Bristol Memories: ‘We had masses of fun together and forged lifelong friendships’

We love hearing your stories from your time at Bristol, especially when they’re accompanied by great pictures like these from David Dance (MB ChB Medicine, 1979).

David regularly meets up with other University of Bristol cricketers of the 1970s and would love to hear from other team-mates who are interested in meeting up. If that’s you (or someone you know!) get in touch with us at

Take in Adelaide in 2017. Mark Winter, Andy Blaxland, David Dance and Nick Birchall.

‘I arrived in autumn 1973 and wasted no time in registering with the cricket club at the ‘Faffy Squash’. This led to indoor nets in the Easter term and then a succession of glorious (socially, but not always weather-wise – in fact I even remember one home match in May being snowed off!) summers spent at Coombe Dingle and various grounds around the SW and Wales over my 5 years studying medicine.

Having a car was always a useful way of increasing one’s chances of being selected! We had a full fixture list and played cricket to win, although we never quite achieved our full potential in the UAU knockout. But we did have a few memorable victories, most notably against Glamorgan 2nd XI in a very low scoring all day match on an extremely dodgy Coombe Dingle wicket. We also played hard off the pitch, had masses of fun together and forged lifelong friendships, as witnessed by our recent and burgeoning reunions. We even had annual reunion matches well into the 1980s, long after we had all left Bristol.

(starting back row L): Martyn Eames, Neil Poole, Nigel Males, Andy Blaxland, Andy Gist, Steve Smith, Simon Collyns, Rupert Williams-Ellis. Front row: Mark Winter, Graeme Poole, Lance Feaver, Nick Birchall and David Dance.

Post-match celebrations at the ‘Dirty Duck’ (as the Black Swan in Westbury-on-Trym was known) were legendary, as the Sportsman’s Bar at Coombe Dingle was only opened in the late 1970s. We always tried to avoid playing in Wales on Sundays as all the pubs were closed!

We played almost every day for the last two weeks of term (after exams) and then went on tour. Occasionally we ventured as far as Holland, but usually we went to Blackpool, where a trip on one of the most extreme rides at the Pleasure Beach before breakfast was compulsory for all. An evening game at the delightful ground at Wrea Green, where everyone tried hard, but inevitably failed, to hit the ball into the village duckpond, was a highlight – we changed in the pub and the post-match pints of Boddingtons were often accompanied by a side of Morris dancers.

The photo of the broken down university minibus at the side of the M6 (above) was taken on our way up to Lancashire one year, when the driver, who shall remain nameless, decided to straddle a “cardboard box” in the middle of our lane. It turned out to be a solid lump of concrete (or perhaps wood) which ripped the bottom off the van and nearly ended our tour before it had started.

At a Lord’s test in 2018 shows (from front L): Chris Cowell, Martyn Eames, Lance Feaver, Mark Winter, Nigel Sellars, Charlie Hobson, Martin Mendelssohn, David Dance, Andy Blaxland, Rupert Williams-Ellis, Peter Whiteley and Graeme Poole.

I think my main advice to current students, and I have a son who graduated from Bristol last year, would be not to work so hard that they miss out on all the non-academic activities that university life has to offer.’


We can help you get back in touch with old friends. If you would like to reconnect with a specific person or group, you can email us at and we can contact them on your behalf.

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