From: Brian H Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.
I WAS intrigued by Chris Bond’s piece on longevity in sport close to the 50th anniversary of Sir Stanley Matthews’ last football league appearance at the age of 50 (The Yorkshire Post, February 5).
Certainly the frugality of fitness fanatic Matthews was a factor in his achievement at a time when his contemporaries would relax after a game with a fag in the bath and a pint or two in the pub.
However, it should be remembered that players turned out far less frequently in those days.
This could explain the paradox of boxers winning world titles in their forties in arguably one of the most brutal of sports: a top male tennis player will compete more times in a few months –sometimes over five sets – than a boxer will fight in his whole professional career.
The longevity of goalkeepers and batsmen is easily explained. Research has shown that while stamina and strength decline with age, reaction times do not.
Moreover, the skill factor may be enhanced by experience.
I have always thought that the great Geoffrey Boycott still had several more centuries in him at the time of retirement.