minutes as it is bound to change.

Over the last week we have seen all the rigours of winter in Manchester as we have been hit by “The Beast from the East” and by Storm Emma. Snow has been everywhere and the high winds and icy temperatures have caused havoc.

Building sites in Manchester were shut down and there was widespread disruption to travel. If you had asked me on Thursday whether there was any chance of Lacrosse on Saturday I would have said certainly not this Saturday and probably not next. So it was no surprise to hear that all junior and senior fixtures for Men and Women were off.

What was a surprise was to hear that people were asking why there was no Lacrosse at TSC. With nothing better to do on a slow Saturday I took a drive down to Timperley. To my astonishment the grass surfaces were not only better than could be expected but absolutely perfect –classic Lacrosse surfaces.

Given that as far as I can ascertain, only the two men’s game s played it would be interesting to know if the miraculous thaw was seen at any other grounds.

I am not sure what lessons can be learnt except perhaps don’t cancel too early although I can understand the reasons for giving people as much notice as possible.

I am generally in favour of a doctrine which says “if in doubt play.” The purpose of a Lacrosse club is to play as much Lacrosse as possible. We hear of pitches that are dangerous. Generally, the only danger is that you might end up with dirty knees. There seems to be a growing view that people are risking liability claims. In my experience liability claims in any sport, even obviously dangerous ones like Rugby are very, very rare and not generally successful. The law is extremely reluctant to get involved in sport in any way. People who have roles in a sport are deemed to be the experts and able to make the right decisions. People who play are deemed to be reasonably intelligent therefore are aware of any risk

What the miracle at Stockport Road does tell us is that our “new” pitches are perhaps even more resilient than we thought. They certainly seem to recover quickly.

We need to celebrate that the Stockport Road s**t heap is hopefully a thing of the past and that TSC will realise , that having spent a fortune they need to maintain the expenditure to keep the massive gains on track. We have to keep investing.

On the subject of investing I am not sure what the position is on the project with Trafford but my simplistic view is. We are sports club. Not sure I see much virtue in whist for the over 70s. We need a g4 for soccer and Lacrosse.

Brexit Update
Brexit is becoming more of a fiasco every day.

Theresa May gives what is supposed to be a defining speech and all that it does is reinforce the huge divergence between the EU and the UK.

I suspect her main aim was to deal with the internal divisions in the Tory party. The fact that she seems to have achieved that says everything about the terrible state we are in. Petty party politics is more important than the future of the country and its young people

Theresa May delivered her speech as if she was in a negotiating position which she certainly is not. She basically does not understand the European position. The economic issues are secondary to the overriding political imperative. If you want to understand the European position you need to visit the Normandy beaches from 1944 and the Western Front of Vimy and the Somme from 1914-18.

German car makers will not insist on a deal with the UK. In fact the signs are that the UK car industry has no future outside the EU. The French have already said that they are planning to shut Ellesmereport which means Luton as well and although Nissan and Toyota have issued positive statements about their intentions they have come with the rider that the future is dependent on the trading conditions replicating those enjoyed in the EU.

“May’s speech, signalling a fundamental parting of the ways, was a defeat for the business people, trade unionists and community leaders who rightly fear the country’s future prosperity, cohesion and jobs. It was a defeat for the young people , British and European, who more so than older generations , will perforce inhabit an ugly new world of harder borders, work permits bureaucracy and pervasive state intrusion.

“Looked at in a wider context, May’s speech marked a moment of British retreat from the shared ideals and principles of collaborative internationalism that have guided western democracies since 1945. It presaged a historic abdication of leadership that many in Europe and beyond will neither understand nor quickly forgive.

“The gaunt post-Brexit future towards which May is stubbornly leading us will make Britain a poorer , meaner, lonelier and shabbier place, hostile to immigrants yet badly in need of their skills , struggling to maintain its trade across the barriers we ourselves erected , and exploited by the world’s big economies whose governments and multinationals, imposing unequal trade treaties , will take what they want and leave the rest.” *

Mrs May made a ringing cry for the country to come together and make the most of the great opportunities which will come after Brexit. She has been watching too many Gary Oldman films. Pigs might fly.

Thanks to the Observer!

Secondary school dilemmas
They always say that the most stressful things in life are getting married and moving house. Pushing them close must be getting your children /grandchildren into secondary school, particularly in south Manchester. Having been through the mill with 3 of my four grandchildren my views on the system are, to say the least jaundiced.

If you live in Altrincham the chance of you going to a poor school are nil. However, the process to decide which child goes to which school seems extremely questionable.

With the selective Grammar Schools passing the exam seems to me to mean that you have passed the exam not that you are able to maximise the benefits of a top class education. A teacher informed me that her view was that passing the Entrance Exam for Trafford schools really proved little except that you were able to pass the entrance exam for Trafford schools!

There was no in depth appraisal of the child’s wider abilities and suitability to receive a high pressure, high quality, academic education. For many children applying for a Trafford grammar school means an intensive preparation by junior schools or by expensive private tutoring.

