Thursday, December 07, 2006

Seven Shades of... Imre Varadi

Written by Kedge

From Varadi to Ogrizovic, two footballers with foreign sounding names, both born in England.

Imre Varadi
Despite his name, he was born in Paddington and started his footballing life playing non-league at Letchworth. Spotted by Sheffield United just before his 19th birthday, he began a career that would see him change clubs more often than Ronaldo falls over in a match. After only ten appearances, he moved to Everton where he played 26 times and score 10 goals.

The arrival of Howard Kendall saw Varadi move to Newcastle for probably his longest stay where he played alongside Chris Waddle and Kevin Keagan. After two seasons and 81 games, he moved on and played for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom, Man City, Wednesday again, Leeds, Wednesday again (you’d think someone would have learnt by now), before dropping down to end his playing days with Rotherham, Mansfield, and finally Scunthorpe who famously had on their books at one time a certain

Ian Botham
who actually played more times than Imre Varadi. Botham had been taken on by Scunthorpe in order to regain his fitness following a cricketing injury. Beefy is one of a select band of men who played both cricket and football at a professional level. Having turned down the chance to join Crystal Palace, he started his cricketing career at Somerset where he was under the management of

Brian Close
who at one time early in his career made a couple of appearances for Leeds United and also played at under-15 level for England. Deciding that Football was not to be his sport, Brian turned to his other love, Cricket, where he had a successful career with Yorkshire and England.

Following a dispute, he moved to Somerset where he became captain of a side that included Botham. In 1976 at the age of 45, he played his last Test match for England against the West Indies in the third test (of five) at Old Trafford. He was replaced in the 4th test by

Chris Balderstone
who not only played cricket for Leicestershire and England but also football for Carlisle, Huddersfield and Doncaster Rovers. Probably the most talked about sporting moment from Balderstone's life was on the 15th September 1975. He ended the day 51 'not out' against Derbyshire, got changed in the dressing room, and was rushed full speed to the Belle Vue Ground, Doncaster, where he played against Brentford that very same night. He returned to complete his century the next day and also took three wickets. No-one had ever played First Class cricket and League football on the same day before, and no-one ever will again.

One statistic that he would like to forget was in his second Test appearance in the 5th Test of the 1976 West Indies tour at the Oval when he dropped a catch. The lucky recipient of this rare mistake, on 151 at the time, was none other that the great

Viv Richards
who has the distinction of representing the West Indies and his home island of Antigua at cricket and football, where he was part of their World Cup squad during the qualifying stages for the 1974 tournament. In contrast to his cricketing role as a prolific batsman and part of the formidable 'Windies' team that dominated the sport during the 1970’s and the 1980’s, he preferred to play in defence on the football pitch.

One of only a handful of people to play for his country at both football and cricket, he shares that rare distinction with Denis Compton of Arsenal and England, and of course

Andy Goram
The Scottish goalkeeper who was also a useful bowler for the Scottish national cricket team, playing in matches against Ireland and also in the NatWest Trophy. He was prevented from playing in the 1991 Cricket World Cup in England, as he had earlier signed for Rangers who put a no-cricket clause in his contract.

The football World Cup has also had its disappointments for Goram as he famously stormed out of the Scottish squad for the 1998 tournament following a bust-up over bonus payments. While at Rangers, it was reported in the press that he suffered from a mild form of schizophrenia, something that led to the Rangers fans singing “Two Andy Gorams, there’s only Two Andy Gorams...”

Among his many clubs were Oldham, Hibernian, Rangers, Motherwell, Notts County, Sheffield United, Manchester Untied and finally Coventry City, who had another famous goalkeeper named

Steve Ogrizovic.
Oggy, was born in Mansfield and played for Coventry from 1984 to 2000. He is one of the very few players to have scored direct from a goal kick, which he achieved in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on October 12th 1986.

He was also a very useful cricketer for the Minor Counties side, taking the wickets of a few Test batsmen - Chris Broad, Martyn Moxom and Alvin Kallicharan.

In 2003 Oggy was the subject of a hoax when it was reported that he had been kidnapped while in Kazakhstan. An online petition was started to obtain his release, but the hoax was discovered when a local paper interviewed him at Coventry’s training ground.

And there you have it. Imre Varadi to Steve Ogrizovic via the world of cricket. Possibly a fitting tribute to our lads down under? Possibly not!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Fantastic, Kedge! When you said you were doing the next 'Seven Shades' article with "a bit of a twist", I never would have guessed we'd end up with Cricket stuff!

Very nicely done, I must say. Loved the 'Two Andy Gorams' story too!!!

Have a large pat on the back from yours truly! :-)


  © Blogger template Psi by 2008

Back to TOP