British Sports Hall of Fame 1939: Malcolm Campbell, Evie Pinching, Wavell Wakefield and Harold Whitlock

My choices to enter the British Sports Hall of Fame in 1939 are

Malcolm Campbell (Motor Sport), – one of the most famous figures in motor sport in the 1920s and 1930s. He set world land speed and water speed records in his vehicles named Bluebird. The first of these was the land speed record in 1924 when he went at 146 mph. He went on to set eight more land speed records with the final one in 1935 when he became the first man to exceed 300 mph in an automobile. He then turned his attention to the water spped record and broke the record four times between 1937 and 1939 at a speed of 141 mph. He competed in motor racing and won the Grand Prix de Boulogne in 1927 and 1928.

Evie Pinching  – the first British woman to win a world title at skiing when she won the championships in downhill and combined in 1936.  She came second in the slalom discipline at the same championships.

Wavell Wakefield (Rugby Union) – the former record holder for most caps by an England player in international rugby. He appeared for England 31 times from 1920 to 1927 and was captain on 13 occasions. He led England to back-to-back Grand Slams. He helped revolutionise the role of the back row forward. Prior to Wakefield their role was mainly static. Wakefield’s athleticism enabled him to play a more dynamic role: pressuring the opposition half backs in defence and supporting the attacks of the three quarters.  He played for Harlequins 136 times and scored 51 tries between 1919 and 1930.  He also played for Leicester scoring ten tries.

Harold Whitlock (Athletics) – one of Britain’s most durable international athletes.  He competed at the top level for nearly twenty years.  He set a world record for the 30 mile walk in 1935 and that year was the first man to walk from London to Brighton in under eight hours.  The following year he won the Olympic title at the 50 km walk.  The War interrupted his career in athletics but afterwards he resumed it and competed internationally until 1952 when he came 11th in the Olympics aged 48, which made him Britain’s oldest ever international competitor.

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The History of Sport 1913: Suffragette intervention at the Derby, Leon Meredith wins his seventh world cycling title.

Some of the most notable events in sport in 1913:

The inaugural European Bandy Championship is held in Davos, Switzerland, and is won by England.

Golf –  Francis Ouimet is the first amateur to win the US Open in a surprise playoff victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.

Leon Meredith of Britain wins his seventh world title in the 100km motor-paced cycling event.

The Derby is won by Aboyeur at a price of 100-1 after the first horse past the post Craganour is disqualified but the event is remembered because the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison is killed when she tries to grab hold of the King’s horse Anmer as the horses race.

The first automatic totalizator for betting is installed at Ellerslie race course in New Zealand.

The IAAF, the governing body of world athletics, is ratified in Berlin a year after its foundation in Stockholm. Sixteen nations are members.

In the first world heavyweight world title fight to involve two black boxers Jack Johnson and Jim Johnson draw in Paris.

Ted “Kid” Lewis is the first boxer to wear a gumshield.

Anthony Wilding of New Zealand wins his fourth successive Wimbledon singles title.

Marcos Torres (France) wins the world all-round gymnastics title for the second time.

Huddersfield win a treble of rugby league’s Championship, Challenge Cup and Yorkshire Cup.  Leeds set a record that still stands as a record score for the league when defeating Coventry 112-0.

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Most Appearances in the English Rugby League Super League Dream Team: The All-Star Dream Team

Each year the English Rugby League chooses a “Dream Team” of the best players in each position for that Super League season.  This year it is the 20th Super League Grand Final and the 22nd such  Dream Team (the first was in 1996) and I thought it would be a good time to look at which players have been selected most times in each position.  This gives a Dream Team of Dream Teams which looks like this.  The dates show the years of the first and last selections for the team.

  1. FULL BACK Kris Radlinski (Wigan) 5 selections from 1998 – 2002

2.  RIGHT WING Jason Robinson (Wigan) 5  from 1996 – 2000

3.  CENTRE George Carmont (Wigan) 3 from 2008 – 2012

4. CENTRE Keith Senior (Leeds) 5 from 2002 – 2010

Positions 3 and 4 are both centres and have been slightly interchangeable in the Dream Teamm selection.  Carmont and Senior have both been picked at 3 and 4 but I show the total selections in either centre position.

