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We staged our version of the Olympics
10:27am Tuesday 21st August 2012 in Looking Back
This was a hard-fought contest among a group of county town youngsters and all excelled – even though the end result was a confiscated sweet ration. But more of that later.
At the time, David and his pals were 10 or 11 and lived in and around Olga and Dagmar roads in Dorchester. Having heard about the Olympic Games on the radio, they devised their own tournament using the alleys that separated their roads as their running track.
David said: “The 1948 games were austere and Britain’s athletes had to take their own food and provide their own kit. In order to cut costs events such as etching and composing poetry were included.
“Our games were also very austere – but we actually made a profit. It was agreed to charge a halfpenny per event and the winners were awarded a prize of two pence. We didn’t realise that this was against the spirit of the Games and that cash prizes made us professionals!
“The track events included sprints around the alley backs dividing Olga and Dagmar roads – once, around, five and ten times around and then the extraordinary event of seeing who could run the most times around.
“This was going on after darkness and was brought to a stop by our mothers coming out to find us exhausted.”
The youngsters taking part with David were John Howard, Roy Fursey, Brian Furmage, Tom Gill, Graham Osborne, Peter Clark, Geoff Budd, Dennis Babb, Michael Clark and Adrian Downton.
The Victoria Park Olympic Games also included go-kart and cycle races which led to a lot of cuts and grazes due to the uneven surface of the tracks. Several people were also thrown from their karts and bikes into nettle beds and all wounds were bound with handkerchiefs or soothed with dock leaves.
David added: “Events in Olga Road were limited to putting the shot – which was a half-brick – archery and go-kart freewheeling.
“Older people enjoyed watching us and none had their eyes taken out by our home-made arrows, although there were some near-misses. In any case, people knew how to duck and run – they had been doing it for six years during the war!
“Road sweepers stopped to enjoy the spectacle of children heaving half-bricks in the air to land on the council’s roads – and not one injunction was served!”
Winners of each event would stand on a soap box to receive their cash prize and the ever-inventive young David decided that the finishing touch would be to give each victor a real medal.
Unfortunately, the medals he decided to award were the very same ones his father had won during his war service. All was well – until Remembrance Day the same year when David’s father looked for his medals to pin on to his jacket.
David recalled: “Fortunately my friends still had the medals in their possession so I was able to sheepishly collect them and return them to my dad.
“I think he secretly saw the funny side of it – but he never let on and my punishment was to lose my sweet ration for a month.
“But it wasn’t as big a deal as I made out because those of us who ran, cycled, go-karted and threw half-bricks stuck together and I was never short of sweets during the embargo!”
If anyone has other memories or photographs of the Victoria Park Olympic Games of 1948 that they would like to share, please do get in touch, we would love to hear more!