16th February 2017
8th December 2016
Sportspages Christmas Catalogue, part 2 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 […]
30th November 2016
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!
Arnold Palmer was rightfully crowned the ‘King’ of golf for his huge contribution to glamourising and popularising the sport throughout his career. He won 7 Major titles and had 62 PGA Tour wins and he was the first golf player to make $1 million dollars from the sport. He was a true champion and showman: a perfect combination to please the crowds.
We’ve been browsing through one of his books: ‘Go for Broke’, a memoir of his playing days, packed with bits of Arnold Palmer’s philosophy on golf and entertaining insights into his personal and professional life. He details his childhood. His father was groundskeeper and finally golf pro to the Latrobe golf club in Pennsylvania. It sounds like a perfect training ground for the infant golfer. Deacon, Arnold Palmer’s father, was a stickler for the rules, however. So young Arnold was only very rarely allowed on the Green. He had to make do with practicing in the scrubby woodland, abutting the Green. He would practice for hours, hitting pine cones against trees; aiming the ball for a particular bush. He is sure that gave him his confidence to play in the rough but conversely meant that he felt that putting was his weakest part of his game for many years.
As we all know, Arnold Palmer was the first golf player to capitalise on the tangential business of endorsements in sport. ‘Go for Broke’ gives a great window on how his great friend, Mark McCormack – then a young lawyer, who became a super-agent – built him up and brokered deals. In those 1950s and 1960s days of smoking innocence, Palmer was endorsed by several tobacco companies over the years. By 1964, however, Arnold Palmer had realised he didn’t actually like the taste of the cigarettes he smoked. A doctor advised him to give up smoking after a bout of bad sinusitis. Palmer decided to apply his full self control to the task and completely stopped smoking.
Presumably McCormack was concerned that Arnold was missing a trick. The two found themselves at dinner with the director of advertising for the cigarette company, sponsoring the Bing Crosby tournament that year. McCormack had never smoked, but when Palmer continually refused to pick up a cigarette, McCormack did instead, saying ‘Everybody else in the world is stopping, so I think I’ll start smoking’. As Arnold tried to hold strong, someone said of the brand, ‘Arnold would never have quit smoking in the first place if he’d ever had a good cigarette to smoke…’ Palmer’s attempt to hold his resolve was futile. McCormack was clearly a business force of nature and Palmer soon found himself saying, ‘Well maybe just one cigarette wouldn’t hurt, seeing as how this is a special occasion and all.’ before returning to smoking for several years to come! Luckily continuing to smoke did not hinder the ‘King’ in any way and probably helped his earnings considerably. In the meantime he continued to entertain and captivate millions with his great presence, swashbuckling skill, achievements and style. Today’s top golfers will certainly be playing in his name and memory this weekend at the 41st Ryder Cup.
The 5th Ashes game in 1938 took place at the Oval from 20-24 August. England needed to win the test match to draw the series – one match had already been abandoned. Len Hutton opened…and continued batting for 13 hours 20 minutes during 8 batting sessions. His score of 364 broke test match cricket records. In particular he surpassed the batting record of Australia’s then captain and cricketing legend, Don Bradman. Bradman had scored 334 at Leeds in the 1930 Ashes.
Hutton’s record-breaking score took England to an unassailable win of 903-7. He mused on the experience in later years. He remembered how he had started to relax on the Monday afternoon, having batted for 8 hours or more. He lifted a ball over mid-on’s head. England’s captain, Wally Hammond immediately popped up on the pavilion balcony. He made it very clear that Hutton was to keep his head and his shots down. Hutton dutifully pressed on. By Monday evening Hutton had become understandably tired from his long stint at the crease. Leyland advised him to have a port and a pint of guinness to help him sleep. The teetotaller Hutton did as suggested. He later reckoned he would have needed 5 or 6 pints to knock him out that night. He was haunted by the face of fiercesome, Australian bowler, Bill O’ Reilly, who he knew he’d have to face the next day. O’Reilly was an aggressive bowler, who ran in as if he’d like to eat batsmen for breakfast.