5. LEFT WING Ryan Hall (Leeds) 4 from 2009 – 2014

6. STAND OFF Iestyn Harris (St.Helens) 2 in 1998 and 1999, Danny McGuire (Leeds) 2 in 2004 and 2006, Sam Tomkins (Wigan) 2 in 2009 and 2010, Danny Brough (Huddersfield) 2 in 2013 and 2015

Note Sam Tomkins has also appeared three times in the Dream Team at Full Back (number 1)

7. SCRUM HALF Adrian Lam (Wigan) 3 from 2001 – 2003, Rob Burrow (Leeds) 3 between 2005 – 2008

8. PROP Terry O’Connor (Wigan) 4  from 1996 – 2002

The Props are numbers 8 and 10.  My Props have been picked in both positions.  The totals show number of appearances at either Prop position in the Dream Team selections.

9. HOOKER Keiron Cunningham (St.Helens) 7 from 1996 – 2008

10. PROP Jamie Peacock (Leeds) 2007 to 2015 6  from (He also made 5 appearances in the Second Row)

11. SECOND ROW Jamie Peacock (Leeds) 5 from 2000 – 2005

12. SECOND ROW Ben Westwood (Warrington) 4  from 2008 – 2012

13. LOOSE FORWARD Andrew Farrell (Wigan) 6 from 1996 – 2003, Sean O’Loughlin 6 from 2010 – 2017

Most appearances in any position are 11 by Jamie Peacock.


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World Sports Hall of Fame 1938: Chiquito de Cambo, Kustaa Pihljamaki, Babe Ruth and Matthias Sindelar

My choice for the World Sports Hall of Fame  for 1938 are:

Chiquito de Cambo (Spain – Pelota) – arguably the greatest player in the history of Pelota.  He was the world’s best player from the start of the Twentieth Century until he lost his crown in 1938.  He revolutionised the sport in his incredibly long career at the top and was responsible for developing the game more widely.

Kustaa Pihljamaki (Finland – Wrestling) – winner of two Olympic gold medals at Freestyle Wrestling. The first of these cane in 1924 at bantamweight and the second in 1936 at featherweight. This twelve year span between golds has only been equalled by one other man in that sport. He also won a silver in 1928. He was an outstanding Greco-Roman wrestler as well and won seven in that discipline among his nine European titles between 1930 and 1938.

Babe Ruth  (USA – Baseball) – the most famous and possibly the greatest player in the history of baseball.  He set numerous hitting records including the most Home Runs in a season in with 60 in 1927 and career with 714.  Both of these records stood for decades.  He hit fifty home runs in four separate seasons and had a career slugging percentage of .690 which hasn’t been approached since.  His career totals for walks, runs, home runs and RBIs are still in the top few marks ever achieved.  He led the American League in home runs twelve times. He was an outstanding pitcher in the early part of his career with the Boston Red Sox, leading the league once in ERA, before he joined the New York Yankees.  He won the World Series seven times and is widely credited with restoring the popularity of baseball in the 19290s and 1930s.

Matthias Sindelar (Austria – Football) – one of the best players in Europe of the inter-war era.  He was the star of the Austrian team which reached the semi-finals of the 1934 World Cup and scored 26 goals in 43 appearances for the Austrian team.  He also scored in the final match Austria played as an independent nation where they beat Germany before being assimilated into the German team.  Sindelar was Jewish and did not play again internationally.  He helped his club side win the Austrian League once, the Cup five times and the international club Mitropa Cup three times.  A very skilful and creative player, in 1999 he was named Austria’s best football player of the 20th Century.

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The Greatest Women Rugby Players of All-Time

This is really something I should have done to coincide with the recent women’s World Cup but better late than never so here goes.
As with many team sports it can be difficult to assess who is the best individual player. I won’t be giving a definitive verdict on who is the best woman to have played the game but here are a few thoughts on who could be considered.

For some of the players who are now retired a good starting point is to look at the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

The first women to be inducted were these six players in 2014 with my brief notes on their achievements.

Nathalie Amiel (France) – 56 caps between 1986 and 2002

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Gill Burns (England) – 73 caps from 1988 to 2002. Won the World Cup with England in 1994. Captain of England from 1994 to 1999 and the World Women’s XV in 2003.

Patty Jervey (USA) – 40 caps and 178 points between 1989 and 2006. World Cup winner in 1991.

