Sheffield Wednesday FC’s 150 year Dream Team Mural
Mark, Ralph and Clive are aware that Sheffield Wednesday are asking supporters to vote on which 10 players from their 150 year history should be included in a ‘Dream Scene’ mural by Australian artist Jamie Cooper. This is a wonderful idea and we are looking forward to seeing if Fred Spiksley makes the cut.
As some of you will be aware Mark, Ralph and Clive do not support Sheffield Wednesday and therefore will not be casting any votes for Fred, as it is the WEDNESDAY supporters themselves who should decide. However, we would encourage those of you who read this and support Wednesday to consider casting your vote for Fred. Often Players from before our own memories, or to a large extent before Match of the Day, are missing from such lists and whilst the reasons are understandable it is a shame that such important players get forgotten. In 2009 Sheffield United fans voted for their top fifty and Ernest Needham, who is easily the best player to have played for United, came in at number 43. Lets hope that this is not the case here.
Below are all the reasons that you need to select Fred Spiksley in your own Dream Team.
Spiksley played for Wednesday for 12 years and in that time he was Sheffield Wednesday supporters idol. He scored 100 League goals and a further 16 in the FA Cup, placing him as the clubs eighth highest scorer in those competitions. However, he joined Wednesday when they were not in the Football League and if you include all first team fixtures he scored 170 goals and is Wednesday third highest goal scorer in all competitions.
Furthermore, he scored all these goals from the wing and this thus gives Fred Spiksley the all-time record for the highest goals-to-games ratio for any winger in English football, higher than George Best!
Possibly the most impressive feature of Spiksley’s ability was the fact that he scored on the big occasions and when Wednesday needed it. He was the star of the 1896 FA Cup final, where he scored both of the Wednesday goals in a 2-1 victory over Wolves. This was the first time the FA Cup came to Yorkshire. His first goal is possibly the fastest goal in an FA Cup final, scored on around 20 seconds, whilst his second was considered the greatest goal in an FA Cup final pre-1900. During the 1896 FA Cup run he scored 4 and created 9 out of the 15 goals scored.
With Spiksley on the pitch the Wednesday players and supporters believed no match was lost. This belief was justified in an 1893 FA Cup tie at Olive Grove where Spiksley broke two ribs after being hacked down by a Burnley defender. The Wednesday players begged Spiksley to remain on the field, which he did and in great discomfort scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory.
In 1894, Fred scored his finest goal for Wednesday when turning an FA Cup tie against the finest and richest club of the era, Aston Villa, on its head. His last minute equaliser led to fans pouring back into the ground to see Fred tear Villa apart in extra time, leading Wednesday to a famous victory which supporters and journalists were still talking about 40 years later. The match was known as ‘Spiksley’s Match’ and a plaque standing at Wednesday’s former ground, Olive Grove, today features his name.
On moving to Hillsborough in 1899, Spiksley became the first Wednesday player to score on the famous ground and he later also scored the first hat-trick there. After suffering a string of bad knee injuries Spiksley rose once more to become a pivotal figure in the first Wednesday team to win the Football League, scoring the decisive goal that settled the last match of the 1902/03 season against WBA. Wednesday won the title by a single point.
During his time as a Wednesday player Spiksley was the finest outside left in the world and scored a hat-trick on debut for England vs Wales and then became the first player to score a hat-trick against Scotland, a feat only achieved by 2 other Englishmen since. But Fred Spiksley was the first to achieve this and was the only one to have the future Queen of England running down the touchline waving her handkerchief at him. In 1898 he featured against Scotland again in what was considered England’s finest attacking line-up prior to WWI. His performance that day was considered legendary and Spiksley was acknowledged as being the finest player on the field.
Upon leaving Wednesday Spiksley went on to live the most amazing life, which you can read all about in our book. There are tales of touring with Charlie Chaplin, escaping a German prison, winning the German and Mexican championships as a coach, becoming the first professional to coach across 3 continents, becoming a bankrupt, marrying a German 20 years his junior and living with her in London during the Blitz and a death that was almost poetry itself. But it is what he did for Wednesday that should get your vote.
So when you cast you vote for your top 10 SWFC players of all time, please reflect on the above because did all of your top ten players achieve for Wednesday what Fred Spiksley did? No matter how popular or good other players are there are will be very few that have achieved anything close to what Spiksley did and that is why the statue of Vulcan that still stands on top of Sheffield Town Hall was commonly referred to as being Fred Spiksley up until the 1940’s. But as Ambrose Langley, a Wednesday captain from the period pointed out; for what Spiksley did for Wednesday he should have had his own monument.
Mark was at the Bradford Park Avenue v Halifax Town match today selling our book. It is always great when someone discovers our book for the first time and buys it instantly. Mark sold 7 books like this today and we hope that everyone enjoys reading about Fred. It is also great that the books sells to supporters of any football club, which reaffirms our belief that this is a story about football and an important player who’s story holds it’s own in the history of the game.
03/03/2017 – Glossop North End Appearance
Press Release in advance of : Glossop North End v Clitheroe fc
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Flying Over An Olive Grove is the first great working-class footballer story. Born at a unique moment in the history of the beautiful game, Fred Spiksley was amongst a new wave of teenagers who, in 1885, could aspire to be a professional footballer and dodge the inevitability of industrial labour. He became the first player to score a hat-trick against Scotland and in 1896 he guided Sheffield Wednesday to FA Cup glory with 4 goals and 8 assists. His first goal in the final is considered by some to be the fastest ever goal in FA Cup final history.
At his peak he was the fastest winger in England and possessed total ball control. He was a player with such ability that he was able to take his club and country to the pinnacle of football during an era where his slender frame did not suit the rough treatment that was often meted out to him. With Fred Spiksley on the field no match was ever lost. Even with two broken ribs, he had the pluck and tenacity to remain on the field and score the winning goal in an epic FA Cup tie at Olive Grove, the ground where he made his name; ‘the Olive Grove Flyer’. He scored over 300 career goals and won every major honour in the game, and holds the record for the highest goals- to-game ratio of any winger in the history of English football. His fame extended around the World as he became the first professional footballer to coach across three continents. In Europe alone, he managed the Swedish national team and guided1FC Nuremberg to the German Championship in 1927.
Football presented Fred Spiksley, a small lad from the backstreets of Lincolnshire, with a lifetime of adventure. He would share the stage with Charlie Chaplin, escape from a German prison in 1914 and be chased along the touchline by the future Queen of England. An addicted gambler and self confessed womaniser, Fred Spiksley’s character meant that he was not always the hero off the pitch that he was on it. Flying Over An Olive Grove aims to bring Fred Spiksley’s remarkable but long forgotten story to a new audience and contains a superb collection of images, including the earliest know photograph of an international goal being scored.