10th November 2022
15th September 2022
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 […]
21st July 2022
How proud would these pioneers of women’s football from 1918 be to see England’s Lionesses perform in the Women’s Euros 2022?! When this Scottish women’s team played in 2018, they would have rightly believed they had already come far. Despite attempts to set up and build up women’s football in the nineteenth century, it was […]
How many male footballers can be described as an England World Cup Winner?! Very few, but Ray Wilson could. An England player, who started his career with Huddersfield Town, Wilson died a few days ago at 83. He was a quiet, modest, key member of England’s 1966 winning football team.
England’s men’s football team winning the World Cup is not something many people today have experienced or remember and, if truth be told, can easily imagine happening now! Maybe we need to go back to basics and learn a few lessons from the likes of Ray Wilson and his background.
Ray Wilson grew up in Shirebrook, a small mining pit village in Derbyshire. In his own football autobiography, he describes his childhood as, “Back street football. A paper round. A punch on the nose. This was my heritage.” He also noted that, “We had no toys but…all we ever needed was a ball.” He worked hard, kept his head down and managed to break through to professional football in 1952. Wilson went on to play under four great managers: Bill Shankly; Harry Catterick; Walter Winterbottom and, of course, Sir Alf Ramsey. Along with winning the World Cup, he helped Everton win the FA Cup too in 1966: the championships were just six weeks apart!
Ray Wilson was the oldest member of England’s World Cup squad in 1966 at 31. He retired from football five years later. He returned to Huddersfield with his family and became an undertaker. How times really have changed! Ray Wilson had an immensely successful football career and yet always retained a humble, modest, footballing approach. The only thing flashy about Ray was his name: called after his mother’s favourite Hollywood star, his first name was actually Ramon. Try pulling that one off, growing up in a Derbyshire pit village in the 1940s! It seems particularly poignant to say goodbye to Ray Wilson as we ‘limber up’ for the start of the 2018 World Championship in Russia. Maybe Today’s England team will show that humility, doggedness and resilience too…
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?!
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 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!
Enjoy a great image of 1957 Chelsea football players being led on a training walk by their then coach, Arthur Tennant. We love this press photograph – a fantastic time capsule and snapshot of a Chelsea football team, who probably felt reasonably confident that they were on the up and up by that point. They had enjoyed their first major trophy success a couple of years earlier by winning the League Title in 1955. In 1957 they were preparing to debut at their first European competition: the 1957-58 Inter-Cities Fair Cup. Chelsea had in fact been invited to their first European competition two years earlier in 1955. The French football magazine, L’Equipe, had invited them to take part in the inaugural 1955 UEFA European Cup. The Football League blocked Chelsea’s participation, however. They felt the tournament would be a distraction to domestic football!
The young and ambitious Ted Drake had been managing Chelsea since 1952 and by 1957 he had remodelled Chelsea football club and its players significantly. Drake had brought in successful, new signings and improved the youth set up. He changed the club’s image fundamentally too – gone was the old ‘Pensioners’ crest. In came the rebranded ‘Blues’. Perhaps this press photograph is part of that rebranding? A jaunty shot of the ‘Blues’ on a training walk in their training kit and very cool, uniform trainers!
It’s fascinating to see how freely the players were able to walk through central London with little sense of being mobbed by the public. It’s also amazing to see the children watching the players as they pass by – what child would be able to stand atop the embankment wall with his/her back to the Thames now?!
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…