British Sports Hall of Fame 1950: Charlie Elliott, Rinty Monaghan, Graham Sharpe and Haydn Tanner

  • My choices for the British Sports Hall of Fame for 1950 are:

Charlie Elliott (Horse Racing) – winner of fourteen English classics and one of the most stylish jockeys of his era. He tied for the jockeys championship in 1923 before winning it outright in 1924. He had a long career with his first Classic win in 1923 and his last in 1949. He also had great success in French racing, riding the winners of four Derbys and three Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Rinty Monaghan (Boxing) – one of Northern Ireland’s finest boxers.  He had his first fight aged fifteen but didn’t really get the chance to prove himself at the highest level for another twelve years.  He produced a series of impressive perforrdmances which earned him a shot at the NBA world flyweight title in 1947.  He won the title on points and then defended it by knocking out Jackie Paterson.  That win gave him the British and Empire titles before adding the European title in his next world defence.  His third world defence was a draw after which he retired as the undefeated champion.

Graham Sharpe (Figure Skating) – the first Briton to win the men’s world figure skating title.  He won the first of his eight British titles in 1934 when he placed sixth in the world championships.  From 1936 to 1938 he was second in both the European and World championships each year.  In 1939 he stepped up to win gold medals in both championships.  He would have been a contender for Olympic gold in 1940 and 1944 but those Games never took place and he served with distinction in the War.  By the time of the 1948 Games he was still competing and he came seventh.

Haydn Tanner (Rugby Union) – he burst onto the scene as an eighteen year old with  a brilliant performance for Swansea against the touring All Blacks in 1935.  After that win he was called up to play scrum-half for Wales and helped them defeat the All Blacks as well.  He played a further twelve times for Wales before the War and also for the British Lions in 1938.  After the War he joined Cardiff and earned twelve more caps until 1949.  His fourteen year international career remained the longest of any Welsh player for decades.  A fine runner with the ball and able to produce quick, good quality ball for his colleagues.

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The History of Sport 1929: Tilden’s seventh US Open, Frank Devlin’s fifth succesive badminton title, Nevers rushes for 6 TDs in a game, first Monaco Grand Prix, Borg’s 32nd swimming record, England footballers lose to an overseas nation for the first time.

Some of the notable events in sport in 1929:-

Steel shafts for golf clubs are authorised in Britain and first made by Spaldings of Putney.

Walter Hagen retains the Open golf title to win his fourth Open championship.

Britain win the Ryder Cup for the first time, 7-5 at Moortown.

Joyce Wethered wins her fourth British women’s golf championship title.

In a hockey match Ross Ladies win 40-0 against Wyeside a Ross-on-Wye with Edna Blakelock scoring 21 goals.

The Squash Rakcets Association is formed.

Fred Perry wins the world table tennis title.

In the NHL George Hainsworth keeps 22 shut-outs and concendes an average of only 0.92 goals/game.

66 runners, a record for any race under rules, take part in the Grand National steeplechase.

The first “tote” betting for horse racing in Britain is used at the Ardenrun point-to-point meeting.  The first permanent tote is introduced at Carlisle and Newmarket racecourses.

The Pony Club is founded in Britain.

The first water-ski flight is made by Dick Pope on a kite.

Frank Devlin of Ireland wins his fifth successive All-England badminton singles title.

England’s football team is beaten for the first time by an overseas nation when losing 4-3 to Spain in Madrid.

League racing is introduced into British speedway.

The hollow surfboard is introduced.

Arne Borg of Sweden sets his 32nd world swimming record since 1921.

Ernie Nevers scores 6 rushing touchdowns for Chicago Cardinals against Chicago Bears and 40 points in the match.

The first use of starting blocks in British athletics by J.E.London of Polytechnic Harriers.

Collingwood achieves the only perfect home-and-away season in VFL/AFL history, but lose the second semi-final to Richmond

The 1929 Monaco Grand Prix was the first Grand Prix to be run in the Principality won by William Grover-Williams

Helen Wills Moody wins French, Wimbledon and US Open singles.  Bill Tilden wins his seventh US Open singles title.

Johnny Salo wins a running race from New York to Los Angeles over 3665 miles, taking 79 days.

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World Sports Hall of Fame 1949: Abdelfattah Amr Bey, Don Budge, Helene Mayer and Byron Nelson

Abdelfattah Amr Bey (Egypt -Squash) –  The first dominant player in squash with five consecutive wins in the British Open between 1932 and 1938 when it was played on a challenge basis, and six British Amateur titles.  He took the sport to a new level of speed and fitness. The winner of the British Amateur Championship every year from 1931 to 1937 apart from 1934 when he didn’t play.  In five of those finals vhe didn’t lose a game.  He retired as unbeaten Open champion in 1938.

Don Budge (USA -Tennis) – the first man to win the Grand Slam which he did in  1938 when virtually unbeatable.  In 1937 he won all three titles available to him at Wimbledon,  a feat he repeated the next year and which remains unequalled.  He won the US Open singles and mixed doubles in 1937.  In 1938 he won the Wimbledon title without dropping a set and won all three titles at the US Open.  He also won the French and Australian singles titles to complete the Grand Slam.  At the end of the year he turned pro and beat Fred Perry in his debut.  He won 19 of 21 Davis Cup singles matches.  After the war he continued to play at a high level.

Helene Mayer (Germany/ USA -Fencing) – the outstanding woman fencer of the early  twentieth century.  She won the Olympic foil title in 1928 aged 17.  She added world titles in 1929 and 1931 but illness meant she was only fifth in the 1932 Olympics.  She won the silver in 1936 and took her third individual world title in  1937.  She retired from international competition and became an American citizen, winning eight US titles.

Byron Nelson (USA – Golf) – the most prolific winner in golf of the late 1930s and 1940s.  He won the Masters in 1937 and 1942, the US Open in 1939 and the US PGA in 1940 and 1945.  It was in 1945 that he produced arguably the greatest single season in golf history.  He won 19 tournaments including eleven in succession and then virtually retired from golf.  Both of these still stand as records for a season.  His swing is considered the first of the modern style.

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The Greatest Badminton Players of All-Time


The most recent Badminton world championships have recently concluded and so I decided to look at who the best players in history are at singles.

The tables show the most successful players in singles for men and women and the year they first came to prominence. The other columns show the number of wins in various tournaments indicated here.
OG – Olympic Games
WC – World Championships
#1- weeks at world number 1 in rankings
GP – Grand Prix Final
AE – All England Championships
WCp – World Cup


Rudy Hartono (Indo) 1968 1 8
Erland Kops (Den) 1958 7
Frank Devlin (Irl) 1925 6
Ralph Nichols (Eng) 1932 5
George Thomas (Eng) 1920 4
Eddy Choong (Malay) 1953 4
Morten Frost (Den) 1982 4
Lin Dan (Chn) 2004 2 5 14 6 2
Chen Long (Chn) 2011 1 2 76 2
Yang Yang (Chn) 1985 1 2 1 2
Kento Momota (Jap) 2013 2 49 1
David G. Freeman (US) 1939 1
Lee Chong Wei (Malay) 2003 310 4
Viktor Axelsen (Den) 2010 1 51 1



Ethel Thomson (Eng) 1900 5
Meriel Lucas (Eng) 1902 6
Kitty McKane (Eng) 1920 4
Marjorie Barrett (Eng) 1926 5
Judy Devlin (US) 1954 10
Susi Susanti (Indo) 1990 1 1 6 4 5
Hiroe Yuki (Jap) 1969 4
Carolina Marín (Spa) 2013 1 3 66 1
Han Aiping (Chn) 1983 2 2 1 2
Li Lingwei (Chn) 1982 2 4 2 4
Xie Xingfang (Chn) 2000 2 3 1
Tonny Ahm (Den) 1935 2
Ye Zhaoying (Chn) 1992 2 1 3 1
Tai Tzu-ying (Tai) 2010 137 1
Li Xuerui (Chn) 2010 1 124 1
Wang Yihan (Chn) 2007 1 116 1
Zhang Ning (Chn) 2003 2 1


The All England Championships was the most important event in the sport from the turn of the 20th century until the 1970s when the world championships began. The All England really became a globally competitive event in 1980 as badminton gained in popularity. It made its first appearance as a full Olympic medal sport in 1992. Official world rankings began in 2007 along with a world series of major events.

As is often the case in assessing these things the competition in the early days of the sport was much less strong and players could win more titles in the All-England.

For the men the choice came down to two.  From the earlier days Rudy Hartono has the outstanding record in the All-England, the unofficial world championship of the time.  This was in an era when competition was quite international and he took the first world title.  He also won the Olympic gold in a demonstration event in 1972.  I give top spot to Lin Dan who is undoubtedly the greatest player of the 21st century.  To win the titles he did in an era of great worldwide competition makes him the greatest ever player.

Third place is a close call between Chen Long, Yang Yang and Lee Chong Wei.  The two Chinese players had a great record in the major events of Olympics and world championships.  Lee hasn’t won any of those but has been ranked top for six years and won many other tournaments.  I look to major championships as having great importance and go for Yang Yang third and Chen Long fourth.

The great enigma in this list is Freeman.  From 1939, at the age of eighteen, to his final tournament match fourteen years later, Freeman was undefeated in badminton singles competition.  However, nearly all of these were in America where there was little opposition.  He played the All-England once and won it so could well have won many more had he entered.  I can’t assume he would have so can only place him speculatively in the rankings at sixth along with Kops.

The final places in my top ten are close again.  I think it is between Devlin, Choong, Frost and Momota.

Embed from Getty Images

Lin Dan


For the women Judy Devlin is far and away the greatest player in the era before 1980 when badminton became more ‘Open’.  She has to be included in any conversation about the best of all-time but the question is hard to answer when comparing with the top modern players.

For me the best players since 1980 are Li Lingwei, Susi Susanti and Carolina Marin.  My choice of these is Susanti as she had a slightly longer time as the world’s top player.  Lingwei is just ahead of Marin for me although hopefully the Spaniard, who is still young and has such a great championship record, will have more opportunities for titles.

Where does Devlin rank with these three?  This is one of the more difficult decisions I have faced.  Devlin was playing in a more competitive time than anyone else on the list with five or more All England titles but not as much as the other recent greats.  I feel that Susanti is probably just ahead but Devlin is second in a close call with Li and Marin.

Fifth and sixth are closely matched between Han and Ye with Xie and Zhang in thanext two spots.  From the early days Meriel Lucas is my choice for a spot in the top ten but Li Xuerul and Wang Yihan are almost impossible to separate and perhaps should be there too.

Embed from Getty Images

Susi Susanti

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The History of Sport 1928: Amsterdam Olympics – Nurmi’s ninth gold, women’s athletics and gymnastics. Winter Olympics in St.Moritz-Grafstrom’s third gold. Swinton win Rugby League Grand Slam, Dixie Dean scores sixty goals

Some of the main events in sport in 1928.

The 1928 Winter Olympics takes place at St Moritz in Switzerland
Norway wins the most medals (15) and the most gold medals (6)

Gillis Grafstrom wins his third successive title at figure skating.  Clas Thunberg wins his fifth gold over two Games at speed skating.  The Canadian ice-hockey team wins gold and in the tournament scores 38 goals without conceding any.

The 1928 Summer Olympics takes place at Amsterdam
United States wins the most medals (56) and the most gold medals (22)

The Olympic Flame was lit for the first time for the duration of the Olympics.
These Games were the first to feature a fixed schedule of sixteen days, which is still followed.
Johnny Weissmuller, who later appeared in several Tarzan movies, won two gold medals in swimming: an individual gold in the men’s 100 m freestyle, and a team gold in the men’s 4 x 200 m freestyle relay.
Paavo Nurmi of Finland won his ninth, and final, gold medal in the 10,000 m race.
Britain’s Douglas Lowe retains his 800m title and is the first athlete to retain a running title.  Other British golds come in the 400m hurdles where Lord Burghley wins and in rowing where GB win their third successive coxless fours.
Uruguay retained its title in football by defeating Argentina.
India took its first ever gold medal in field hockey, beginning a streak of six consecutive gold medals in the sport and winning the title with no goals scored against them.

Mikio Oda of Japan won the triple jump event becoming the first gold medalist from an Asian country.
An Algerian-born marathon runner makes history for Africa as Boughera El Ouafi wins a gold medal for France in the men’s marathon.

Crown Prince Olav, who would later become King of Norway, won a gold medal in the 6 meter sailing event.
Pat O’Callaghan won the first ever medal for a newly independent Ireland, taking gold in the hammer throw.  Pete Desjardins of the USA wins both diving golds.

Women’s athletics and team gymnastics debuted at these Olympics. Halina Konopacka of Poland became the first female Olympic track and field champion. The 800m was held but after criticism from some in authority wasn’t held again until 1960.

There were 14 sports, 20 disciplines and 109 events.  46 nations were represented at the Amsterdam Games.


The first cinder track speedway event is held at High Beech, Essex.

In football James McGrory scores eight goals in one match for Celtic v Dunfermline

Dixie Dean scores sixty goals in 39 games for Everton in the league season which remains the record for top flight English football.

Arsenal pay £11,500 for David Jack, the first transfer over £10,000.  Arsenal’s manager Herbert Chapman introduces numbering to his players’ shirts.

Scotland win 5-1 at Wembley against the previously unbeatable England.

James Smith scores 66 goals in 38 games for Ayr in Scottish Division II.

Dick Pope makes the first water-ski jump of 25 feet at Miami Beach.

George Thomas wins his 28th All-England badminton title since 1903, still a record.

Ty Cobb retires with the highest batting average in a baseball career of .367 and the most runs, 2245.

The Union Mondiale de Billiard is formed for 3 Cushion Billiards.

The first automatic Tote machine for greyhound racing is installed at Wembley.

Swinton win all four trophies open to them in rugby league including the league and Challenge Cup.

In cricket Wally Hammond takes a record ten catches in a match for a non-wicketkeeper and 78 in the season.

England win the rugby union home nations Grand Slam.

Helen Wills-Moody wins singles titles at the French, Wimbledon and US Opens.

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The Greatest Breaststroke Swimmers of All-Time

Following the latest edition of the world swimming championships I thought it was time to look at the greatest swimmers at breast stroke. I am concentrating on the 100m and 200m long-course events as they are the Olympic distances.

The usual caveats apply as there are far more titles available in recent years because world championships are held every two years now and swimmers tend to have won more. The events are generally more competitive however than they were decades ago which somewhat mitigates this ‘title inflation’.

In the following tables the columns represent the number of titles in 100m and h200m in these competitions.

OG – Olympic golds
WC – World Titles
CC – Continental Titles (European/ Pan Pac Championships)
WR – Number of World Records (and how long they stood in years)

The Year column is a rough guide to the first year they were a champion or record holder to show when they competed.

The top male swimmers in no particular order

100 100 100 100 200 200 200 200
Adam Peaty (GB) 1 3 3 4 (4) 2014
Kosuke Kitajima (Jap) 2 1 2 2 (2) 2 1 1 3 (2) 2002
Daniel Gyurta (Hun) 1 3 2 1 2009
Brendan Hansen (US) 2 1 2 (4) 2 2 3 (4) 2001
Norbert Rozsa (Hun) 2 1 2 (2) 1 1 1991
Mike Barrowman (US) 1 1 1 2 6 (13) 1989
David Wilkie (GB) 1 1 2 1 2 (6) 1973
Victor Davis (Can) 1 1 1 1 1 3 (7) 1982
John Hencken (US) 1 1 6 (4)  1 5 (3) 1972
Adrian Moorhouse (GB) 1 3 1 (2) 1 1983

No swimmer is way out ahead of everyone else as is the case elsewhere but my choices as the best are as follows.

At 100m Peaty has been completely dominant over the last five years and has set times so far ahead of anyone else that he is likely to hold the world record for  years.  He has already done enough in my opinion to rank first.

At 200m the choice is even less clear but I just go for Gyurta.  Wilkie had fewer opportunities for medals and with Kitajima is close behind.  Kitajima takes the top spot if looking at the combined achievements over 100 and 200 ahead of Hansen.


The top women championship performers in no order are.

100 100 100 100 200 200 200 200
Ute Gewenige (GDR) 1 1 2 6 (4) 2 1980
Samantha Riley (Aus) 1 1 1 (2) 1 2 1994
Leisel Jones (Aus) 1 2 3 (5) 2 3 (2) 2002
Penny Heyns (SA) 1 2 5 (7) 1 1 4 (2) 1995
Yuliya Efimova (Rus) 1 2 3 2 2007
Rebecca Soni (US) 2 1 1 2 1 1 3 (2) 2008
Lily King (US) 1 2 1 1 (2) 2016
Galina Prozumenshchikova (URS) 1 1 1 2 4 (2) 1963
Luo Xuejan (Chn) 1 2 2001
Agnes Kovacs (Hun) 1 2 1 2 2 1995

Again none stands out as clearly well ahead.  At 100m Jones and Heyns still probably just edge it but King is on course to take over at the top.  At 200m it is Soni, Jones, Efimova and Kovacs who are closely matched.  Overall Leisel Jones is just my choice as the greatest female breaststroker ahead of Soni.

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British Sports Hall of Fame 1949: Raich Carter, Carl Erhardt, Patsy Hendren and Megan Taylor

My choices for the British Sports Hall of Fame for 1949 are:


Raich Carter (Football) – One of the best forwards in Britain of the 1930s and 1940s.  His career spanned both sides of World War Two and his international appearances between 1934 and 1947 made him the longest serving of any England international inside right.  The War restricted the number of official caps but in wartime  unofficial internationals he scored eighteen goals in seventeen appearances.  He  was a success at club level as captain of the Sunderland team that won the league in 1936 and the FA Cup in 1937.  After the War he won the FA Cup again in 1946 with Derby and in 1949 won the Third Division North as player manager of Hull City.

Carl Erhardt (Ice Hockey) – the captain of the Great Britain team that won the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics.  He was 39 years of age at the time which made him the oldest man to win an Olympic gold in Ice hockey.  He became the coach of the team at the 1948 Games.

Patsy Hendren (Cricket) – the third highest run scored in the history of first class cricket with 57,611 at an average of 50.80 between 1907 and 1938.  He played 51 tests for England between 1920 and 1935 scoring 3525 runs at 47.63.  He scored over 2000 runs in fifteen seasons and 3000 runs three times.  Perhaps his finest hour was on the tour of the West Indies in 1930 when he averaged over 115 in Tests and 135 overall.  He was also a brilliant fielder in the deep.

Megan Taylor (Figure skating) – winner of the world title in 1938 and 1939 and placed second in 1934, 1936 and 1937.  She missed the 1935 worlds and 1936 Olympics through injury.  Her international appearances began in 1932 aged eleven when she competed in the Olympics after winning the British title at her first attempt.  She is the second youngest Briton ever go to the Winter Olympics where she came seventh.  She turned professional in 1939.

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