H. J Chinnery.

Sporting recollections online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryH. J ChinnerySporting recollections → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A ^r^




JOHNA.SEAVERNS



Jh. a



^ti/'e^




SPORTING



RECOLLECTIONS



These Stories were told to a Reporter, at a
Club, and are printed as they were published
in the "Sporting Life," without correction or
addition.



From the Spoi^ting Life, igog.



Bicester :
T. W. Pankhurst, Printer, Market Place.



v..



r



SPORTING



RECOLLECTIONS



OF



H. J. Chinnery.



From the Sp07'ting Life, igog.



Bicester :
T. W. Pankhurst, Printer, Market Place.



v..



RUNNING.



A Deerfoot Incident.

My first remembrance of seeing any running was
at the Hackney Wick ground, where the course was
only a furlong. That was some forty-five years
ago, and the occasion on which I made my ac-
quaintance with it was a ten miles race, and a
genuine one. A man named Pudney had a sort of
school of runners with whom he used to tour the
country. Among them was the Red Indian, Deer-
foot, who was always allowed to win. In the troupe,
however, there were at least two men who could
lose him, one being White, of Gateshead, and the
other C. Lang, vvhose nickname was the ** Crow-
catcher." For some reason or other White fell out
with Pudney, and as a result of the disagreement
White announced his intention of running on his
own at Hackney Wick, and winning. Pudney said
"You shall not do that, because Lang can beat
you, and he shall go on his own." Deerfoot was
ignored altogether. White was very fit indeed, and
he ran the first seven miles round the small and
awkward course in thirty-five minutes, with Lang



in close attendance. At this point Lang fell com-
pletely exhausted, and White trotted on quite com-
fortably, and finished the ten miles in fifty-two
minutes, Deerfoot being distanced by about three-
quarters of a mile. That was my first experience
of the running path.

I was about sixteen years of age at that time,
and soon afterwards I took up running myself. I
did not do very much — i.e., not anything out of the
ordinary — though I won a lot of races at different
places. I was never a first-class runner, but I could
do a quarter in 53 sec, which was so not bad, par-
ticularly as tracks and courses were then. On one
occasion I started for the quarter of a mile cham-
pionship, not with any idea of winning, but simply
to make the running for one of the finest men who
ever put on a shoe — Colbeck. That would be
about 1867, and I remember I started off as hard
as I could go to make the pace for Colbeck. The
race was at the Beaufort House running ground,
and the path was very good, but the arrangements
were somewhat primitive. I led for about half the
distance, when Colbeck passed me, but to my horror
a sheep crossed the path, ran against his legs, and
nearly threw him down. We all passed him, but
he recovered himself, and finished an easy winner
in 50 sec, this being, in my opinion, one of the finest
performances ever done.



To THE Rescue o^ a Referee.

I was training at one time to run at the West
Brompton grounds, now all built over, and 1 had
an experience that I shall never forget. It was
about 1868, and a walking match had been arranged
between two East End competitors. The referee
was a reporter from " Bellas Life," whose name I
have forgotten. He disqualified one of the men,
and he was immediately set upon by the man's
friends, knocked down and kicked. I had just
finished my run, and was standing looking on. Bob
Travers, the black pugilist, being near me. I said
to Travers : " I cannot stand this." but he replied :
'' It's no affair of ours." I told him that ** We
must have a go," and together we ran across the
course, and arriving at the mob we each felled our
man and rescued the referee. I expect it was
Bob's black face that frightened them away, but
they went whatever the reason, and allowed us to
protect the referee without further parley. I need
hardly say that he was extremely grateful to escape
with one or two kicks on the head and a face that
was cut about a bit.

This " Bell's Life " referee was a great friend of
mine, but afterwards the friendship did me, uninten-
tionally on his part, an ill turn. I had then won
the middle-weight amateur boxing championship,
and after dining with some friends I went down



