SPRINGFIELD PARK THE HOME OF LEGENDS

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Ben Jones

This it is not about football but it does have sporting links with Springfield Park and Wigan. It is intended to pay tribute to one of Wigan ‘s Olympic legends.

In the early part of the 20th century Ben Jones was one of the most famous racing cyclists in country. He was Wigan coal miner, born in 1882, who was a member of the Wigan Bicycle Club so it is very likely he competed and trained at Springfield Park during the early part of his cycling career before he joined Salford Harriers club in 1905.

He was a tough gritty competitor whose battles with his great rivals Earnest Payne and Clarence Kingsbury were legendary. Their duals were nearly always close with wheel lengths separating their wins, such was the interest they attracted crowds of well over 15,000 spectators. In fact, the crowd for the 1910 Muratti Cup was well over 20,000 because hundreds more spectators flooded in to the Fallowfield ground when the barriers gave way.

After his three medal haul in the 1908 London Olympic games, held at the White City Stadium, Ben Jones became Wigan ‘s very own Chris Hoy. Had one of the events not been controversially cancelled for being outside the time limits he would almost certainly have gained another silver medal.

He won gold in the 5km race, silver in the 20km and gold in the four man pursuit as did the rest of the team Clarence Kingsbury, Earnest Payne and Leonard Meredith.

There is a tantalising little snippet at the very bottom of a Wigan Observer article on Ben Jones that summarises some of his wins titled ‘Brilliant Riding at Newcastle ‘; it states ‘The treasure chest at the Royal Hotel must be rapidly filling up!

Presumably the Royal Hotel was in Wigan so was it the one in Standishgate?

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