Working out on the Titanic.

RMS Titanic

People all know the story of the tragic end of the Titanic, however what is often forgotten that it was ahead of its time in many ways.

The first-class accommodation was designed to be the pinnacle of comfort and luxury, with an on-board gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, high-class restaurants and opulent cabins.

The Gymnasium is located on the Boat Deck, accessible via the Starboard Vestibule, off the Grand Staircase. It was described as a wonderful innovation for an ocean-going liner. It had an electric camel, an electric horse, cycling machines, and a rowing machine.

Tickets, were priced at one shilling ($0.25 USD), and were available from the purser and entitled First Class passengers to one session in this facility while guarded by Thomas McCauley, physical educator for the White Star Line.

Fitness

Gym

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Wimbledon 1877

Wimbledon

When you think of Tennis, you can’t but be thinking of Wimbledon too. Although there are many tournaments throughout the year , Wimbledon is the one tournament that every Tennis player aspires to win.

But when did it all start?

On July 9, 1877, the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club begins its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon, then an outer-suburb of London. Twenty-one amateurs competed in the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. The winner was to claim a 25-guinea trophy.

draw

The rules were as follows:

++The court will have a rectangular shape with outer dimensions of 78 by 27 feet (23.8 by 8.2 m).
++The net will be lowered to 3 feet 3 inches (0.99 m) in the centre.
++The balls will be 2 1⁄2 to 2 5⁄8 inches (6.4 to 6.7 cm) in diameter and 1 3⁄4 ounces (50 g) in weight.
++The real tennis method of scoring by fifteens (15, 30, 40) will be adopted.[p]
++The first player to win six games wins the set with ‘sudden death’ occurring at five games all except for the final, when a lead of two games in each set is necessary.
++Players will change ends at the end of a set unless otherwise decreed by the umpire.
++The server will have two chances at each point to deliver a correct service and must have one foot behind the baseline.

Players were instructed to provide their own racquets and wear shoes without heels.

racket

The final was scheduled for Monday, July 16, but it was postponed due to rain.

It was rescheduled for July 19,  200 spectators paid a shilling each to see  the final between William Marshall, and  W. Spencer Gore, The  final that lasted only 48 minutes, the 27-year-old Gore dominated with his strong volleying game, defeating Marshall, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Gore wasn’t only a Tennis player but also a first-class cricketer.

Spencer Gore

142 years later Wimbledon is the most important Tennis event on the sporting calendar. Although it has lost some of its allure in recent years.Well at least that’s  what I think. I grew up watching stars and characters like John McEnroe,Bjorn Borg,Jinny Connors,Stefan Edberg,Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and more recently Andre Agassi, And of course Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova,Chris Evert Lloyd,Gabriela Sabatini, and Monica Seles.

They all were very entertaining players who aside from being great athletes also brought a small bit of showmanship in the mix.

championship

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The Week.

 

Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

mAX

Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

KO

Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

KO2

During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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Neuengamme concentration camp and the impact on Dutch sports and culture.

Neuenegamme

The SS established the Neuengamme concentration camp on December 13, 1938.It would become the biggest concentration camp in Northwest Germany.In excess of 100,000 inmates would come through Neuengamme and its sub camps.

The death toll would be 42,900.14,000 in the main camp, 12,800 in the sub camps, and 16,100 during the death marches. These numbers are just hard to envisage.

To put it in context the death toll would be the equivalent of the full population of Hoddesdon in the UK, or Draper city in Utah, USA, or Drogheda in the Republic of Ireland.

Drogheda

The death toll had also an impact on sports and culture. I have mentioned Dutch sports and culture because it is nearest to me but undoubtedly it would have had an impact across Europe.

Coen Hissink:

coen

Coen Hissink  was a Dutch film actor of mainly the silent era. He appeared in 25 films between 1914 and 1942. He was also an author. In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories relating to decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. To get the inspiration for the stories , he visited a gay club in Berlin where he snorted cocaine in a bathroom. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zeden beeld (Cocaine: Berlin’s vice image).

Cocaine

Any Dutch artist who wanted their works published in the Netherlands had to becomE a member of the” Reichs Kulturkammer” (Reich Chamber of Culture).Hissink refused to do so  and  joined the Resistance instead. In 1941, he was arrested  by the Nazis and sent to  Neuengamme where  he was killed on December 17,1942, age 34.

Jan Campert:

Campert

Jan  Campert  was a journalist, theater critic and writer who resided in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II He was arrested for helping  Jews. He was also sent to   Neuengamme , where he died on January 12, 1943.

He is most notably known for his poem “Het lied der  achttien dooden”(the songthe eighteen dead) describing the execution of 18 resistance workers (by the German occupier.

Below the English translation of the poem

The Song of the Eighteen Dead

A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland’s so free coast,
once by the enemy overrun
could I no moment more rest.
What can a man of honor and trust
do in a time like this?
He kisses his child, he kisses his wife
and fights the noble fight.

I knew the task that I began,
a task with hardships laden,
the heart that couldn’t let it be
but shied not away from danger;
it knows how once in this land
freedom was everywhere cherished,
before the cursed transgressor’s hand
had willed it otherwise.

Before the oath can brag and break
existed this wretched place
that the lands of Holland did invade
and for ransom her ground has held;
Before the appeal to honor is made
and such Germanic comfort
our people forced under their control
and looted as a thief.

The Catcher of Rats who lives in Berlin
sounds now his melody,—
as true as I shortly dead shall be
my dearest no longer see
and no longer shall the bread be broke
and share a bed with her—
reject all he offers now and ever
that sly trapper of birds.

For all who these words thinks to read
my comrades in great need
and those who stand by them through all
in their adversity tall,
just as we have thought and thought
on our own land and people—
a day does shine after every night,
as every cloud must pass.

I see how the first morning light
through the high window falls.
My God, make my dying light—
and so I have failed
just as each of us can fail,
pour me then Your grace,
that I may like a man then go
if I a squadron must face.

Rein Boomsma:

Boomsma

Rein Boomsma had been  a Dutch football player between 1894–1907. He was a striker for both club,Sparta and the Dutch National team.

Team

From  1936 to 1939 he was a Colonel. Before the invasion during the mobilisation period in 1939, he was commander of Fortress Holland.  After the invasion, he became the commander of the Ordedienst for “Gewest Veluwe” an underground army.

The main objective of this underground army was to maintain contact with the exiled Dutch government in London via coded radio transmissions.

Rein was arrested and imprisoned 3 times for his activities in the underground army. The last time proved to be fatal. He died in Neuengamme on 27 May 1943.

Hans van Walsem:

Walsem

Hans van Walsem ) was a Dutch rower. He competed in the men’s coxed pair event, as the coxswain , at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

1936

The team qualified for the semi finals but unfortunately did not get any medals.

During the war he was a lecturer of chemistry in the Leiden university. He helped establish a small resistance newspaper called  “Ik zal handhaven” meaning I will maintain, which is the motto on the Dutch coat of arms.

The newspaper contained practical instructions on resistance activities. The German authorities arrested Hans and branded him as a fanatic member of the resistance, He was sent to Neuengamme where he died of tuberculosis on January 2. 1943.

Not only were these men heroic in their cultural and sporting endeavors, they were also heroic in standing up to evil and paid the ultimate price for it.

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Hamburger SV-Altona 93:Final score 4-2. The match on April 29, 1945.

FOOTBALL

There was a bit of a scandal this week in Dublin. On of the Dublin based soccer teams,Ballybrack, pretended that one of their star players was killed in a car crash. The team wanted to postpone an up coming match and came up with the death as an excuse. The ting is though there was no crash, the player didn’t die in fact he knew nothing of this  at all.

This bizarre incident reminded me of another bizarre soccer event. On April 29, 1945 two Hamburg teams, Hamburger SV and Altona 93 played a league match.

 

Some of you might think how bizarre was that.Well, compared to the aforementioned Irish team that was desperate to avoid playing, the 2 Hamburg teams were desperate to play the match despite a remarkable backdrop.

Hamburger SV was without 3 of its star players Rudi Noak, Werner Höffmann and Eugen Kahl, but that wasn’t what made this match so remarkable. The date was April 29 1945. Nearly everyone in Germany must have known the war was coming to an end. Even Hitler knew because on that same day he married Eva Braun, knowing quite well that they would end their lives the following day.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American forces. Nearer to Hamburg about 50 km away at Lauenburg,British forces crossed the Elbe river just a few hours before the match started.

troops

Despite all this ,hundreds of football fans would make their way to the stadium, not knowing what fate awaited them.