Carol Isherwood (England) – Eight appearances for Great Britain and seven for England between 1986 and 1992. Captain of GB and England.

Anna Richards (New Zealand) – when she retired the most capped player for the Black Ferns with 49 and was their record points scorer with 89. She was in four World Cup winning squads between 1998 and 2010.

Farah Palmer (New Zealand) – captain of the World Cup winning Black Ferns in 1998, 2002, and 2006. Played 35 times for them between 1996 and 2006, scoring 25 points.  World player of the year in 2005.

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Farah Palmer and Anna Richards are pictured in the foreground here

The two female players subsequently admitted to the Hall of Fame have been:

Heather Moyse (Canada) – leading try scorer at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.  In 2010 she was also top points scorer.

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Maggie Alphonsi (England) – flanker for the England team which won the World Cup in 2014 and reached the final in 2010.  She was the first woman to win the Rugby Writers Award for the outstanding player in the world. World player of the year in 2006.

For players from a more recent vintage these names can be mentioned as some of the best.  Separate awards for the best Sevens player have been made since 2014.

Other women who have won the World Player of the Year are:

2001 Shelley Rae (England)

2002  Monique Hirovanaa (New Zealand)

2004 Donna Kennedy (Scotland) The world record caps holder in the women’s game with 115 between 1993 and 2010 for Scotland in the back-row.

2009 Debby Hodgkinson (Australia)

2010 Carla Hohepa (New Zealand) – leading try scorer in the World Cup

2013 Kayla McAlister (New Zealand Sevens player)

2014 Magali Harvey (Canada) , Emilee Cherry (Australia Sevens.  Top try and points scorer in the World Sevens Series)

2015 Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand – top points scorer in World Series), Portia Woodman (New Zealand Sevens)

2016 Sarah Hunter (England – captain),  Charlotte Caslick (Australia Sevens – Olympic gold medal winning team)


Looking at some of the record holders for internationals among the top nations gives some more great players.

Fiao’o Faamausili is the first New Zealand player to win fifty caps and has captained her country since 2012.  She has been part of three World Cup winning squads.

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Kendra Cocksedge has scored more than 130 points for New Zealand and 63 at the 2017 World Cup.  Portia Woodman was the leading scorer at the World Cup with 65.

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Rochelle “Rocky” Clark of England is the most capped player in the history of the women’s game with over 130 caps.  She was in the World Cup winning team in 2014 and has scored over 100 points for her country in a fifteen year international career.

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Katy McLean has scored more than 400 points for England and played over ninety times.

Her English record points total was overtaken by Emily Scarratt at the 2017 World Cup.

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Emily Scarratt

As I said it is hard to choose but if pushed I would go for Anna Richards for winning so much and setting records that have only been eclipsed since more regular internationals have been played.

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The History of Sport 1912: Stockholm Olympics – Jim Thorpe’s double, Kolehmainen’s treble, Swahn wins gold aged 64

Some of the notable events in sport in 1912

In baseball Boston Red Sox open the new Fenway Park with a 7–6 11-inning win over New York Yankees before 27,000

A triangular Test cricket tournament is played in England between England, Australia and South Africa. England wins with Australia second.

John Ball wins his eighth Amateur golf title.

Billy Papke (USA) wins the world middleweight boxing title for the fourth time.  Britain’s Sid Smith wins the first world flyweight title but loses it later in the year to countryman Bill Cadbury.

The All-England Women’s Lacrosse Association is formed.

Frank Wootton wins his fourth successive British flat jockeys title.

The first British gliding club, the Amberley Aviation Society is founded in Arundel.

The first slot-car racing, Lionel Racing Automobiles (electric), takes place in the USA.

The International Amateur Wrestling Federation is formed.

World Pairs Figure Skating Champions are Phyllis Johnson and James H. Johnson for the second time.

British Isles regain the Davis Cup by defeating Australasia 3-2.

Fred Covey of Britain wins the world Real Tennis title.


Olympic Games held in Stockholm

Twenty-eight nations and 2,408 competitors, including 48 women, competed in 102 events in 14 sports.
The games were the first to have art competitions, women’s diving, women’s swimming, and the first to feature both the decathlon and the new pentathlon, both won by Jim Thorpe. Electric timing was introduced in athletics, while the host country disallowed boxing, the only time the sport hasn’t featured in the modern Olympics. Figure skating was rejected by the organizers because they wanted to promote the Nordic Games. United States won the most gold medals (25), while Sweden won the most medals overall (65).

