The Greatest Collection of Sporting Artefacts ever Assembled (in Orkney)
This exhibition catalogue is the companion volume to the acclaimed display 'The History of Sport in 100-ish Objects' hosted by the National Museum of the History of Sport, Orkney and featured on Hospital Radio Stromness.
A fascinating range of documents and artefacts, from the exquisite leisurewear found in the tomb of King Tutenkhamen to the horseracing tips of Nostradamus and the startling pop art canvases of the temperamental Scottish painter Andrew Murray, make this exhaustive work of scholarship an essential addition to any serious sporting historian’s library.
Professor Dwain contended that the most famous all-round athletic feat of them all was drug-assisted. According to the Professor's interpretation of records on the Dwain Chamberpot, Heracles accomplished his Twelve Labours while using performance-enhancing substances. After slaying the Nemean Lion, Heracles avoided a random sample, and missed a subsequent test after cleaning out the Augean Stables in a time regarded as a suspicious improvement on previous efforts. By the time he actually failed a test retrieving the Belt of Hippolyta, a full-blown whispering campaign had started. Only by bullying his critics and threatening direct legal action by his father Zeus was Heracles able to keep competing, and he was eventually forced to hand back the apples of the Hesperides.
Professor Dwain claims that the scandal was hushed up, although his account should be taken with some caution given that he spent the second half of his life locked in an attic trying to distil urine from a bottle of olive oil he believed had belonged to Julius Caesar. He failed.
Into this febrile atmosphere, the players of Old Etonians released the first FA Cup Final song. It was a grossly provocative composition, with lyrics penned by wing-half Binky ‘Blinky’ Binkley-Binkley, third Earl of Rottingdean, calculated to inflame and insult not just the Blackburn Rovers XI but polite society as a whole.
Verses such as: ‘You’ll never make it to the railway station/Because we have engaged the services of all the Hansom Cabs in the vicinity’; ‘My old man said be a Blackburn fan/I said steady on pater we no longer own any factories in that region of Great Britain’ and ‘Does your husband and 43 children know you are here?’ were deemed so offensive that the record was banned.
Painted on the wall of a gentleman’s outfitters in Leicester, this vibrant, challenging work depicts the artist performing his most storied save, the incredible one-handed flick to deny Pele’s header at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The pineapple is thought to be a satirical representation of the Iraq War, or perhaps a comment on Peter Shilton.
Having jealously guarded his anonymity for so long, it was a surprise to many when Banksy chose to apparently ‘out’ himself as the former England goalkeeper. However, when viewed in the light of this picture, the contention that they are one and the same is unanswerable.
The mural appeared in August 2007, 40 years to the day after the great goalkeeper was sold by Leicester City to Stoke City. A local newspaper interview with Banks revealed that he had returned to the East Midlands city in 2007 to give an after-dinner speech to the Worshipful Company of Pet Shop Owners (Leicester), putting him in the area at the time the mural appeared. As a much-loved local celebrity, he would have had easy access to aerosol paints at either B&Q or Wickes branches nearby, possibly even at a discount. Perhaps most telling of all, the World Cup winner was often pictured wearing gloves, probably to keep tell-tale paint off his hands.
The artist known as Banksy has concerned himself with themes of urban alienation, unfeeling capitalism, surveillance society and changes to the back-pass rule. It now appears that he was active for a far longer period than first supposed, probably from around the time of England’s return from Mexico 1970. That Banksy chose not to produce any of his distinctive artwork until the turn of the millennium is testament to the professionalism and amount of preparation that goes into making his trademark stencils.