By Barry Phillips
Following the huge success of Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics, Moseleians can be forgiven if they look back to the amazing 1964 Olympics when sporting excellence which has been a hallmark of the constituent parts of Moseley School over the years, produced two medal winners in Tokyo.
Maurice Herriott, who in Miss Cohen’s time there attended College Road, the predecessor of MMS, brought home Silver for Great Britain in the 3000 metres steeplechase, his specialist distance.
One of the famous band of Sparkhill Harriers in the 1950s and 1960s, Maurice’s 8 mins 32.4 secs was beaten to Gold by the Belgian Gaston Roelants’ 8 mins 30.8 secs. He went on to compete in the 1968 Mexican Games, but missed out on adding further honours to his collection of European and Commonwealth achievements.
Born in Great Wyrley, he is now age 72 and has lived in the Isle of Man for nearly 40 years. From Port Erin he recalled for the Gazette how his schoolboy interest in athletics carried on with support from BSA for whom he worked until the Armoury Road plant was finally closed.
He and his wife, Marina, a Manx girl, then set up home on the island. The couple have two daughters and four grandchildren and, says Maurice, he loves island life so much he will never leave. For 14 years he crewed a deep-sea trawler out of Port St Mary before managing a recycling plant on the island until retirement at age 65.
Daphne Arden, one of the earliest intake of Moseley Modern when the 1955 building (now being replaced) was opened, built on the sprinting power encouraged by the school’s sporting ethos under the headship of Eileen Cohen – later to be developed by Donald Wilford – to win Olympic Bronze.
Daphne, who became Mrs Slater in 1965, was born in Birkenhead in December 1941 and on her family moving to Hall Green from Sheffield started at MMS age 13, becoming a member of the famous Birchfield Harriers at age 17.
Daphne, who with her husband has lived in Harrogate for 29 years explained: “I won a lot of my races at school and a visitor handing out the prizes said I should join a club. That started me thinking. It was a long way across the city on two buses to train at Alexander Stadium, but athletics requires dedication.”
In Tokyo, adding to performances at Commonwealth Games in Australia and Jamaica in an eight-year career on the track, she reached the Olympic semi-finals of the women’s 100 metres, finishing in 11.8 seconds, the finals of the women’s 200 metres, in which she clocked 24 seconds, and the final of the 4 x 100 metres women’s relay.
The Bronze came in the latter event, Daphne third in the running order, with other magical names of the era, Dorothy Hyman, Mary Rand, who now lives in the USA, and the late Janet Simpson. They completed the four legs with faultless baton changes, Daphne both receiving and passing on the baton at each end of her sprint, in a magnificent 44 seconds.
Mother of a daughter and son, Daphne became a qualified coach after retiring from competitive running in 1966, and started an athletics club in Droitwich when the family lived there in the late 1970s.
Now, having given up playing squash after 22 years, with her husband she today focuses on golf with a handicap of 14. Athletics will briefly take priority again in July, the couple having bought Olympic tickets allocated to Daphne as a former competitor.
Moseleian Anne Dyer, another who was at MMS from its early days, vividly recalls Daphne returning to the area the year after Tokyo to “launch” the St Christopher Boys’ Club bus to be used for adventure trips by members mainly from MMS and MGS. “It was a 12-seater converted ambulance painted blue and Daphne had the biggest surprise when she discovered she was being asked to name it Daphne by cracking a bottle of orange squash over the bonnet,” says Anne.