Watching live sport on a black and white television set in the 1960’s was special. I was a lucky boy to have sat with father and brothers to watch England win the World Cup in 1966. Then, less than a year later, we gathered to watch the Grand National. The memory of the 1967 race will never leave me.
It was the first race to carry my pocket money. Dad got 10/1 for Honey End to win and I asked for my pocket money to be on that one each way. Why Honey End? I’m guessing it was my childhood obsession with Winnie the Pooh. Heaven knows what I would have done had there been a horse in the race called Paddington. I would have likely hedged my bets and dutched the pair!
Honey End came second. But I made a little profit on my bet, so I was happy. Though not as happy as one brother. He had a bet on a 100/1 outsider. I expect we mocked his choice. He bet on a no hoper called Foinavon.
And Foinavon had no hope until calamity struck. At the most innocuous fence of them all, there was a pile up caused by a loose horse. Those in the stands at Aintree could not make out what was going on. Then, emerging from the gloom, came Foinavon. He was out in front and seemingly alone, but jockey John Buckingham had to get him over six remaining defences.
In those days jockeys could remount a fallen horse. Josh Gifford did exactly that aboard the horse carrying my money, Honey End. And Gifford tried to catch Foinavon until the line. But Foinavon could not be caught.
David Owen has written a fine book celebrating that achievement. In the on camera interview below he tells me more about Foinavon. Did he win another race after that memorable day in 1967? How many punters backed the unlikely winner? And what price did the Tote pay out those who, like my brother, backed the lucky winner?
Here is a 7 minute version of my longer interview with David Owen (available in full on YouTube)
As children, we could only watch the Grand National on our small, rented black and white television. Thankfully the race was captured by Pathe and I never tire of watching this film.
Now you too can watch the amazing outcome of the 1967 Grand National.