UEAFC Old Boys UEAFC Old Boys

UEAFC 1980s Old Boys weekend – Norwich, 6/7 May 2016

'As young as you feel'

In what was the third instalment of reunions for this 1980s crowd of ex-UEAFC scholars, the ‘lads’ showed they had lost none of their drinking prowess along Magdalen Street on a Friday night nor their deft skills on the 5-a-side football pitch the next morning, albeit it was described by one observer as more like ‘walking football’.

As a tribute to one of the Football Club’s most popular and creative fundraising ideas, we decided to attempt an abbreviated version of the ‘Magdalen Run’, managing to fit in six pubs rather than the standard 10, before heading off for a curry and then arguing our way in to the Cuban club in Queen Street. Just like old times.

The Magdalen Run tradition began in 1984 whilst raising funds for UEAFC’s first ever European tour – we decided that a sponsored walk was a little lame, so we plumped for a sponsored pub crawl and collected some £500 for the tour coffers. People actually paid us to have a night out on the town. Great marketing!

A dozen members joined the 2016 crawl, with the two that were last seen heading for another club at 1am not managing to make the kick-off on Saturday morning. Recovery takes longer these days too. 

On the pitch itself, Ali McMillin (LAW81), Bob Newsum (SOC83) and Toby Bonner-Davies (EUR83) showed the rest of us that even moderate fitness can be a virtue. With everyone now in their 50s, it is maybe time for the rest of us to review our exercise routines.

Never mind, it can now be said they we play football regularly… that is, once a year. 

Then it was down to what used to be the UEA Pub, but now has the more dubious name ‘SU Bar’, to watch soon-to-be-relegated Norwich City struggle against Man United on the big screen. We loved the prices there, as well as the new politically correct toilet signs, but the carpets smelt like they hadn’t been cleaned since UB40 were No.1 with Red Red Wine.

And what a fabulous sunny Saturday it was; even got a bit of a tan sitting on the steps in the UEA Square reminiscing over days gone by… then popped into Billings (refectory) late afternoon for the all-day breakfast.

A delightful first for these occasions was the attendance of four WAGs on the Saturday who had let their lesser halves party solo on the Friday night. It was especially pleasing to see Jeanette Scales (nee Chandler, SOC81) and Jo McMillin (nee Haley, EUR82), who had met their men here at UEA and had decided to keep them for the next 30 years, underlining what we already knew – that UEAFC men make exceptionally good mates.

After a recovery nap, 16 of us strolled down to the Black Horse pub in Earlham Road for a more cordial meal and polite conversation until it was time to say goodbye.

Great to see Mark Williams (EUR81) for the first time at one of these events (he is usually off on holiday somewhere), and the return after a year’s absence of Nigel Winmill (SOC81) and Ian Squires (SOC81). Hats off too to Nick Shepherd (EUR81) for driving over from Paris for the occasion and Bob Newsum who travelled up from Bath.

And special thanks to our official photographer, Jon Robinson (EUR81), Rachel Tomes in the UEA Sports Centre for helping to arrange the football, and Mike Peters (EDU84) for finding some bibs and a ball.

Those present agreed that having the reunion in Norwich and revisiting some old haunts is the best option - so that’s all decided for 2017 then. 

More photos are here on the group's Facebook page.

(written by Jeremy Duxbury SYS82)