6



to Peckham to see a glove fight. We appeared in
the reserved seats, in evening dress, and waited for
the competitors, who were late for some reason or
other. There was a crowded room, and the
audience became impatient. A light-weight fight-
ing man, named Jerry Hawkes, was acting as ring
master, and he kept on asking, " Won't anybody
come and have a light spar just to amuse the
crowd } " My friends kept on urging me to go
down and have a set-to. I was a stranger to Jerry
Hawkes, and at last, in a weak moment, I went
down. There I saw my old friend, the "Bell's
Life" reporter, and he immediately said "Hullo,
Mr. Chinnery, what are you going to do.^" I said :
" I am responding to Jerry's invitation to have a
light spar," upon which he turned round to Jerry
and said in a voice loud enough to be heard by
several people round about, " Look out Jerry, he
will knock you down." Jerry's reply, in an indig-
nant tone, was, " You can't bring a man to knock
me down." When we got into the ring, it was no
light spar. Unfortunately I had only taken off my
coat and waistcoat, and was still wearing my white
tie, linen collar, &c. We had three rounds, and I
presented a very dishevelled appearance at the end
of them. Jerry was clever, but I was two stone
heavier, and at the end of the last round I countered
him, weight told, and Jerry went over the ropes,
much to the delight of my friend the reporter, who



made the consoling remark to my antagonist, ** I
told you so."

Wins Three Races at one Meeting.

In those days there was a certain number of
athletic meetings in different parts of the country,
and as a rule all the races were open. My brother,
W. M. Chinnery, used to think it would be rather
infra dig, as the mile and four miles champion, to
visit those meetings, but we occasionally went to-
gether, and usually came away with a prize or two.
There was a meeting at Tufnell Park, I remember,
at which I secured the lOO yards, the 440 yards
and the mile. In the same year there was a meet-
ing at Broxbourne, where I won the 440 yards and
the mile.



BOXING.



All the time I was training for running I was
also practising boxing, chiefly at the German Gym-
nasium, and when the middle-weight Amateur
Championship was started, in 1867, I entered.
There was a man named Williams, with whom I
used to spar at the German Gymnasium, who also
wished to enter, but as he did not know any of the
authorities connected with the Amateur Athletic



B



Club they refused his entry, and he had the cheek
to come to me, and say, " I suppose they want you
to have the pot, so they won't take my entry.'' He
was not exactly a gentleman, but I was so nettled
by his saying this that I replied, *' I will see your
entry shall be taken." The secretary of the
Amateur Athletic Club was the late J. G. Chambers,
the old Cambridge Blue, and a great friend of
mine. On telling him the circumstances, he said,
" Oh, well, we will take his entry, but I hope he
will behave himself properly." I answered that he
was a decent sort of fellow, and I thought he would
be all right. There was a largish entry for those
days, and I had four spars before I met my friend
Williams, who was really a very capable boxer,
and he had defeated three or four men. Williams
had a very good left hand, and I think he landed
with that on my face oftener than I did on his. It
was so near a thing at the end of three rounds that
the judges ordered another round to decide.
When I got back to my corner after the third
round my mentor, Ned Donnelly, was talking to no
less a personage than Jem Mace, who turned to me
and said, " Young man, if you let him keep on
with that left of his you will be outpointed. I
think he has a weak spot. You get to close
quarters directly you begin in" the next round, and
let him have it for all you are worth." I took his
advice, with the result that the judges decided



unanimously in my favour. This was not sufficient
for Mr. Williams. He objected to the decision,
declared he had won, and made quite a disturbance.

I offered then to take him on with or without
gloves whenever he liked, but he did not accept my
challenge. I was, however, determined that next
year there should be no mistake. I do not suppose
anybody ever worked harder at boxing than I did
the following year. I sparred certainly on an
average five nights a week, taking on anybody I
could possibly get with any reputation as a boxer.
Ned Donnelly, who had been my instructor, like
the good fellow that he was, said, " It is of no use
your having further lessons from me, because you
know all my tricks. You must go and box with
some other fighting men. There is a very clever
light-weight at a public-house in the Waterloo
Bridge-road. His name is Jem GoUacher, and he
has never been defeated in the ring, besides which
he is one of the cleverest light-weights we have
had." I took his advice one afternoon, and went
down to Jem's hostelry.

An Amusing Boxing Lesson.

