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England cricket in South Africa & David Sheppard

21st January 2016

A letter written by David Sheppard, Sussex & England cricketer & Bishop of Woolwich and Liverpool, takes us back to the bleak days of cricket in Apartheid South Africa. The 2016 England cricket team’s performance in South Africa so far must have cheered the heart of every England cricket fan. We have seen some phenomenal individual […]

Sports Personality of the Year – a Sportspages snapshot

10th December 2015

Sportspages has taken a look at BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year candidates since the programme begain in 1954. The runner, Sir Christopher Chataway won it that first year. We’ve delved into our archives to detail a winner from each decade.

Sportspages’ new website is here!

25th November 2015

For the last 6 months, we have been working hard to redesign and improve our website. Our old website was much loved but we felt it was time to ‘freshen it up’ and hopefully make it better for our customers. We’re still at www.sportspages.com and all our contact details remain the same. We hope it improves your experience of searching […]

England cricket in South Africa & David Sheppard

David Stuart Sheppard
David Sheppard, Sussex & England cricketer

A letter written by David Sheppard, Sussex & England cricketer & Bishop of Woolwich and Liverpool, takes us back to the bleak days of cricket in Apartheid South Africa.

The 2016 England cricket team’s performance in South Africa so far must have cheered the heart of every England cricket fan. We have seen some phenomenal individual performances and a rousing, generally consistent team one, all at the expense of the hitherto World No 1 team: South Africa. Attention has turned very quickly to South Africa’s woes.  Observers see South Africa’s struggles against England as symptoms of a demise rather than a blip. South African cricket may well be facing the need for an overhaul. It’s a cyclical pattern in all teams – but let’s not lose sight of how far South Africa have come in the last 25 years. This year will be the 25th Anniversary of the unification of South African cricket and its readmission to the international cricket arena.  A journey down memory lane with David Sheppard, the extraordinary combination of clergyman and cricketer, reminds us of South African cricket’s journey.

David Sheppard is the only ordained minister to have played Test cricket. He was both a religious leader and a cricketer at the highest levels. Captain in turn of Cambridge and Sussex, Sheppard was an opening batsman. He scored more than 2,000 runs in each of the three seasons from 1951 to 1953, including 24 centuries in the process. Sheppard was one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1953. He managed, too, to be an integral member of the England cricket team from 1954 to 1963 while pursuing a clerical career, which culminated in his hugely significant and influential role as Bishop of Liverpool in the 1980s.

Throughout Sheppard’s clerical career  he was an outspoken supporter of the poor.  He was also a strong opponent of South Africa’s then political system of Apartheid. David Sheppard refused to play cricket against the touring South Africans in 1960. He also oppposed the proposed MCC tour to South Africa in 1968-69 in which South Africa would not allow Basil D’Oliveira to play.

As the Bishop of Woolwich, David Sheppard wrote this letter in 1970. Here he sets out clearly his views about England cricket’s relationship with South Africa at the time.

David Sheppard, england cricket, south africa cricket

David Sheppard, enlgand cricket, south africa cricket
David Sheppard’s letter about cricket and Apartheid

David Sheppard’s letter gives us a fascinating insight into the background, experiences and discussions circling England cricket’s relationship with South Africa at the time. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see how wise Sheppard was in his views. The letter is an important reminder of  a great England cricketer and South African’s cricketing history. David Sheppard’s letter should be a reason for celebration. It may have a way to go, but South African cricket has come a long way too.

Sports Personality of the Year – a Sportspages snapshot

Sportspages has taken a look at BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year candidates since the programme began in 1954. The runner, Sir Christopher Chataway won it that first year. We’ve delved into our archives to detail a winner from each decade. Since all were worthy victors in the years that they won, our selection of individuals has been fairly arbitrary. Almost all could have caught our attention. We’ve tried to be fair (in sport?!) and picked out a sports personality from different sports over the years.

Jim Laker, cricket's Sports Personality of the Year 1955
Jim Laker’s 10 wickets in the 1955 Ashes at Old Trafford

We start with Jim Laker, who won Sports Personality of the Year in 1956 for his record-breaking number of wickets taken against the Australians in that year. In the 4th Ashes Test, at Old Trafford, Laker was the first bowler in history to take all 10 wickets in a test innings. In fact Laker took 19 Australian wickets for 90. He bowled 9 for 37 in the first innings; 10 for 53 in the 2nd Innings.

Jim Laker later went on to set the record of the most wickets taken in a 5 match Ashes series (admittedly, a niche area): 46, a record still held today.

