Rob Wakely – Celebration of 40 Years at Marlborough
Having joined Marlborough in September 1978, Robert Wakely completed 40 years as Rackets Professional in 2018. A celebration was held on Sunday 2nd December in recognition of his four decades of distinguished service. Between 70 and 80 Old Marlburians, fellow Rackets Professionals and friends from the wider Rackets community were present to mark the occasion and pay tribute to Rob.
The day started with an Exhibition match involving 2005 World Doubles Champions, Ali Robinson (PR 1983-88) and Guy Barker (B3 1983-88) playing against Richard Spender (C2 1989-94) & Charlie McKelvey (BH 2008-13). The Gallery was packed to overflowing to open the day’s celebrations. In this exciting display of top-class Rackets, Rob’s most successful School Pair, Guy and Ali, won the deciding game with Rob, as ever, officiating from the Marker’s Box with his trademark efficiency and authority. It was fitting that Guy and Ali should be there on court to demonstrate, in the most elegant way possible, by the virtuosity of their play, how much they appreciate all that Rob has done since 1978 to foster the game at Marlborough, and his crucial contribution in bringing on the raw talent that he has honed into classy pairs over the last four decades. ‘Barker and Robinson’ are legendary as the only school pair ever, having won the School’s Doubles, to then go on, in Senior Rackets, to win together as a pair the Amateur Doubles, the Open Doubles and the World Doubles.
At the conclusion of the Match, everyone was invited onto court for a photograph, and then the players and guests retired to the Adderley for reception drinks, prior to a splendid luncheon at which Rob spoke eloquently, with his customary passion, about his time at Marlborough, with a special thank you to his wife, Sally. David Watson (C1 1971-76 & Chairman of the T&RA), Guy Barker (B3 1983-88) and Mike Bush (Master i/c Rackets), each spoke about their gratitude for Rob’s commitment and dedication to the School’s Rackets players over his 40 years. A delightful occasion, enjoyed by everyone.
In a career spanning six different Masters in charge and that includes 18 Queen’s Championship titles, recognition for Rob’s service, dedication and passion for the game was encapsulated wonderfully. For many it was an opportunity to, not only celebrate Rob’s career at Marlborough, but also catch up with old friends from the Marlborough Rackets Community. How can we possibly imagine within the last 40 years, how many Rackets Rob has re-strung? How many balls he has covered? How many times he has said “Play”? But it was agreed that one figure that remained constant in that time was the number of incorrect refereeing decisions that he has made – zero!