Happy 97th birthday to our oldest Penguin, Nobby Neivens, pictured on the left with fellow Penguins John Whelan and Malcolm Cromer.
Happy 97th birthday to our oldest Penguin, Nobby Neivens, pictured on the left with fellow Penguins John Whelan and Malcolm Cromer.
We are fortunate to have some amazing children and supportive families in the Hillingdon junior water polo part of Club. We would like to tell you more about two in particular, who have shone over the past year and gained Jack Petchey Awards.
Riaz Garnie winner of the Jack Petchey Award for March 2022
Riaz is one of our goalkeepers. His coach Shaun Hill says, ‘Riaz’s dedication to training and competition, and passion in games, is extraordinary. I am impressed at all the effort Riaz is putting in at Regional level, in the National Age Groups and at National Academy training.’
‘I feel Riaz always performs and doesn’t always get the accolade that goes with it. Plus who wants to get balls smashed at them?’
Riaz won the goalie of the tournament award at the Under 16s Boys’ Inter-Regional Water Polo Championships on 3 July 2022 at Millfield in Somerset. He was playing on the London Sharks Team, with his fellow Hillingdon teammates Sam Wood and Avi Juneja,. The team was coached by Shaun Hill. The London Sharks team came third overall, taking home bronze medals. A great achievement.
Thalia Ross winner of the Jack Petchey Award for June 2022
In Shaun’s words, ‘Thalia is a great role model. She is always cheerful and enthusiastic, tries her best and is adored by all the girls.’
‘She was the one girl out of the four who went to regional training in Autumn 2021 who did not get selected to play for the London team. Yet she was fine in the face of this disappointment and kept going to regional training.’
‘Thalia helps out with the scoring when Hillingdon host London Water Polo Leagues tournaments, showing great responsibility.’
‘Thalia gives back and should be recognised. She is a fantastic candidate for this award.’
Find out more about playing junior water polo with us.
We are grateful to the Jack Petchey Foundation for their continuing support and in allowing us to make these awards which are an excellent way of encouraging the players to progress and improve.
We are sad to hear that Charles Mock, legendary Maltese water polo player and coach, great friend and honorary member of Penguin, has passed away.
Charlie’s long association with Penguin started in 1967 when he became friends with our men’s team while they were playing in a tournament in Malta. Charlie was the goalkeeper for the hosting club, Balluta WPC. Read more about how this friendship started in the Penguin100 story by Charlie’s great friend Malcolm Cromer.
Charlie played with Balluta WPC, now San Ġiljan ASC, between 1951 and 1973. During this time, he won the Malta National League title five times.
Charlie was a highly respected junior water polo coach who nurtured young players in many clubs across Malta, and he loved distance sea-swimming. He swam the Gozo Channel on four occasions, the last when he was 62 years of age.
Charlie was a great storyteller and he had plenty of anecdotes to share about his water polo career and his friendship with the Penguins. He also loved to relate tales of the parts he had played in a number of films made on location in Malta. These included a small speaking role as a German U-boat sailor in Murphy’s War with Peter O’Toole, and a crowd scene behind Brad Pitt in World War Z.
Our Club’s close association with Malta, through Charlie, is illustrated by this article from the Malta Independent newspaper from Wednesday 23 May 2007:
40th Anniversary of Penguins waterpolo club visit to Malta
It was 40 years ago that London club Penguin SC paid a visit to Malta to play some matches. It was an initiative of Carm Borg, then president and also a player of the local Balluta Waterpolo Club.
Their visit here coincided with a tournament which included the participation of the ASA Selection, Neptunes, Sliema ASC and RAF Cyprus. The tournament was held at the old St Julian’s pitch and it was well attended by the numerous followers of this sport on this island.
After that tournament, the Balluta club organized an evening ‘floodlit tournament’ between local clubs Balluta, hosts, Sliema and Neptunes, as well as two English clubs, Penguin and Otters.
Since those days Charlie Mock, the former Balluta and Malta keeper, maintained constant contacts with Penguin SC old boys, through Malcolm Cromer and the late Terry Bushell, the Londoners’ goalkeeper, both of whom frequently returned to Malta for a holiday. One of their youngest players was Jack Neivens who was around 16-17 when the club played here in 1967.
