22nd February 2018
The Winter Olympics are not often the scene for British sporting triumphs. At this year’s Olympics we have 4 medals to date, one of which is gold. We may possibly win another medal, which would make the Pyeongchang Olympics our most successful Winter Olympics ever. We have, however, managed a few sporting coups at the Winter Olympics over […]
26th January 2018
Our New Stock catalogue is out now, packed with fantastic items of sports memorabilia. Big names from various sports feature heavily: cricket’s Jack Hobbs and Les Ames; golf’s Henry Cotton; football’s Ray Wilson and Bob Paisley and athletics’ legendary Zatopek, to name but a few. Two characters stand out for both their achievements and their […]
11th January 2018
Footballers are on the move again in this month’s football transfer window. Remember the first £1 million transfer deal, done in 1979? Legendary Nottingham Forest manager, Brian Clough bought Trevor Francis from Birmingham City for £1,180,000 including VAT and fees. Francis’ deal was double the amount received by Liverpool when Kevin Keegan was sold to […]
The Winter Olympics are not often the scene for British sporting triumphs. At this year’s Olympics we have 4 medals to date, one of which is gold. We may possibly win another medal, which would make the Pyeongchang Olympics our most successful Winter Olympics ever.
We have, however, managed a few sporting coups at the Winter Olympics over the years. One of the greatest and most surprising might be Britain’s gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Germany. The British men’s ice hockey team beat the then reigning champions, Canada, that year. Canada had won the event for four preceding, consecutive Olympics. Britain had, in fact, a spectacularly successful ice hockey team at the time. It was the first team to become Olympic, World and European Champions, all in the same year.
The 1936 Winter Olympics was notable in its own right. Held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, it was the last time that a winter and summer Olympics was held in the same country in the same year. Hitler was, of course, Germany’s leader at this time. Months before the winter games an English reporter visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen. He saw several signs, saying ‘Jews not wanted’ and ‘Jews not allowed’ in the village. He took a photo of one of them above the Partenkirchen ski clubhouse. The photo was published throughout the world.
A movemement formed in the US to boycott the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics. It threatened the entire German Olympic Project. Germany could not risk countries pulling out of their planned Olympics showcase in Berlin months later. So Berlin ordered all anti-semitic signs and posters removed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and presented themselves to the outside world as a ‘friendly dictatorship’. Their ice hockey captain was , in fact, Jewish, the only Jew to represent Germany at the Games. The British ice hockey team even performed a Nazi salute during the Games out of ‘respect to their hosts, the German People’.
Of course ice hockey at the Olympics has the power to surprise in 2018 too. The appearance of a united North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team has definitely earned the term ‘historic’. They may not have won any medals – or any games! – but they certainly won the prize for most rapturous and warm reception at this year’s Olympic Games. Long live Olympics upsets and surprises – they’re a huge part of the Games’ appeal.
Our New Stock catalogue is out now, packed with fantastic items of sports memorabilia. Big names from various sports feature heavily: cricket’s Jack Hobbs and Les Ames; golf’s Henry Cotton; football’s Ray Wilson and Bob Paisley and athletics’ legendary Zatopek, to name but a few.
Two characters stand out for both their achievements and their too short lives. Colin Blythe was one of England’s greatest slow, left-arm bowlers, who took over 2,500 wickets for Kent and England. Born in 1879, he enlisted in the army in 1914 like so many of his generation. He was killed by shell fire at Passchendaele in 1917.
Another great achiever, whose life was cut short, was Lady Mary Heath or Sophie C Eliott-Lynn. Her story is extraordinary. She was an orphan at 0ne when her father bludgeoned her mother to death. Two maiden aunts brought her up subsequently and tried hard to discourage Sophie’s passion for sports.
They were unsuccessful. Sophie C Eliott-Lynn was Britain’s first female javelin champion. In 1923 she represented the United Kingdom at the 1923 Women’s Olympiad. She came third in the high jump, javelin throw and women’s pentathlon. In 1925 Her book, ‘Athletics for Women and Girls’ was published. In 1926 she competed at the Women’s World Games. She then turned her hand at flying.
Now married and known as Lady Mary Heath, she soon became the first woman to hold a commercial flying licence in Britain. At 31, Heath became the first person to fly in an open- cockpit plane, solo from South Africa to Egypt. Tragically she was badly injured in an air crash only a year later and was never the same again. She died n 1939 from a fall, after years of alcoholism.
Short as Blythe and Eliot-Lynn’s lives may have been, they both achieved phenomenally and lived their lives to the absolute brim. They have also given us all the great joy of appreciating and enjoying their trails of success – one of the many pleasures that sports memorabilia offers.
Footballers are on the move again in this month’s football transfer window. Remember the first £1 million transfer deal, done in 1979? Legendary Nottingham Forest manager, Brian Clough bought Trevor Francis from Birmingham City for £1,180,000 including VAT and fees. Francis’ deal was double the amount received by Liverpool when Kevin Keegan was sold to Hamburg only two years earlier.
