Wednesday, 24 August 2011


This pub lies close to EMIA – in fact one of the runways is very adjacent. I’ve never been sure whether the pub lies in Leicestershire or Derbyshire. My brother, his wife and I used to come here regularly on Wednesday’s for a short time in the early 90’s to be in the company of Chris Ashley and his wife Margaret – who was in fact the manageress. Chris was a local celebrity of sorts and hosted a variety of radio shows in the east Midlands (and also west Midlands later) from the late 70’s right through to the early 90’s. He also worked abroad in NZ, Australia and South Africa, I think. His work was not confined to local radio and he was an occasional broadcaster on talkSport, notably. A passionate supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion – he was once referred to as “that maniac with a microphone!” when he worked for Radio Trent by Brian Clough. He was last heard of radio presenting in Spain, having vowed that he would take a well-earned retirement. In truth he could knock the likes of James Whale, Jon Gaunt and Chris Evans into a cocked hat...
                                  Chris Ashley
Chris used to host the best pub-quiz I know. Initially this was at the Catchem’s Corner pub in Nottingham and then at The Bull’s Head - almost certainly during times when he wasn’t doing radio work. Interspersed with music and anecdotes, it was an absolute treat to make the journey over to take part in his quizzes – the questions were thought-provoking and the prizes were rubbish! - usually alcohol that had gone past its sell by date – but that didn’t matter.

There was always a sport question and I remember one in particular that went like this:-

“Which English sportsman is sometimes referred to as the 'Greatest British sportsman' in recognition of his achievements - amongst his achievements was winning an Olympic gold and silver at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, winning the doubles at Wimbledon, compiling a 147maximum break in snooker, making a century at Lord's Cricket Ground, captaining the British Davis Cup team, captaining Manchester City FC - finishing runners-up in the Football League Championship of 1920-21 and captaining the England national football team?”

Stunned silence....

Most people viewed the question with scepticism – and this was more to do with Chris’ mischievousness than anything else – since the answer to the question a few weeks before:-

“Which serving US marine became heavyweight boxing champion of the world?” was Popeye the Sailor Man! Some punters were not happy with this bit of leg-pulling, I can tell you!

But I knew the answer to the question and encouraged my sister-in-law to write it down on the answer sheet. I could see other people scratching their heads or else not having a clue and handing in their papers.

The answer?

Maxwell Woosnam (1892-1965) remarkably achieved all these feats during his sporting heyday in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His sporting endeavours are included in the book - All Round Genius: The Unknown Story of Britain's Greatest Sportsman by Mick Collins (published in 2006 by Aurum Press Ltd.). He achieved much more than any other sportsman could possibly cram into their lifetime. More strings to his bow than Robin Hood! If his story is not remarkable enough, Woosnam was also a five-time Cambridge Blue, a scratch golfer and once defeated Charlie Chaplin at table tennis using a butter-knife as his bat...

Needless to say, we were the only team who got the answer right that night. The prize - I can’t really remember...

Max Woosnam
The Bull’s Head
Bull’s Head Row
WILSON (nr. Melbourne)
DE73 8AE 
Tel.: +44 (0)1332 863921

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