Use our images
Download images for
personal or educational
use for £2.99/US$5 each
Subject: ‘Sporting Heroes’
All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.
Posted in Historical articles, History, London, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Saturday, 11 May 2013
This edited article about W G Grace originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 250 published on 29 October 1966.
Dr W. G. Grace, English cricketer, playing for Eltham, in the match between Gravesend and Eltham at Gravesend, in September 1913, a month before his 65th birthday
One name stands above all others in the annals of English cricket – that of W. G. Grace. He is the only sportsman commemorated with an LCC blue plaque, which is to be found, well away from the noisy heart of London, at Fairmount, Mottingham Lane, London, S.E.9. The ‘Old Man’ played his last game from this house on 25th July, 1914, when he made 69 not out for Eltham at Grove Park.
Son of a doctor, William Gilbert Grace was himself trained as a surgeon, and for 20 years led the busy life of a country physician. Like others in the family, however, his real passion was for cricket. He learned to handle a bat when very young, and is said to have played for West Gloucestershire at the age of ten.
Grace made his first major impact on the cricketing world when, at 16, he played for The Gentlemen against The Players at the Oval in 1865. Thanks to him, the victory went to The Gentlemen for the first time in many years.
Two years later, he was playing for England against Surrey, and astonished all with an extraordinary score. Wickets were decidedly rough in those days – modern players would probably have pronounced them impossible – there was no boundary line and all runs scored were actually run. Moreover, the hours of play were longer, and there were few intervals. For a man to score more than 50 in such conditions was unusual, and a century was rare indeed, so there was quite a lot of excitement when this game ended with ‘W.G.’ still at the wicket, not out and with 224 runs to his credit!
He didn’t always win, of course – in 1871 he was twice bowled in the first over – but that sort of thing didn’t happen very often. He was also a bowler of formidable skill.
Truly a national figure, W.G.’s burly, bearded form was familiar far beyond the cricket field. He was feted wherever he went.
In 1880, W.G. played for England in the first Test against Australia, and afterwards captained every English Test side for nearly 20 years. In 1899, he accepted an invitation to become manager and captain of the newly formed London County Cricket Club. The venture was not a success and the club closed in 1908 – the year of the Old Man’s last appearance in first-class cricket.
He was then 60. During his career he scored 54,896 runs, made 126 centuries and took 2,876 wickets.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
This edited article about W G Grace originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 236 published on 23 July 1966.
William Gilbert Grace, born on July 18, 1848, became one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Although he qualified as a doctor, his whole life was devoted to cricket.
He came from a famous cricketing family. His father, also a doctor, was a well-known player, and his two brothers both played for Gloucestershire and England.
W. G. Grace was in the team which in 1880 played the first Test Match against Australia, and he subsequently captained the England eleven in all the Tests until 1899.
An unrivalled batsman, Grace scored 54,000 runs between 1863 and 1900, his best single total being 344 (out of 546) for the M.C.C. against Kent in 1876.
His total of 126 three-figure innings in first-class cricket remained a record until it was beaten by Jack Hobbs in 1925. Grace also passed the double century on ten occasions; three times his score in a single innings was a triple century; and on three occasions he made a century in both innings of a match.
Besides being a superb batsman, Grace was an outstanding bowler. During his career he took a total of 2,800 wickets, and in each of seven seasons took over 100 wickets. Once, in an innings against Oxford University, he took all ten wickets.
On another occasion, Grace and his spaniel defeated the St. George’s Club, Bristol. The Club batted, Grace bowled, and the spaniel “fielded”. When Grace went in to bat, nothing could move him.
Over six feet tall and with a long, black beard, Grace was always an impressive figure at the wicket. He died on October 23, 1915.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Wednesday, 27 March 2013
This edited article about Victorian sports and pastimes originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 213 published on 12 February 1966.
In no respect was the Victorian Age more revolutionary than in leisure and recreation. When it began these were the privileges of the few, but by the end of the nineteenth century they had been widely extended to other classes.
In racing in particular the Victorian Age showed the shape of things to come. In 1899 the Grand National was “bioscoped,” or filmed as it would now be termed, and shown at the Palace Theatre in London the same evening.
