(reproduced in full from book)
Rarely can a sporting icon have received such meagre press as has the subject of this study. Very few people, it seems, have even heard of Cuthbert John Ottaway. Yet the man was a sporting phenomenon.
Born into a well-to-do family in Dover in 1850, he went on to become the only student to represent Oxford University at ‘Blue’ level in five different sports, played first-class cricket at the highest level, appeared in three F.A.Cup Finals and, as a little side line (or so it seemed at the time), also happened to be England’s first ever international football captain. He did it all as an amateur, finding time, also, to qualify as a barrister, before dying at the age of 27 in the spring of 1878. He missed out on all the things we consider ordinary – having a family, a career, and even so much as a middle-age – yet achieved more than a modern-day sportsman or sports fan could ever dream of.
In an age in which the gentleman scholar-athlete was king, Cuthbert Ottaway reigned supreme, and helped pave the way for the next generation of more famous all-rounder superstars such as the great C.B.Fry. Ottaway, though, was there, performing, during the formative years of organised sport; untied by the contractual world of professionalism, he and his (mainly lesser) contemporaries were true pioneers. He was, in short, the right man, in the right place, at the right time. And this is his extraordinary story.