There was a potman behind the bar, and I heard
sounds of skittles at the back. I asked if Mr.
Gollacher were in, and he said, " Yes, but he is
busily engaged." I went on to tell him that I had
come some distance, and I wanted a lesson in



10

boxing. I would give GoUacher a half-sovereign
if he would give me a lesson. The potman with-
drew, and soon returned with a smart-looking little
man, who said, " I am Jem GoUacher. What do
you want." His expression was not inviting, but
I thought that I had better make the best of it,
and I told him that I wanted a lesson. " Very
well," he said, *' come on ; I have no time to
waste." "We adjourned to a large room on the first
floor, where evidently Saturday-night encounters
took place. We proceeded to put on the gloves,
and I noticed the potman standing grinning at the
door, expecting to see a speedy *end to my lesson.
We put up our hands, and I led off, and landed on
Jem's nose. He snuffed a bit, and led off at me,
and I ducked my head, and cross-countered him
with the right. He put down his hands, and said,

" I should like to know who the d •* you are.

You come here and ask for a lesson, and it appears

to me you are giving me a d d good hiding."

The potman's face was a study. I told him my
name was Chinnery, and that I was a friend of
Ned Donnelly's. *' Well, why did you not say
that afore, sir ? " was Gollacher's comment, and we
were friends in a moment. We continued our spar,
and Jem taught me several very useful tricks.

When the second annual middle-weight cham-
pionship was decided my friend Williams did not



II



turn up, and I was so fit that I had a very easy
time with the other competitors. As a matter of
fact, I have never been defeated in a competition,
and I can only remember being badly worsted on
one occasion. This was at old Nat Langham's.
I used to go sometimes to his house in St.
Martin's-lane to spar, and Nat took a great interest
in me. He frequently said to Ned Donnelly
" Cannot we get some of these swell Guardsmen
to come and take on Mr. Chinnery." I was then
only list, and Ned thought that two or three
stone would be a lot of weight for me to give
away. Ned, however, said to me, ''You don't
mind a stone or two, do you ^ " I replied that I
should be only too happy if they would come. I
was young at the time, and rather conceited, but
pride was destined to have a fall, and a severe one,
in Nat's house. There was a crowded room, and I
had the gloves on with a fighting man called Patsy
Vaughan. I think it was in 1868. Vaughan was
a very powerful fellow, and had won five or six
fights more by strength and endurance than by
cleverness. I found no difficulty in tapping him
on the nose when I pleased, and I was applauded
pretty heartily by the crowd. Like a young fool I
did not notice that Patsy was waxing wroth.
However, he watched his opportunity, and when I
was rather incautiously leading off he swung his
right on the point of the jaw and I fell on my face,



12

insensible before T reached the floor. I could not
have told you half an hour afterwards what my
name was. I was fortunately pretty fit at the
time, and I did not feel any after ill-effects from
the knock-out.

A man had been killed in old Nat Langham's
house only about a week before, and he thought
when I went down that I was also finished. He
rushed out of his house telling the barman to say
that he was out of town. However, he sneaked
back about an hour afterwards to hear the fatal
news, and he was very delighted to see me tackling
a chop and potatoes. All the consolation I got
from my mentor, Ned Donnelly, was that it served
me right for being so careless. I kept up my
boxing, and altogether I won five championships —
the middle-weights three times, and the heavy-
weights twice — and then I retired.

When I was in training for the heavy-weights, I
used to try and get hold of all the big men I could
to spar with. Ned Donnelly then used to teach at
Sergt. Waite's Rooms in Golden-square. Waite
very kindly used to get men from, the Knightsbridge
and St. John's Wood Barracks to come and set-to
with me. The spars were generally of an amicable
character, but I remember one, which was fast and
furious, with a certain man — I do not know whether
he is alive now — a very good fellow, named Trooper



13

Otway. He was not a very heavy man, but of
considerable length of arm, and supposed to be the
best man in the Life Guards. We both got rather
warm, and I was sorry to hear a few days after-
wards that Trooper Otway received orders to re-
main in barracks until two black eyes which he
had had disappeared. I think Otway afterwards
became a teacher of boxing and fencing, and he
was well calculated to instruct the young, as he had
considerable skill in these thinsfs.

The hardest tussle I had for the heavy-weights
was with a very fine man named Scott Stephenson.
He was in some Highland Regiment, the number
of which I forget. He weighed I3st. /lb., and was
about 6ft. lin. in height, while I weighed list. 4lb.
He was supposed to be the best man at Aldershot,
and he had been trained by Jem Mace, who
seconded him. Our first round was very ev^en.
On going to my corner, Ned Donnelly said to mc,
" You must bustle him ; he is short of condition."
I took his advice, with the result that I soon had
matters all my own way, and the judges gave the
decision in my favour at the end of the third
round. Stephenson took his defeat very hand-
somely, and invited me down to Aldershot to
fight our battles over again.

