Back in May 2012 we had our first OCFC fixture with the School, at the time we fielded a team of 11 and despite half the OCFC team not having picked up a sword for at least 10 years, and with an average age of 37 (at least twice that of the squad produced by the School) we came within 11 points of a victory. In the five and a half years since that first match the dynamics have changed, the squad is smaller and because we have successfully recruited some of the then Carthusians, the average age of the OC squad has fallen, while the points score has risen.
The OCFC has in its own modest way made a contribution, for OCs who had not picked up a sword in years have got back into the sport and a few of their spouses have taken up the sword for the first time. We have observed over the years in the School’s fencing, an increasing enthusiasm for, and ability at sabre. So the natural next step is to ask what else could the OCFC do to make a contribution.
Why not encourage other schools who still offer fencing as a sport, to create their own old boys’ clubs, thereby encouraging other veterans to get back into the sport as well as strengthen ties with their respective schools. It would then be a small step for one old boys fencing club to challenge another and eventually create a league, possibly a national competition. Obviously to be able to sustain such an activity the OCFC core would need to grow from the current 7 - 9 to about 20.
Engaging with alumni is a sensible long term goal for any school of character and for such a relationship to work it needs enthusiasm and an element of pro-activism on both sides rather than just on the side of the OCs. With a new era about to start at Charterhouse, I anticipate that there will be more enthusiasm for this type of project than under the previous Carthusian regime.
Looking back the OCFC is now established and punching slightly above its weight. Looking forward we have a vision of where we want to go. So it is a sensible time for me to pass the baton onto younger blood and step down as Chair. I would like to thank James Kazi and Charles Marsh as Fencing Masters for their encouragement and help in making the OCFC a workable fixture, their generosity has been stellar.
Not everybody who tries and enjoys fencing is going to be a great fencer. The measure of a good, possibly great, fencing coach is to my mind someone who can keep their club as broad a church as is possible but when a special talent comes along to be able to recognise it for what it is and to help nurture that talent towards greatness. Mick Johnson, the School’s fencing coach, is doing an incredible job, the esprit de corps, the talent, and the enthusiasm of the School’s fencers always makes an impression on the OCFC. Finally, it is also gratifying to see some women amongst the School and the OCFC squads.
A special thank you to Toby Hindson who as Match Secretary has really been ‘running’ the OCFC and organizing the fixtures for the last couple of years, it is a natural step for him to take the position as Chair. Tom McMahon has been shadowing Toby for the last 2 years and will now take over as Match Secretary. I have little doubt that under the guiding hands of Toby and Tom the OCFC will realise the vision.
By Anthony Silver