FLYING OVER AN OLIVE GROVE
The Remarkable Story Of Fred Spiksley
A Flawed Football Hero
by Mark Metcalf, RalphNicholson and CliveNicholson
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 guided 1FC 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 known photograph of an international goal being scored.
To get a free preview of the opening chapter of Flying Over An Olive Grove click here.
To download a FREE PDF of the 1896 FA Cup Final chapter click here.
Meet The Authors
MARK METCALF was born in County Durham in 1959 and now lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire with his wife Ruth and young son Charlie.
A former industrial, and later community and youth, worker Mark now works as a freelance journalist, particularly for The Big Issue in the North magazine and the publications of UNITE. Mark also regularly contributes to Tribune magazine.
In 2013 Mark worked with the Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association to write a booklet charting their achievements.
Also in 2013, Mark began developing on behalf of Unite’s Education department a series of reading and history projects. This work now includes writing and compiling a series of short books on famous labour movement figures connected to UNITE including Tom Jones – A fighter for freedom and working people and continued with Julia Varley – Trade union organiser and fighter for women’s rights.
Mark is becoming a prolific writer of football books with 14 published since 2008. In 2013 Mark, with the assistance of his friend Robert Boyling, ended the 125 year mystery on who scored the first League goal in 1888.
Mark’s co-authored book: Images of the Past: The Miners’ Strike is a best selling book at Pen and Sword publishers.
To buy or find out more about Mark’s other books please click here.
Clive Nicholson was born in 1981 at Nottingham City Hospital and is a life long Forest supporter, attending his first match in 1988 when Forest played Sheffield Wednesday at the City Ground. After growing up in a small village in Staffordshire he went on to study illustration at Kingston University, graduating in 2003. He now teaches Art and Design to pupils in a successful secondary school in the city of York. At the age of 12 Clive discovered that he was related to the footballer Fred Spiksley and has been researching the life of his Great Great Uncle ever since, with the intention of releasing a book that will bring this remarkable man’s story to a 21st century audience. He now lives in Leeds with his partner Karen and their two children Megan and Freddie.
Ralph Nicholson was born in 1950. The eldest of three brothers who grew up in Newark-on-Trent. After leaving school at the age of eighteen Ralph embarked on a successful career at Barclays Bank that was to last over 35 years. Ralph enjoys watching a variety of sports, but his main passion has always been Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club where he has been a member for nearly 50 years. When not enjoying a wicket going down at Trent Bridge he is often found volunteering around the small Staffordshire village of Marchington, where he lives with his wife Lynda.