The latest re-union brought together, among others, the likes of Ron Turner (Penguin SC) and Anglu Tonna, a former Balluta stalwart, who are now octogenarians.
During the reception hosted by San Giljan ASC at their club last Saturday, former Balluta players Carm Borg, Charlie Mock, Anglu Tonna, Freddie Grixti, Peter Bonello, presently the Mayor of St Julians, David Martin, Charlie Galea, Eddie Xuereb, Norman Vella and Joe Debono, again mingled with Terry King, Malcolm Cromer, John Whelan, Gerry Jarrett, Lewis Blomfield and Johnnie Lake who joined Valletta WPC in 1968.
It was a memorable and enjoyable evening where past memories were revived.
Over the years Charlie welcomed a number of Penguin water polo teams back to Malta and he always had a warm reception for his Penguin friends when they were holidaying Malta.
Of course we were always happy to welcome Charlie when he was in the UK and he was a special guest at our Penguin Dinner in 2013.
He will be missed by all Penguins who knew him.
Our condolences to Bianca, Stephen, Michael, Peter and the rest of Charlie’s family.
RIP Mr Mock.
Read this tribute to Charlie by one of his Maltese friends, originally published in the Sunday Times of Malta: https://theworldnews.net/mt-news/appreciation-charlie-mock
This Penguin100 Story is by Lize Crone, a player with our Hillingdon junior water polo section.
I first started playing water polo in 2017, when my parents introduced me to the sport as a way to get active after my swimming lessons had ended. I had always loved swimming and could be found in the water on any family holiday. So with the encouragement of my family I decided to attend a trial session at the Hillingdon juniors’ section of West London Penguin, and fell in love immediately. Though my speed, ball skills and strength left a lot to be desired, I immediately felt a passion for the game that I had never felt for any other sport. I returned home on a high and could hardly wait for the next session.
Part of the reason I felt so at home was because of the way us girls formed connections with each other. As there was only a small number of us compared to the vast amount of boys who sometimes overshadowed us, we instantly banded together and made sure to always lift each other up and support one another. The tight group we formed often helped me be more confident and secure.
As more girls joined and we welcomed them into the fold, secretly I hoped our number would one day grow to be enough for a competing squad.
One of the most important developments for girls at Hillingdon Penguin came at the end of 2019, when we received funding to start a once a week training just for girls, to improve our strength, fitness and skills. This helped us all to gain confidence in ourselves and our ability. Unfortunately, COVID halted much of the exciting growth we were making as girls. When we were finally allowed to return to the pool for regular training, girls’ training was unable to return with it until the end of 2021.
However, over the years our group of girls had grown, and we had the numbers to form a squad, albeit a rather bare-bones one. As captain of the team, I am extremely proud to say we were able to bring together enough players together to play at two U16 girls’ tournaments in the London Water Polo League (LWPL). It was an incredible experience to be able to play together for the very first time. While we have definite areas for improvement, we all agree that we performed amazingly and to our utmost extent.
Yolanda says, ‘Having my first tournament be a girls’ tournament has been an amazing experience, because I know that getting a girls’ team together was such a long process I am extremely happy to help towards creating this awesome squad.’
Development for girls
In the last year or two, the way I play water polo has changed from being just a hobby, to being an ambition too. I first realised I could take water polo further when I was offered the opportunity to trial for the London Regional Academy in September 2021, along with fellow Hillingdon Penguin girls Sophie, Thalia and Órlaith. This helped us to improve our fitness, ball-handling skills and tactical knowledge, as well as providing us an extra night a week to simply enjoy the sport. Our fellow Hillingdon Penguin girl Zahra has also joined the Academy this May, and we are very excited to see the progress she will make.
Sophie, Órlaith and I went on to represent the region at the 2021 U16 Inter-Regionals in Walsall and the 2022 U18 Inter-Regionals in Blackpool, which were very exciting opportunities to play with and against some of the best players of our age.
In November of 2021, some of us also had the opportunity to play together with the Penguins from Latymer at the annual South-East Inter-County Championships for U16 girls, from which we came away with silver medals.