In the 1960s our attention turns to Sir Henry Cooper, the only British boxer ever to be knighted…yet. He was BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1967, having been unbeaten throughout that year. We  may have fond and more recent memories of him in Brut aftershave commercials and hamming it up in pantos and chat shows.  He also had an exceptionally long career as a successful boxer from 1954 – 71. He won 40 of his 55 contests, 27 of which were knockouts.  Cooper was legendary for his very powerful and very fast left hook. It was called  ‘Enry’s Ammer’ and was most famously used against Muhammad Ali in both of their hugely publicised fights in 1963 and again in 1966. As well as Henry Cooper’s boxing achievements, he was also the first sportsman to win SPOTY twice – he won the award again in 1970.

Henry Cooper v Muhammad Ali boxing programme, 1966
Henry Cooper v Muhammad Ali boxing programme, 1966
Henry Cooper, boxing Sports Personality of the Year
We couldn’t resist – Henry Cooper in panto

 

Mary Peters, Olympic Gold Medallist
Mary Peters, Olympic Gold Medallist

We come to Dame Mary Peters in the 1970s. She won SPOTY in 1972 after her triumphant gold medal in the pentathlon at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where she narrowly beat the local favourite. Mary Peters came from Northern Ireland and was a ‘war horse’ in athletics. She represented Northern Ireland at every Commonwealth Games between 1958 – 1974. She honed her craft in tough times. She recalled her training schedule every day, ‘I used to have to get two buses into Belfast City centre and then another to the track, carrying my shot, which weighed four kilos, and my starting blocks. The track was full of pot-holes. It wasn’t the ideal place to come but it was the only place we had’.

 

Steve Davis, Sports Personality of the Year 1988
Steve Davis, Sports Personality of the Year 1988

The 1980s offers us almost too many fine candidates from which to choose. We could have concentrated on Beefy Botham. Unsurprisingly he won Sports Personality of the Year in 1981. There was Daley Thompson too, Torvill and Dean, Nigel Mansell and Sir Nick Faldo among others. But we wanted to share the love among sports and also to honour a fond favourite of ours: Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis! Davis was the first player to complete snooker’s triple crown in a single year to win the World Championship, the Masters and the UK Championship won Sports Personality of the Year in 1988. He went on to win the world championships six times in total. Steve Davis was ranked no. 1 in snooker for seven consecutive seasons and his 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor pulled in 18.5 million British viewers.

England football: Paul Gascoigne & Ian Wright
England football: Paul Gascoigne & Ian Wright

Steve Davis was accused of being boring at times due to his seeming lack of emotion and expression. In that case our 1990s Sports Personality of the Year might be the Yang to Steve Davis’ Ying. Footballer Paul Gascoigne, SPOTYS winner in 1990 was known as much for his passion and tears on the pitch as for his exceptional, natural talent. He won that year for being an integral part of the England team that reached the last 4 places in the 1990 World Cup in Italy. His tears afer the semi-final defeat against Germany reached the hearts of many fans. He wasn’t all tears though. He ended up with 57 caps and was described as the ‘most naturally gifted English midfielder of his generation’

Sir Steve Redgrave in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics
Sir Steve Redgrave in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics

The Noughties was another decade packed with fantastically achieving Sports Personalities of the Year. They included David Beckham, Paula Radcliffe, Jonny Wilkinson, Freddie Flintoff, Sir Chris Hoy and Ryan Giggs. All were worthy winners. We have gone for a huge sporting figure, literally and figuratively: Sir Steve Redgrave. Steve Redgrave ended his career being the most successful rower in history. He won 5 successive Olympic Gold medals and 1 bronze. He was onto his third Olympics and 3rd Gold medal in 2000 when he won Sports Personality of the Year then.

Since 2010, two of the past winners are contenders again this year: Andy Murray in 2013 and Lewis Hamilton last year. Will one of them do a ‘Henry Cooper’ and win Sports Personality of the Year  for the second time this year? Will our Olympics poster girl, Jessica Ennis-Hill  or Lizzie Armitstead step up as one of the few women to win the title over the years? Can Mo Farah or Chris Froome stay the course? Or will Kevin Sinfield, Greg Rutherford, Adam Peaty or Max Whitlock whip the trophy out from under the frontrunners’ noses? So many questions! Thankfully it’s only 10 days to find out the answers…

Sportspages’ new website is here!

All About Cricket by Brian Johnston
We’re excited about Sportspages’ new website!

For the last 6 months, we have been working hard to redesign and improve our website. Our old website was much loved but we felt it was time to ‘freshen it up’ and hopefully make it better for our customers. We’re still at www.sportspages.com and all our contact details remain the same.

We hope it improves your experience of searching and buying from the site. We’ve had many good comments (and some critical ones) about the old site and we have incorporated many of your comments into the new one. Please have a browse and let us know what you think.

One thing is certain however – the new website won’t be functioning perfectly from day one. Please bear with us if you have any problems or frustrations with it. All feedback will be appreciated and remember you can always order by telephone on 01252 851040 if you have any problems online.