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?!