Sophie says, ‘I think it’s awesome that we can go and compete together as we help each other grow as a team. As someone who has competed at a higher level with the London regional team, being part of development at my own club is really nice as I can help newcomers and younger girls with the knowledge I have picked up but also develop my own skills such as communication and leadership. In general it is great to be involved in a whole team of girls eager to participate in (and get better at) such a physically demanding sport. I hope we can recruit more girls to expand our little water polo family into a big one.’
Personally, I think it is amazing that as a regional player I have the opportunity to pioneer a pathway of development which will hopefully allow many girls like myself to improve their skills and achieve their water polo dreams.
It is clear to see that not only my development, but the development of all the girls at Hillingdon Penguin is down to the amazing nurturing environment that is created by Sue and the coaches and the opportunities that they offer, so a big thank you to all of them. We all know we would be nowhere without their support.
Young and old
Looking back at my initial months of water polo, seeing older girls at training was really important in allowing me to be confident in my identity as a girl playing water polo. Now that I am one of the older girls, I feel inspired to look after and nurture younger and newer players. It is an incredible joy to witness the passion for our wonderful sport grow in younger girls.
On the occasions that I have been asked to coach at our girls’ session because Shaun, our usual coach, wasn’t available, I have found it an absolute privilege and it has increased my love for the sport even more than I thought possible.
Coach Shaun says, ‘I’m very grateful to have such a wonderful group of athletes at Hillingdon Penguin. It makes coaching so rewarding, I look forward to seeing how far we can take these players. They have so much potential and talent considering we only train once a week. It’s been a privilege seeing them grow through my program. I’m so proud of all my players.’
Elizabeth (one of the U12s) says, ‘My time at the girls water polo trainings are great, I love training with the older girls to learn new things, and girls my age too. I always look forward to it.’
Robyn says, ‘Joining a male dominated sport was always a daunting task but due to the support and kindness of others it quickly became a very enjoyable weekly activity. Personally I think it is such a great way of joining in with a fun sport. The skills developed can help with future life skills and improve our understanding of teamwork. There are many ways you can take part and take up roles to help younger girls enjoy the sport as much as I do now. Joining a girls team was an exciting change and a challenge to take part in. The training is great for younger girls as the older ones can help pass their knowledge onto the next generation of players.’
Once more, I’d like to extend a thank you from all the girls at Hillingdon Penguin to all the coaches and others behind the scenes who support us to be the best players we can be. We would be nowhere without you!
This post is part of our Penguin100 series; stories from Penguins past and present, sharing what being a member of the Club means to them as we celebrate our Centenary.
In this post, Mark Bullerwell, our Club Captain shares the toast that he intended to present at the Centenary Dinner on Saturday 2 April 2022. Due to circumstances on the night, Mark was not able to deliver the toast as planned. But we feel it is too important not to share…
Well, here we all are. Finally!!
Over 18 months of planning, 220 tickets sold in just under 48 hours, a Club record I believe, a few last minute Covid casualties, but we did it.
It has been a huge honour for me to put this event on for you all tonight and the Club trusting me to do it, whilst being 3,500 miles away.
100 years old, well technically 101 years, is a huge achievement. From 1921 we co existed but then finally merging with the ladies club in 1976, and West London Penguin would be very different today if that hadn’t happened for sure.
The last time I had the privilege to stand up and speak to this many Penguins in the same venue was my very good friend and fellow Penguin team mate, Wayne Davis’s wedding in Italy – mmm, Bullers has a microphone again.
What’s he going to say now?
This Club has given me so much joy over the years and I have my other good friend (I only have two) and fellow school mate, Tom Perry to thank for that. Going all the way back to 1989, picking me up from my father’s home in Bedford and driving me down the A1 for my first Penguin training session where I met Steve Baker, Miguel Ortiz, Paul Whatley, Alan Wollaston, Ian Spooner and Jerome Read, just to name a few.
So many stories to tell and re-tell, which I am sure we will be sharing later on over a few drinks.
One of my proudest moments, apart from tonight of course was 2007-08 when I was appointed Club Captain and was the first time in the Club’s history that we had both the men’s and women’s first teams playing in the British Championships at the Manchester Aquatic Centre. Sadly we did not win the golds, but we certainly won the after party. Morgen-Rae Graham challenging anybody and everybody to a dance off was one of the many highlights for sure.
The last few years have been a tough time, not just for the Club, but for all of us in so so many ways.
