16th March 2023
We love discovering sports memorabilia with great stories. Recently we acquired one of Just Fontaine’s commemorative watches, which fills exactly that brief. The wristwatch is inscribed to dial “Just Fontaine. World Record 13 goals 1958-1998”. Fontaine, French football legend, presented one of these watches to each of the twenty two members of the French 1958 […]
19th January 2023
When we sent out our first New Stock Catalogue of the year, we realised it had been a while – too long! – since our last one in September. We reflected on the sporting legends we had lost just since September – way too many. We thought we’d like to make at least brief mention […]
22nd December 2022
When we sent out our first New Stock Catalogue of the year, we realised it had been a while – too long! – since our last one in September. We reflected on the sporting legends we had lost just since September – way too many. We thought we’d like to make at least brief mention of a few of them here.
They come from so many different sports – boxing’s Gerrie Coetzee from South Africa, formula one’s Patrick Tambay from France and our own horse racing commentator, John Hanmer to name a few. Sadly they were joined by Ryder Cup golfer, Barry Lane, cricket’s Robin Marlar and Jeremy Lloyds, and David English, who raised £14 million for charity through the Bunbury Cricket Club. We lost Maurice Norman, part of the Double-winning Tottenham Hotspur team of 1960-61 and Brian Robinson too, the first British cyclist to finish the Tour de France AND win a Tour Stage.
Two great titans of rugby left us too: David Duckham and Doddie Weir. Duckham gained 36 England caps and was part of the revered British Lions squad, who beat the seemingly undefeatable All Blacks in 1971. Scotland’s Doddie Weir also starred with with the British Lions before he was tragically diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2016. By the time he left us in November, his foundation had raised £8 million for MND research.
All these sportsmen were tremendous and we are honoured to remember them. They were also joined by 3 huge sporting legends: England’s World Cup star, George Cohen, Italy’s Gianluca Vialli and Brazil’s incomparable Pele.
George Best called England World Cup winner, George Cohen, “The best full-back I ever played against”. Cohen spent his entire career in football at Fulham. One could almost describe Gianluca Vialli and Cohen as footballing ‘neighbours’. Vialli was an extremely talented footballer, who played for Italy in 2 World Cups. It was arguably at Fulham’s neighbouring club, Chelsea, however, that he left his most indelible stamp. As a beloved player-manager, he helped Chelsea win the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup.
All of these sportsmen have been phenomenal throughout their respective sporting careers…but when it comes to sporting legends, it is hard for anyone to come close to the late and great Pele. He began his professional career at 15 and made his international debut a year later. He won 3 World Cups as a player over a 14 year international career. In 1999 a poll of Ballon d’Or winners voted him player of the century. He was. We salute him and we salute them all.
We have been contemplating the huge job in front of King Charles III. We reminded ourselves what an able man he has shown himself to be over the years. Us being us, we looked to sport for the clues. We all know what a great polo player and general equestrian he was. We’ve seen him skiing, sailing, windsurfing and fishing. Less well known was his success on the cricket field.
Following in his father, the Duke of Edinburgh’s footsteps, Charles was an enthusiastic and able cricketer. In 1971 he arrived on horseback, all padded up for a cricket match at Cranwell in Lincolnshire. Prince Charles was in an RAF team against the Lord’s Taverners. He batted gamely and scored 17 runs but was bowled by the recently retired Surrey and England cricketing legend, Ken Barrington. Undeterred Prince Charles returned to the crease to bowl 7 overs and wreaked revenge on Ken Barrington by bowling him out.
We wish the new King continued success, going forward. Is it a sign of the power he might have that England won a Test series against South Africa two days into the start of his new reign?!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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’
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…