Pre-breakfast swims during the 1939-1945 war years at the long-demolished
Throwley Road Baths generated the interest in forming a club in Sutton,
and Sutton and Cheam Borough Swimming Club came into being on 3rd September
1945 with the 'elders' Committee consisting of:
|W.H. "Pop" Worsell
The newly formed club entered its first gala in September 1945 represented
by 5 swimmers and it is recorded that 'all 5 gave a creditable performance'.
In December 1945, under the new title of Sutton and Cheam Swimming Club,
the club affiliated to the Southern Counties ASA (SCASA) and in February
1946, to the Surrey County Water Polo and Swimming Association (SCWPSA),.
Sutton Council then granted the club exclusive use of pool time at the
Malden Road Baths (now Cheam Leisure Centre) for the princely sum of 7/6d
(371/2 p) per hour.
With enthusiastic young swimmers and a hard working Committee, the new
club developed and prospered. Its first important success came in 1947
when Pat Kendall became National Sprint Champion. In the following year,
he became the first of a long line of Olympians when selected for the
Great Britain team for the London Olympics in 1948. In the same year,
the club entered four water polo leagues. In 1949, Gerry Worsell was selected
for the Great Britain team for the first time and while playing for Liverpool
University v Loughborough in a UAY final was penalised by the referee
for "standing" in the deep (10ft 6ins) end of the pool! Gerry,
along with Sutton and Cheam teammate Terry Miller, went on to be selected
for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. It is noteworthy that the "Daily
Mirror" dubbed Gerry at the time "Mr Beefcake" when he
appeared as a male centrefold in the newspaper.
The 1950s continued to witness the rise of the Sutton and Cheam Water
Polo team. A capacity, partisan crowd attended Friday and Saturday night
matches at the Malden Road pool with the baths resembling Wembley Stadium
rather than a suburban swimming pool.
In 1952, Sutton and Cheam played host to the Australian National side
touring the UK immediately after the Olympic Games in Helsinki; and with
the help of two guest players from the British Olympic Team; Ron Turner
and Stan Hawkins, trounced them 9-6 at the Malden Road pool. The team
was Maurice Skerman, Reg Potter (1948 Olympic Captain), Stan Hawkins,
Bill Smith, Geoff Miller, Terry Miller and Ron Turner.
These successes were highlighted in 1955 when the BBC televised an England
v Scotland International Gala and water polo match, from Malden Road pool
for their 'Saturday Night Out' programme. Over 1000 spectators packed
the Malden Road gallery to capacity and it was estimated the show was
broadcast to 11,000,000 viewers.
In the following year, the Australians returned the compliment when Melbourne
hosted the 1956 Olympics and some of the players met up again when Sutton
and Cheam players Cliff Spooner and Gerry Worsell were selected for the
It was also in the late 1950s that the name Thurley first became associated
with the club with Charlie Thurley playing for the club's highly successful
junior water polo team with other stalwarts like John Salter, who still
plays with Sutton and Cheam's masters' side.
Surrey Junior Water Polo Team 1958
Winners: ASA & SCASA County Junior Championships
(coach) S&C , R.Fearn (S&C) , E.E Alexander, J.Salter (S&C)
A.J.Burford (Wimbledon) M.Creamore (S&C), J.Lake (S&C), C.Thurley
(S&C), P.Green (S&C)
In 1962, 'Dinkie' Thurley (known affectionately to everyone as 'Mrs T')
took over the swimming coaching at Sutton and Cheam and remained so until
her death in February 2003. Under her direction, the club flourished and
success was immediate as she coached her son John to the Tokyo Olympics
in 1964 and to Mexico City in 1968. John also won bronze for the butterfly
at the Commonwealth Games in 1966 and was the first sub 2 mins GB swimmer
in the 200 metres butterfly.
In 1962, the National Water Polo League (NWPL) was actually formed at
a meeting held in the home of our former president C.T.Thurley. Since
its formation, the club has won the Championship 6 times and has only
recently dropped out of the first division.
Another of 'Mrs T's' boys, John Mills (now chief coach at Kingston Royals),
represented Great Britain at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and took a
Commonwealth Games silver in the 100m butterfly. Setting the seal on the
club's achievements, in 1977 and 1978, John Mills captained the Great
Britain Swimming Team and Philip Howden, the Great Britain Water Polo
team, a unique double. While Philip captained the GB team, three other
Sutton and Cheam Players, Graham Bernard, Paul Cartledge and Pete Paolella
were members of the team.
The club's junior water polo team has won the Junior National Championships
8 times and has been runners up on several occasions. In one spell of
7 years, Sutton and Cheam's junior water polo team won the National Championships
5 times and were runners up once. In 1977 and 1979, the Club were Great
Britain's representatives in the Europa Cup in Sophia and Zurich respectively.