Good for the Life Guardsman.

Charley Buller, of the Life Guards, a well-known



14

cricketer and all-round athlete, had a great reputa-
tion as a boxer, but he affected not to care for
championship honours, and rather pooh-poohed
them. I never had a chance of sparring with him,
but it nearly came off on one occasion. He wrote
and invited me to have a spar with him at
Angelo's, in St. James'-street, telling me that a
certain Royal personage was coming, and there
would be a crowded room. I accepted his invita-
tion with great pleasure because I had long looked
forward to taking him on, although he was two
stone heavier than myself When I arrived at the
rooms, however, he told me that he was not feeling
very well, and he was going to have a light spar
with a fighting man, whose name I forget, and that
he would like me to have a set-to with Blake, the
instructor at the rooms. Of course, I was rather
disappointed, but I could not persuade him to alter
his arrangements I had a capital spar with Blake,
who was a really good boxer, and I think there
was not anything in it between us, though his was
rather a different style to that of the fighting men
with whom I had been accustomed to box. His
blows were mere taps. Blake and I retired to the
dressing rooms to change, and while thus engaged
we leaned over the gallery to see the spar between
Buller and the man he had selected to spar with.
We heard shouts of laughter, and we found that
Buller was making a regular fool of his opponent.



15

who was a good, sterling, hard-hitting fighter, but
not a very clever sparrer. Before we had finished
dressing, Buller's antagonist came up also to
change, and Blake said to him : " What a fool you

have made of yourself." The reply was : "D ,

he gave me this not to touch him," and he threw a
sovereign on the floor, saying : " I wish I had never
seen it."

With regard to the old boxing days, I think that
the best man I ever had the gloves on with was Ned
Donnelly. He had fought in the ring six or seven
times, and always came off victorious. He used to
fight lost., but a match was once made for him with
a man to fight at Qst. lolb. Work as he would and
starve as he would he could not get below Qst. 131b.
When the night came to weigh in they went — it
was the usual thing to do so in those days — to a
sporting publican's, and a "fiver" was given to the
latter to fake the weights. Ned told me he be-
lieved that if he had weighed I4st. when he got on
to the scales he would not have moved the weights
against him. Next morning he met his man and
beat him easily. After that he left ^10 in the
hands of "Bell's Life" to fight anybody at lOst,
or up to lost, /lb., and receiving no challenge in
eighteen months he retired from the ring and took
to teaching. He and I used often to spar together
at exhibitions, and he would try and get up fake
sparring. He said it would be much more amusing



i6



to the people if we could arrange to lead off and
counter and duck and all those things, but it never
came to anything, because invariably when we
stepped on to the boards we each tried to do our
best, and it very often ended in one or the other of
us finding ourselves on the floor.

The Secret of Success in Boxing.

At one period of its career the L.A.C. was rather
short of money, and the members arranged an
athletic exhibition at St. James' Hall. I was
asked to spar with Ned Donnelly, and when we
stepped on the boards we faced a room crowded
with ladies and gentlemen. Ned appeared in red
tights, and looked rather an extraordinary figure.
We had a very good set-to, and once I caught Ned
off his balance and he sat on the floor. He tried
to get even with me, but I managed to keep him
off, and we wound up with a pretty even spar.

Ned, when quite fit and well and at his best, had
always rather the pull of me, but if he were off
colour I could get the better of him, and as he was
not very particular in the life he led he used to say
that before one of these exhibition spars with me
he would go into a fortnight's training.

I always found it was best with Ned — in fact,
always in my boxing career — for me to take the
offensive. I believe this is the secret of success in



17

boxing, and, of course, it is the same in a fight.
I very seldom had occasion to use what knowledge
I possessed of the noble art out of the ring, because
I always felt as if I were taking an advantage of
anybody who did not know me. I remember, how-
ever, when in training for rowing that I was walk-
ing in from Vauxhall along the Embankment to
the City. A man had been throwing a stick into
the river for a retriever dog, and the dog was pull-
ing at the stick right across the path. I called out
to the man to look where he was going, and the
dog then came right across my legs, and left a
splash on the shepherd's plaid trousers I was wear-
ing, and of which I was rather proud. This an-
noyed me very much, and I told the man that he
was a clumsy fool, whereupon he retorted, '' Oh,
indeed ! " He let go the stick and began to square
up. It was a case of a little knowledge being a
dangerous thing. He had evidently had a lesson
or two, and thought this an opportunity not to be
lost of showing off his acquirements. I was a
little irritated, so I gave him the right and the left.
He seemed a bit dazed after that, so T asked him
if he wanted any more. "I don't want to take on
a prize-fighter," was the answer. This little en-
counter very much pleased a number of navvies
who were employed in mending the road, and when
I caught the fellow with my right, one of them
said, " That's a good 'un for his nob."



