The 2014 Academy Shield will not take place on November 29th as advertised

. Carlisle Academy 1949 - All men

In previous years bad weather has led to disruption of the event, but this year’s “perfect storm” did not involve hail, snow and hurricane, but came from accumulating difficulties of team selection.

Kendal Academy coach, John Wilson, has been inundated with young wrestlers this winter season and felt that he needed more time to settle things down before choosing a team. David Parsons at Milnthorpe Academy has always run a smaller operation, and is better able to produce a team later in the indoor season. Darren Whitfield, organiser of the Rothbury Academy, a hundred miles from the host club, Waberthwaite, was needing to draw his senior wrestlers back from university to complete his team, and had reservations about doing so if after all the effort, they only had a couple of bouts. And both Waberthwaite and Carlisle were having problems in filling the heavier places.
As a result the Academy Shield has been put on hold for the moment.

 Joint holders of the Academy Shield: Kendal Academy....youthful and with girls  Joint holders of the Academy Shield; Rothbury Academy

The Academy Shield was originally the trophy for the winners of the Academy League in the years immediately after the Second World War when wrestling boomed with 120 affiliated events and a dozen academies in action. The competition produced huge excitement and activity in the wrestling world, with bus-loads of wrestlers and fans attending the home-and-away fixtures. Sadly, the frenzy fizzled out after about ten years. Organisers were constantly let down by wrestlers and there were too many half-filled buses and half-filled teams.

For twenty three years the fine trophy went missing, presumed lost, until it turned up in the Association Secretary, Billy Edgar’s attic and the Governing Board set about organising a new version of the old competition. My report in the Cumberland News of November 5th, 1983, commented, “A suitable competition for which the shield would be the trophy was difficult to devise to give the four academies a fair chance of success.
“Only Carlisle and St Michael’s would be able to turn out the sort of team that contested the league 30 years ago. Mrs Dorothy Clarke suggested holding a single competition night for the shield with the clubs taking turns to stage it, and I was given the task of drafting proposals for a suitable competition.”

The new format was determinedly different to the original to cut out sharp practices, and to give youngsters an equal chance to shine and contribute to the team’s fortunes. In the series of round-robin categories every single winning fall counted towards the final total. Already, the reborn Shield competition has lasted three times as long as its original concept.
For the whole of the 1960s, Kendal was the only functioning academy, but from 1970 there was a revival, until now we have five academies training the new generation of wrestlers. Once upon a time academies were all about the men-folk of an area, but now the mats are full of youngsters, boys and girls. The scene is different but the Academy Shield still has a significant part to play.

The annual slide show of the wrestling season will take place at Currock House, Carlisle at 7.30 on Sunday 7th December. Images of no fewer than 44 events will be on show, and the DVD will be on sale afterwards for potential Christmas presents, all profits to the Wrestling Association
Written by Roger Robson..... © Photographs by Roger Robson, Jill Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (2014)

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