Stoddy, England’s Finest Sportsman!
Posted on February 9, 2016
I had an email yesterday from an author called David Frith, who wrote the book Stoddy; England’s Finest Sportsman.
Frith was politely bemoaning the fact that I had failed to mention him in a post I penned about AE Stoddart on a wet summer Sunday a few years ago, especially as some of the information in the post was gleaned from his hard work.
Stoddy was the captain of England when they regulary battered the Aussies in the early Ashes series, losing only once between 1883 and 1896; He was considered by many as the ultimate sporting hero, a man who also played Rugby for England and was a supreme all round athlete.
However, on the 7th April 1915 it was reported in the London Echo that Stoddy had shot himself in the head. He had recently resigned as secretary of the Queens Club due to a nervous breakdown and had struggled to find employment since.
In the lonely late hours one Saturday evening, Stoddy made the decision to terminate his miserable existence with his hand pistol, however, his wife found him with it unloaded and after a brief struggle, she managed to prise the weapon from his grasp and strongly advised him to consult his friends to talk things through.
Surely there was another way?
Mrs Stoddart (rather foolishly in hindsight) then handed the pistol back to her husband but at the same time she removed the live cartridges from his possession. However, she later found him dead in his bed, with a single gunshot to the head. The life of one of England’s finest sportsman was over in tragic circumstances.
Mrs Stoddart must have regretted for the rest of her life that the thought had not crossed her mind that poor old Stoddy (who was also beset by Pneumonia) had another box of ammunition at his disposal.
At 52 years old, Stoddy no longer had the physical capability of his prime and failings in his financial life as a city stockbroker had left him in debt. Without the multi-million pound contracts offered to modern sportsman, even the mediocre ones, Stoddart saw suicide as the only answer to his woes.
So, if you are intrigued by the life and death of one of the great sporting all-rounders and you want to read more about him, please do buy an updated version of David’s book, you can find it on Amazon by clicking here.
You can read my original post by clicking here, however, please do be warned that it also features a piece about Carol Vorderman winning “Rear of the Year”….urrrghh!