Although sport did not feature as a part of the school’s ethos in the early days (indeed boys were punished for kicking a ball in the playground!) it became an extremely important part of school life from the very early 1900s - despite the fact that the school never had its own on-site playing fields until the move to Baffins in 1956.
The history of sport in the school also owes much to the relationship with success in the music and drama arenas - these latter events providing much of the funding (through public performances) by which sport was supported.
In 1904 the school formed its first athletics club - and 100 boys joined. In the same year inter-form football matches were arranged on Stamshaw Recreation Ground and these were strongly supported. After Christmas in the same year the inaugural 1st X1 was formed - playing in the yellow and black colours that were to survive for the whole of the school’s life. Mr. Burras was the master in charge from 1908-1930 and although the early years saw the team suffer heavy defeats, by 1914 equality had been achieved. In 1921/2 the team were unbeaten and 3 years later reached the final of the Hants 6 a-side tournament before losing to Bournemouth A.
In 1906 Dr. Parks provided a trophy for inter-form football which subsequently became the inter-house trophy.
Cricket was introduced in 1905 - with staff participating in these games. In one early match against Taunton the school were dismissed for 21; the total included 3 byes and 16 scored by Mr. Waite who skippered the side!! Mr. Winter was in charge of the team from 1919-1939 and the first boy to captain the side was C. Hore. Davies, captain in 1908, was the first boy to score 50 in a school match. In 1919 Mr. Winter took control of cricket and remained in charge for 20 years.
Mr. Waite was Sports Secretary and in charge of athletics from 1907-31. Interest increased significantly when, in 1914, the school adopted a District (in effect a "house") system rather than basing results on individual performance. There were 5 districts to which boys were allocated (dependent upon where boys lived) - and the colours adopted were blue, green, red, brown and yellow. In 1925 the "District" system was replaced by a "house" system with the houses subsequently adopting the names of previous Headmasters.
In 1907 Alderman Groves had presented a shield to the school and this was subsequently adopted as the inter-District trophy, the first winners being the Green District under H.L. Levers.
In 1924 swimming was adopted as a school activity and in the same decade lawn tennis and cross country running were also included.
By 1934 there were more than 300 boys regularly playing soccer on Saturday mornings - at the aerodrome ground on the Eastern Road and this enthusiasm was rewarded by achievement of an undefeated season by the 1st X1 in 1935/6 - with cricket also having a magnificent season in 1936 with 12 out of 13 matches being won.
The school was fortunate to have use of the County School playing fields during the evacuation in the Second World War, so sport continued to flourish.
Upon return to Portsmouth after the War, sport continued to play a major part in the school’s life and Rugby Union was introduced in 1948 with the formation of the Phoenix Rugby Club. This was largely due to the enthusiasm and interest of the new Headmaster (Mr. Mills) who also managed to secure some free kit from a RAF surplus supply establishment! At the same time, boxing and fencing were introduced although the former was subsequently discontinued.
Basketball was first introduced to the school (albeit in a very elementary way) in the late 1940s by an American exchange teacher called Mr Njaa. The game was played in PE lessons only, since no other schools played at the time. After Mr Njaa left, basketball did continue for some years but there being no continuing "champion" for the sport it gradually declined. However, in the late 1950s a new sports master, Brian Naysmith, introduced it as a major sport in the school and with much greater intensity. Matches were organised both locally and nationally and the school became a powerful force in the country culminating in their becoming national champions in 1970 and runners up in 1971. Furthermore, a number of boys, including Brian Hirschfield and Fred Rawlins gained international recognition.
Other sports had also been introduced with great success. In cycling the school became national champions under Mr. Walker and, for the more cerebral, national chess champions under Commander Peters.
Testimony to the enthusiasm and dedication that was given to sport in the school was the number of representative honours that were won by boys at City, County and International levels across many years. Some became internationally renowned after leaving school - for example, athlete Alan Pascoe was an Olympic silver medallist and European and Commonwealth champion. Brian Daish played centre half for England schoolboys in the late 1940s and others, including Derek and Brian Edwards, Jeff Hodgkins, Charlie Usmar, John Lennon, Jim Riordan, Dicky Tout and Barry Dyer, subsequently played soccer at professional levels.
Former pupils owe a great debt to the school and the many staff who gave up so much of their time so that boys could develop skills and the important team working ethos which has benefited so many in their careers.