Instead of watching the London marathon last month, I spent the morning thinking of great legal sportsmen of way back when. There must have been a few rugby union players when the top-class game was amateur, but I can’t put names to them.
However, the silk Bill Simes captained Nottinghamshire at cricket and in 1938 Billy Rees-Davies played for Cambridge University against an Australian touring side which included Bradman and Lindsay Hassett. He had opening batsman WA Brown lbw for a duck but ended with figures of 2 for 214.
For me, pride of place in the pantheon would go to Victor Morley Lawson, who won his first race over hurdles on Popsi’s Joy in his late-sixties.
Horses apart, though, top of the list would be London solicitor Sydney Wooderson (pictured), a partner in the City firm Keene Marsland. Born in 1914 and nicknamed the Mighty Atom, the slight, bespectacled Wooderson weighed less than nine stone.
A lifelong member of Blackheath Harriers, at 18 he became the first British schoolboy to break four and a half minutes for the mile. He won the British mile title five times in a row and in 1937 set a world mile record.
Although he was a natural choice to carry the torch into Wembley Stadium for the 1948 Olympics, sadly the more photogenic 400-metre runner John Mark was chosen instead. Wooderson died aged 92 in December 2008.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor