There’s nothing quite like the British sporting spirit is there? Be it thumping a Welshman in the face on the hallowed turf of Twickenham, invading France with nothing but a willow bat or casually staging the greatest Olympics of all time. The athletic achievements of the British isles far exceeds that expected, or even required by so small and backwards a nation.
It was never enough that we invented most of the world major sports… and golf (there is some debate over rounders – Baseball, and women’s rugby – American Football) the history of British sports is such that it still, to this day centers around the practice of good sportsmanship and fair play (current Premier League football does admittedly seek to challenge this).
Following on from our recent article about twentieth century über-sportsman and fellow moustache wearer C.B.Fry, The Holborn team felt compelled to dust off the weights, oil the chains and re-lace the trainers as they prepare themselves for another year of ”… oh well, it was the taking part that counts”.
Of course, like all Holborn endeavours there’s going to be a kit bag full of desirables to give them a helping hand along the way, so here it is…
A Very Holborn Sports Kit:
I) The Gym Bag
Nothing too highbrow is required here, you simply need something large enough to fit a change of clothes, shoes and large packet of wine gums into. A classic american varsity style never dates and the old boys of Princeton, Brown and Yale tended to favour the Duffel bag:
Duffle Bag by Trainerspotter, £45
The streetwise spin off brand from Heritage Research brings it’s eye to detail and it’s love of American pop culture to it’s great range of clothes and accessories. This clean, durable design doesn’t feel the need to shout ”I do sports!” from the rooftops and could easily double up as an overnight bag.
If you’re one of those go-getter types who likes to hi-five people and run/cycle to and from the Gym, the holdall maybe be a less than mobile option, so in the rucksack department I to you present two options:
Pickwick Backpack, Brooks, £230
A fairly versatile canvas roll-top backpack whose design would complement a distance run or journey by bicycle. It is made from water-resistant cotton and leather trim. The price-tag perhaps has something to do with it being manufactured in the hills of Tuscany by Italian artisans.
Vintage Swedish Army M39 Rucksack, £34.99
Yes, you read correctly, it’s a great size, practically made with a simple, active function in mind. There’s been one knocking around in our house for years, and it simply refuses to die.
II) The Trainer
For The Holborn chap, finding a trainer is usually a case of simply finding the one that possess the least amount of gold and neon (probably some form of regulation plimsol) and then sticking with it for about twenty years. Canadian firm New Balance has been making trainers in Cumbria since 1982 thanks to the encouragement of Olympic Gold Medallist, Chris Brasher. Recently New Balance have begun to catch on amongst the East London crowd, popping up various mock-industrial fashion shoots on models pretending to be cockney’s (they also appeared briefly on a wheezing Bond in Skyfall).
Despite this however, the product is a good-looking, sturdy UK-made running shoe that will age well when properly looked after:
For the gentlemen cyclist, who prefers a more leisurely and ascetic approach to the weekly rounds, Taiwanese cycle shoe company Quoc Pham (following on from a successful collaboration with The Tweed Run event) makes a particularly distinguished range, to perhaps be matched with Brooks’s (staggeringly priced) Criterion Cycling Jacket.
The ‘Fixed’ by Quoc Pham, £110
Handmade in a carefully hand-selected vegetable-tanned leather and traditionally hand-polished to give them a deep antique cognac patina, the shoe is then finished by being rubbed with many layers of beaswax to seal.
III) The Sweats
We’ll I’m just going to come out and say it, we like a matching tracksuit, perhaps it’s our slight adherence to a uniform in all things. Perhaps it’s just because of this:
Again the 1940, 1950’s Ivy League style seems to have gotten the design/function balance right with simple Terry Loopback cotton crewnecks (we know everyone loves hoodies, but honestly a grown man in a hoodie looks a case of arrested development). However such a functional style doesn’t mean you can’t still inject a little personality – Holborn favourites Sunspel make a unique selection of ultra-durable, traditionally printed (in Nottingham) loopback sweats that work just as well dressed up with Chino’s and jeans as they do ‘blazing’ round on the track:
matching Loopback Cotton Sweatpants, both £95
IV) The Swim
The Holborn team are like moths to a flame when it comes to swimming pools, once we’re settled there’s very little that will get us away from one, we might try and swim a few lengths, a few idiotic dives – but after a while some wine is opened and the whole experience takes on a more lethargic air. To recreate this experience in your own bathtub simply open a bottle of Occitan’ red and wear..