Hamburger SV beat Altona 93 by 4-2in what would be the last soccer match of the third reich.

 

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Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork

voetbal

This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

han

Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.

Juda

Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.

spel

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The long walk of Liam McCarthy

1973

It was such a glorious day for us that 2nd September 1973 in Dublin, although it rained the sun shone in our hearts, because you were ours.

Your previous master ‘the Cats of Kilkenny’ looked not after you well, so we fought them and after beating them by 7 points we took you home to us. Your new home at the Shannon was going to be marvelous.

But it was only 12 Months minus 1 day the Cats ripped you out of our midst.

For decades you were lost and wandering throughout this mighty nation of ours, but no one look after you as good as we did.

But in 1980 we nearly had you in our grasps again if it hadn’t been for the tribes men of Gaillimh. It would have been so good for you to return to the treaty city, but alas.

Galway

Then September 4th 1994, we could see you, feel you, my God we could even taste you. But no, you decided ON Ofally. Ofally of all places for crying out loud!

Ofally

Our heart was in pain and it was burdened. Would you ever come home again to us?

You teased us again 2 years later, but this time you sold your soul to Wexford for a mere 2 points. Things were getting so bleak. True the Celtic tiger was roaring, but Liam all we wanted was you, why did you not understand that?

Wexford

The years came and went, even a new millennium had started but you were never in sight. We saw you on telly alright ,having love affairs with Kilkenny, Galway,Clare and many other counties, but never us. We didn’t even get the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.

But lo and behold come 2018, there you are smiling at us. Nearly we lost you again because some eejit of a referee decided ” 70 minutes isn’t long enough let’s make it as close to 80 as we can” As Bono once said” You were close and yet so far” however you decreed 45 years is a long enough walk, lets go home.

Liam

 

Nazi Sport propaganda in the Netherlands.

 

NSBSport was important in the Nazi ideology. Often athletes would be portrayed as warriors and many German athletes were drafted into the several branches of the Wehrmacht.

The Nazi also understood the power of sport as Propaganda and especially in a sports loving country like the Netherlands, the Nazis saw merit in promoting sports.

The poster below is advertising an evening of Sports on March 12 1941. The evening will include Cycling,Boxing,Singing and Music.Organized by the W.A. the military branch of the NSB(Dutch National Socialists)

wa

On January  10 1942, an international youth boxing tournament was organized between the Netherlands and Germany.

boxin.JPG

Even in some of the concentration camps sports was encouraged. In camp Schoorl a hurdle match was held. Looking at the height of the hurdles it appears to me it was designed to cause harm.

Kamp Schoorl

schoorl

Between 19-21 September 1941 a light athletics tournament was hosted for the SS and Heer troops posted in the Netherlands.

ss.JPG

Football has always been the most favourite sports in the Netherlands, On December 12 and 13 1942, 2 matches between Germany’s top team München 1860 and the Wehrmacht were planned. I suspect this was also to show the Dutch how superior the Germans were.The 1st match was played in the Hague and the 2nd in Amsterdam

1860

These sporting events weren’t arranged for the good of the people or to entertain them but to distract from the horrors and the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers.

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1942 Coupe de France Final

red-star-olympique-1942-coupe-de-france

It’s May 17 1942, you country is occupied by a hostile foreign nation. Fellow country man are dying on battlefields or being executed for being members of the resistance and other fellow country men are being deported to death camps. What do you do?

Well watch a football match of course.

Since the champions league finals are upon us in less then 2 weeks and also because the World cup is due to start next month, I was inspired to look into sporting events during WWII. I did not expect to find any but I was wrong, for on this day 76 years ago, the ‘Coupe de France Final’ was played in Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes near Paris.The coupe de France is the competition for the premier league in France.

2018-05-17 (1)

The  match was played between,Red Star Olympique and FC Sète. Olympique beat FC Sète by 2-0 via goals scored by Henri Joncourt at 45 minutes, and Alfred Aston at 72 minutes. The attendance was 44,654 and the match referee was Georges Capdeville, the only referee to have ever been in charge in a World Cup final in his native country,in 1938.

