Club History: The Third 25 Years - written by John AndersonThe Growth of the Athletic Union
The years around 1985 saw major changes to the role of the Athletic Union and as a spin from this the Club changed. In the 1960’s there were two separate Athletic Unions, Men’s and Women’s. The Men’s union ran the university sports grounds with moneys granted by the university directly. It employed labour all through a management committee composed of both past members (most club members also) and students. Sports clubs had tended to reflect the traditional disciplines such as Rugby and Boat (strongly supported by medical students) but with the changes came new athletic groups and members of the XXI club became more diverse in their particular sports participation, Karate, Surfing and Ten Pin Bowling come to mind. This year (2007), there are 44 clubs in the Athletic Union.
The combining of the two Athletic Unions
Along with national pressure for equality in the 70’s the Athletic Union became one body. With this change the university stepped in and took over the management of the playing fields. A university sports office was established, and the role of members of the XXI club in running the sports grounds ceased. It became possible for the senior student elected by the athletic union to be of either sex. The post of Honorary Secretary was changed to Chair. The knock on effect was that as this post carried with it the automatic election to the club, ipso facto, women were now eligible for election; resulting in increase in glamour which now graces our annual dinner. The first woman was elected in 1990 and the first woman President, Alison Odell (Director of Sport) in 1999. The post of Sports Sabbatical Officer replaced the Chair in 2005, reflecting the need for a full time person in this important post.
A new role for the XXI Club
The role of the club also came under examination. It was felt that we should be doing more to help individual athletes. With help from the University Sports Office the Bursary Scheme was started in 1991; at first only one or two were funded, but by the turn of the century the menu cards at the dinner show over a dozen recipients every year. In 2002 some £25,000 was invested directly to support athletes training needs. Since 2002 Club Captains have had a personal invitation to our dinner (at a reduced price) keeping the link between the XXI Club and active students. Automatic election of captains is an open issue.
The new University of Manchester
The latest change the unification of Manchester University to include MU Tech and the College of Art will result in a changed role for the University Sports Office and the relationship with the Club. Some of the AU Clubs had always drawn members from both Tech and Owens (Boat for example). This is a good example of early co-operation between the then two universities. The Boat House on the Bridgewater Canal was funded by Tech in the 1960’s to be used for the one club with members from both universities.
Where we go now
In the 1990’s the active presence of the XXI Club at Fresher’s Weekends started. This gives valuable publicity for the club and helps to promote sport. It also provides a link between students and members of the Club. Even if Club members live too far away to be on the management committee or to support Fresher’s Weekends they can always help university sport financially. If one makes out a covenant to Manchester University it is possible to stipulate where the money is to be spent. University Sport is the obvious option. There are going to be more changes and there will be a need for more and better sports facilities for more students. The XXI Club is well respected and we can be good lobbyists. If our members support sport with cash we will be that much more influential. Decisions have to be made; for example, do we want a new Firs Pavilion?
JSA President 2002