Wimbledon champ Davis Cup captain Man City skipper England captain Gold at Olympics Scratch golfer Cambridge blue Centurion at Lord's 147 snooker break Fought in trenches (and even beat Charlie Chaplin at table tennis playing with a butter knife!)
By David Edwards
IMAGINE David Beckham taking a break from football to score a century at Lord's or Andrew Flintoff winning Wimbledon.
It sounds unbelievable but there was once a sportsman who achieved all this and more.
You may not know the name Max Woosnam but his achievements dwarf those of any other sportsman Britain has produced.
Not only did he captain Manchester City and England at football, he also won Olympic gold at tennis, was a Wimbledon champion, scored that Lord's century and notched a maximum 147 break at snooker. Oh, and he played golf off scratch too.
Now a new book, All-Round Genius, lifts the lid on his incredible life. Author Mick Collins says: "No sportsman has ever come within a mile of achieving what Max Woosnam did.
"If he was around today, he'd be a worldwide sporting icon and bigger than any other athlete on the planet."
But Woosnam, who died in 1965, wasn't interested in fame or fortune and simply played sport because he loved it.
Mick, 35, adds: "He was so modest that he never ever gave an interview in his life, thinking it was the height of vulgarity to talk about himself. That's such a contrast to the stars of today, although it meant that after he retired his legend began to fade."
Woosnam was born in Liverpool in 1892 to Mary and Charles, who was canon of the Welsh parish of Aberhafesp, Powys.
Aged eight, Max went to board with his older brother, Charles, at Horris Hill School, near Newbury, Berks, where he dazzled classmates by recording the highest scores at cricket two years running. He also captained the school football team.
But it was at Winchester College, where he arrived in 1906 at 13, that his prowess came into its own. In his first term he was playing boys five years older than him at football and captaining the house cricket team to victory. Playing for an England schoolboys team against the MCC at Lord's, he scored an impressive 144 not out.
AT Cambridge, he represented the university in five different sports - football, tennis, real tennis, golf and cricket.
He also played three times for Chelsea. With his broad chest and thick-set frame, his exploits at football led The Times to describe him as "captain courageous".
His courage was also in evidence as the First World War broke out in 1914 and he enlisted with the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry.
Their first posting was at Gallipoli in Turkey, part of a doomed campaign that led to 180,000 Allied deaths.
Later, in the final days of the war, he was posted to the trenches of France where he served with the poet Siegfried Sassoon.
It was on his return home that Woosnam, newly married to Edith, decided with characteristic enthusiasm to try to compete at Wimbledon, despite being only an occasional player.
Although he was beaten in the second round, a newspaper report noted "Woosnam is first class at lawn tennis, cricket, football, golf, real tennis and racquets. The epitome of physical energy. An English hope".
After his defeat by Australia's Wilfred Heath, another paper reported "the greatest crowd of the week watched on and they were heart and soul with the blue-eyed, golden-haired Englishman, who performed prodigies of court covering, but lacked the knowledge of tennis tactics to press home victory." Mick Collins says: "The crowds fell in love with Woosnam for daring to be different, for the way he flung himself around the court. If he wasn't as polished and neat as other players, he made up for it with his athleticism."
After winning the men's doubles at Eastbourne in 1919 ??A?A" typically, during a family holiday at the Sussex resort with his wife and two young daughters in tow ??" Woosnam could easily have gone professional. Yet he preferred to remain an amateur.
Mick says: "Had he wanted to earn a living from his sporting ability, he was one of the few who could have done so. But his need to do more than just play sport all day is precisely what makes him an interesting character." Woosnam's daughter, Penny, now 91, says: "He achieved so much more than so many modern sportsmen without ever receiving or asking for a fraction of the praise or attention.
"It would have been all too easy for him to make more of a name for himself, to seek out a place in the newspapers, but that just wasn't him, just wasn't what he was all about."
In 1919 he took a job at a Manchester engineering firm. And no sooner had he arrived than he was offered the chance to play for both Manchester United and City.
He signed for City that November, a fact reported in the newspapers that hailed the young amateur as a name to watch.
City manager Ernest Mangnall said: "I have known time after time when the arrival of Max Woosnam in a town has been regarded as a social function in itself. People have swarmed around the team on arrival and have excitedly asked if he were with them."
A newspaper report, following a match against Middlesbrough summed up his appeal: "Nobody showed anything like the all-round excellence of Max Woosnam. The famous amateur was the outstanding player on the field."
In fact, Woosnam became such a key figure in City's success that when he missed a match because of his job, workmates threatened to strike if it happened again.
When the 1919-20 season ended, he did not rest on his laurels. The young amateur instead headed to Belgium to play tennis in the Olympic Games.
Although he was knocked out in the second round of the singles, he won gold in the men's doubles and silver in the mixed. Remarkably, he won both medals on the same day.
Woosnam returned to a hero's welcome in Manchester where his City team-mates ??A?A" all professionals, unlike him ??" lobbied for him to be captain. That season he led them to second in the old First Division before heading back to Wimbledon to win the men's doubles and come runner-up in the mixed.
His success was such a sensation he was made captain of Britain's Davis Cup squad.
Although the team enjoyed little success, " their trip to America in 1921 led to an ' unforgettable encounter with Charlie Chaplin.
While the world's most-famous film star expected his guests to treat him with deference, Woosnam had other ideas.
After thrashing him at tennis, Woosnam challenged Chaplin to a game of table tennis - and humiliatingly beat him again, this time playing with a butter knife instead of a bat.
But worse was to follow as Woosnam grew bored, picked up the fully-clothed Chaplin and threw him in his own pool. The star stormed off to his room and refused to come out until his guests had left.
Returning home, Woosnam resumed playing for City and won his only England cap, as captain in a 1-0 victory over Wales in 1922.
It was the high point of his football career. The following year he broke his leg in a match against Sheffield Wednesday - an injury that eventually led to his retirement from sport.
Although he went on to play at Wimbledon one more time, reaching the semis of the mixed doubles, his injury had robbed him of his amazing pace. Mick says: "The same search for perfection that influenced the decision which launched his career would end it. He would continue to play tennis on a social basis but as far as the highest level was concerned, aged 33, Max Woosnam had taken his final bow."
His top-level sporting career over, he concentrated on business, moving to London to join ICI around 1940. He was a remarkable success there too, working his way up to the board.
Woosnam died in 1965 from respiratory problems, but it is only now that his incredible life is beginning to receive the attention it deserves.
His old City boss Mangnall summed it up: "All that mattered to him was getting the chance to play the game he loved. It proved what a genuine sportsman he was."
Bloody hell he was something else him wasn't he? we also had a woman called Lotti Dodd from the Wirral and she won Wimbledon about 6 times and won medals in the Olympics in archery,hockey and she was very good at golf plus much more but I can't find anything about her on the internet which is a shame because she was just as impressive.
I'll have to get a copy of that... cheers Paulie
I think this fella was super human.
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