But the way in which Penguin has stayed resilient and bounced back stronger is testament to all of us in this room and others that could not be present. The stewardship from Sarah Wren, the handover of the Presidency from Louis to Fiona, Grimbo and his Covid protocols for returning to swim, the Masters swimmers headed up by Johnny and last but not least the water polo teams led by Claudio, Albie and Rachel, the fact that we are celebrating a Club and its centenary at all, is just phenomenal.
The current vibe in the Club as we close one chapter and start the next is the highest I think its been for a very long time. Thriving junior sections with international representation thanks to the hard work from Claudio. The Masters swimmers who often get forgotten about and we have a huge amount of them here this evening are just going from strength to strength and have supported tonight’s event massively for which I personally thank all of you for.
Then we have the senior mens and womens water polo teams. Claudio guiding the men, aided by Grimbo and Martin Waller and the ladies, coached by Rumen, who boldly stepped into the huge shoes left behind by our Shakey. Both reaching promotion this season, which again in our centenary year was just the cherry on top in my opinion.
Now as well as losing our beloved Shakey, which left a huge hole in this great Club, we have sadly lost some other Club members that due to the global pandemic, probably went under the radar.
Ken Rogers, affectionately known to his mates as tumble turn Ken. He was Club Captain in 1960 and also a life member.
Derek Roberts, Club Captain in 1972, Club President from 1993 to 1996 and a life member.
And lastly our goal keeper for many second team matches and a small half a bitter in the cricket club bar afterwards, Nilo Falcini. He was Club Captain in 1984, Club Treasurer for a number of years and a life member.
All three were Penguin to the core and will be remembered fondly.
I think as a Club such as ours, it is important to stay true to our values and remember our history but in the same breath we must evolve and move with the times. The menu cards on the tables were put together with this in mind and I very much hope that this was achieved.
Now before I sign off, I have a couple of messages to read out. I did receive a lot of video messages and emails from many Penguins around the world which truly just show the size and also the love this Club gets from so many. It is not possible to read all of these out or show the video messages on the screens. But hopefully what I am about to read out will leave you feeling the same love for this Club that I have.
On the occasion of the Penguin Swimming and Water Polo Club 100 year celebration, from Bryan and Sheila Randall, Melbourne, Australia.
Sheila and l were hoping to be with you on this memorable occasion to celebrate the Club’s 100-year anniversary. Unfortunately due to the pandemic we are not able, but are with you in spirit.
We send our congratulations and best wishes to this great Club and all its members and associates. We raise our glasses to take wine, wishing that the future will be as successful as the past.
The happy times l personally recall during my time with Penguin will remain for ever. A local W6 lad, born and bred in Hammersmith, my family have been associated with Hammersmith Ladies and Penguin since pre-World War Two.
My sister Olive was a champion swimmer with Hammersmith Ladies and my wife was a member there in the 1950s.
My brother Pat (Buda) was also a Penguin in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a journalist with the West London Gazette and had a weekly column reporting all the Club’s news and results.
During that decade we were one of the strongest water polo sides in Great Britain, winning the national club title many times. We also had great swimmers, including John Martin-Dye, Tan Hawkins-Kovar, Linheart, Jackson and many others.
I was and still am so very proud of playing in our men’s water polo first team for over 10 years, with icons of their time such as Ron Turner, Stan Hawkins, Les Baldwin, Terry Miller, John Martin-Dye, plus other great players such Lew Bloomfield, John Lake, Gerry Jarrett and Bobby Wollaston.
We would also like to raise a glass or two to all our mates in the Pearl Club who we know are special stalwarts of Penguin.
Keep up the good work.
And news just in…
Our good friend, Pearl Club member and Penguin stalwart, Malcolm Cromer has just sent me this to read out and I have to say I am extremely impressed:
His brother Frank, who is now resident in Norway, but like Malcolm is still very active in the pool has just completed a clean sweep of gold medals in the Norwegian Masters National Championships. Not only did he take the gold medal, but he set new National records in backstroke for the 50, 100 and 200 metre distances in the over 75 age group. That is just fantastic. Malcolm, on behalf of the Club, please pass on our congratulations to Frank, a truly remarkable achievement.
Now, all there is left for me to say is please can we all charge our glasses and be up standing.
MANIBUS PEDIBUSQUE, WITH HANDS AND FEET