Victor Roebuck

Grammar School Master (Physical Education 1952-1972)

teamVictor was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire in 1925. He started his secondary education at Maltby Grammar School, one of whose most famous sporting pupils was Freddy Truman.

In 1939, due to a family move however, during his second year, he moved to Stafford where he was transferred to King Edward School. He was ridiculed slightly for his Yorkshire accent but soon established himself due to his success in almost all sports.

roebuck3In 1942, he attended Loughborough College of Athletics that has produced many of England’s finest athletes the likes of Sebastian Coe, David Moorcroft and Sir Clive Woodward. In his first year, he won the coveted ‘Victor Ludorum Trophy’ (to save you rushing to Google to find out who Victor Ludorum was, as I did, it is in fact, Latin for “winner of the games”). It was the first time that this had been awarded to a middle-distance winner and Vic went on to win it the following; the first time that this had been achieved too. He also won the ‘Freshers Trophy’ for Athletics and Swimming combined. During this time, aside from athletics, he played for the college rugby team and was cross-country captain.

roebuck1.gifIn 1944, his time at Loughborough was cut short with a one year deferment due to the war and was to join the Queens Regiment of the army in Maidstone, Kent. He was soon commissioned to the North Staffordshire Regiment and posted to Northern Italy where he was to patrol the Yugoslav border against gangs of Yugoslav partisans and escaped German prisoners of war. On conclusion of the war and before being demobbed in 1948, Vic played for the Central Mediterranean rugby and athletics team.

After the war, he took the post of PE master at Dartmouth Street Secondary Modern School in Stafford. During this period, he finished his deferred year at Loughborough and enjoyed much sporting success including Northern Universities Welter-weight Boxing Champion and competed in the Midland Counties and British Universities athletics in 880 yards and One Mile events running against such legends as Roger Bannister (4 minute mile), and John Parlett (European Champion and Olympic 800m record holder). He also narrowly missed out in a trial for the 1948 Olympics.

His next post was at Preston Grammar School which was well known for sporting success and enjoyed the rare luxury at the time of a well equipped gymnasium.

TeamIn January 1952, Victor joined Burton Grammar School, Bond Street as Head of Physical Education. Prior to this, the music teacher took PE and exercises were very basic. Immediately, circuit training was introduced with targets to reach bringing a whole dimension that had previously been lacking. Victor was also to develop the existing athletics, boxing, swimming, cricket, cross-country and rugby supporting Jake Hammond, Harry Smith, Jack Adams and Norman Jones. His weekends however, were taken with rugby where as flanker (wing forward in those days).

He was soon to captain Burton and later Staffordshire. Later positions included President of Burton Rugby Club, Burton coach and Staffordshire coach. With a seven year, fairly unimpressive history, in 1970 under Vic’s coaching, Staffordshire were to win the County Championships for their only time as underdogs against favourites, Gloucestershire.

During the summer recess of 1968, Vic was contacted by headmaster at the time, Bill Gillion, and asked if he could teach English in the forthcoming year. Applying some of his coaching techniques, some were somewhat surprised but nonetheless delighted when Vic managed to give form 5b a 100% pass; a feat never previously achieved!

CaptainIn 1972, Vic left Burton Grammar School and became ‘Secondary Schools Advisor’ for the country borough. Shortly after, he was one of the first four staff coaches for National Rugby Union. A year later, in 1973, Vic spent a few weeks rugby coaching in Poland where he was a little surprised to find that the sport had such a following there. He was later to also spend a short time coaching in Denmark.

By the time of his retirement in 1989, Victor was County Education Inspector with responsibility for 72 schools in and around Burton where he encouraged schools to work together and work to a common timetable for 16 to 19 year olds which would allow them to move between schools for specialist subjects.

NowAmong other sporting acknowledgements, Victor has been president of the Staffordshire Rugby Coaching Society where he gave practical help to both coaches and individual players; president of Burton Rugby Club as well as President of Staffordshire Rugby. He has also served as chairman of Burton Sports Advisory Council and chairman of Burton Rugby Club, where his membership now spans well over fifty years. There is now a suite named after him at Burton Rugby Club. Some PE teacher!

Victor lost his wife Sybil after a short illness, having not long retired as secretary of Edge Hill junior school. Together, they had two daughters; Sally, with a 2.1 honours degree in Sports Science and Administration, has her own business within the field of fitness and aerobics; Anna who gained an Art degree at Watt University, Edinburgh now with her own art business; and son James who, after being educated at Burton Grammar School, gained a degree in philosophy at York University, a post graduation in Education at Nottingham University and has taught English in numerous countries, including Dubai where he completed an M.A. in education. He is currently in Abu Dhabi.


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