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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Sports & Olympic Champions of Greater
Manchester


June Croft

Olympic Swimming Champion

June Croft, Wigan Olympic Swimming Champion

(Born 1963)

Born in Ashton-in-Makerfield in Wigan
in 1963, June Croft is a member of the Wigan Wasps Swimming
Team, and trained at the Wigan International Swimming Pool.
She was British record holder and champion from 1974-1984, breaking
the world record for the 200 metres at the Commonwealth Games
in Brisbane in 1982 by completing the distance in under 2 minutes.
In the 1980 Olympic Games she won silver and bronze medals and
has been three times Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist.

Peter Kane

World Champion Boxer

Peter Kane, World Champion Boxer of Wigan

(1918-1991)

Born on 28th February 1918 in Heywood, Lancashire, Peter Kane
trained out of a gym in Golborne, where his family had moved
to live when he was a very young child. Kane was a blacksmith
in the neighbouring district of Lowton, and lived in a bungalow
on Liverpool Road, Pewfall, near St Helens for most of his professional
career. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began boxing
at 16 years of age and took the professional name ‘Kane’. He
went on to win lasting fame as a boxer, and became World Flyweight
Boxing Champion retaining the title from 1938-1943.
Kane was rated as one the hardest hitting flyweights of all
time, his power, no doubt, down to his well developed upper
body resulting from his continuing life as a blacksmith, even
though his career was put on hold while he fought in the Second
World War. Controversially, the ownership of his birthright
is still fiercely contested by Warringtonians and Wiganers alike,
both claiming him as one of their own. This probably came about
when the district of Golborne was ‘transposed’ into Wigan Metropolitan
County Borough in the 1973 boundary reorganisation which created
the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County and effectively took
many old Lancashire districts out of that county.
Numerous other similar boundary changes occurred. Natives of
Golborne, I understand, still defiantly regard themselves as
belonging to Warrington in Lancashire, despite official boundary
changes which have placed it in Greater Manchester for the last
thirty-odd years.
In 2001 Wigan MBC created Peter Kane Square in Golborne and
placed a £120,000 commemorative monument there in his
honour, to the evident displeasure of other Warrington Lancastrians,
and the author of this entry has received several emails concerning
the dispute, which he fears will never be completely resolved.
Peter Kane died in 1991 but will always be remembered as a fighter
who won 127 of his 137 professional boxing tournaments.

Mike Atherton

England & Lancashire Test
Cricketer

Mike Atherton - England Cricket Captain

(b. 1968)
Born Michael Andrew Atherton on 23 March 1968 in Failsworth,
Manchester, he attended the Manchester Grammar School, where
he was captain for three years. His early potential was spotted
at school and, by the age of 16 he had already captained the
England Under-19 cricket team. He toured with England Young
Cricketers to Sri Lanka in 1986-87, and to Australia in 1987-88,
while studying History at Cambridge.
He made his debut for Lancashire in 1987 and won his county
cap in 1989. His First Class Cricket Test debut was against
Australia at Old Trafford, Manchester in 1989. Later, a match
against New Zealand established him as the youngest ever Lancastrian
century-maker with a score of 151 at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground.
He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1991. In the summer
of 1993 the England team selectors offered him the position
of captain – he was then just 25 years old. However, his relationship
with the press was not always a happy one and earned him the
title of “Grumpy”.
His remarkable powers of concentration, an inborn northern stubborn
streak, allied to an immaculate technique made him a leading
all-rounder, though it is as a defensive player that he will
be remembered. Only a degenerating back condition ruined an
otherwise promising career as a leg-spin bowler, and he actually
took over 100 first-class wickets Injuries ruled him out of
many test selections, and increasingly he has found himself
most frequently writing about, rather than playing, cricket.
He made his 100th Test appearance against the West Indies at
Old Trafford in 2000. Shortly after he announced his retirement
from first-class cricket.

Harold Walden

United Kingdom Olympic Soccer
Team Champion

Harold Walden - UK Olympic Soccer Champion

(1889-1955)
The last United Kingdom team to win the Olympic Soccer Champions
title at Stockholm in 1912. It included three men from the north-west
region, Walden, who was born in Ardwick,
Manchester on 10 October 1889, Berry from Liverpool and Hoare
from Glossop. These three scored all of Britain’s 15 goals!
Harold Walden entered the army by joining the Cheshire Regiment
in 1903, and served in India and Ireland. He played for the
Army against the Navy in 1910 and 1911, and after leaving the
army went into the music hall as a performer in Yorkshire, where
he died, in Leeds in 1955 at the age of 66. (Source: James W
Bancroft Archive).

