Golden years: meet England's 1968 captain
18th May 2018
Ahead of the golden anniversary fixture between the England and Scotland men’s teams which is set for a 19:00 first serve on Saturday 19th May 2018, we caught up with Arthur Mosley, who had the historic honour of being the England captain in the first ever fixture against Scotland on 16th March 1968.
“With regard to the 50th anniversary game between Scotland and England, when I first saw it was being proposed – it hadn’t really registered in my mind that it was 50 years ago,” began Arthur, who first came across volleyball by chance after seeing Algerian children playing the game in Paris while on a school trip in the 1950s. In the intervening years, Arthur has demonstrated his experience, commitment and lifelong passion for the sport having played under Dr Don Anthony in the early 1960s, for the national team from 1965-1971 and having coached at Exeter Storm VC from the club’s founding until his retirement only six months ago.
Looking back fondly on being chosen as England captain in the 1968 history making fixture, Arthur continued: “I’m very proud of the achievement. I regard it as a great honour to have been selected as captain of the team. It’s something I look back on with a great deal of pride. We were pioneers trying to spread the word about volleyball in this country and also to increase and improve our reputation abroad and not be regarded as the poor relations of the world…it brought back memories of the experience of those first days.”
Those first days involved competing in the same team as many of the Scottish players under the A.V.A. (Amateur Volleyball Association), which was founded in 1955 by Dr Don Anthony and was the precursor to the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Associations and the British Volleyball Federation of today. On the continent, the A.V.A. was recognised as Great Britain, and one year after first being selected for the team, Arthur formed part of the A.V.A. squad who competed in the 1966 Western European Championships in Ostend, Belgium along with prominent volleyball nations.
“It was amazing - my first real experience of international competition was terrific. We got well and truly beaten by pretty much everybody…but we learned that we had to be much better at receiving. There was also a lot of learning for us at the net when it came to dumping the ball, most of the foreign opposition seemed to be carrying the ball, so it was a surprise adjust to a different level of refereeing.” And at the next Western European Championships in The Netherlands in 1967, the A.V.A. team came back stronger, “we didn’t win any matches but demonstrated that we had made progress but we were still light years behind everyone else.”
Speaking to Arthur, many of those involved in the first England vs Scotland fixture in 1968 have gone on to have a valuable and sustained influence on volleyball across the two nations and to narrow the gap between the rest of the world. For instance, Nick Moody, who played for England in 1968, went on to become the Technical Director of the Scottish Volleyball Association for 25 years and a prominent club and national team coach north of the border. Additionally, the late John Syer, who represented Scotland, went on to found the Scottish Volleyball Association and start the country’s national teams, championships and leagues.
Current Vice Chair of Volleyball England, Keith Nicholls, who also played for England, has had roles with the national governing body of volleyball in England since 1966 with the A.V.A. and, among many achievements, developed the wall slider as a multisport teaching/training aid for schools and clubs, which has since been installed in over 500 sports halls.
And Arthur will be one of those pioneers who continues to hold the torch for volleyball in Great Britain: “I will be going along to the game to watch and show that at least some of us involved in the first fixture will be there to support the anniversary. I will be delighted to be there for the 50th memorial game and to have maintained an interest in volleyball in all that time.”
And from England's maiden captain to the current generation of England players, Arthur said: “as it is an England vs Scotland game, I don’t think I need to say anything about how passionate they should be in tackling the old enemy. These fixtures are guaranteed to be a bit special…it will go well if we get the right outcome at the end of the game!”
You can join Arthur in supporting the men’s and women’s England teams as they face Scotland on Saturday 19th May 2018. The first serve of the women’s game will be at 16:30 and the men’s at 19:00. Tickets will be available for free on the door at Sport Central, Northumbria University, Northumberland Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 8QD.