ANDY Murray, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Bobby Moore, Steve Redgrave, Mo Farah, Virginia Wade, Sally Gunnell, Jessica Ennis-Hill.
A set of Britain’s most profitable and well-known sporting stars. And but, whereas all of them excelled of their explicit fields, they might little doubt fail miserably in the event that they stepped foot onto an alternate turf or into a unique area.
So, whilst you may throw all the above, and plenty of extra, into the controversy on the subject of crowning Britain’s biggest ever sportsman/lady – absolutely that accolade ought to be bestowed upon somebody who actually shone in a plethora of disciplines.
Max Woosnam can depend amongst his many sporting successes profitable gold and silver medals enjoying tennis on the Olympics, in addition to captaining the Davis Cup workforce and profitable the doubles match at Wimbledon; he performed soccer for Manchester Metropolis and captained them as an newbie, in addition to main England too; he made a century at Lord’s whereas nonetheless a schoolboy and even compiled a most 147 break in snooker. He was additionally a scratch golfer too. And, only for good measure, he as soon as beat Hollywood hero Charlie Chaplin in a sport of desk tennis, utilizing solely a butter knife.
So, why have most of us most likely by no means heard of Max Woosnam? It’s odd, particularly as he grew up in Powys.
Woosnam was born in Liverpool on September 6, 1892, to oldsters Maxwell Woosnam, a priest who served as canon of Chester and Archdeacon of Macclesfield, and Mary Seeley. Max was born right into a household of landed gentry, with the Woosnam household related to the Cefnllysgwynne property, close to Builth Wells. The younger Max reportedly spent most of his childhood in Aberhafesp, simply outdoors Newtown, earlier than going off to boarding college in Hampshire, first at Horris Hill after which transferring on to Winchester School and finally Cambridge.
He captained the golf and cricket groups at Winchester, whereas additionally enjoying squash. His best hour on the school got here at Lord’s, arguably probably the most legendary cricket floor on the earth, the place he scored 144 not out for the Public Colleges XI in opposition to Marylebone Cricket Membership.
After enrolling at Cambridge in 1911, he launched into a well-known tennis profession, in addition to representing the celebrated establishment at cricket and soccer. Woosnam’s footballing prowess was recognised instantly and he was chosen to captain Cambridge. He was so good, that in the summertime of 1913 he was invited to affix Corinthians FC, a widely known soccer membership primarily based in London, on their tour to Brazil, scoring the workforce’s opening purpose.
He started to forge a reputation for himself as an impressive centre-half, so it was no shock when in early 1914, he was requested to play for London behemoths Chelsea. He performed solely three video games earlier than returning to Corinthians and one other tour to Brazil beckoned. Nonetheless, whereas Woosnam was nonetheless at sea, the British declared warfare on Germany and he returned to struggle as a part of the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry in World Warfare I, combating within the unsuccessful Gallipoli marketing campaign between 1915-1916, the place it’s estimated that round 21,00 British troops had been killed.
Woosnam was then despatched to the trenches in France the place he fought alongside the well-known poet Siegfried Sassoon. Each males acquired distinctions for bravery.
After the warfare concluded, Woosnam returned to the sporting area, the place glory adopted. In 1919, he started enjoying at centre-half for Manchester Metropolis as an newbie, working beneath their supervisor Ernest Mangnall, who had beforehand taken fierce Manchester rivals United to their first-ever trophy, the First Division title in 1908.
Noel Turnbull and Max Woosnam, of Nice Britain, gold medal winners within the males’s doubles on the 1920 Olympics
The concept of being paid to play as knowledgeable appeared ‘vulgar’ to Woosnam, who was one of many a lot of his period to take part by means of their pure love of sport, with no monetary acquire. That made it all of the extra fascinating when he was named Metropolis captain on the behest of his extra well-known and illustrious, skilled, teammates. Initially he performed solely dwelling matches on account of work commitments however when Metropolis, with out Woosnam, suffered a shock 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Leicester Metropolis, some supporters blamed Woosnam’s employers, Crossley Brothers. Because of this, the engineering agency ordered Woosnam to not miss one other sport. As captain he led the workforce to a runners-up spot within the 1920/21 league championship – ending 5 factors behind champions Burnley.
In 1920 Woosnam burst on to phrase’s tennis stage. On the Olympic video games in Antwerp, he and his companion Noel Turnbull gained gold within the males’s doubles, whereas Woosnam gained silver within the combined doubles with Kathleen McKane.
The next 12 months, he partnered Randolph Lycett to win the Wimbledon males’s doubles title and in addition captained the British Davis Cup workforce that competed in America.
It was throughout this journey to America that the well-known match with iconic US actor Chaplin passed off.
He beat Chaplin at a sport of tennis and is then stated to have overwhelmed him at desk tennis too – regardless of utilizing a butter knife as an alternative of a bat. The pair apparently took a right away dislike in direction of one another as Woosnam was not eager on Chaplin’s ego.
In 1922, Woosnam resumed his soccer profession and was awarded his sole England cap when he skippered his nation to a 1-0 victory in opposition to Wales at Anfield.
The next 12 months, he captained Metropolis of their first ever sport at Maine Street upon its official opening, with the Lord Mayor current.
Sadly, 1923 was additionally the 12 months Woosnam’s profession began to burn out, after he suffered a damaged leg, an damage which might have an enduring impact on the remainder of his profession and result in his eventual retirement a number of years later.
He labored for ICI, a chemical business large, in later life, turning into a member of the board, till his dying on July 14, 1965, which was brought on by respiratory issues, probably right down to a lifetime of heavy smoking.
He married twice – firstly Edith Adelaide Johnston in 1917, who he had daughters Penny and Denise with after which Dorothy Perrin in 1940 after Edith died in 1939 – and it’s only in his household life that the smallest of shadows is solid on Woosnam’s legacy.
Whereas being interviewed for Woosnam’s biography, ‘All Spherical Genius – The Unknown Story of Britain’s Biggest Sportsman’, by Mick Collins, daughter Penny described her father as an ‘imperfect hero’.
She stated of Woosnam: “He was by no means actually Max the daddy as a lot as he was Max, the sportsman”. Denise added: “Even in later life, sports activities took him away from his dwelling with nice frequency. Golf, snooker, squash and social video games of tennis occupied each out-of-office second. The unhappy fact is I by no means actually felt I knew him.”
Nonetheless, they weren’t stated to be resentful. They, like everyone else, adored him.
Although he is probably not anyplace close to as well-known or as well-known as those that have come after him, there might be no denying that Max Woosnam holds a spot in historical past as one among Britain’s biggest but forgotten heroes.