Sunday, December 13, 2009

Woody Hayes, Anglophile

My English readers might be interested to know that my old friend, the late Woody Hayes, was an extraordinary Anglophile. Indeed, he once tried to motivate his players with a halftime speech describing Admiral Nelson’s death at Trafalgar. That didn’t go over well. A great many of the players had trouble keeping from laughing. When Woody’s old friend, Paul Horning, (about the only journalist Woody ever had any use for), told Woody that he planned to write a biography about him, Woody barked, “fine, so long as you do it like Cromwell’s.”

When Horning asked what Woody meant by that, Woody replied, “Do it warts and all.” In 1977, the BBC did a twenty-part documentary entitled, “The Americans,” and made Woody one of the subjects. They must have had trepidation, as Woody had a prickly reputation with the press. To the surprise of just about everyone in the American sporting press, Woody assented, along with a comment that he had always respected the British for the courage they’d shown in both World Wars and especially Air Marshall Dowding’s courage during the Battle of Britain.

No comments: