In the absence of an official sports Hall of Fame covering all sports (though many individual sports now have them) I decided to start my own unofficial one to recognise the achievements of the great sportsmen and sportswomen in history. I will actually have two, one for Great Britain and one for the World. British sports people can also qualify for the world one if they are truly exceptional.
I decided to do it retrospectively, imagining that the inaugural year was 1900 and gradually introducing new members as the years progress. I chose 1900 as it is a round number and marks a time when serious sport had just developed enough to allow members to be worthy of a place. Each year I will add four new members to each Hall of Fame.
Generally I will try to wait for someone’s career to be over or at least finished at the top level before allowing them in. In each year’s intake I will try to provide a cross-section of different sports, men and women, and the age the sportsman or sportswoman competed in. I will also give a brief summary of their career to give an indication of why I believe they deserve a place in the Hall of Fame.
Here goes then. My inaugural members of the British Sports Hall of Fame are:
Lottie Dod (Tennis/Golf/Archery) – was 15 when winning the Wimbledon singles in 1887 and also won in 1888 and 1891-3, remaining unbeaten in her five appearances. She remains the youngest ever champion. Only lost five open singles matches before retiring aged 21. She later played hockey for England, won the 1904 British women’s golf championship and a silver medal in archery at the 1908 Olympics.
James Figg (Boxing) – Recognised as the first world heavyweight boxing champion under old prize-fighting rules. Was world bare-knuckle champion from 1719 to 1734 only losing one fight out of more than 270. Became a teacher of boxing.
W.G.Grace (Cricket) – The greatest English cricketer of the 19th century. In 1871 was the first player to exceed 2000 runs in a season. Scoerd the first ever first-class cricket triple century. He was by far the best batsman in the country and was also a useful bowler doing the 1000 run and 100 wicket double 8 times. He played top level cricket for over forty years.
Tom Morris Senior (Golf) – The first man to win the Open golf championship four times (1861/2/4/7). the 1867 makes him still the oldest ever champion at 46 years old. Was a leading figure in the game for over fifty years.