YOU get the impression these days that some sports people don’t know how lucky they are.
Kit is sponsored, provided and washed, transport arranged, training facilities kept in pristine condition and the best medical supervision usually on hand.
It wasn’t always liked that – just ask Olympic gold medalist Anita Lonsbrough.
Huddersfield’s swimming heroine often had to open Cambridge Road baths herself at 5am just to have a training swim, and that was if the boilerman had removed all the cockroaches first!
This is one of the stories revealed in Harry Gration’s Yorkshire Sporting Heroes (Dalesman, £9.99).
Written in the same relaxed tone which Harry brings to his TV presenting, the book features 30 of his favourite sporting characters from the county, his best-loved grounds and most enjoyable Yorkshire sporting traditions.
It’s an entertaining and easy read and the face of BBC Look North brings some lovely anecdotes to his stories.
He interviewed Lonsbrough 20 years ago and says: “In 1962 Anita became the first woman to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
“This was two years after she had won her Olympic gold in Rome.
“The last three in the running for the event were all women: Dorothy Hyman, the athlete from South Yorkshire, another swimmer in Linda Ludgrove, and Anita. They were all told to prepare a speech if they won.
“Anita said she never thought of winning. They announced it in the usual way with third (Dorothy) and second (Linda). ‘Then it all went slow motion’ said Anita. ‘I couldn’t grasp what I had achieved’ she added”.
The double international Willie Watson, who played football for Town and cricket for Paddock and Yorkshire, is also featured, along with rugby league legend Garry Schofield (who played for and coached the Giants towards the end of his career).
Leeds Road – the former home of Town – is included among his favourite grounds in the county and while readers can probably guess more than a handful of the sports stars included, I’ll leave you to discover for yourselves what Sir Michael Parkinson describes as “an impeccable choice of heroes.”
Many are well-known while some may be controversial choices, but Gration states: “All of my Yorkshire Sporting heroes are incredibly special because they overcame so many odds – those are the ones I have leaned affectionately towards.”