Frank Tyson

Northamptonshire & England
Cricketer

Frank Tyson -  England Test Cricketer

(b.1930)
Born Frank Holmes Tyson
on 6 June 1930 in Farnworth, Bolton, he became a leading player
in the Northamptonshire and England Cricket Teams. He made his
Test Match debut for England against Pakistan at the Oval in
London in 1954, and played his last Test Match against New Zealand
at Aukland in the 1958-59 season. He was named as Wisden Cricketer
of the Year in 1956.
Not exactly a tall man but with his distinctive long run up
and powerful right hand bowling action he was a devastatingly
fast bowler, who was known as ‘the typhoon’. Unfortunately,
a hard cricket ball blow to the back of his head from Ray Lindwall
forced him into a shortened career and early retirement, after
which he took up coaching. Tyson’s bowling speed was actually
measured at the New Zealand Aeronautical College in Wellington
in 1955, when he bowled a test ball through a sonic beam – it
was measured at 89 mph – then one of the fastest bowls ever
recorded. Only Harold Larwood had produced significantly faster
results when measured by high speed photography at between 90
and 130 mph! Tyson was at his best on the Australian tour of
1954-55 when he took 28 wickets at an average of 20.
By the age of 70, he suffered some immobility following several
operations to replace his knees which he stated had been “worn
out by fast bowling.” His lengthy run-up and demanding action
restricted him to only 17 Test Matches, and injury blighted
his career. He was regarded by most who played against him as
being the fastest bowler they ever faced.

John Ephraim Sibbett

Olympic Cycling Champion

(1895-1950)
John Sibbett was born in Ancoats,
Manchester in 1895, and was one of Britain’s most distinguished
racing cyclists. His career began in 1919, and his first major
win was in 1922 when he came first in the national 5 mile championships.
He excelled in both short distance sprint and long distance
events – in 1925 and 1927 he was national quarter mile champion
and in 1929 he was national 25 mile champion. However, his biggest
impact was probably the national tandem championships which
he won eight times, five with his partner, E. H. Chambers. In
this partnership, Sibbet won the Olympic event in 1928. He also
participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, when he was a member
of the Manchester Wheelers Club. Later, racing bicycles bearing
his name became internationally popular and the likes of champion
Reg Harris usually rode a Sibbet bike. He retired from active
competition in 1938 and devoted his time to judging cycling
events, on the basis of which he became British Team Manager
for the 1948 and 1949 World Championships in Holland and Denmark.
After a spell working at the Ford Company factory during the
Second World War, he continued making handmade cycles from 1946
onwards until his death in 1950 at the age of 55. (Source: James
W Bancroft Archive).

Reg Harris

World Champion Cyclist

Reg Harris, World Champion Cyclist

(1920-1992)
One of the all time greatest
names in international cycling was Reg Harris, born in Bury
in 1929. He went on to become World Champion Cyclist, World
Amateur Sprint Champion in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1954.
Harris had left school aged 14 and had in the course of his
career been a successful businessman in his own right. He won
his first prize as a cyclist at the age of 16 (a chiming clock),
and by 19 he was captain of the British Cycling Team in the
Italian World Championships. Unfortunately, was was declared
and the team withdrew, and he had to wait until after the war,
until 1947, when he won his first World Championship.
In 1948 he went on to win 2 silver medals at the Olympic Games.
Before he retired he would be named Sportsman of the Year twice
and awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He attempted
a short comeback in 1974, but in 1975 he retired finally. He
died in hospital in Macclesfield in June 1992, after collapsing
while (still) riding his bike at the age of 72! A memorial statue
now stands in the Manchester Velodrome (the National Cycling
Centre) in honour of his great achievements in cycling.

