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News > Articles > Stanley Harris: Headmaster and England Footballer

Stanley Harris: Headmaster and England Footballer

Saint Ronan's second headmaster was also an England footballer.
SSH with the England squad
SSH with the England squad

Stanley Shute Harris, Saint Ronan’s second Headmaster, who was born in 1881, had the unique and extraordinary distinction of being both a Headmaster and an England footballer, with only a couple of years separating the two careers.  

He showed precocious talent as an athlete and at Westminster School captained the 1st X1 Football in the 1899/1900 season. In 1900, he went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge to read Mediaeval and Modern Languages. There he was an Association Football Blue for three consecutive years, from 1902 to 1904. In 1904, as Captain in the Varsity match against Oxford, Cambridge won by 5 goals to nil, two of which were scored by SSH, taking both him and Cambridge into the record books. His preferred position was inside-left and he was described as a ‘splendidly built amateur, adroit at dribbling and shooting’.

After coming down from Cambridge, he began his teaching career at Saint Ronan’s under the headship of The Reverend Philip Crick. He continued to play amateur football for his club, the Corinthian Casuals, but also played for England, winning six full international caps between 1904 and 1906 and captaining the side.

As if being a gifted footballer wasn’t enough, he was also He was an accomplished cricketer. I was delighted and in awe to learn that he had played against W.G. Grace although he does not appear to have scored many runs !!

He acquired Saint Ronan’s in 1909 from the Reverend Crick and thus became the school’s second Headmaster at the tender age of 28. Whilst at the helm, he continued to play for the Corinthian Casuals and made 60 appearances between 1903-20, scoring 57 times. By all accounts, he not only taught the boys PE himself but joined in all their sports and was as keenly interested  in games of school football as he was in international matches. His international, varsity and club caps are displayed in…..

During his Headship, the school grew in both numbers and reputation.  He was hailed as one of the most remarkable Headmasters of his age. He wrote a famous book, ‘The Master and his Boys’ and became Chairman of the Council of the Association of Preparatory Schools. However, in March 1920, he was tragically struck with skin cancer. Although it was dealt with, and he appeared to be cured, he eventually succumbed to the illness in 1926, at the cruelly young age of 44.

It was a life tragically cut short.  Before his death, he wrote to parents that ‘I am leaving all my property and the school to my brother Walter Bruce Harris who has been a Housemaster at Lancing.  He knows and believes in my methods and he is a long way the best Housemaster of any man of my acquaintance in England and he could in my opinion run Saint Ronan’s on the same methods which I have always attempted to employ; namely, the appeal to a boy’s honour as the foundation of everything.’

He was clearly adored by everyone who knew him -  boys, parents, colleagues and friends - and there was a massive outpouring of grief when he died. Fortunately for Saint Ronan’s, his brother, WBH, was also an exceptional Head. He gave the school outstanding service for 31 years and in every way lived up to his brother’s faith in him to carry on just as he would have.

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