On A Pedestal, On A Podium
Thrill Of The Games Provides Inspiration
Do sports heroes have sports heroes? Do those that we look up to look up to others, in turn?
According to Olympics lover John Richards, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’
Wolves Heroes’ co-owner was up early as usual today to catch the penultimate day’s action from Tokyo – and was then happy to share some thoughts beyond our usual Molineux-based talking points.
“I have absolutely loved the Games, as I have for many years,” he said. “I was out of bed again at 6.30 to switch the TV on and see what Dan Walker had to tell us from the cycling and boxing.
“Having grandkids has broadened my interest to cover a lot of the different events. The girls in Australia like skateboarding, for example, so we have watched that keenly. And the one lad in Yorkshire spends a lot of time on his BMX bike, so he has encouraged us to follow that.
“But there are any number of different areas that I have latched on to. I would never have thought that canoeing would grab me but you can’t fail to admire the dedication of the competitors.”
Richards hosted a detailed look at the Sydney Olympics when standing in as a presenter for a few weeks on a weekly show on The Wolf in 2000 shortly after his departure from the managing director job at Wolves. He also went with family members to the Commonwealth Games on Queensland’s Gold Coast in 2018.
With next year’s Commonwealths being centred on Birmingham, there may be a further opportunity to see something live but he is happy for now to be lapping it up from the living room.
“I am one of those who wasn’t sure the Games should go ahead but you think back now at some of the wonderful entertainment we would have missed if they had been cancelled – and some of the stories that have been created,” he added.
“It was great to get up again today to some terrific news about a lad from Birmingham in the boxing and Pam was hooked on the cycling while I walked down to the paper shop.
“There is such variety and so many different sports to enjoy watching for these few weeks and we just hope it all inspires our grandchildren to push on in their netball, football and other sports.”
So what about those heroes Richards and his Molineux team-mates might have had in the past?
“As a boy growing up, my favourite was Jimmy Greaves,” he said. “But there was a rugby league winger at Warrington in the 1950s and 1960s called Brian Bevan, who I remember thinking a lot of when I was a lad.
“There were loads of stars from other sports you would latch on to as well. Three Welshmen come to my mind, JPR Williams and Barry John in rugby and Lynn Davies in the long jump. Mary Peters around the time of the 1972 Munich Games as well.
“We tended to like horse racing and snooker in the dressing room, so Lester Piggott had his admirers as the top flat jockey and then people like Alex Higgins and George Best would perform in their sports in a way that made you think they were on a different level to what you could ever achieve.
“It was whoever the top performers were in the sports that TV brought us, so Pele was always up there…..and players like Tony Jacklin, Nick Faldo and Seve because we nearly all loved golf.”