November 7, 2014, by brzwc1

The sporting heroes of our past

Nominations for the University’s Greatest Sporting Heroes have been pouring in and many of the suggested names are among our most prominent sportsmen and women – especially those who have represented their country or won medals at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

But, fascinatingly, many more nominations have uncovered a rich seam of less well-known achievements in the sports arena by University of Nottingham alumni.

DE Woods – rifleman

In 1933 for instance, Nottingham student DE Woods, Officer Cadet CSM in the Officer Training Corps based at the University, made a name for himself when he was awarded the King’s Prize at Bisley. The National Rifle Association’s prestigious annual event rewards the country’s crack marksmen and this was quite some achievement for a student at the University.

Ron Jacobs – rugby

The late Ron Jacobs meanwhile, was an English rugby union player who clocked up a mammoth total of 470 games for Northampton over a 17-year period in the 1960s. He was also a post-war student at University College Nottingham.

Ron Jacobs

Ron Jacobs English rugby union player, Nottingham alumnus

Nicknamed “the Badger” apparently because of his formidable scrummaging technique, Ron went on to play 29 games for England and even captained the national side in his last two games. After he retired from playing Ron went into rugby union administration and became President of the Rugby Football Union in 1983.

Ron was nominated by alumnus Ken Forman(Physics 1951) who said: “He was a post-war student at Sutton Bonington and a fine Rugby player even at that early age. Whilst at SB he played prop forward for the college, his county and representative matches. After his playing days he contributed in Club and Country administration. Away from rugby, he spent his working years on the family arable and dairy farm”.

Ken believes that Ron never received the acknowledgement of his achievements that he deserves from the University.

Austin Baxter – cricket

Industrial Economics student Austin Baxter was one of the finest cricketers the University has produced, according to his nomination for Greatest Sporting Hero. Austin played for Nottinghamshire first and second Xl in the 1950s.

Robert Clift – hockey

Finally, alumnus Robert Clift was a member of a highly successful hockey side which recorded an historic victory in 1988. It was the Seoul Olympics and Chemistry graduate Robert played inside left in Team GB as they overcame Australia in the semi-final and then beat West Germany 3-1 in the final to take the gold medal. Rob and the team had already won silver medals in the 1986 World Cup and 1987 European Cup.

Robert Clift hockey player, Nottingham alumnus

Robert Clift hockey player, Nottingham alumnus

Rob went on to captain Team GB at the Olympic Games in Barcelona four years later, ending a 10 year spell of representing his country in the sport in which he won 75 England caps and 52 GB caps.

Tell us your nomination

We’d love to hear who you think should be crowned as Nottingham’s Greatest Sporting Heroes. Please keep all your nominations coming – there are separate categories for Greatest Man, Woman, Coach and Team. Nominations close on 14 November.

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See everyone who has been nominated so far:

Posted in Alumni Relations