I went to the National Sporting Club the other
night to see some boxing, and I must say I came
away with the impression that boxing has very
much deteriorated. This, perhaps, may be an old
man's prejudice, but 1 firmly believe that a man
with a good left hand would lick with the greatest
ease all these people who are playing for a knock-
out blow. In the old days in my time we did not
play for the knock-out blow because we were in-
structed by men who had fought in the ring, and
as everybody knows the right arm swing would be
far too dangerous for a man to indulge in with the
naked fist, for his hand would soon be knocked up
and rendered useless by contact with the other
man's head. I think also that sparring has de-
teriorated for the same reason that I have given —
that there is no longer fighting with the naked fists,
and we have this miserable and contemptible prac-
tice of clinching and holding.

In the old days it was allowed in the ring, and
then men proceeded to wrestle, and one threw the
other and fell on him, this being perfectly legiti-
mate. I think the present-day clinching and hold-
ing can be cured in only two wa}\s— cither by
having the ring so constructed as to allow men if
they are both of one mind to wrestle for the fall at
the end of the round, or else to make a rule that
should be rigorously carried out that anyone clinch-



19

ing and holdinj^ should be at once disqualified. If
action on these lines is not taken I foresee bad
days for modern boxing. A good many of my
friends have expressed disgust at these practices
being allowed, and their intention not to waste
their time witnessing such exhibitions.



ROWING,



A Scene near Putney Boathouse.

Tn the year 1869 I took up rowing. I had been
a member of the London Rowing Club for some
years, but I had never been to Putney. I took a
house at Teddington, and got Joe Sadler, the
champion of the Thames, to coach me. The
London eight came to Teddington, and one of
their men had an accident which prevented his
rowing again. Joe Sadler asked the captain to put
me in his place, but he refused, as I had never been
to Putney, but he promised me a place in the
eight the following year if I would go to Putney
and row a bit with them. I went there in 1870,
and won the Layton Pairs with Fred Fenner as
my partner. I also rowed in the winning trial
eight, and rowed three in the eight to Henley. We
got into the final, but in those days tossing for the
station meant tossing for the race, as the inside



20



berth was at least a length and a half in favour of
those who won that station. We had to meet the
Oxford Etonians, a crew made up from 'Varsity
oarsmen, and they beat us by only three-quarters
of a length. Gulston was our stroke, and we had
Long, Fenner, Le Blanc Smith and George Ryan
in the boat.

This caused me to take a considerable interest in
rowing, and in the following spring I went down to
Putney to see the 'Varsity crews train, and I rode
over from Teddington on rather a lively mare that
I had at the time. On getting near the Putney
boat-house there was a considerable crowd, and
some of them began to object to my mount, which
was not very quiet. One man, I remember, a big,
burly-looking fellow, said that I ought to be
chucked into the river. I said, " If 1 were to get
down would you chuck me in the river .'^ '' to which
he replied, " Yes, I would, jolly soon." I was pro-
ceeding to dismount, and a man in the crowd said,
'' I will hold your horse, Mr. Chinnery." On my
getting down my friend bolted behind a policeman
who was there, and on my asking him to come out
and fulfil his promise, he said, " When I begin I
must have a man of my own size." The crowd
were much disappointed, and jeered him mercilessly.

The following year I rowed again for the London
eight, and again we got only second. In 1872 I



21

got married, and, of course, gave up all competi-
tion in athletic sports, but in 1877 I had another
go at rowing, and joined the Molesey Rowing Club.
There was a very small membership, and we could
only just raise an eight, but it was made of very
good material. We had in the boat C. Dicker,


1 3

Online LibraryH. J ChinnerySporting recollections → online text (page 1 of 3)