Two operators took the necessary apparatus to Aintree in a railway van, and arranged with a man who said he had the fastest horse in Liverpool to drive them back to catch the train to Lime Street Station. The railway authorities had agreed to put on a special coach, arranged as a dark room, and promised that if necessary the train would be held up for ten minutes. The race started at 3.35, and as soon as they had taken the picture the cameramen bolted across the course to the place where the fast horse and trap were waiting for them, the driver having tied a white handkerchief round his arm for identification purposes. They had twenty minutes in which to do the five miles to Lime Street, but they got there at 4.7, so the train was only delayed by two minutes.
The film was developed on the journey, put on a big wooden drum, and constantly turned to dry. At Euston the train was met by a furniture van, and the drum, not yet dry, was lifted into it. Finally, the film got into the printing-machine, was developed, the positive printed from the negative, and dried. At eleven o’clock that night the patrons of the Palace Theatre were watching the Grand National run that afternoon.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Wednesday, 13 March 2013
This edited article about the Olympic Games originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 191 published on 11 September 1965.
Two Greek princes dashed down from the Royal Box and proudly escorted the runner, Spiridon Loues, for the last hundred yards, by Ron Embleton
In a few months’ time it will be the seventieth anniversary of the first modern Marathon, which took place in Greece, where the Olympic Games were revived on April 1, 1896, after a gap of well over a thousand years.
That first modern Marathon, over a rough, dusty and badly-planned course, was probably the toughest and the most extraordinary ever run – and it ended with the crowd roaring encouragement to a man whose name most of them did not even know!
The story starts more than a year earlier, when the plans for the new Olympic Games were first drawn up. Though most nations agreed that Greece should have the honour of staging the Games, they were worried – and quite rightly – as to whether Greece had the money and the athletes to take advantage of that honour.
The Greek people, far from rich, dug deep into their pockets to pay for the Olympic stadium, but there was nothing they could do about improving their national athletics team. And to their bitter disappointment, when the Games began it was the athletes of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and other nations who won event after event.
By the time the Marathon began, most of the Greeks had given up hope. But at that stage they did not know about Spiridon Loues!
Communications in Greece were primitive seventy years ago. It was only by sheer chance that news of the Olympic Games had reached the remote mountain village where Spiridon lived. He was a young shepherd and had never taken part in a race in his life, but in the village caf√© one evening he was told about the Marathon.
“Twenty-six miles,” somebody laughed. “Nobody in his right senses would try to run that far!”
Then a voice spoke up from the corner. “What about Spiridon? He runs farther than that every day – chasing his sheep!”
And so the villagers sent Spiridon Loues to the Games.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Australia, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Saturday, 2 March 2013
This edited article about cricket originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 172 published on 1 May 1965.
Cricketers of England and Australia have been meeting at regular intervals since 1877 when the first Test matches were played in Australia. But it was not until 1882 that the term “Ashes” originated.
The only Test played that summer between England and the tourists from “Down Under” took place at the Oval, and the Australians won an exciting battle by seven runs. A few days later the London “Sporting Times” published the following “memorial notice”:
IN AFFECTIONATE MEMORY of English cricket which died at the Oval on 29 August, 1882 Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. N.B. The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia.
W. G. Grace, of Gloucestershire, the “Grand Old Man” of English cricket, was a member of the defeated side in that historic match at the Oval. But he was unable to accompany the M.C.C. team that toured Australia during the following winter determined to restore the supremacy of English cricket. England lost the first Test at Melbourne, but a few days later, at the same ground, they won by an innings.
After this inspiring victory some Melbourne ladies presented England’s captain, the Hon. Ivo Bligh, with a small earthenware urn containing the ashes of the bails used in the match. Thus was the term “Ashes” born. Years later the Hon. Ivo Bligh, then Lord Darnley, left the Ashes to the M.C.C. and the tiny, age-discoloured urn has remained ever since in a glass case at Lord’s.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Wednesday, 27 February 2013
This edited article about tennis originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 164 published on 6 March 1965.
Wimbledon champions Fred Perry and Dorothy Round (inset)
Wimbledon . . . and an English crowd thrills to the power-packed forehand drive of a young player slashing his way through the finals of the men’s singles. A few moments later they are on their feet, cheering wildly, as game, set and match are declared his. Fred Perry has won the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship – the first Englishman to do so for twenty-five years.