1980 was a particularly successful year, with Graham Bernard being awarded
the Swimming Times Trophy, James Pearson winning the National 16/17 backstroke
title and the polo team, under Charlie Thurley's coaching, making a clean
sweep of all the National Championship titles.
In 1981, after another year as National Champions, five of the team including
Phil Howden, and GB Internationals Chris Harrison and Peter Lang, emigrated
to Australia, severely weakening prospects for the next few years. The
club's loss was Australia's gain as Chris Harrison changed allegiance
to play with the Australian National side in the 1988 Olympic Games; and
more recently, Phil's son was selected for the Australian Water Polo team
that competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The club still has close ties
with its former players and over the past 20 years, we have sent a number
of our younger players 'down under' for invaluable experience.
In August 2006, some of our present Masters team (Colin King, Nigel Gornall,
Nicky Furneaux and John Salter) met up again with Phil Howden, Stefan
Radwanski and Peter Paolella and others to compete in the 10th
FINA World Masters Championships in San Marino, Italy (under the
banner of 'Brisbane Barracudas'). Many old friendships were renrewed and
new ones made. This team, under Phil Howden's captaincy, returned as World
Champions in the 50+ age group. In 2008, the team again reformed to compete
in the 11th
FINA World Masters Championships but lost in the final by a single
goal to take the silver medal.
1987 saw Channel 4's "Challenge to Sport" featuring World Superstars
Champion and Olympic athlete Brian Hooper training with the Sutton and
Cheam water polo team. Following the television feature, the club achieved
commercial sponsorship and club colours were changed from the original
green and gold to the current red, white and blue to fit the sponsor's
logo. However, our 'Old Gits' Water Polo team and our teams competing
in National events continue to wear the historic green and gold with pride.
After a few lean years (by their standards), the water polo team recommenced
its winning ways again under Charlie Thurley's coaching making a clean
sweep of the National Water Polo League, the ASA knockout title and the
Deepwater Championships in 1989; the National League for the second year
running in 1990, and both the ASA knockout and ASA Junior titles in 1994.
Over the past 40 years, many members, too numerous to mention by name
have swum and played for Surrey and the Southern Counties, some have reached
National and International standard.
It is the proud record of the club that many of its outstanding successes
have been 'home grown', with many of its swimmers and water polo players,
including John Thurley, Philip Howden and James Pearson, having joined
in the 5 - 7 years age group and learning to swim at Sutton and Cheam,
going on to achieve the highest honours.
Many generations of swimmers owe their success to 'Mrs T'. In her latter
years, although severely disabled with rheumatoid arthritis, she was rarely
absent from the poolside, often coaching from her wheelchair. Just two
hours before she died, aged 85, on February 2, 2003, she dictated the
week's swimming schedules, continuing to be an inspiration at the club
she served so well for 42 years.
Sutton and Cheam Swimming Club's Olympic representatives since the post
World War II resumption of the Games have been:
||GB Swimming Team
||GB Water Polo Team
||Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956
||GB Water Polo Team
||GB Water Polo Team
||Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968
||GB Swimming Team
||GB Swimming Team
||Sydney 2000 & Athens 2004
||GB Swimming Team
Mention should also be made of Adrian Parker, who did his swim training
with the club on his way to a Gold Medal in the Modern Pentathlon at the
Montreal Olympics of 1976.
The tradition continues with another of 'Mrs T's' boys, Matthew Kidd,
who spent his early years with Sutton and Cheam, becoming triple National
Champion with the club and achieving selection for the England Junior
team, before moving on to Leatherhead and Auburn University, Alabama,
USA. Matthew, made the British team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and
took a silver medal in the relay in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester
2002, after which he returned to show his silver medal to the swimmers
at his former club.
In 2004 Matthew was again selected for the Great Britain Swimming Team
for the Athens Olympics, where he competed in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.
Matthew continues to support the club; recently
returning to present the next generation of Suttton & Cheam's swimmers
with their awards at the Club's presentation night.
And so to the present day. 'Mrs T's' legacy lives on with son Charlie
beginning the recent revival of the club's junior water polo fortunes,
before handing over the reins to another of her 'boys', David Andrews,
himself a former swimmer and junior international water polo player. David
has taken the development a stage further and the club now has a thriving
junior section with players as young as 8 years learning and enjoying
the game. This effort has been rewarded with a number of the players who
have come through this programme representing GB at both Senior and Junior
Finally, yet another of her 'boys', Jim Walker, has recently taken on
the role of Chief Swimming Coach and the signs are looking good for continuing