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Q&A: Mr Odling talks Hampton football

By Freddie Hawkins

Mr Odling, who left Hampton in 2012, returned to the school in 2015 to work as a Geography teacher. He has since coached the 2nd XI to their London ISFA Cup triumph earlier this season, and caught up with HSC to tell the tale.

What was your experience of playing football at Hampton? 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing football at Hampton. The best thing was the sheer amount of football that we played, whether it be training, matches or going on tour in France. I was really lucky to play in some fantastic teams with great coaches. 

Did you have a highlight of playing football at Hampton? 

I have a lot of highlights from playing football at Hampton but one that stands out is my playing in my final season at Hampton in the 2nd XI. We had a brilliant team and a really strong team spirit. We won a couple of cups that year and the whole year was a fantastic experience. 

Did you continue playing football beyond school? 

I played football at Durham University for my college A team and also went on to play for Jesus College 1st XI at Cambridge and their grad team. I’ve also played a few games for Old Hamptonians 2nd XI, although coaching at Hampton on Saturdays takes priority now. 

How have the sport facilities changed since your time here? 

The 3G is the most notable change. I think it makes a real difference to have an all-weather pitch at Hampton. I remember the old 1st XI pitch used to get really boggy around winter and was often unplayable. The 3G means that training and matches always goes ahead, and no one can make the excuse of the ball hitting a bobble if they make a poor pass! 

Has there been a change in the ethos around sport, and specifically football? 

I think Mr Mills has continued to help sport at Hampton grow. He has also brought in some brilliant coaches who have brought a huge amount to the School. Mr Burke has worked hard to instil a strong football philosophy at Hampton and he has done a great job with all age groups. It’s so helpful for all the football coaches at Hampton to work with someone of his experience. 

How has your experience coaching football at Hampton been so far? 

I have loved coaching football at Hampton, it’s like real-life Football Manager! I coached the U16Bs for two very successful seasons and now coach the 2nd XI which has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I have to admit, I’d much rather be out there playing football myself, but I do enjoy being the manager. 

What were your first impressions of sport at Hampton? 

Anticipation and excitement. My two older brothers were already at Hampton when I joined in 2005 so I felt a lot of pressure to try and get into the A team and follow in their footsteps. We were all very lucky to have the privilege of playing so much sport at Hampton. 

What were your greatest accomplishments at the school? 

In terms of sport, probably playing football and more or less consistently being in the A team. We had a really strong year group and remain the last year to win the ISFA Cup in 2012, although I never made the cut to be in the 1st XI! I also competed in a lot of athletics competitions, regularly taking part in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m.

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