It’s hard to understand how football transfer fees have increased so extraordinarily over the last 40 years. Manchester United’s reputed, present £25 million bid for Arsenal’s Sanchez seems almost modest next to Coutinho’s recent £142 million and Neymar’s £222 million transfer fees.
It’s worth remembering too that Trevor Francis arguably sang for his £1 million ‘supper’ by subsequently helping
Nottingham Forest to win the European Cup in 1979 and 1980. How easy is it to prove you’re worth £222 million…or are we just suffering from a self-effacing, lack of self-confidence?!
The second part of our Christmas catalogue is out now, packed with over 40 fantastic and often rare items of sports memorabilia. You can have a look at it by clicking here and on our Catalogues page along with all our other catalogues there.
Many of the sports memorabilia items in the catalogue have a great story to them and one of our favourites has
got to be the official match ticket for a famous rugby match in Wales. On 28th September 1935 Swansea played the All Blacks at St Helens in front of 35,000 spectators on a wet and windy day. The team included two cousins and schoolboys, Haydn Tanner and Willie Davies. They led the charge against All Blacks that day to take Swansea to victory – the first non-international team to beat the All Blacks. Swansea won 11-3. New Zealand’s captain, Jack Manchester, begged the New Zealand press, “Don’t tell them we were beaten by a pair of schoolboys.
Your first Christmas teaser that can be answered from an item of sports memorabilia in our Christmas catalogue…
An edition of the Bulletin of the Military Historical Society for May 1973 (SKU 63262) explains all. On page 119 is an account of an extraordinary cricket match that took place in Shillinglee, Sussex, in 1855. The 2nd Royal Surrey Militia team were dismissed for 0, a record that has been equalled but can never be beaten.
Paperback. 8vo. 32pp. Very good condition.
A correspondent to the Bulletin gives a great account of how the record was achieved. Since then, teams have tried hard to achieve the same kind of record. It was left to a Kent team in 2016 to get closest in an indoor county chanpionship match. Bapchild Cricket Club were bowled out for 0 in just 20 balls by Christ Church University in Canterbury – a fairly unenviable achievement by Bapchild CC!
Is politics a logical next step after a successful career in sports? Former athletes, Lord Coe, Sir Menzies Campbell, Sir Chris Chataway and Kate Hoey have certainly all achieved. We looked at the careers of three exceptional, past cricketers too to gauge potential success. Results were mixed!
It’s almost an insult to classify CB Fry as ‘just’ a cricketer. He was one of the most consummate all-round sportsmen Britain has ever produced. A brilliant scholar too, he won 12 blues in different sports at Oxford and earned the nicknames, ‘Almighty’ and ‘Lord Oxford’. He was a talented golfer, rugby player, swimmer, tennis player, javelin thrower, sculler and boxer. He played football for Southampton too.
England cricket can be grateful that Fry decided to focus his sports career on cricket. Captain of Sussex and England, England never lost a Test match when CB was at the helm. CB Fry was at his peak in 1901 when he totalled 3,147 runs, an average of over 78 runs per innings. He scored 13 100s and created a record of 6 centuries in 6 consecutive innings in little more than 14 days. England were still looking for him to captain their side when he decided to retire at 49 in 1921.
Fry’s foray into politics was not quite so successful. He failed 3 times to become a Liberal MP. In 1934 he was charmed by Hitler in a meeting with him and Ribbentrop. Reportedly Fry tried to persuade Hitler and Ribbentrop that the Nazis should take up Test cricket. Possibly Fry’s greatest political hope was the offer of the vacant throne of Albania in 1920s. He was offered it while at the League of Nations as secretary to India’s then delegate, one RS Ranjitsinhji. Unfortunately in order to accept, he needed to have an income of £10,000 p.a. and Fry was notoriously short of money throughout his life. Hence no Charles III of Albania in the history books!
Another captain of Sussex and England dipped his toe into politics too, one Ted Dexter. An aggressive, swashbuckling cricketer – again, among many other accomplishments – Dexter decided to enter politics in 1964. England captain at the time, Dexter declared himself unavailable for the 1964-65 South Africa tour because he expected to become an MP in the 1964 election.
He became the Conservative candidate for Cardiff South East, pitting himself against the then Shadow chancellor, one James Callaghan. Callaghan had been the sitting candidate since the constituency was created in 1950. Cardiff South East was then a community of principally dockers and factory workers. Dexter, or Lord Ted as he was nicknamed early on for his aloof self-confidence, did not appeal massively to his potential consituents. His comment that Labour-voting households “could be identified by their grubby lace curtains and unwashed milk bottles on the doorstep” was not a vote winner either.
At the election, Callaghan increased his majority from 868 to just under 8,000. Luckily Dexter was able to return to his day job and joined the South Africa tour as vice captain after all. He made 344 runs in 7 Test innings, an average of 57.
