University expert builds list of sporting statues

Dickie Bird statue unveiling.  Dickie Bird at the unveiling of his statue in Barnsley.
Dickie Bird statue unveiling. Dickie Bird at the unveiling of his statue in Barnsley.
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ACADEMICS in Sheffield have sculpted a unique list - of sporting statues across the UK.

The comprehensive list, part of a study entitled From Pitch To Plinth: The Sporting Statues Project, reveals there are 120 statues of specific sporting heroes across the country, including five in South Yorkshire.

Statistician Dr Chris Stride, from Fulwood, Sheffield said the research grew out of a personal interest.

Almost half of the statues, a total of 57, depict footballers or football managers.

In South Yorkshire, three former footballers are honoured at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground, with statues of Joe Shaw and Derek Dooley outside the stadium and one of Jimmy Hagan in the club’s museum.

Cricket umpire Dickie Bird is immortalised with a statue in the centre of his hometown Barnsley, while the late John Curry, who won gold in figure skating at the 1976 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, is honoured at iceSheffield.

Dr Stride, from Sheffield University’s institute of work psychology, said: “Our sporting statues, their location and choice of subjects reflect not only the sporting history of the nation, but also the place of sport in today’s society.”

But he said the city’s Olympic gold medal hope Jessica Ennis has a lot to do if she wants a statue in future.

He said: “She’s very young and it’s unusual to have a statue of people while they are still in the peak of their career.

“Also, she competes in an individual sport, so she doesn’t have a club which is going to build it, or fans who follow her to every meet. It would have to be a civic statue and there’s not really funding for that in the current economic climate.

“Also, there are no statues of women and very few Olympians. She’s probably going to have to win gold in London and again in four years time and then, in 10 to 15 years’ time, she might get one.”

n Visit www.sportingstatues.com for statue locations,