For absolutely no reason whatsoever, Pies have decided today is the day to pay tribute to those multi-talented, sporting Swiss army knives who not only found success as professional footballers, but also turned their hands to first-class cricket too.
Let’s dig in…
Sir Beefy made his debut as a footballer for Scunthorpe United in March 1980. He came on as a sub in a Division Four game against Bournemouth, but didn’t start a game for another two years. His talents, as later became abundantly clear, lay elsewhere.
West Indies legend Sir Viv turned out for Antigua’s national team in the 1974 World Cup qualifiers. Antigua lost all four games, one an 11-0 hiding at the hands of Trinidad & Tobago – at which point Richards presumably decided football just wasn’t cricket.
Hardinge played cricket for Kent and won one England cap, against the touring Australians in 1921. He also played football for Newcastle, Sheffield United and Woolwich Arsenal (just before they dropped the Woolwich from their name). While at Bramall Lane he won one England cap, against Scotland in 1910.
Denis Compton is arguably the most successful sportsman to have played both cricket and football. He spent the whole of his cricket career with Middlesex and the whole of his football career at Arsenal, where he found fame as a stylish winger. Compton also scored 17 centuries in 78 Tests for the England cricket team. Not bad.
Running Compton close in the multi-sportsman stakes is the magnificently named Chris Balderstone. He was one of the last sportsmen to fully combine a successful career in football and cricket. He made well over 500 appearances for Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United, Doncaster Rovers and Queen of the South while making 390 first class appearances as a cricketer, playing for Yorkshire, Leicestershire and England.
William ‘Fatty’ Foulke
You’re looking at one of the most famous profiles in English sporting history. Despite his legendarily stout 6ft 4in, 20-stone frame, Foulkes made the grade at not one, but two sports. ‘Fatty’ played four first-class matches for Derbyshire in 1900, but is remembered primarily as a gargantuan goalkeeper who played for Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bradford City. He also won one international cap for England, in 1897 against Wales.
Sir Geoff’s footballing exploits are well enough known, but he also turned out for the Essex cricket first XI during his heyday. That was in 1962 against Lancashire, and he got ducks in both innings. That performance saw him relegated to the seconds for a couple of seasons, after which he decided to focus on football. Good decision, as it turned out.
Ducat played cricket for Surrey and England (one Test cap, earned in 1921), and football for Southend United, Woolwich Arsenal, Aston Villa and Fulham. Between 1910 and 1920, he won six England football caps.
Goalkeeper-cum-wicket-keeper Goram played at league and international level for Scotland for many years until Rangers manager Walter Smith forced him to choose between cricket and football in the very early 1990s. He remains the only person to have played in a first class cricket match and a full international football match for Scotland.
We probably don’t need to regale you with Lineker’s footballing exploits. However, in his own words, he was a “good cricketer” too. Indeed, Leicester’s premier crisp-pedlar has played for many wandering and exhibition teams over they years, as well as representing the Marylebone Cricket Club on many occasions. Had he not chosen football, he could certainly have played county cricket.
@waatpies Arnie Sidebottom in 1970s – cricket for England + top-flight football for Man Utd
— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) April 28, 2016
(Excerpts of this article have previously appeared on Pies)