The first world record in the 100 metres for men is recognised by the International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), after Donald Lippincott (USA) runs a time of 10.6 at Stockholm.

American Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and the newly created decathlon. He was disqualified and stripped of his medals for violation of the rules of amateurism, as he had played two seasons’ worth of semi-professional baseball before coming to the Games. In 1982, those medals were restored by the IOC.
Hannes Kolehmainen was the most successful athlete, winning three individual golds and setting records at the games, with new Olympic Records set in the 5,000, 10,000 metre and cross country races.

Britain’s Ernest Webb wins his third medal for walking at his second Games.  Britain also wins gold through Arnold Jackson in the 1500m and the 4 x 100m relay team.  Erik Lemming of Sweden retains his javelin title, his seventh medal.  Mel Sheppard (USA) wins his fourth Olympic gold medal.

Alberto Braglia (Italy) retains his Olympic gymnastics all-round title.

William Kinnear of Britain wins the single sculls rowing gold.  Britain win the Eights title.

Britain win the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay swimming gold.  Britain win the water polo gold for the third time.

Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon make a first appearance at the modern Olympics.

In football Great Britain retained its gold medal against Denmark in front of 25,000 spectators. Goals from Harold Walden, Arthur Berry and two from Gordon Hoare helped Britain to win by a margin of 4–2.  Gottfried Fuchs of Germany scores ten goals in a match v Russia that they win 16-0.

64-year-old Oscar Swahn, part of the Swedish single shot running deer team wins gold, he is still the oldest gold medal winner in Olympic history

The longest recorded wrestling bout ever takes place with the bout between Anders Ahlgren of Sweden and Ivar Böhling of Finland for the gold medal lasting more than nine hours. The match was then declared a draw with both athletes being awarded the silver medal as neither won the match.

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British Sports Hall of Fame 1938: Edgar Baerlein, Alex James, Gladys Lunn and Gwen Neligan

My choices for the British Sports Hall of Fame for 1938 are

Edgar Baerlein (Rackets and Real Tennis) – winner of the British Amateur rackets singles title a record nine times and the British Amateur real tennis singles title thirteen times.  He was also rackets doubles champion six times.  He won his first real tennis crown in 1912 but only really concentrated on the sport after World War I and dominated the event until 1930.  His number of singles titles remained the record until 1979.  He stayed at the top of real tennis at doubles until 1937 when he won his eleventh British title.  In 1931 he won the first British Open singles title when aged 51.  Internationally in 1923 he became the only man to beat the great American Jay Gould during his twenty year supremacy at real tennis from 1907 to 1926.

Alex James (Football) – one of the finest midfielders of the 1930s, he was a key player in the Arsenal team which dominated the English game in that decade.  He won the league four times and the FA Cup twice between 1930 and 1936 with Arsenal where he was used in a deep-lying role.  In his earlier career with Raith Rovers and Preston he had played in a more attacking position scoring eighty goals as an inside-forward.  Despite this great club success he only appeared eight times for Scotland following disputes with selectors.  He was one of the most famous sportsmen in Britain between the Wars.

Gladys Lunn  (Athletics) – one of the best middle-distance runners in the world for a decade in the  early days of women’s competition.  In 1925 she set a world best for the 880 yards with a time of 2:24.8.  She took more than six seconds of this time in 1930 when winning the first of five British titles at the distance.  In 1930 she won the World Women’s Games title at 800m.  In 1936 she set a world best for the mile and reduced that record twice down to a time of 5 minutes 17 seconds.  She also set two world records for the 1000m.  She was also a fine javelin thrower and won British titles at that event.  At the 1934 Empire Games she won the 880y and javelin and took bronze in javelin at the 1938 Games.  She was also international cross-country champion in 1931 and 1932.

Gwen Neligan (Fencing) – winner of the 1933 fencing European Championships title.  These championships were later awarded world championships status so she can be regarded as Britain’s first female world champion.  She won team silver medals at the championships in 1933 and 1934 when she narrowly missed out on defending her title.  She was British champion each year from 1934 to 1937.

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