Team GB may have rejected him but we still love him: we have a signed no. 7 David Beckham to win in our competition on facebook. You’ll have to visit SportsPages there to enter. Here is the shirt:
And just to make it easy for you, here is the link to our facebook page:
Bad luck to Laura Robson, who crashed out of Wimbledon in the first round today. If it’s any comfort to her, at least she is in good company: King George VI did the same in 1926, when he was knocked out in the first round in the doubles.
The story of how the then knock-kneed and left-handed (seen in 1926 as a huge impediment to playing tennis) Duke of York competed at Wimbledon is a fascinating one. We all know about his speech therapist’s mentoring role, but it turns out that King George VI had another mentor too: Sir Louis Greig, who had a big role in shaping the future king’s life, including escorting him to the top of the competitive tennis world.
Glasgow born Sir Louis Greig, a naval surgeon, met the future king at the Royal Naval College on the Isle of Wight. George V had sent ‘Bertie’ there in a bid to toughen him up. Greig was fifteen years older, a talented & confident sportsman, and immediately clicked with the Duke of York. They became inseparable. They served together during the first World War & Louis even operated on Bertie to save him from his crippling and life-threatening ulcers.
Louis moved to live in Cambridge while Bertie studied there, joined the RAF with him and, as Bertie’s private secretary, persuaded the future king to ask for a THIRD time for Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon’s hand in marriage – the young woman had already refused him twice. No wonder the poor man suffered from ulcers!
In 1926 Louis Greig won entry to Wimbledon through his position as the RAF’s tennis champion. He chose Bertie as his partner – possibly a poisoned chalice. As good a tennis player as Louis Greig was, presumably Bertie was out of his depth.The British pair were thrashed in straight sets by Herbert Roger Barrett & Arthur Gore. The Mail on Sunday’s editor & Sir Louis Greig’s grandson, Geordie Greig describes the defeat as a triumph, however (in true British fashion), “Just getting Bertie on the grass before a crowd was a triumph…There were fantastic pictures of him in his Wimbledon whites in the papers, and it helped to build his image as a normal, healthy young man rather than the shy, stammering also-ran to his glamorous elder brother, the Prince of Wales’. The rationale makes sense. It’s fascinating to contemplate how much work went into shaping King George VI into being the saviour of the nation that he later came to be.
If you’re interested to read more in depth, Geordie Greig has written a book about the relationship between the two men. The book’s due to come out in August.
19/6/12: in honour of the Euro 2012 England v Ukraine match tonight, 10% off your next Sportspages’ purchase to the first person to explain this photo by the end of today: we need to know what is happening in this photograph: who is doing what to whom, why, where & when? Look forward to hearing from you!
This Olympics Monday we’re killing three birds with one stone: profiling an (aspect of an) Olympic champion; honouring Sir Paul McCartney on his 70th birthday and honouring Muhammad Ali, as we like to do at any opportunity we have:
In 1960 18 year old Cassius Clay returned from the Rome Olympics with the Light Heavyweight boxing gold medal. Nicknamed the ‘Mayor of Olympic Village’ in Rome due to his larger-than-life personality, Clay returned to a hero’s welcome in the States. Subject to the racist conventions of the time, however, Clay was still denied service in a segregated restaurant in Kentucky and was seen very much as an uppity, gobby young man, who had not yet ‘learnt his place’ in the world.
In fact, as we all know, Cassius Clay had very much ‘learnt his place’ in the world and that was that he needed and deserved to own it. In February 1964 Clay was scheduled to fight Sonny Liston, the then World Heavyweight Champion in Florida. Liston was an illiterate, intimidating, brutal boxer with shady contacts with the mafia but Cassius Clay managed to make him look attractive to many. Clay approached the fight with his customary bravado. He described Liston as a big, ugly bear and said, “Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can’t talk. The man can’t fight. The man needs talking lessons. And since he’s gonna fight me, he needs falling down lessons”.
Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times viewed the fight differently, “The only thing at which Clay can beat Liston is reading the dictionary”, while Murray Kempton of the New Republic echoed the unattractive view of many white people at the time: ” Liston used to be a hoodlum; now he is our cop; he is the big Negro we pay to keep sassy negroes in line.” The odds on the fight were against Clay 7-1
Into this maelstrom on the 18th February 1964 strode…our very own Sir Paul McCartney and his Beatle pals on their first trip to the States. A British photographer had apparently already tried to pose them with Sonny Liston but the then champ had refused, saying “Not with them sissies.” So, they turned to second best: Cassius Clay.
