The Small Field
When you enter the school through the main gates at Waterloo Road, you can see a driveway rising directly in front of you. Immediately to your left, you can go up a few steps and will see a small, rectangular field, about 40 feet wide and running east about 120 feet towards the northeast corner of the WYK campus.
This first and smallest field is obscured by the much larger Grass Field rising about another 8 steps to its south. It was least used by the students. Close to the entrance and thus the shortest exit, people from the neighboring community would use it regularly, especially in the mornings and at dusk. In those hours, you can see football and badminton play, individual and small group exercises – some with Chinese swords and spears, dogs and other pets.
Lined with trees and shrubs, secured by high fences, there is an intimacy with this field. During the 1960s and to this day, WYK allowed the public to use it – one of the many contributions made to the community. It can be called The Community Field.
The Grass Field
Going up the stairs, or just continuing up the driveway, you will see the Grass Field. This is a major feature of WYK: what we were known for. The entire west sideline runs close and parallel to Wyliy Road. Separated by sloped grades and fence, it was also tree lined. You can see the traffic on Wylie Road, and people in their vehicles or pedestrians can see the green grass. Over the years, when I told people I attended WYK, many would say, “yes, you have that football field.”
The Grass Field is actually small in size for regulation play. But young teenagers growing up in Hong Kong, it was big. It was also meticulously kept and vigilantly guarded by Father Cryan. The grass felt like carpet.
The school teams practiced there, with some PT classes or the occasional games, depending on the condition of the field, and as allowed by the school. More importantly, matches were played there – inter-class, inter-house, and inter-school.
On the afternoons when matches were played, we would get changed after class as fast as possible. For the big games against other schools, we might be excused from class a little early, so the opposing teams would be warming up when teachers and students streamed out from the classrooms after the bell had rung.
In those matches, you could see a few hundred students, joined by teachers and priests. They stood at the sidelines, or sat up the slope between the chapel and the main building, facing the field. In most match afternoons, I would see amongst students, my friends and teachers. Mr. Francis Kwong, in his impeccably tailored suit, was usually at the sideline, cheering us on with Fr Kennedy, Fr Finneran and others. You would expect Mr. Ho and Fr Reid up the slope, standing on the overflowing bank, keeping a bird’s eye view and assessing the proceedings.
Excitement filled the air. The noise and sudden roar of the crowd in close proximity escalated our efforts. The contests were usually close, at least for a large part of the matches. Time, space and motion felt differently: acute, concentrated, at times heart thumping. The one goal games were memorable. We would be elated at the winning, despaired with the loss.
The players I recall on this field were Joseph Wong and his brother John, Lau Po Kwong, Kwok Wai Kee and Ng Ping Ching. It is a privilege to have played there.
The Sandy Field
You can go up to the Sandy field only from the walkway, passing by the table tennis area and the office of our Physical Education teachers. In those days, Mr. Chu and Mr. Mui would be around there, giving you greetings or talked sports with the students.
This is a field for 7-a-side play, although at that age, any larger number could join. It was all sand, fringed by small patches of grass at the far edges. On dry and windy days, the dust will rise and swirl. After a game, you would find sand inside your shoes. Your skin, hair, and clothes were dusty.
This is the place where most of us started football and where the most number of games were played. PT Classes, Football Classes, pick-up games before and after school, games in the midday sun were all played there. Very often, a few games were being played simultaneously. Almost every student had played there.
We were used to the sandy surface. On this field, you have to be able to glide and slide, in addition to the moves of playing football. There were students who mastered the surface and excelled in their games. Amongst many others, Tony Feng and Charles Yip were skillful and brilliant. Eddie H.K. Wong, Lau Po Kwong, Timothy T.H. Choy had flashing speeds I played a lot with David Chong, Andrew Chu, Tse Tak Keung. Ted Hsiung, Philip Chan and Shiu Sin Por, especially from Form 1 to Form 4. There were times when I felt we lived there.
The Sandy Field changed with the seasons. In the fall, it was usually warm and comfortable. As it turned to winter, the air became heavier. Dry and windy days brought on the fore-mentioned dust, even cracks on your lips and skin. Then spring arrived. There was sweetness in the air, punctuated by the periodic rain when the air was clean and the dust disappeared. Up on the west slope, there would be all shades of freshly green.
We played under any and all conditions. All games were good.
The Sporting Life
Three years ago I was in Hong Kong. On a late October afternoon, I went to WYK. I went up to the chapel, and walked the angled pathway to the open corridor of the main school building. The School Hall was there across the parking lot. Then I walked down a bit of slope and down the stairs, towards the table tennis area. The grass on the Grass Field was a faded green, with patches of earth running along the centre, from goalposts to goalposts.
I went up the stairs to the Sandy Field. It was paved to a hard surface in the 1970s. I had walked on it many times in the 1980s. A game was going on and I watched for a few minutes.
Exiting the fields, I walked down the driveway. Somewhere behind the chapel and the watching area of the bank, the sun had started to cast shadows on my path. Approaching the exit, I turned to look at the Grass Field, and towards the Sandy Field beyond, at those fields of dreams.