O’Reilly did indeed bowl Hutton on the Tuesday…but not before Hutton had destroyed all previous cricket records by scoring 364. In the meantime no.s 5 & 6, Eddie Paynter and Denis Compton had spent nearly two days padded up in the pavilion, waiting to go on. Eddie Paynter bet Compton £1.00 that they wouldn’t score more than 10 between them. Paynter was out for a duck. Compton was bowled for 1. The fall of that wicket was particularly galling to Compton. He was bowled by Australia’s Mervyn Waite…and that was Waite’s only wicket in his whole Test career!
Who will light the flame at the Olympics in Brazil tomorrow? The big money is on the ‘King of Football’, possibly Brazil’s greatest national treasure, Pelé. The International Olympics Committee has already, and quite rightly, honoured Pelé twice this year. In June Thomas Bach, IOC president, awarded Pelé the Medal of the Olympic Order, the Games’ highest honour. On the 22nd July, the Olympic torch was passed to Pelé in the town of Santos at the Pelé museum. Santos was, of course, where the great footballer’s career began.
In 1999 the IOC named Pelé its athlete of the century. He has been officially declared ‘Best Football Player of the 20th Century’ several times. Sadly for him, however, he was never able to play football in the Olympics themselves. His international, professional career began in spectacular fashion at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. As a 17 year old boy he scored two of the winning goals against home team, Sweden, in the World Cup Finals. At that time only amateur sportsmen were allowed to take part in the Olympics. Professional sportsmen were only admitted to the Games in 1986. So Pelé was prevented from ever being an ‘Olympian’ footballer- he jokes that that’s why Brazil has never won there!
When Thomas Bach presented Pelé with his Medal of the Olympic Order he said of the Brazilian, “In everything he does, both on and off the field, he exemplifies the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.” Although he may not have played in the Olympics, Pelé has been involved in the Olympic movement massively over the years. We know for a fact that he was an ‘Honored guest’ at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, because we have recently acquired his accreditation pass for those games, a cracking piece of sports memorabilia and sport history. There he watched his great friend, Muhammad Ali, light the torch with dignity and great ceremony. It will be fitting and equally symbolic to watch the great Brazilian footballer, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, doing the same at the Opening Ceremony in Brazil 2016.
We were very sad to learn belatedly of the death of John Gaustad in June this year. John Gaustad was the visionary bookseller, who set up a treasure trove of sports books in Caxton Walk, off Charing Cross Road in London. It became a legendary book shop for sports fans, especially football fans. Gastaud called it Sportspages.
When New Zealand born Gaustad founded Sportspages in 1985, he developed the world of sports books writing and collecting hugely. So many sports books collectors we deal with today still have fond memories of spending hours at the Caxton Walk Sportspages. Our very own Magnus Bowles spent many a happy hour there, browsing, reading… and then finally buying!
Matthew Engel’s obituary for John Gaustad in the Guardian gives a great sense of the man and the impact of his passion for sports books: . We sadly never met him and inherited the legendary name when the Sportspages shop closed down in 2005. We still receive calls from its original customers, checking to see if we might be one and the same. Our Sportspages is slightly different of course with much more emphasis on sports books and memorabilia from days gone by and a much broader focus on all sports. We hope, however, John Gaustad would be pleased with Sportspages’ reincarnation: we can only aspire to many of his achievements, such as Muhammad Ali coming to do a signing at the Caxton Walk bookshop, but we certainly share the same passion for the breadth and depth of sports books and memorabilia. We hope too that we do some justice to supporting his fantastic legacy in the sports book industry.
The 1954 Wimbledon Tennis Championship was hugely significant for its two eventual champions: Male singles champion, Jaroslav Drobny and female singles champion, ‘Little Mo’ Maureen Connolly. 32 year old Drobny won his first and only Wimbledon title in 1954 after 11 previous, unsuccessful attempts. He also won the competition as an Egyptian citizen, the only Egyptian citizen to do so in the history of Wimbledon. For 19 year old ‘Little Mo’ Connolly, already a phenomenon in tennis, the 1954 women’s Wimbledon title was to be her third and unexpectedly her last. They, along with several of their finalists, signed this dinner menu for the ball (code: 38174), celebrating the end of that year’s Wimbledon competition.