In that same week in 1934 at Wimbledon another English player, Dorothy Round, a former Sunday School teacher, romped home to victory in the women’s singles over her redoubtable opponent, the American star Helen Jacobs, and collapsed in tears of relief in her mother’s arms afterwards.
And so 1934 was the year in which England celebrated two first-class tennis victories at Wimbledon by young stars over seasoned players from all parts of the world.
The public did not take much notice of Fred and Dorothy, both born in 1909, when they first started working their way up through British tennis tournaments. After all, their names were so ordinary and English, unlike the splendid-sounding titles of current popular champions – Lili Alvarez, Von Cramm, Helen Wills Moody. Only the selectors watched and encouraged.
Fred, son of a Midland M.P. and already an ex-table tennis champion, took up lawn tennis in 1929. Two years later he was picked to play in the British Davis Cup team. By 1933 he was American singles champion and French doubles champion. A year later he made his sensational win against the Wimbledon title holder, Jack Crawford (6-3, 6-0, 7-5). In a fast and furious game it took him just eight minutes after losing his first three games to get into his winning third set.
Dorothy, from Worcester, soon won herself the title of the “girl who would not play tennis on Sundays.” She kept this resolution all through her career. Her first big chance came when she was picked for the Wightman Cup team against America in 1931. In 1933 and 1934 she won the British Hard-court championships. After her great win at Wimbledon in 1934 she went on to win the Australian championships as well.
One of the greatest sights in lawn tennis, before Fred turned professional and Dorothy retired to marry a doctor, was in 1935 and in 1936, when the two played side by side to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon.
Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Monday, 25 February 2013
This edited article about Jesse Owens originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 158 published on 23 January 1965.
Jesse Owens’ victories at the Berlin Olympics infuriated Adolf Hitler
The huge crowd in the Olympic stadium at Berlin, Germany, raised their arms in the Nazi salute and thundered “Heil Hitler” as the German athletes entered the arena. Among the onlookers, the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, watched his team with vain pride – pride born of overwhelming confidence.
Hitler was supremely confident on that August day in 1936 at the opening of the eleventh Olympiad because for weeks he had been boasting that his new master race of Germans would sweep the board in the games.
The German people, infected by his enthusiasm, believed that if the Fuhrer said it would happen, it would happen. But Hitler, his athletes, and the German people reckoned without a tall slim black American named Jesse Owens.
Owens started his athletic career in earnest at the Ohio State University. He won most of the events he entered and went on into national events. In one remarkable day he ran the 100 yards, the 220 yards, the low hurdles, and the long jump – breaking the world record in each event!
Then at the age of twenty-two Jesse Owens was picked for the American Olympic team going to Berlin.
His first victory in front of Adolf Hitler and the huge German crowd was the 100 metres, which he ran in 10.3 seconds. Owens was loudly applauded. The second, the 200 metres, he won in 20.7 seconds – a feat which received less applause.
Owens’s third event was the long jump. The Germans expected their idol Lutz Long to win, but he developed cramp, and might have had to retire had not Owens hurried to his side and massaged his legs until he was fit again. Then Owens triumphed again with an Olympic record of 26 feet 5 and 3/8 inches.
His fourth win was in the 4 by 100 metres relay. This time the German crowd, unable any longer to control their feelings, booed loudly, and half of them walked out of the stadium. Hitler turned his back and left in a rage.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Sea, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Friday, 22 February 2013
This edited article about Trudy Ederle originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 151 published on 5 December 1964.
Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle, the first woman to swim the Channel
In these days when girls are competing with incredible success in almost every form of sport, there is nothing really remarkable in a woman swimming the Channel. During the past summer one woman nearly accomplished the double crossing without leaving the water.
But 40 years ago the mere idea of a woman even attempting to swim across the Straits of Dover with its ever-changing currents and treacherous tides was unthinkable. At that time only five men swimmers had achieved it, and many others had failed, so how could a woman hope to succeed?
Then in 1925, Gertrude Ederle, 18 year-old American girl, a gold medal winner at the 1924 Olympics, came to England with the determination to become the first woman to swim the Channel. Unfortunately, her attempt ended in failure. She was taken from the water on the orders of her trainer after nine hours of valiant effort in the turbulent Straits.
Undeterred, the girl – who had been taught to swim by her German-born father, a New York butcher – engaged as her trainer Thomas William Burgess, who in 1911 had become the second man to complete the swim from England to France. Under his expert guidance she trained hard for a second attempt.