Of the entry processes I have observed I would say that the one used by Manchester Grammar School is the best. (I should state my views are not entirely objective as my daughter is a senior member of the academic staff at the school.) The boys go through a 2 day programme where they are involved in an assessment process which involves receiving teaching and doing various activities giving them an insight into the school and allowing them to be evaluated by school staff. They also, as part of the process, sit a fairly testing examination.

The school is very clear that the 400+ boys who apply for entry are judged by their performance in the whole process and not just on their performance in the examination. Subject to assessment, boys in the Junior School move up into the senior school.

The Manchester Grammar School
The only examination I ever failed was the Entrance Exam for MGS. It did not bother me particularly as I won a Scholarship to William Hulme’s GS which I firmly believed was at least the equal of MGS.

Fast forward 50+years and MGS is firmly established as one of the country’s leading schools with an outstanding academic record. Unfortunately William Hulme’s is unrecognisable as the school it once was. It is reborn as a respected local school but nothing like the institution it should be. The product of disappointingly poor leadership.

At this stage I should admit to a prejudice. My daughter is the Head of Modern Languages at MGS. One of my grandson’s is in Yr 7 and the other will be joining MGS in September. I am proud as punch.

When the Direct Grant programme was stopped in the 1990s MGS reacted positively and set up a seminal Bursary appeal whilst WHGS rolled over and died.

MGS is a fee paying school but the objective of the school is to create a situation where it is open to any boy with academic aspirations and ability. The Bursary programme means that boys from any background can make it to MGS

Currently the Bursary Fund stands at £26m with a view to it building up to £100m by 2050.

There are few schools which are as ethnically and religiously diverse as MGS.

A recent report included impact statements for the recipients of Bursaries of which there some 260 over the last 20 years currently 1 in 6 of the boys benefit from a bursary.

Mharab Choudhury (09-017)

“Teachers and pupils have no idea and they won’t ever be able to tell who was or wasn’t on a Bursary. We are all pupils of MGS. And that’s what I believe makes MGS so special.

It is a school where every boy is accepted and celebrated. There are no other schools where you can have this level of social and ethnic diversity and have the highest standard of education like we do at MGS. Boys from all backgrounds are able to come here, rejoice and share their passion for learning no matter what their situation .This what the Bursary Fund has enabled us to achieve. This is the foundation of what the school is built on. Accepting boys on their intellectual potential, regardless of their financial income. It is not a place where boys just achieve top grades. It is a place where you are able to discover the person you want to be and achieve it.”

Turn Moss Playing Fields
Most people would, I think, accept that sport is generally a “good thing”.

Whether the interest is a spectator of professional sport or more importantly as a participant the values of sport are many.

Sport makes you fitter, healthier and hopefully less obese. Sport gives young people moral and ethical standards and teaches them the skills of interacting with other people and more particularly leadership skills.

It follows that if the benefits of sport are obvious then the more people who take part the better.

The thing that people who want to take part need is the place to take part. Facilities have generally improved over the years with places like Timperley being a shining example. However, it is not all good news. In the past a major provider of sports was the local authority. Football in particularly was a sport reliant on council provision. In recent times participation levels, particularly amongst adults have seen significant declines. The decline has been mirrored in a significant decline in the quality of playing surfaces. Sport and recreation are areas that a council is not mandated to provide so inevitably faced with massive cuts in central government funding it is such areas which suffer. Certainly the Manchester City Council facilities at Hough End are very, very poor and perhaps this lack of quality is reflected in the low level of usage. .

Recent bad weather has had a very negative effect on participation in junior football. In many areas few games were played between November and February because of the poor quality of the playing fields.

The need to improve facilities does not come high on a Local Authority’s list of priorities. (Not sure that it ever really did. If you looked up Trafford Council entry in the old yellow pages you famously would find the entry ;”For Sport and Recreation see Cemeteries and Crematoriums “.)

It was a pleasant surprise to recently see that there was a planning application to improve the notoriously poor facilities at Turn Moss in Stretford into an improved sporting venue. Currently Turn Moss is a flood plagued dump with neither changing rooms nor toilets.

The application would see Gary Neville’s Salford City create a base for their Academy at Turn Moss and also facilities for the use of the new University to be based close to Trafford Town Hall and for the local community. The improvements would see changing rooms, a cafe and a childrens’ playground.

Not unexpectedly what would seem to be a win win situation has brought the nimby’s out of the woodwork claiming the usual green belt and wild life reasons. The protesters are largely drawn from the demographic which has “more yesterdays than tomorrows”. They are the generation who has had everything and not really had to work for it and are happy to see their grand children become the first generation to be poorer than their parents.

Hopefully Sean Anstee and Trafford Council will have the courage to invest in the future and in youth and not allow the perpetual protesters to win the day.

“Build it and they will come” is a vote for the future.

Updated 16:09 - 7 Mar 2018 by Tom Slater

Where next?

A VIEW FROM THE SIDELINE (MARCH 14TH) The personal views of David Shuttleworth
WEEKLY ROUNDUP FEBRUARY 28TH The news from Timperley Lacrosse this week

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