The History of MGS in 50 Objects – #49 Podex

Posted by System Administrator on 18 Feb 2015

Modified by Rachel Kneale on 29 Jun 2022

MGS Boys play Cricket

The origins of the sport of podex (pronounced “Puddocks”) are not clear. The sport has been a memorable part of school life for generations of boys and yet there is no evidence that podex was an MGS invention. A number of different organisations also play podex – St. Paul’s School Christian Union, Oakley Holidays, Scripture Union, Lea Abbey and Urban Saints (once known as Crusaders). What links all these organisations, save ourselves, is a distinctly Christian ethos.

The first mention of podex at MGS occurs in a 1912 edition of Ulula, as part of a list of expenditure for Alderley Camp. However, we have managed to find a reference to podex externally to MGS that dates to 1911. This reference refers to a group of boys being invited to play podex on the beach at Margate. Scripture Union, one of our podex-playing organisations, have been running beach missions at Margate from at least the late nineteenth century. It therefore seems likely that it was the Scripture Union who were running this form of organised podex on the beach in 1911. None of our other organisations, when contacted, could find any evidence of podex earlier than this. Scripture Union was formed in 1867, predating all the other aforementioned Christian organisations and the MGS camps. We know that High Master J.L. Paton set up and was heavily involved with the Scripture Union group at MGS. It therefore seems highly feasible that High Master Paton, both a committed Christian and camper, observed podex at a Scripture Union camp or beach mission and exported it to MGS.

Podex continued to be a constant presence on camps from 1912 onwards. The sport featured at Booths Hall, Deepdale, Nash Court, Bassenthwaite, Wray Castle, camps of the Hugh Oldham Lad’s Club and Scout Troops 1 and 2, as part of inter-form competitions back at school and on Scottish Trek.

But what of the sport itself? Oakley Holidays describe podex as “a cross between cricket and baseball” and it has also been compared to non-stop cricket or “a bastardised form of cricket”. However, it seems that podex has evolved differently within each organisation where it is played. We are fortunate to have a copy of “The Rules of Podex” in the MGS archive and there appear to be certain elements which are unique to MGS. For example, a batsman is out when he scores 42, and other circumstances call for a batsman to be “half out”, such as if he is out on the first ball or hits his own wickets. Podex continues to be played at Bassenthwaite Camp and it pre-dates more famous sports such as basketball and water polo. 

Rachel Kneale

Podex Rules and Song

Since writing this article, we have been alerted by Dr. Kathryn Rix to an earlier reference to Podex in the Whitby Gazette. The report states that Podex was played by children at a “Children's Special Service Mission” on the beach at Whitby in 1904. This organisation later became known as Scripture Union.


Mark Owen

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Podex (Puddocks) was, in the 1970s and very early 1980s, much more to MGS than a game played at camp. Essentially, it was THE mark of an MGS summer. After summer exams, I can well recall many masters suggesting that, rather than another lesson, we should get a Podex kit from the grounds man and just go out and play. I can recall this happening many, many times, from that long, hot summer of 1976, right through to summer 1981. So ubiquitous was the game,that it’s precipitous demise was probably the single biggest shock when I revisited the school in 2011!

Rachel Kneale

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Hi Mark - thanks very much for sharing. I wasn't aware of how ubiquitous podex was as a part of normal school life. Maybe it needs a revival?!


Mark Fink

1 Like Posted 2 years ago

There were at least 2 different games of MGS podex.  The main game played at Bassenthwaite was perpetual cricket - there were 2 sets of stumps (no bails), the bowler bowled something like a baseball, underarm, but did not need to wait for the batsman to be ready, you had to run if you hit the ball and and once you had scored 20 you had to run 2 every time you hit it, 30 meant you had to score 3 etc.   The main objective at Bassenthwaite was to hit the ball over the marquee!! 

Scout Troup 2 had a very different version played with an axe handle and a tennis ball and the ‘wicket’ was only about 2 or 3 yards long and you stretched over the wicket to score a ‘run’ rather than actually running between 2 sets of stumps.  I cannot remember what the ‘wicket’ was but I think it was something more basic rather than 3 stumps.

Totally different games but both brilliant and memorable.

Such genuinely happy memories.

Peter Shelswell

1 Like Posted 2 years ago

I played podex when in Troop 2. It was one of the highlights of scout camps in the 1960s. It seems we had our own simplified version of the rules - none of this half out business. The bat was a spare axe handle (felling not hand), and the wicket a convenient lid from a tea chest or similar. The length of the pitch was about 5 yards - just too long for the older lads to stand in the middle and shift the bat from one hand to the other and back again for a run.

Barry Morgan

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

I would echo Mark Owens comment but a decade earlier, I certainly remember us playing podex at lunch time, if my memory serves me correctly informally against other forms. The game suited us well, we weren’t so conventional, there was something much more down to earth about the game compared to the formality of cricket, a game I never played. A shame it seems to be no more, another change to add to that of swimming pool attire!


1 Like Posted 2 years ago

I remember podex as being the summer sport option for boys who weren’t good enough cricketers to be picked for a form XI. I also remember a general apprehension - probably groundless - that the word was Latin for buttocks. 

Rachel Kneale

0 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Yes, I think you are right about the meaning of the word!

Graham Holliday

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

I was reminded about podex when listening last September to the feature ‘A view from the boundary’, broadcast at lunchtime on BBC Radio's ‘Test Match Special’.  The guest was Chris Addison (OM), who talked about how he was never allowed to play cricket at school but instead (as a ‘remnant’) was forced to play this weird game called Podex, which he seems to think was an MGS invention.  You can still hear the programme on You Tube (the reference to Podex is about ten minutes in). 


Rachel Kneale

0 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Thanks Graham, I will have a listen.

John Barrow

1 Like Posted 2 years ago

I remember playing Podex at the annual scout troop camps in the early 60s!

Andrew Gosling

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Podex was certainly alive & well in my MGS days 1960-67. I particularly remember playing at the Owl’s Nest, supervised by Billy Hulme. His trips were a little different to most, you went by coach, extra rations were provided, you played games and no walking, all at Mr Hulme’s expense! I believe he produced a set or rules for podex which were extensively used during form games. I can not recall if there was an inter-form competition.

michael richardson

2 Likes Posted 2 years ago

I played podox at Booths Hall camp around 1947/48. Billy Hulme was the leading umpire. I remember two words that were shouted out - when the ball was too high “Booze” or when too low “Grub”. Podox was regularly played at the camp. 

Ian Verber

1 Like Posted one year ago

We had interform Podex in the 1960's. Rules very much as Mark Fink played at Bassenthwaite camp. In addition there was a line 6 foot in front of the stumps called the Grub line. If the ball bounced before that line the umpire shouted Grub and the batter could leave the ball and it didn't matter if it hit the stumps. However if the batter chose to hit the ball he had to run. (Glad to see a contribution from my old 1 Beta mate Graham Holldiday - hope he's keeping well)

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