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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Sports & Olympic Champions of Manchester

James Borland

Olympic Ice Hockey Champion

James Borland, Olympic Ice Hockey Champion

James Andrew Borland, born in Manchester in March 1911, came
to public attention during Hitler’s 1936 Winter Olympic Games
in the picturesque Bavarian ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The games were controversial, taking place as they did in Nazi-dominated
Germany, and Baron de Coubertin who had founded the modern Olympic
Games, excused himself from attending.
The British Ice Hockey Team won the tournament, taking the Gold
Medal, due in no small part to the founding of the British Ice
Hockey Association and superb facilities at the Empire Pool
in Wembley. Britain went on to hold the World Championship in
19937 and 1938. The fact that Britain won, by holding the American
team to a goal-less draw, is down to the stonewall defending
by Jimmy Borland.
Though born of a Manchester family, Borland had emigrated with
them to Canada while he was still a young man, and it was in
Canada that he had been introduced to ice hockey. In 1934 he
was back in England, playing for a Canadian team, when he was
spotted and selected to play 5 matches for Britain in the World
Championships. By 1936 he had become captain of the Brighton
Tigers Ice Hockey Team.
By trade he was an electrician, and also enjoyed playing golf,
fishing, baseball and swimming. After just one season with Brighton,
he returned to Canada and died within the year. Original Source:
James W Bancroft Archive

“I wish to comment on the listing of James Borland Olympic
Ice Hockey Champion – your source James W Bancroft Archive.
I can assure you that Jimmy Borland did not die in 1938. I have
come across this mis-information before and traced its origin
to the International Society for Hockey Research, whom I asked
to correct it in 2008. Jimmy’s wife was my mother’s best friend
and although I have unable to determine the actual date of death,
I believe he passed away in the 1970s.” Mike Johnson –
23 December 2010.

William Roberts

Olympic Relay Champion

William Roberts, Olympic Relay Champion


Bill Roberts was born in Salford on 5th April 1912, the son
of a furniture shop owner in Tatton Street in Ordsall. He attended
Trafford Road School for Boys and began his adult life as an
apprentice carpenter. In 1926 he joined Salford Athletic Club.
He was also a keen musician, playing many different instruments,
and performing in local dance halls with his own band.
As an athlete he was a keen and able middle distance runner,
specialising in the 400 metres and quarter mile events. In 1935,
having taken the train to London straight from work and without
a rest, he won three international races at the Empire Games,
as well as smashing the AAA’s 400 metres record. He was selected
to run in the 400 metres and the 4 x 400 metres Relay event
at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. His team won the Relay
Gold Medal in a time of 3 minutes 09.0 seconds, with Robert’s
leg having been timed at 46.4 seconds, the fastest in the event.
Roberts ran in London a week later in a British Empire versus
United States competition, and won his leg of the relay event,
being voted “Champion of the Year” for his excellence.
Roberts was married in 1937 and lived thereafter in Chorlton-cum-Hardy,
and working at an engineering factory in Eccles. In 1938 he
won several events in the British Empire Games at Sydney, Australia,
but was dismissed from his job at the engineering works for
taking too much time off! He joined the RAF during the Second
World War. In 1946 he gained the Silver Medal with the British
Relay Squad in the European Championships at Oslo, and was made
Captain of the British Athletics Squad for the London Olympics
in 1948.
At the time of writing, Bill Roberts is living in Timperley
near Altrincham in Greater Manchester, where he spends most
of his time in the garden and playing and writing music. Bill
passed away on the 6th December 2001, aged 89.
A book was published about his life in 2002: ‘The Iron in His
Soul: Bill Roberts and Manchester’s Sporting Heritage’, w ritten
by Bob Philips. (foreword by Roger Black) and published by Parrs
Wood Press. (Sources: James W Bancroft Archive with additional
information supplied by Peter Thompson, second cousin to William

Max Woosnam

Olympic Tennis Champion

Max Woosnam - Olympic Tennis Player


The 1920 Olympics were a hastily put together affair, after
the devastation of the World War, and with most European countries
having bigger things to think about than sporting tournaments,
but it marked the introduction of the 5-ringed symbol, and was
held in Antwerp from 14th to 29th August.
Britain won a total of 15 Gold Medals at the tournament – it
was the last time Britain got into double figures. Taking part
in the lawn tennis tournament was Max Woosnam, one of Britain’s
greatest all-round sportsmen.
Born in Liverpool in 1892, Woosnam was educated at Winchester,
and played football and squash, and was captain at cricket and
golf. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he played against Oxford
at football, lawn tennis and golf. When the First World War
was declared, Woosnam was in Brazil with the Corinthians Football
Club, but he immediately returned to England and enlisted into
the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, later transferring to the Royal
Welch Fusiliers.
After the war he returned to Cambridge and was elected captain
of the First XI Cricket Team. Yet, of all the sports which he
played so well, he regarded Football as his main sport, and
in 1920 he signed up to join the Manchester City Football Team.
He made over 90 appearances at centre-half position in the first
two seasons, becoming the club’s only amateur captain ever.
In 1922, a broken leg brought his football career to an end

He went on to concentrate on his lawn
tennis and joined the Northern Lawn Tennis Club in Didsbury.
Woosnam was selected to represent his country in the 1920 Antwerp
Olympics, in the doubles tournament, partnering Noel Turnbull.
They took the Gold Medals, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5. He was also in
the winning doubles team in the Davis Cup in 1920, and partnered
Randolph Lycett of Australia to win the Wimbledon Doubles Championship
in 1921. In 1923 he joined the firm of Brunner, Mond & Co in
Northwich as Employment Manager. The company became part of
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1926, and in 1940 he became
a member of the company’s Board of Directors, working in London.

He was Personnel Manager at ICI until 1954, and died in Westminster,
London on 14th July 1965, aged 72. (Source: James W Bancroft

Rex Crummack

Olympic Hockey Team Champion

Reginald (“Rex”) Crummack was part of the British National Hockey
Team at the 1920 Olympics. The team included John Bennett and
Reginald Crummack. Britain had established an International
Hockey Board in 1900 to control the sport, set out rules and
organise international competition. Hockey was introduced to
the Olympics in 1908, and the new Great Britain team beat Belgium
12-1 and Denmark 5-1 to take Gold Medals.
Crummack was born in Salford in February 1887, and was educated
at Rossall School in Fleetwood, on the Lancashire coast. He
then went to London and trained for a career in the cotton business.
When he returned to Lancashire in 1908, he joined the St Anne’s
Hockey Club, with whom he represented the county. He also played
football, but he considered golf to be his main sport. He joined
the Royal Lytham & St Anne’s Golf Club, and eventually became
At the outbreak of war in 1914, he was commissioned as Captain
in the South Lancashire Regiment, winning several decorations,
and being badly gassed, which was to affect his health thereafter.
After the war he moved to live in Heathbank Road in Cheadle
Hulme, continuing to play hockey with the Alderley Edge and
Timperley teams. He played his last game in 1926, and in 1931
he was appointed an international hockey selector. He also played
cricket for Stockport. His last golf tournament was in 1946,
when he effectively retired from sports.
He died in hospital in Stockport on 25th October 1966 aged 79,
and his funeral took place at Altrincham Crematorium. Source:
James W Bancroft Archive



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This page last updated 23 Jan 12.