Fiorentina Navy Bulldog Swimshort by Orlebar Brown £140
”The Bulldog” as it’s known is the perfect ‘bridge’ short, expertly tailored for style and for comfort. The shorts themselves are handmade and pieced together using traditional tailoring skills to ensure a exemplary fit. This particular edition continues Orlebar Brown’s exploration of 1960’s architecture through the geometric prints of David Hicks, so they’re supposedly educational as well as athletic?
V) The Ride
Following on from the realisation that Team GB were no less than demi-Gods at competitive cycling, it’s fair to say the UK has rediscovered its love of the bike. Some people insist on taking it far too seriously of course, spending hours discussing the finer points of frame angles and donning competitive level lycra all-in-one’s for their commute. The Holborn rider is never going to be first – he spends to much time doffing his cap at passing strangers and deliberately slowing to allow a nearby women to notice him. Once in a while however, the Holborn man leaves the city for a batch of quiet country lanes, sloping hill-roads and charmingly in-bred locals – for which they will require a solid and trusted ally.
The Pashley Guv’nor, £845.00
It is the consistent commitment, attention to detail and hand built quality that has earned Pashley its enviable position as Britain’s most exclusive cycle manufacturer. For 80 years, and riding against a rising wave of foreign imports Pashley continue to hand-build bicycles and tricycles at their factory in Stratford-upon-Avon. The cycles themselves are still lovingly welded, powder-coat painted and assembled at the factory. Based on the indomitable Path Racer model, the Guv’nor echoes the purpose and style of those classic racing bikes of the 30’s and 40’s. Just the ticket for exploring these isles, heck even the world.
VI) The Reads
Whether you’re on your way to the treadmill, on the team bus to the game or setting you oars for Henley, the inspirational sporting read can go a long way to spur on your own personal ambitious, both in sport and in life. The following four are a small selection of some of the finest and most extraordinary sports writing, a genre which is frequently written off critically, but is no less engaging for it:
Trautmann’s Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend, Catrine Clay
The incredible journey of Manchester City legend Bert Trautmann, who finished the 1956 FA Cup final despite having broken his collarbone ( his neck was visibly crooked when he received his winner’s medal). Previous to his footballing career Trautmann had been dedicated and efficient solider on the Eastern Front, who survived capture by the Soviets, British and the French Resistance. He was the only individual to posses both a OBE and an Iron Cross.
Coppi: Inside the Legend of Il Campionssimo, Herbie Sykes
This coffee table tome contains page after page of glorious and beautifully printed images from the career of Il Campionissimo, as the incomparably charismatic Fausto Coppi was known, interspersed with the testimony of the old men who were once his team-mates and rivals. The pictures are mostly black and white, of course, but nothing is more moving than the muted colour photographs of the great man’s funeral, with crowds thronging the lanes around his village in Piedmont on a sunlit winter’s day in 1960.
Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made the Nation, John Carlin
Also known as Morgan Freeman vehicle ‘Invictus’, Playing The Enemy centers on sports ability to bring together those who previously had sworn to fight the other unto death. The book captures a rare moment in South African history, that of a tentative unity under liberal values. Mandela’s attempts to understand the rules of rugby are also charmingly revealed. However it is the story of the world’s most famous prisoner adopting the sport of his oppressors that goes someway to explaining continuing Mandela’s value to South Africa and the world.
Death In the Afternoon, Ernest Hemmingway
In his ode to his beloved Bull-FIghting, Hemmingway achieves the astonishing feat of distilling the essence of sport as a personal and emotional spectacle. A great deal of the book deals with the honour surrounding sportsmen and sports and it’s diminishing role in the face of regulation and commercialisation. Hemingway leads you gently into the subject as though you were chatting while seated at a comfortable table in an outdoor cafe on a pleasant afternoon sipping Rum.
VII) C.B Fry’s Miscellaneous Sporting Extra’s
Finally here is a further selection of (semi) essential items hand picked by The Holborn to help you on your way to a staggering multi-sports victory… all without the knowing winks from Lance Armstrong.
(Click on the images to be linked)