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.
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.