On a side note but indirectly linked ,Alexandre Villaplane, who was a former player of FC Sète and had  captained  the French national team during the 1930 world cup, worked actively with the Gestapo and eventually became a SS lieutenant. Villaplane’s unit quickly became notorious for its cruelty. On 11 June 1944, for instance, they captured 11 resistance fighters in Mussidan, a small village in the Dordogne. Aged 17 to 26, the maquisards were marched to a ditch and shot. As well as giving the death order, Villaplane is said to have pulled one of the triggers.

villaAs so many other aspects of life, WWII also had a major impact on football in other European countries, France was an exception to the other occupied nations because of the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis

In one way it was beneficial for the Nazis to allow the football competition continue in France. It was an efficient propaganda tool, because it diverted the attention away from their crimes and atrocities. It gave the population a sense of ‘normal’ life.

2018-05-17

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The Guardian

 

NFL- Heidi

Heidi1968PFW

You are all set , the game is on. Popcorn and Hot dogs on the table. Beer cooling in the fridge. The most comfortable chair in front of the TV, ready for THE match.

Wow a great match, only 3 points between the team, 65 seconds to go, it’s going to be a thriller… WTF???????

09000d5d82431c80_video_cp

The game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders on November 17, 1968 featured two of the American Football League’s marquee teams, and a combined 10 future Pro Football Hall of Famers.

On November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders score two touchdowns in nine seconds to beat the New York Jets–and no one sees it, because they’re watching the movie Heidi instead. With just 65 seconds left to play, NBC switched off the game in favor of its previously scheduled programming, a made-for-TV version of the children’s story about a young girl and her grandfather in the Alps. Viewers were outraged, and they complained so vociferously that network execs learned a lesson they’ll never forget: “Whatever you do,” one said, “you better not leave an NFL football game.”

The game between the Jets and the Raiders was already shaping up to be a classic: It featured two of the league’s best teams and 10 future Hall of Fame players. By the game’s last minute the two teams had traded the lead eight times. The game’s intensity translated into an unusual number of penalties and timeouts, which meant that it was running a bit long.

 

With a little more than a minute left to play, the Jets kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave them a 32-29 lead. After the New York kickoff, the Raiders returned the ball to their own 23-yard line. What happened after that will go down in football history: Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica threw a 20-yard pass to halfback Charlie Smith; a facemask penalty moved the ball to the Jets’ 43; and on the next play, Lamonica passed again to Smith, who ran it all the way for a touchdown. The Raiders took the lead, 32-36. Then the Jets fumbled the kickoff, and Oakland’s Preston Ridlehuber managed to grab the ball and run it two yards for another touchdown. Oakland had scored twice in nine seconds, and the game was over: They’d won 43-32.

But nobody outside the Oakland Coliseum actually saw any of this, because NBC went to commercial right after the Jets’ kickoff and never came back. Instead, they did what they’d been planning to do for weeks: At 7 PM, they began to broadcast a brand-new version of Heidi, a film they were sure would win them high ratings during November sweeps.

images

 

Before the game began, network execs had talked about what they’d do if the game ran over its scheduled time, and they decided to go ahead with the movie no matter what. 6a00d8341c630a53ef010536014c8f970c-800wiSo, that’s what NBC programmer Dick Cline did. “I waited and waited,” he said later, “and I heard nothing. We came up to that magic hour and I thought, ‘Well, I haven’t been given any counter-order so I’ve got to do what we agreed to do.’”

NBC execs had actually changed their minds, and were trying to get in touch with Cline to tell him to leave the game on until it was over. But all the telephone lines were busy: Thousands of people were calling the network to urge programmers to air Heidi as scheduled, and thousands more were calling to demand that the football game stay on the air. Football fans grew even more livid when NBC printed the results of the game at the bottom of the screen 20 minutes after the game ended. So many irate fans called NBC that the network’s switchboard blew. Undeterred, people started calling the telephone company, the New York Times and the NYPD, whose emergency lines they clogged for hours.

Shortly after the Heidi debacle, the NFL inserted a clause into its TV contracts that guaranteed that all games would be broadcast completely in their home markets. For its part, NBC installed a new phone–the “Heidi Phone”–in the control room that had its own exchange and switchboard. Such a disaster, the network assured its viewers, would never be allowed to happen again.

maxresdefault

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