Fred Spiksley: The remarkable life of a forgotten England star

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From Phil Dawkes
BBC Sport
A record-breaking goalscorer for club and country, an advanced coach who worked on three continents, also a theatre co-star of Charlie Chaplin and an escapee from Germany. Fred Spiksley may be the footballer youve never heard about.
A football superstar before the game was comfortable with the thought , the winger encouraged its message and also practised the game that was gorgeous on the pitch.
He was a character – a compulsive gambler and womaniser who aspired to ride horses like a youngster but settled for betting away his cash as an adult.
Produced at 1870 in Lincolnshire in Gainsborough, the son of the boilermaker would travel to Europe, throughout his career to Mexico, Peru and the United States of America.
However, before that, there was Sheffield and putting a club called about the football map.
Our captain told me to change from left to right half to prevent the external left. I might also have tried to stop the wind… ah, Fred had been a jewel of a participant in these days!
Since England captain and among the best footballers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, ErnestNudger Needham knew gift, and Spiksleyd bags of it.
A slight and slick winger, Spiksley was lightning quick – thefastest man in football according to England global team-mate Billy Bassett.
He had been a dazzling dribbler – a skill honed through youth practise with a rubber band at the narrow cobbled roads of Gainsborough. He was peerless in his ability and crosses with the outside of his foot, which makes him a jolt to defend against. He had been a star.
For a short period, theres a strong case for putting Spiksley since the greatest forward. In the games, he was supreme. You read a number of the accounts by the 1902-03 year and that he was unstoppable with all his speed, Mark Metcalf, the co-author ofFlying Within An Olive Grove, a book on Spiksleys lifetime, told BBC Sport.
When Spiksley combined Sheffield Wednesday in 1891 – then understood just as Wednesday – they had been a club and he also an exciting talent with a successful record. He had scored 131 goals in 126 appearances for hometown team Gainsborough Trinity.
By the time of his departure a decade later, Wednesday were First Division champions also Spiksley had added a century of league goals.
The first of his two strikes who won the 1896 FA Cup for Wednesday is believed to be the quickest in a at 20 minutes. He got the first goal at the clubs new Owlerton Stadium that would turn into Hillsborough, along with his end in the 1902-03 seasons final match helped seal the league title by a single point.
His England career was more sporadic – but eventful nonetheless. There is enough evidence to indicate he had been the first England player to score a hat-trick in both of his first two internationals.
In that second match he scored the first treble with an Englishman against Scotland, and has been cheered from the touchline at Richmond Park by a barefooted, handkerchief-waving Princess Mary of Teck, who would later wed Englands Prince George and eventually become Queen.
Spiksley would include only five caps and one purpose for his tally during the following five years favouring of players and then harms stymied his ambitions.
The physical toll of a career being booted across the pitch by ruthless (and frequently embarrassed) defenders ultimately ended his affiliation with Wednesday.
Before retiring he would attempt to recreate a number of his former glory with the likes of Leeds Watford City and Southern United. However he never completely recovered from a knee injury suffered in a pre-season match in 1903 – Wednesday, that he abandoned.
Little did Spiksley understand that this identical injury would help keep him from a barbarous war just more than ten years later.
For the vast majority of Englands Football League pioneers, retirement from enjoying spelt the conclusion of people life. Not so for Spiksley.
Though many of his coworkers took up or returned to less high-profile jobs, he joined the circus, putting his playing abilities and fame impresario Fred Karnos sketch showThe Football Match.
The creation told the story of a stunning cup tie involving the Midnight Wanderers along with Middleton Pie-Cans, together with the footballers involved (Spiksley wasnt the only ex-player to give his abilities ) providing authenticity by using their ball tips.
In addition, it provided what might be the very first speaking lines for a young actor who Karno explained aspale, puny and sullen-looking andappearing much too bashful to perform any good in theater.
It would be fair to say that Charlie Chaplin surpassed his demeanor to prove Karno laughably erroneous.
However, while movie stardom and Hollywood known for Chaplin, the future of Spiksley could take him round the globe, once again as a advocate for its game.
Spiksley refused over his predilection for gambling and was frustrated in attempts to get missing out to the role at QPR and Tottenham.
However, seeing the development of soccer for the larger experience and comprehension of English trainers throughout the planet and also the need, he spied an opportunity.
The next 20 years would see him move from country to country, around three continents, starting and including stints in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, the USA, Peru and Mexico.
He had been especially impactful in Sweden, where his job with the inexperienced national team led to huge improvements along with his coaching of AIK Stockholms players attracted them a title in 1911 – an achievement he would replicate in Germany 17 decades after with Nuremberg.
English sides appeared unconvinced by his appeal – although Spiksley did have an ineffective two-year stint using Fulham towards the conclusion of his training career – but fledgling parts of the soccer world were enthralled by his innovative teachings on strategy as well as the pass-and-move match.
His ability and enthusiasm lay in the progression of players and he also owned strong remarks a few of which he recorded in a Pathe News film along with Evening News articles – considered to be among the very first training videos recorded.
Back in 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Spiksley was operating in Nuremberg. A decree has been issued to arrest and imprison any thieves aged between 17 and 45.
Subsequently elderly 44, Spiksley and his son, Fred Jr., were locked up. They were beaten and fed on a diet of blackened bread and water.
His wife Ellen was able to secure their release with the help of Spiksleys club and the American consul, but they still had to escape Germany to neutral Switzerland, with the additional complication he would be enlisted to combat if decreed fit back home.
The injury to his knee had ended his acting career, but here it came to his rescue.
When analyzed, the otherwise fit and healthy Spiksley managed to dislocate the knee (thanks to an early rise that morning and two hours of employing boiling hot water into the joint), leaving him unable to run and, at the opinion of the doctor, unfit for service.
He and his family were able to return to England and that then he spent the rest of the war working before resuming his coaching career.
Spiksleys final training part was operating with the students at King Edward VII School in Sheffield, the very successful period of which came in 1933-34 and watched the first XI win 20 of the fixtures, scoring 181 targets in the procedure.
This was the accomplishment the Ardath Tobacco Company included King Edwards faculty group in 1935-36 in their football smoke photograph set alongside top professional sides of this time.
But his enduring and first love was that the racecourse.
There were several successes with gaming – his loved ones remember him ironing the creases from a wad of 5 transported back to his home in a bag and notes hed won at the races. But the losses were regular and often harmful, resulting in court appearances debts and, in 1909, bankruptcy.
There was a costly divorce from Ellen to cope with later in his lifetime, the reason for which was listed because of his adultery.
There are loads of characteristics of Freds which werent attractive. He had been a gambler and I also suspect his connection with his first wife wasnt perfect, says Metcalf.
In a sense, this also must have impacted how he played on the pitch. He was an outsider. He wasnt necessarily a team player. He did not live in Sheffield, he continued to reside at Gainsborough so possibly wasnt a part of the team ethic.
Spiksleys remarkable life saw him glow as one of the best footballers of his creation and also make the leap to the stage before enjoying success as a mentor, despite battle and his standing as a tough gambler and womaniser.
Its ends circumstances were darkly fitting. In 1948, at the age of 78, he collapsed and died from a heart attack on Ladies Day at Goodwood.
Clasped in his hand was an unclaimed ticket.
You can read about Fred Spiksley in greater detail fromFlying Over An Olive Grove from Ralf Nicholson, Clive Nicholson and Mark Metcalf. A movie about Spiksleys life, by precisely the exact same group, is currently in production.

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