The American sportswriter, Robert Lipsyte was in Miami on the day of the photoshoot and remembers it in his memoir, ‘An accidental Sportswriter’: “The Beatles were cranky in that damp dressing room, stomping and cursing…They said that Liston would destroy Clay, that silly little overhyped wanker…Suddenly the door burst open and Cassius Clay filled the doorway. The Beatles (and I) gasped. He was so much bigger than he looked in pictures. He was beautiful…he was laughing. “Hello there Beatles” he roared. “We oughta do some road shows together, we’ll get rich.” The Beatles got it right away. They followed Clay out to the boxing ring like kindergarten kids”
On the 25th February 1964, a week after Clay’s photo shoot with the Beatles, Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston in the sixth round to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. The next day he changed his name to Cassius X and then to Muhammad Ali, ‘the Praiseworthy One’, his new name given to him by the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Please, someone put me out of my misery: I need to know what’s happened to these athletes’ legs. This photograph is taken from the 1948 Olympics Official Report. The photo looks like the beginning of a Dr Who episode: aliens masquerading as athletes at the 1948 Olympics. Is it the result of a weird photo-editing technique/shutter speeds/?
We’ve just issued our new catalogue: The Best of British. It’s to remind us of some of our sporting heroes and heralds an exciting summer of sport in the UK. I love the image of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird:
As the 2012 West Indies team wend their way up to Trent Bridge, this week’s featured item is a cracking photograph of Martin & Roach going out to bat at Scarborough during the Windies’ 1928 tour. The 1928 tour was the first official international test match between England and the West Indies. There were high expectations for the Windies’ team after their more informal 1923 UK tour when they had played blindingly good cricket to win 12 matches, draw 7 and lose 7.
The 1928 team’s performance in the UK was much more disappointing . They won only five matches. A player like Challenor, a cornerstone of the team, was now 40 and his batting average had recently slipped from 86 to 27. Martin & Roach were relative rookies, whose potential shone through but fought too much of an uphill battle to change the course of events for the West Indies. The 1929 Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack describes Roach as “the best of the new batsmen and a brilliant fieldsman”, while Martin – a left hander – was “probably the most difficult man on the side to dismiss…and had a happier personal experience in the test matches than any of his colleagues”. He was only once out for less than 20 during the tour and never out for a single figure, which was more than all of his other team mates could claim.
There are two theories as to why Emil Zatopek was called ‘The Czech Locomotive’. One suggests it was because he trained so hard and methodically. The other theory, not quite so flattering, claims it was because he would pant and wheeze so much & looked visibly shattered during a race. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been too bothered if the latter were true. Zatopek had little to prove or feel defensive about. His athletic achievements were huge & are still mostly unequalled.
Born in 1922 in Czechoslovakia, Zatopek won his first Olympic Gold for the 10,000 m at the 1948 London Olympics. Not content with one Olympic Gold medal, Zatopek returned to the Olympics at Helsinki in 1952 to take three more there. He won the 5,000m, the 10,000m and won the first marathon he had ever run by two and a half minutes, achieving all this in an eight day period. Just in case that was not enough to ensure he would be remembered as one of the world’s greatest long distance runners, he set eighteen world records over various distances and won 38 consecutive 10,000 m races between 1948 and 1954. Officially not slow.
Hope we’re not going to peak too early re. London 2012, but we thought we’d start an Olympic Monday series: each Monday we’ll look into a little bit of Olympic history. Some of it will be classic, legendary moments; others more esoteric. But at the least, we hope to provide useful information for pub quizzes, if nothing else!
First Off, possibly slightly arcane but we like lacrosse:
The last time Lacrosse was an Olympic sport: It was at the 1908 London Olympics and herewith the gold medallists: Canada
Britain won the silver medal, having lost 14-10 to Canada. A great achievement, qualified a little, perhaps, by the fact that they were the only two teams in the Olympic competition! They played to a huge crowd at White City Stadium…immediately before the football finals, which might account for the size of the crowd. It was an exciting game even for those who had never witnessed the fast-paced sport of lacrosse being played before: the match was divided into four quarters. At the end of the 1st quarter, Canada were ahead 5-1; at half time it was 6-2; by the end of the third quarter, the score was 9 all. Such is the speed with which a lacrosse match result can change.
In the end Canada won 14-10 but not before the true Olympic spirit of sportsmanship had been demonstrated: when Canada’s Angus Dillon broke his stick & had trouble finding a replacement, England’s RG Martin agreed to stay out until Dillon returned (fool!…only joking of course, Canada!). At the end of the match, the players exchanged sticks and congratulated each other on a cracking game. Maybe lacrosse needs to be reintroduced as an Olympic sport to reignite the true sporting spirit of the Games.