Keele Icons – University Challenge
If you’re a Keele graduate, I suspect many of you, having had even a cursory glance at the title of this post, are expecting an exaltation of the all conquering Keele University Challenge team of 1968. True, Paul Brownsey, Pam Groves, Aubrey ‘Larry Lawrence and Andrew MacMullen deserve a place in the Keele Pantheon. They were unstoppable that year and swept all before them, including Jesus College Cambridge in the Final
And they showed just how good they were again in 2002, when they were reunited for University Challenge’s ‘Champion of Champions’ series, in which 30 teams of past winners again went head to head over several rounds. Keele lost narrowly to Sidney Sussex College Cambridge in the Final. A brilliant team indeed
But no, this post is about a team that yours truly was a part of, albeit as a first reserve – the legendary team of 1973. The team were hastily, and shambolically, assembled in a mock contest held by then Prez Jim Moran in the ballroom at the start of term. Ever since that day there have been strong rumours (circulated principally by me!) that the contest was fixed. Allegedly at least two of the eventual starting line up (no names, no pack drill, but what do you have to say for yourselves Messrs Taylor and McArthur!) were shown the answers beforehand by the aforementioned ‘Big’ Jim Moran
In any event the team – Ian ‘Zeb’ Taylor, Martin ‘Hamish’ McArthur, Mike Butcher and Andy ‘Uncle Tom’ Cobley set out for Granada Studios in Manchester on the fateful day of October 17, 1973. We travelled by ‘luxury’ coach, accompanied by several (thousand? hundred? tens?) indifferent supporters. There were three teams there on the day as two shows were to be recorded. Us, East Anglia and an Oxford college
Rehearsals quickly showed that neither us nor UEA had a hope against Oxford. And so it proved. We played UEA and, despite taking a very early lead when Zeb answered ‘Peary’ to a question, we lost heavily. UEA then went on to get obliterated by the simpering academics of Oxford
We didn’t care. Our main worry was where we were going to watch the crucial England v Poland World Cup qualifier that evening (remember I said ‘fateful day’ earlier in this post?). Producer Douglas Terry, a splendid chap, to the rescue. He provided a free bar for the teams, plus a few selected supporters (Oxford and UEA didn’t have any, so almost the entire Keele contingent got in,) for the duration. One abiding memory is of everyone – both teams, our supporters, Douglas, all the studio technicians) at one of the room where the free bar and the TV showing the game was, and Bamber Gascoigne and the Oxford team huddled at the other end, no doubt discussing the finer points of Plato and Socrates
Sadly, and famously, England could only draw 1-1, and were, like Keele, eliminated
No matter, we had a great day, which continued back at the Union, where Zeb and I decided to treat everyone to a display of Kung Fu in honour of our then (and recently deceased) hero, Bruce Lee. Unforgettable day, unforgettable times!
Make sure you (download,) enlarge and read the Concourse extracts. For one thing they make me seem like a good footballer!