Fred Spiksley: Football’s First Great Working Class Story

Talk and discussion about one of the unsung heros of english football

One thing you can say about Sheffield Wednesday’s footballing hero Fred Spiksley is – he lived a fucking life!Footballers were made of different stuff back in those days.

Fair play to the West Midlands Owls for organising this event. And because it’s happening in October you’ve got no excuses not to book an early train ticket to erm, Birmingham. Sounds like a cracking bit footballing history, something which seems to be slipping further and further away.

A late afternoon/early evening illustrated talk by Mark Metcalf and Clive Nicholson telling the first great working class football story. The authors of Flying Over An Olive Grove present a 2 hour talk about Victorian football and the remarkable life of Fred Spiksley. Accompanied by one of the finest collections of pre-1900 football photographs this talk has delighted audiences in London and across Yorkshire and is being brought to the Midlands for the first time.

This is a free event and everyone is welcome. Copies of Flying Over An Olive Grove, which has gained national media attention, will be available to purchase.

Date and Time:
Sat 7 October 2017 – 5pm

The Wellington
37 Bennetts Hill
B2 5SN

Find out more here:

The England team that faced Scotland in 1898, with Fred front row, far right.

Fred Spiksley bio:
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 FC 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.

Fred Spiksley biography here: Flying Over An Olive Grove: The Remarkable Story of Fred Spiksley, A flawed footbal hero



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