Chris Boardman

Olympic Cycling Champion

Chris Boardman, Olympic Cycling Champion

(b. 1968)
Christopher Miles Boardman
was born at Clatterbridge on the Wirral in 1968, and joined
the Manchester Wheelers Cycle Club as a junior. He helped the
club win 20 National and team titles in five years, and from
the earliest days of his cycling career it was clear to those
who knew him that he was destined to be a great cycle champion.
In 1991 he moved to the GS Strada Team, based in Staffordshire,
attracted by good sponsorship backing. Within that year he had
become reigning British Champion at 25 miles, 50 miles and the
Pursuit event, and placed 9th in the overall World Championships.
By the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, Chris had a new bike, an
unauthodox streamlined machine, designed especially for him
by Lotus Engineering, and he was sporting his new helmet, which
earned him the nickname “Darth Vader”. In the Horta Municipal
Velodrome, he went on to produce the fastest ever outdoor time
in the 4000 Metres Individual Pursuit event, and in the final
he took the World Championship and the Gold Medal. His new cycle
caused a great deal of interest, and revolutionised cycle design
afterwards. He was awarded the CBE in the 1993 New Year’s Honours
List.
Since those games, the rules of the Pursuit event have had to
be revised to take account of the new technology in cycle design,
and Boardman has become World Record Holder of the 4000 metres
and the 5000 Pursuit events. In 1993 he achieved the World One
Hour Cycling Championship, at Bordeaux in France, covering a
distance of 52.270 kilometres in the time.

Fred Perry

World Champion Tennis Player

Fred Perry, Wimbledon Tennis Champion

(1909-1995)
Born 18th May 1909 in Stockport,
Frederick John Perry was the three-time Wimbledon Champion tennis
player (from 1934 to 1936), the first player to win all four
Grand Slam singles titles, and the last Briton to win the All-England
men’s title. As well as his three Wimbledon Championships, he
also achieved three US Championships, an Australian, a French
and subsequently went on to pursue a successful and lucrative
professional career. Perry was a latecomer, not taking up tennis
until he was 18 years old. However, he had been playing table
tennis (Ping-Pong) for many years, and with good coaching, he
took to the game quickly. Perry became known for a devastating
backhand delivered with surprising pace. Somewhat of a poseur
on court, Perry was a handsome figure with regular features,
raven black hair, and the ‘perfect’ tennis players physique.
From 1933 onwards, Perry led the British team to significant
victories over the USA and France, and brought the Davis Cup
back to Britain after 21 years absence. Britain was to retain
the Cup through 1936 as Perry was to win every singles match
he played. England had not produced a Wimbledon singles champion
to compare with him for a quarter-century. Perry also went on
to win the US Pro Championships in 1938 and 1941. After his
playing career ended, he was, (and is) associated with the manufacture
of tennis clothes, as well being a tennis correspondent and
commentator for radio and television coverage of tennis matches
– particularly at Wimbledon. He was elected to the Wimbledon
Hall of Fame in 1975 and died on 2nd February 1995 in Melbourne,
Australia, and will be long remembered as possibly England’s
greatest ever tennis player.

John Virgo

Snooker Champion

John Virgo, Champion Snooker Player and Television Personality

(b. 1946)
Born in Rochdale on the
3rd of March 1946, John Virgo is perhaps best known nowadays
as a television personality on the BBC “Big Break” show. However,
during the late 1970s and 1980s, he was rated as one of the
best players in international snooker. Virgo was at one time
a bank clerk, and learned his snooker skills in the Potters
Club in Salford, (still popular among many professional snooker
players today). He went on to win the National Under-16 and
Under-19 titles in 1962 and 1965 respectively. There followed
a succession of victories and in 1977 he was persuaded to turn
professional and reached the UK semi-finals in that year. He
also reached the UK quarterfinals in 1978, with his best ever
ranking at 10th position. Though apparently serious and even
morose at the snooker table, Virgo has a ready wit, and his
exhibitions were always in great demand, as much for his comedy
impressions as his trick pot-shots. This led in turn to the
development of what was to become, effectively, a second career
in entertainment – fortunately, as his snooker fortunes tended
to decline during the late 1980s, and he subsequently quit the
professional snooker circuit in 1994. However, the 1990s saw
him doing a great deal of exhibition playing and comedy routines.
During this time, besides his now successful cabaret act, he
was chairman of the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association
for two years. Inevitably, TV commentating was to follow. And,
when BBC Television planned to launch “Big Break” , a peak viewing
snooker based gameshow in the mid 1990s, Virgo was offered the
job as partner to Jim Davidson. The show, and Virgo’s part in
it, was a popular success throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
John Virgo’s honours include:

  • UK Professional Champion – 1979
  • World Professional Snooker Championship
    semi-finalist,1979
  • Professional Snooker League Winner,
    1984
  • Pontins Professional Champion, 1980
  • National Under-16 Snooker Champion –
    1962
  • National Under-19 Snooker Champion –
    1965
  • National Pairs Champion – 1975 ( with
    Paul Medati)

See also: Manchester
Footballers

 

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Copyright © John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 23 Jan 12.