Last Sunday, 19th March marked the 130 year anniversary of Fred Spiksley’s debut for Gainsborough Trinity, in a match on the Northolme against Notts Jardines, a strong team during the 1880’s. The 17 year old winger was a last minute replacement on a day when Trinity lost three players due to injury and illness, forcing them to turn to Spiksley who most considered by most to be too small and lightweight to play the ‘rough’ professional game. It was not long before the doubters would be proven wrong!
Those of you who have popped into the club shop this season will have noticed that a new book has been released detailing the amazing life of Fred Spiksley, who after scoring 131 goals in 126 appearances for Trinity went on to live the ‘first great working class football story’. The book, Flying Over An olive Grove, continues to sell in record numbers and every sale from the club shop raises £10 for the club.
Today the Gainsborough Heritage Centre launches a temporary exhibition to celebrate the life of Fred Spiksley, who whilst a Gainsborough resident achieved every young boys dream; scoring a hat-trick on debut for England against Wales and then became the first player to score a hat-trick against Scotland. Spiksley scored both goals his sides 2-1 victory in the 1896 FA Cup Final, with the first goal possibly being the fastest goal in an FA Cup Final, with the Guardian newspaper reporting the goal as scored on 20 seconds. After winning every footballing honour, including the Football League in 1903, Spiksley became the first professional to coach across three continents, which included a stint as the international coach of Sweden, where he is officially recognised as the coach who taught Sweden the passing game.
In a week where our national side play Germany in Dortmund it is fitting to remember that after escaping a German prison in 1914 Spiksley returned to Germany to coach 1FC Nuremberg in the 1926/27 season where he went on to become only the second, and last, Englishman to mange a German side to the Championship there. Interviewed shortly after his success he commented on the much better training facilities in Germany, compared to England, and said “European countries are still far behind England generally at present, but what will be the case in twenty years’ time. It hurts to be teaching players of other countries to beat us at our own sport, and I am thinking of returning home, though my club has become one of the best in the country.”
Twenty years later, Spiksley’s prophesy was proven correct when a full strength England team including Frank Swift and Stanley Matthews, lost to Switzerland, a country where Spiksley coached on two occasions.
The Fred Spiskley Exhibition opens today at the Gainsborough Herritage Centre and runs until the end of May. Opening hours are Saturday 9am to 3pm, Sunday 11am to 4pm and Tuesday 10am to 2pm.
Gainsborough Trinity Football Club are proud to be associated with Hope & Homes for Children.
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