We have to turn to the great Pakistani cricketer, Imran Khan for a more established political foothold. Khan made his debut for Pakistan when he was 18 in 1971 at Birmingham during their England tour. He then played for them from 1976 – 1992, captaining the side during that period too. As captain, he led Pakistan to victory at the 1992 Cricket World Cup, Pakistan’s first and only victory in that competition. Imran Khan retired in 1992 as one of Pakistan’s most successful players. He scored 3,807 runs and took 362 wickets in Test cricket.
In 1996 Imran Khan founded the Pakistan Movement of Justice Party, the PTI and became the party’s leader. Over the last twenty years he has ridden the turbulent waves of Pakistan politics to take his party to become the 2nd largest party in the National Assembly in 2013. Since then his political influence has continued to ebb and flow with the twists and turns of his country’s politics. He has, in any case, achieved significantly, but these sportsmen make it clear to us that politics is an even greater minefield to success than becoming an international sportsman or woman. Given the chance, we know which career path we’d choose!
Martin Sheridan was actually born and brought up in County Mayo, Ireland. The USA was very quick – and sensible – to claim him as one of their own, soon after he stepped upon their shores! Sheridan was born in Bohola, County Mayo in 1881. He stayed in Ireland until he was 18. Then he followed his older brother, Richard, to New York. There Martin Sheridan became a physical trainer and then a policeman.
Martin Sheridan was 6’3″ and 194 lbs, a fair old size at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was also extremely strong and athletically talented. He specialised in throwing and jumping, competitively. Over the course of his competitive life he won 12 US Championships and over 30 Canadian titles. Those were the national titles…Sheridan won 5 gold Olympic medals over the course of 3 Olympics: 1904 in St Louis, Missouri; 1906 in Athens and 1908 in London for discus and shot put. He won two silver medals for the Standing High Jump and Standing Long Jump. The man was virtually unbeatable over a 14 year period, during which he established 16 world records.
Sheridan had by this time officially become American but, understandably, Ireland has always laid claim to him too. They quickly gave him the accolade of having won more Olympic medals than any other Irish athlete. When he returned to Ireland after the 1908 London Olympics, he imagined he would ‘slip into’ Ireland quietly to see his family. Instead, as his train drew into Swinford Station, people thronged the platforms and the town’s band played ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’.
Sheridan returned to New York and policing after his athletics career. He was always held in huge esteem. He saved four children and their parents from certain death in a burning building. He also was the New York Governor’s personal bodyguard whenever the governor was in town. Sadly, strong and mighty as he was, Martin Sheridan’s life was cut short by the 1918 flu epidemic. He was one of its earliest casualties in 1918.
John Wisden was born in Brighton in 1826. His father died when he was a boy and Wisden went to live with Sussex wicketkeeper, Tom Box. Wisden’s talent as a cricketer was obvious from early on. By the age of 18, he had made his debut for Sussex versus Kent. He took 6 wickets in the first innings; 3 in the 2nd innings.
John Wisden soon became one of the star cricketers in the mid-19th century. He was tiny. He was 5’6″ tall and weighed 44 kilos. Somehow, however, he had ‘the power’: he was an exceptionally effective fast bowler and was deemed to be one of the best all-rounders of his time. In 1850 he played for the North versus the South at Lord’s. He claimed all 10 wickets in the second innings, all of which were clean bowled – a unique feat still in first class cricket! In the same year John Wisden took 340 wickets in 38 matches. Wisden’s nickname soon became ‘Little Wonder’ after the winner of the 1840 Epsom Derby.
Again in 1850 Wisden began to branch out from just playing cricket. He was a cricket coach at Harrow School from 1852-55. He also began making and selling cricket equipment and in 1855 he set up a cricket and cigar shop with Fred Lillywhite. In 1864 Wisden retired from cricket. Coincidentally…or not, that was also the year that his first Almanack appeared.
John Wisden’s Cricketer’s Almanack soon eclipsed its rivals due to its scrupulously accurate statistics and editorial independence. The first Wisden in 1864 was, however, a fairly eclectic mix of facts and figures. The almanack was 112 pages thick. It provided cricket scorecards and statistics…along with racing winners, the rules of quoits, the dates of the Crusades and an account of Charles I’s trial!
In 1872 Wisden set up his sports goods shop, John Wisden & Co in Cranbourn Street near Leicester Square. You can still see its plaque on the building today. Wisden died in 1884, by which time his Almanack had seen off its competition and was firmly established as cricket’s book of record. Wisden was buried in Brompton Cemetery in London. To commemorate Wisden’s 50th anniversary in 1913, the Almanack dispensed with its annual selection of its ‘Cricketers of the Year’. Instead it chose to create a ‘special portrait’ of a prominent individual. In this case it was its founder: John Wisden
Sportspages Christmas Catalogue, part 2 has arrived…And hot on its heels will be Christmas itself! It’s a great chance to buy something really special for a sports lover. Alternatively you can cleverly point one of your friends and relations at something you would particularly like yourself. Have a look at the catalogue here:
We’ve highlighted one of the gems from the catalogue in honour of the fact that it is the Varsity Match at Twickenham today. This year we’re sponsoring Oxford University rugby team, so we have to be biased: go, Oxford!