At 7 o’clock on the morning of August 6, 1926, Trudy Ederle entered the water at Cap Gris Nez. In the accompanying pilot boat was her father and a jazz band whose music it was hoped would encourage her during the long hours of endeavour. How she needed that encouragement! Soon after the start a strong south-west wind whipped up the waves. Conditions became steadily worse and by mid-afternoon Burgess wanted her to give up. But Trudy refused to be taken from the water.
On and on she went with a powerful crawl stroke – the first time a Channel swimmer had used this stroke. It was sheer courage that kept her going – and her father’s promise to buy her a new red sports car if she was successful.
Twelve hours after she had entered the water Trudy was only a mile and a half from Dover. Suddenly a gale sprang up. Surely this was the end? But with victory so near, the American girl was given new courage. Eventually, after swimming for 14 hours 34 minutes, Trudy Ederle stumbled ashore at Kingsdown, Kent – the first woman in history to conquer the Channel.
Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Friday, 15 February 2013
This edited article about Roger Bannister originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 135 published on 15 August 1964.
Roger Bannister crosses the line after running the first four-minute mile in 1954, by Pat Nicolle
His body has exhausted its energy. But his mind forces his legs to pound on. The last few seconds seem a thousand years to Roger Bannister, as he hurls himself desperately forward at the tape. Dimly he hears the crowd roar, then his legs buckle and he collapses, semi-conscious and near-blind for a moment, into the arms of two officials.
Bannister, a twenty-five year old medical student from a London hospital, has achieved what the experts declared to be impossible. He has run the mile in four minutes – 3 minutes 59.4 to be exact – on the Iffley Road track at Oxford on May 6, 1954.
Ever since the Swedish athlete Gundar Haegg had run the mile in 4 minutes 1.4 in 1945, trainers had argued over the possibility of breaking the four-minute barrier.
Meanwhile, blond, blue-eyed, 6 ft. 1 and a half in. tall Bannister had been quietly training himself to break the record, using a local track in the lunch-break between studies at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.
Sickly as a boy, Bannister had proved an unexpectedly good athlete at Oxford, where he studied medicine. His medical knowledge helped him to discover that not only had he a longer stride than most runners, but that his lungs absorbed an abnormal rate of oxygen. He taught himself special breathing control and learned how to improve an already excellent heart-beat. But he believed that in the end it was the mind which made a runner win.
Even after the Amateur Athletics Association selected him as a promising athlete, Bannister’s examinations came first and running second.
When he was chosen by the A.A.A. to run against his old University, it seemed fitting to try to break the world mile record on the track where at seventeen his running career had begun. Two other A.A.A. runners, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, had agreed to help him, and the story soon spread round the crowd that Bannister was going to try for a new record. The race began.
Brasher set the pace for two and a half laps. When he faltered, Chataway moved ahead of Bannister to act as a “pacer,” although he doubted his own ability to keep it up. A mere 250 yards from the tape he showed signs of flagging, and Bannister burst ahead with one of his famous last-ditch sprints, passing Chataway to leap at the tape – and become the world’s first four-minute miler.
Posted in Cars, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Friday, 4 January 2013
This edited article about Jo Siffert originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 806 published on 25th June 1977.
Spa-Francorchamps – the world’s fastest and most dangerous motor racing circuit. A few times each year this twisting section of road is closed off to the public for highly-bred 5-litre sports cars to be unleashed on the blind bends and tortuous straights of this Belgian circuit.
Spa is treacherous for three main reasons. One is its rough track surface, which is perfectly suitable for ordinary traffic but feels like a washboard at high speeds. Second is the length of the circuit. This makes tyre selection a problem for it can be raining at one end and perfectly dry at the other. The third hazard is the sheer speed the cars are able to attain in skilful and courageous hands.
The spectator at Spa is privileged if he can find a clear spot near the exit of one of the long, sweeping bends which characterise this circuit.
At Spa’s breakneck speeds, it does not take long for the cars to complete a lap. And the waiting is worthwhile if the result is the sight of a champion driver flashing past in his powerful car.
A few years ago, the star in the car could have been Jo Siffert, probably the finest sports car pilot of all time. He could have been seen flying along in his mighty J.W.-Gulf Porsche 917.
Read the rest of this article »