I remember it well, even though it was 30 years ago.

Roly Poly Hill, one of the steepest ridges in Exeter.

It was January 1982, smack bang in the middle of one of the harshest winters of modern times.

There we were, the Heles School kids, ready for the weekly spell of purgatory which was the cross country run.

It was cold, it was wet, it was muddy.

More than anything, it was cold. Teeth chatteringly cold.

In our t shirts and shorts, we set off. There is no way on God’s earth this would be allowed these days, what with health and safety paramount in school policy.

But no such rules existed back then, so off we went. We had no choice.

Character building, the teachers called it.

‘We’ve already got characters, sir,’ we chortled back. ‘Well formed early teenage ones, full of cheek.’ To no avail.

I thought back to those mud-encrusted days last weekend as my son Ben and his Fordingbridge under-11 colleagues completed their latest Testway Youth League Division 2 victory.

Away to Worthys, north of Winchester, it was raining when we left Fordingbridge, sleeting as we drove across the New Forest and hit the M27, and virtually snowing by the time we arrived at our venue.

And it was bitterly cold.

Journalists are people of many words, but here only our four are needed.

It was bitterly cold.

There we were, us parents, wrapped up in coats, scarves and a selection of natty headwear last seen at Glastonbury in 2011.

The kids weren’t so lucky, though one was wearing a hat, a few sported gloves – not that they made much difference – and one wise lad wore leggings.

In goal, stand-in keeper Charlie Dawkins was a picture of misery as he hardly touched the ball in the first half hour as the blue tide swarmed forward.

Normally a livewire presence up front, and our top scorer by some margin, Charlie was in goal due to an injury to first choice Jack ‘the ginger tom’ Thorne.

Not many teams would put their leading marksman in goal, but that’s youth football for you. Expect the unexpected, and all that.

In conditions that were truly dismal, both sides were to be congratulated for doing their best on a muddy pitch in freezing cold weather.

They were all soaked by the end, but had emerged 3-1 winners.

‘That was character building, lads, wasn’t it?’ I was going to ask them, but they looked so cold and wet I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

Unlike my former Heles School teachers in Exeter, who positively thrived on sending their pupils out in such foul weather.

Still, it WAS character building.

To this day, I don’t mind going out in the pouring rain.

I’ve stood on an open terrace watching lower division football without an umbrella – they breed us hard in east Devon, don’t they? – and I’ve often stunned by wife by volunteering to take the family canine out for a walk in monsoon conditions.

No, I don’t mind a bit of rain.

If I was plonked on a psychiatrist’s couch and asked why that was, I would take them back to Roly Poly Hill.

I didn’t like the cross country runs. I was okay at running, but not one of the best in the school by any means.

But I completed them.

That was the bottom line.

In that respect, it is true what they say about school moulding a character that will never change, through childhood and into adult life.

Who knows, in 30 years time, my son might have his own blog.

And he might by waxing lyrical about the morning he played football on an exposed pitch somewhere in south Hampshire in the middle of winter. On second thoughts, perhaps not.

But I know one thing. One day Ben will thank me for exposing him to the miserable weather of last weekend.

I have no idea when that day will be, but it will happen.

He will have a Roly Poly Hill moment of catharsis too, and it will be Worthys FC in the sleet, the rain, the snow and the cold.