Jaroslav Drobny was a Czech sports star, excelling in both tennis and ice hockey. When he won Wimbledon, he achieved a number of firsts. He was the first and only male tennis player to win Wimbledon, wearing glasses! Over his long tennis career, he also competed at Wimbledon under 4 different national identities. In 1938 he entered the championships as a Czech citizen. By the following year Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia. So Drobny competed under the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In 1948 a coup led to a Communist government in Czechoslovakia. Drobny was subjected to travel restrictions, which limited his tennis career. So in 1949 Drobny and his doubles partner defected while in Switzerland. Drobny tried unsuccessfully to become a Swiss citizen. Then he tried for American and then Australian citizenship. Finally he was successful – Egypt granted him citizenship and so Drobny became the first Egyptian citizen to win a Grand Slam title!
In 1954 Drobny defeated a young 19 year old in the final, Ken Rosewall, who would become one of the greatest male tennis players of all time. In his early days, however, his fellow tennis players called him ‘Muscles’ for his lack of them. He was small, 5’7″ and he was skinny. But he was also fast, agile, tireless and had a deadly volley. Like ‘Little Mo’, a fellow Wimbledon finalist in 1954, Rosewall was only 19 in 1954. He had something else in common with her too. Both Little Mo and Ken Rosewall were natural left handers, who had been taught by their respective fathers to play right handed instead. It’s hard to imagine how good they might have been if they had been allowed to continue left handed.
Little Mo was already a tennis superstar in 1954. In 1953, aged just 18, she had become the first woman to win all 4 Grand Slam tournaments during the same calendar year. 1954 was to be her third win at Wimbledon…and unexpectedly her last. Little Mo had been brought up by her mother and her aunt after her parents’ divorce when she was 3. Little Mo had at first wanted to become a horse rider. She turned to tennis because her mother couldn’t afford horse riding lessons. In 1954 Wimbledon finished on the 2nd July. Presumably Little Mo decided to treat herself to a bit of her favourite hobby after the championships. So it was on the 20th July, only two and a half weeks after the tennis tournament finished, that Little Mo had a terrible riding accident that ended her tennis career.
We found this fantastic footage of all the key Wimbledon players of 1954 – a great slice (not too much pun intended) of Wimbledon history You can see how cool Drobny was in his glasses and how slight Ken Rosewall was…as was Little Mo’ for that matter!
The biggest sport memorabilia auction in history has had us gripped over the last few days. Pele, arguably the greatest footballer in history, is selling a huge swathe of his collection of memorabilia from his football career. The auction offers over 6000 items of Pele ‘history’ to be won. Pele has explained why he is selling them. He wants fans and collectors to own a piece of his history. He is also giving a portion of the money to Brazil’s largest paediatric hospital. Presumably he is also keeping some income from the sale for himself – that is allowed! We think we can safely say that Pele has ‘paid his dues’ in footballing history.
Pele is the only footballer in history to have won the World Cup 3 times. One of the items in the auction is a one-off replica of the World Cup Jules Rimet Trophy. It was made especially for Pele and presented to him after Brazil’s World Cup triumph in 1970. The trophy was estimated to sell for £200,000. It has gone for £395,000. Boots that Pele wore in the film, ‘Escape to Victory’ have been sold for over £8,000! Pele scored over 1000 goals in 1363 matches and appeared 91 times for Brazil. On sale too was the ball with which he scored his 1000th goal.
Some more surprising items were in the sale too. A riding crop, embroidered with Pele’s full name, was snapped up. A gourd rattle, presumed from an indigenous Amazonian tribe, was on offer too. Closer to home was a clear globe paperweight. The paperweight contains a tuft of original turf grass from the pitch at Wembley! It was presented to Pele in 2002 at the Final Ball event just before Wembley Stadium was demolished to be rebuilt. The globe’s inscription includes, ‘A little piece of Wembley to take home’.
We confess that we have dabbled in this historic sport memorabilia auction too. Look out on the website for a few fantastic Pele items appearing in the coming months. We snapped up some great bits of Pele history. Sadly, that doesn’t include the replica Jules Rimet Trophy!