Category: wrestling

Fleet Street’s sporting administrators and a Sporting Landmark destroyed in the blitz

By , 7th December 2017 21:18

Many people bemoan what they see as the excessive influence television wields over sport, especially football.

The intimate relationship between journalists, newspapers and sports administrators is nothing new.

While researching the life and times of John Graham Chambers, it has become clear just how important Fleet Street was to the early codification and adminisitration of many of today’s leading sports between the 1860s and 1880s.

Not only did newspaper correspondence columns provide forums through which laws were debated, but several editors and journalists played very prominent roles in the development of  specific sports.

Some of the sporting connections of Fleet Street’s finest are indicated on this map:

One example was the Sportsman newspaper. Charles Alcock, F.A. secretary for 25 years from 1871, (and also secretary of Surrey County Crickey Club from 1872) wrote for the paper. The Sportsman’s offices, in Boy Court, Ludgate Hill, were the venue for the meeting on 20 July 1871 at which the F.A. Cup was first proposed.   (The establishment of the Cup was formally approved at a subsequent meeting on 16 October 1871.)

Several “Courts” – narrow alleyways – still exist along Fleet Street, but there is no trace of Boy Court today.  As someone who regularly visits the Fleet Street area on business, I explored the Ludgate Hill area on a number of occasions trying to find clues as to its whereabouts.  Boy Court was evidently so small that even the nine-inch map in George W. Bacon’s New Large Scale Ordnance Atlas of London & Suburbs of 1888 didn’t locate the site. Online searching eventually threw up one small clue from the 1779 Horwood Map.

The Joy of the Single, a BBC4 programme broadcast in April 2017 inadvertently provided a clue as to the disappearance of Boy Court from the face of the earth.

The Sportsman newspaper was based at Boy Court, Ludgate Hil

Boy Court would have been tucked away behind the missing buildings that used to front on to Ludgate Hill on the left looking up towards St Paul’s.

Bombsight, the website that has mapped the World War 2 bomb census, reveals that the area was hit by two high explosive bombs between 7 October 1940 and 6 June 1941. So the sporting landmark where Alcock, “the father of English sport” worked, and where the F.A. Cup and international football were conceived, was obliterated in the blitz.

Para Sport in 1870 London

By , 17th July 2017 22:58

The London Stadium, perhaps still better known as the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, hosts the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships between 14 and 23 July.

The 2012 Paralympics highlighted the role of Ludwig Guttman and the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in pioneering the use of sport for the rehabilitation of spinal injuries sustained during the Second World War.

This advert appeared in Sporting Life on Wednesday 3 and Saturday 6 August 1870.

 

 

 

The advert provides evidence that disabled veterans from the armed forces were taking part in sport in public nearly 80 years before the wheelchair archery competition organised by Guttman at Stoke Mandeville on 29 July 1948 – the day of the opening ceremony of the 1948 London Olympics – that the IPC regard as having been an important milestone in the history of the Parlympic Movement.

The Greenwich Pensioners were veterans of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, equivalent to the Chelsea Pensioners of the British Army.

Sadly, although the Sporting Life carried adverts for the ‘Grand Gala Days and Cricket Extraordinary’ it didn’t report on the events after the event, and neither did any of the other London publications of the period.

Lillie Bridge was the home of the Amateur Athletic Club and was something of a Victorian multi-sport venue, hosting a variety of sports including athletics, boxing, cricket, cycling, pony racing and rugby.  Conveniently located next to West Brompton station, Lillie Bridge staged the second F.A. Cup final in 1873.

 

Stumbling upon sporting landmarks in London’s docklands

By , 15th March 2017 23:40

Visitors arriving at London’s Excel Centre by the Dockland Light Railway from the City usually alight at the Custom House station.  For the time being, redevelopment of Custom House to accommodate Crossrail – aka the Elizabeth Line which is due to open in 2018, means that visitors are alighting at the Prince Regent station one stop further east.  This means more people will get to see how the London exhibition centre commemorates its role as a sporting landmark: Excel was venue for boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting, and wrestling during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

 

The commemoration includes hand prints of Boris Johnson, London Mayor at the time of the Games, Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee, and for Olympic champions who won gold at the venue: Jade Jones (taekwando 57kg); Nicola Adams (boxing, flyweight); Luke Campbell (boxing, bantamweight) and Anthony Joshua (boxing, super heavyweight)

A short walk further east, just past the London Watersports Center where another Olympian, 2008 double scull gold medallist and Steward of Henley Royal Regatta Mark Hunter is an ambassador for the London Youth Rowing charity, is another unusual sporting landmark commemorating the evolution of the sport of polo.

Polo Royal Albert Dock

The “Polo Group Sculpture” by Chinese artist Huang Jian, was unveiled in 2012 features two ancient Chinese and two modern British polo players playing against each other.  The Chinese statues are said to depict “Emperor Ming Huang and Lady Yang Playing Polo”.

When it was unveiled, the local newspaper, the Newham Recorder, reported that the group sculpture will continue  to expand to mark future Olympic Games.

The plaque alongside the statues reads:

2012 London Polo
China is the birthplace of ancient polo which was popular among royal families during the Tang Dynasty. The U.K. gave birth to modern polo, which became an Olympic sport in 1908 and popular all over the world.  In 2008, famous Chinese sculptress Huang Jian created for the Beijing Olympic Games “Emperor Ming of Tang and His Concubine Yang Yuhuan Playing Polo”, the only permanent large sculpture in the Beijing Olympic Park.  Four years later, Huang created the sculpture of “2012 London Polo”, in which Chinese lovers of ancient polo and British lovers of modern polo travel through time and space to gather in the London Olympic Park for a friendly polo match. 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.K. and is also the year for the London Olympic Games. The sculpture symbolises the friendship and cultural exchange between the two countries.

 

 

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