GB Olympic Champions 1896-2014
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City of London Police
Tug of War 1908

Devon & Somerset Wanderers
Cricket 1900

Great Britain Mount Everest Expedition 1922
Alpinism 1924

Leander Club
Rowing 1908 & 1912

Osborne Swimming Club
Water Polo 1900

Roehampton Club
Polo 1908

Upton Park FC
Football 1900




Sports Clubs & Teams who have won Olympic Gold Medals
representing Grear Britain

Prior to the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens, which the IOC do not recognise as 'official' Olympics, athletes could simply turn up at an Olympic venue and take part. Some where invited by national associations to compete on their behalf, and in the case of cricket in 1900, the Devon and Somerset Wanderers just happened to be on tour of France at the time of the Paris Games and were invited to 'pop along' and represent Britain. They won the gold medal. The Osborne Swimming Club provided the Water Polo gold medal-winning team in 1900 as did the Upton Park Football Club. Moseley Wanderers also represented Britain in the Rugby competition in 1900 but could only win silver.

At the 1908 London Olympics the first three places in the tug of war event were taken by the British Police teams; City of London Police, Liverpool Police, and the Metropolitan Police (K Division). At the same games the rowing gold medal was one by representatives of the Leander Club, who retained their gold medal, representing Britain, four years later. And also in 1908 the polo gold medal was won by the Roehampton Club.


Olympics competed in: 1 (1908)
Olympic medals: 1908 Gold - Tug of War

Following the withdrawal of the German and Greek teams in the 1908 Tug of War competition, the field was reduced to five, three of which were British teams: City of London police, Metropolitan Police K Division, and a team from the Liverpool Police force.

Liverpool were the only team to pull in the first round at the White City and after taking a 1-0 lead against the USA their American opponents protested against the footwear worn by the Liverpool lads. The appeal was overruled and the Americans withdrew in protest.

That meant that three of the four semi-finalists were British teams. The City of London beat the Met team 2-0 while Liverpool beat Sweden, also 2-0.

In the final the City of London team beat Liverpool 2-0 to win gold while the Metropolitan Police team took the bronze medal after Sweden failed to turn up for their thir place play-off.

Alan Knott of the Tug of War Association said in 2012: "At the close of the competition, the Liverpool Police team offered to pull their American opponents in bare feet, but that offer was declined"

The men who pulled for the City of London Police team were: Edward Barrett, Frederick Goodfellow, William Hirons, Frederick Humphreys, Albert Ireton, Frederick Merriman, Edwin Mills and Jon James Shepherd. Some sources believe that John Henry Duke was in the team but being over the age of 40 at the time he was more likely the manager of the team. For individual biographies go to the main sports section (Tug of War)

Half of the 1908 London City Police tug of war team also represented Great Britain at the 1912 Olympics where they took the silver medal and when Britain won the gold again in 1920 the team was made up of London City police members, but are listed in official records as being a Great Britain team.

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Olympics competed in: 1 (1900)
Olympic medals: 1900 Gold - Cricket

Britain, courtesy of the Devon County Wanderers, are the reigning Olympic cricket champions - only because it has been held just once, in 1900.

The Devon and Somerset Wanderers were founded in 1894 by William Donne, who played in the 1900 Olympic match, and was made up largely of players from the Castle Cary Cricket Club in Somerset and former pupils of Blundell's School, in Tiverton, Devon.

Before embarking on a scheduled tour of France in 1900, the Wanderers were asked if they would represent Great Britain in the four-team Olympic tournament, which they agreed to, and played under the name of Devon County Wanderers.

However, the four teams were reduced to two when the Belgian and Dutch teams pulled out leaving just Great Britain and a French team, Athletic Club Union (calling themselves 'All Paris'), who were formed in 1890 by British ex-pats who moved to the French capital to help with the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

The Olympic 'final' was played at the Velodrome Municipal de Vincennes in Paris on 19-20 August, with 12 players per side.

Arthur Birkett, from Exeter, captained the British team who managed just 117 runs in the first innings. But they then dismissed the French for 78. The Devon and Somerset lads then made 145-5 in their second innings, thanks largely to 59 from Alfred Bowerman, before a seven wicket haul (for nine runs) from Montagu Toller from Barnstaple, which helped bowl out the French for just 26 runs. Their win came with five minutes of the match to spare as they claimed a 158-run victory. Unfortunately, like most events in 1900, the match was watched by very few spectators, due to lack of interest and/or knowledge of the game from the French people.

Only two of the British team played First Class cricket; Montagu Toller played for Somerset six times in 1897 while Alfred Bowerman, played from Somerset just twice, in 1900 and 1905.

Another member of the British team, the Wanderers founder William Donne, was President of the Rugby Football Union in 1924-25.

In addition to receiving their medals, both teams were given miniature replica statues of the Eiffel Tower.

The match was not deemed to be part of the Olympic Games originally, due to the confusion that reigned during the Paris Olympics, but in 1912 the IOC ruled that it was an Olympic event.

The historic match was re-enacted in 1987 with the Old Blundellians representing 'England'. The match ended in a draw.

The full team that won the gold medal in Paris was:

Charles Beachcroft, Arthur Birkett, Alfred Bowerman, George Buckley, Francis Burchell, Frederick Christian, Henry Corner, Frederick Cuming, William Donne, Alfred Powlesland, John Symes and Montagu Toller. Two other members of the touring team, F Thompson and E Thompson did not play in the Olympic final.

For individual biographies go to the main sports section (Cricket)

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Olympic medals: 1924 Gold - Alpinism

If ever there was a most unlikely British Olympic gold medal then this was it.

Ever since the first Games in 1896, the IOC had always planned to award a medal for an outstanding mountaineering feat but it was not until 1924 that the first award was made when they decided to make a presentation to the most outstanding feat of the previous Olympiad (four years).

The first award went to Brigadier Charles Bruce and his 21-man team who made three attempts, and got close to the summit, of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, in 1922. Sadly seven Sherpas lost their lives on the third attempt.

Charles Granville Bruce, who was 55 at the time of the expedition was accompanied by 11 other Britons: Geoffrey Bruce (cousin of the expedition leader), Colin Crawford, Tom Longstaff, George Mallory, John Morris, Henry Morshead, John Noel, Edward Norton, Howard Somervell, Bill Strut and Arthur Wakefield.

George Mallory was probably the most famous member of the team and during the 1924 Everest expedition, again led by General Bruce, Mallory lost his life.

Along with climbing partner Sandy Irvine, the two men were last seen about 800 feet from the summit of the world's tallest mountain. Mallory's body was found 75 years later by a party that set out for the purpose of the finding the remains of the two climbers. There is much doubt, speculation, and uncertainty as to whether the two men reached the summit before their demise.

The gold medal for Alpinism was awarded on two more occasions; in 1932 to a German team for the first ascent of the North Side of the Matterhorn and in 1936 to a Swiss team for their Himalayan Expeditions.

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Olympics competed in: 2 (1908, 1912)
Olympic medals: 1908 Gold - Rowing (Eights), 1912 Gold - Rowing (Eights)

Dating to 1818, the Henley-on-Thames based Leander Club is one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. Some of the world's great rowers have been members of the club over the years including Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster, James Cracknell and Guy Nickalls.

When it was formed, the Leander club restricted its membership to 16, now there are more than 3500 members worldwide and the club has won more Olympic medals than any other single-sport club in the world. They have won the prestigious Grand Challenge Cup for eights at the Henley Royal Regatta more than 30 times.

On 1 January 2013 double Olympic silver medallist Debbie Flood made history by taking over as the first female captain of the Leander club in its 194 year history.

Whilst their record in the Grand Challenge Cup is an outstanding one, the club also enjoyed two other great moments in their history when they sent out the entire team to represent Great Britain in the eights at both the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, and on each occasion they won the gold medal.

In 1908, on their home course on the Thames at Henley, they came through their qualifying heats with ease but in the final were up against the race favourites, Royal Club Nautique de Gand from Belgium who were the reigning European champions. It was a close race for just over a mile before the Leander crew pulled away to win by two lengths. With only two of the nine crew under the age of 25 and four over the age of 30, they were dubbed the Leander "Old Men's Eight" by the press.

The nine men, all ex-Oxford or Cambridge rowers, who represented Leander/Great Britain in 1908 were: Henry Bucknall, Charles Burnell, Raymond Etherington-Smith, Albert Gladstone, Banner Johnstone, Frederick Kelly, Gilchrist Maclagan, Guy Nickalls and Ronald Sanderson.

Guy Nickalls was just short of his 42nd birthay when he won his gold medal.

Four years later in Djurgarden Bat, Stockholm, the British team, again represented by the Leander Club, retained their title and in the final beat New College, Oxford.

The Belgian club, Royal Club Nautique de Gand, were missing in 1912, so too were Magdalen College, Oxford, winners of the Grand Challenge Cup in 1910 and 1911. So the way was open for Leander to win their second Olympic gold.

However, they had to work hard in three qualifying races against Canadian, German and Australasian crews before reaching the final against the Oxford crew who had an easier passage into the final.

The final was neck-and-neck for the first kilometre but then Leander took control and eventually won by around one metre.

Of the 18 men who contested the 1912 final 17 attended Oxford University, Sidney Swann of Leander being the odd one out as he went to Cambridge.

The nine men who represented the Leander Club in the final were: Edgar Burgess, Philip Fleming, Stanley Garton, Angus Gillan, Ewart Horsfall, Alister Kirby, Sidney Swann, Henry Wells and Leslie Wormald.

This was to be Britain's last gold medal in the eights for 88 years.

For individual biographies of the 1908 and 1912 gold medal-winning teams go to the main sports section (Rowing)

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Olympics competed in: 1 (1900)
Olympic medals: 1900 Gold - Water Polo

Osborne Swimming Club from Manchester represented Britain in the inaugural Water Polo competition at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

Coverage of the water polo competition in Paris is very sketchy but it is known that Osborne beat Tritons Lillois (France) 12-0 in the first game before beating Pupilles de Neptune de Lille #2 10-1 in the semi-final. And in the final they beat The Brussels Swimming and Water Polo Club (Belgium) 7-2.

Again, due to the sketchy coverage of the event, there is also some considerable doubt as to who the players for the Osborne team during the Games were, probably because the Club originally entered a 'B' team, which eventually did not compete.

It is widely believed that the squad that won the gold medal was made up of: Thomas Coe, Robert Crawshaw, William Henry, John Jarvis, Peter Kemp, Fred Stapleton, and a Fijian-born New Zealander Victor Lindberg. Because Lindberg was not British and was co-opted onto the Osborne team just weeks before the Games, the team is officially recognised as being a Mixed Team and not a British team. But the Osborne Swimming Club certainly deserve a ma=ention in this section.

Other sources say that Arthur Robertson and George Wilkinson were members of the 1900 but these cannot be substantiated, Many sources also cite John Henry 'Rob' Derbyshire as being a member of the Osborne team but an article in The Times dated 11 August 1900 reported that the British swimmers had set off to Paris for the Olympics and that: "Coe took the place of the 100 yards champion Derbyshire."

Other sources included William Lister in the squad but many historians believe that Lister could not have competed as he died a couple of weeks before the Paris Olympics.

The Osborne gold medal was the first of four (or three if you accept them as a mixed team in 1900) Water Polo golds won by Great Britain between 1900-28.

For individual biographies of the 1900 gold medal-winning team go to the main sports section (Water Polo)

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Olympics competed in: 1 (1908)
Olympic medals: 1908 Gold - Polo

The Roehampton Club won the 1908 Olympic polo title in a three team competition which was made up entirely of three British teams, with the Hurlingham Club and the Ireland National Team making up the trio.

The competition was played at the Hurlingham Grounds, and Roehamopton beat the host club 4-1 in the first match. They then beat the Ireland team 8-1 to guarantee gold. The Irish and Hurlingham did not play the remaining match to take a silver medal each.

The Roehampton team in 1908 was: Caharles Miller, George Miller, Patteson Nickalls and Herbert Wilson.

The Roehampton Club was set in a large area close to Richmond Park and was established on 1 April 1902 as an officer's polo club tby the three Miller brothers, Edward, Charles and George - the latter two played in the 1908 Olympic winning team. It was Charles who, in 1901, found the area of land on which the club was established.

Now a unique private members sports club it contains some outstanding sporting facilities including an 18-holf golf course, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, more than 25 tennis courts, squash courts, croquet lawns and fitness and health studios.

For individual biographies of the 1908 gold medal-winning team go to the main sports section (Polo)

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Olympics competed in: 1 (1900)
Olympic medals: 1900 Gold - Football

There were two Upton Park Football Clubs; the firstwas founded in 1866 and played at West Ham Park. The area of the East End in those days wasa wealthy one and the team was made up former public school boys who upheld the true amateur ideals.

They were one of the original entrants in the English FA Cup in the 1871-72 season. They progressed to the last eight of the competition on four occasions, including 1883-84 when they went through to the quarter-finals after drawing 1-1 at Preston in a game that was to be significant in changing the face of British football.

Because Upton Park complained to the FA that Preston had been making payments to players in the days of amateurism they were disqualified and Upton Park progressed to the next round. But more significantly, it led to a change in the rules and the following year payments to players were allowed. Professionalism had arrived, but the organisers of the game could not have foreseen the massive wages that the paltry payments in those days were to lead to.

Winners of the first two playings of the London Senior Cup in 1883 and 1884, The original Upton Park club wound up in 1887. But four years later the name was revived when a local side, Belmont FC, adopted the Upton Park name. and in 1900 they represented Great Britain at the Paris Olympics which they duly won.

Football was scheduled only as a demonstration sport at Paris in 1900, but the IOC have now recognised it is a full Olympic event and retrospectively awarded medals.

The British team took the inaugural title by beating a French team 4-0 with two goals from Nicholas, and one each from Turner and Zealey in front of just 500 fans at the Vélodrome Municipal de Vincennes.

The Upton Park team was: John Jones; Percy Buckenham, William Gosling; Alfred Chalk, Tom Burridge, Bill Quash; Arthur Turner, F.G.Spackman, J.Nicholas, James Zealey, A.Haslam (captain)

The original Upton Park FC had several players selected to play for England in full internationals inckluding Conrad Warner in 1878, Segar Bastard in 1890, Clem Mitchell, who won five caps between 1878-85 and Charlie Bambridge who won 18 caps between 1879-87 and was to serve on the FA Committee between 1883-86. Another Upton Park player, Percy Buckenham was a fine first class cricketer who played for Essex and England.

Perhaps one of the most famous former Upton Park players was Charles Alcock, regarded as one of the founders of the modern game in Britain, and the man responsible for FA Cup. He was a member of Upton Park from 1869 to 1872.

The Upton Park club eventually wound up for the final time in 1911, but they left a lastng impression. Not least because they were one of the pioneers of overseas tours in the late 19th/early 20th century, including an annual trip to the Channel Islands where a match betwen teams from Guernsey and Jersey have done battle for the Upton Park Trophy every year since 1907.

For individual biographies of the 1900 gold medal-winning team go to the main sports section (Football)

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