Wednesday, 16th January, 2002

Justice Has Finally Arrived On The Train That Is 46 Years Late

'Gentleman' Terry Spinks Gets An MBE

During a lifetime of meeting and mixing with people from all walks of life I have encountered some of the worst of the bad guys, and some of the best of the good guys, of whom the very best good guys are referred to as 'diamonds'.

Amongst the bad guys are those that elect to follow the devil's disciple, Judas. Their scumbag bedfellows are those that hurt both physically, and mentally, children, and the cowards that rob vulnerable people such as the elderly of their meagre pension money, and those that abuse women.

I have probably met more scumbags than most, and those that are still alive were usually left with a violent reason to remember me. Zorro usually left his mark, but I was not so artistic, and very often the screaming of the scumbag meant that time was in short supply.

I am pleased to say that the good guys, and the 'diamonds', that I am extremely fortunate to call friends, have more than made up for the scumbags.

Very often a good guy would be well known to those who work in the criminal records office at Scotland Yard, and if dependence upon the good guy's criminal record was the sole factor in making a character assessment of him/her, and the real person is ignored, then a negative opinion would be inevitable.

However, when it comes to moral honesty these good guys would out-distance many of those who work in Scotland Yard, and so many others who are quick to make a character judgement without knowing the real person.

GOLD AT '56 OLYMPIC GAMES

In 1956 there were two outstanding Gold Medal heroes that came back from the Melbourne Olympic Games in Australia, Terry Spinks, from East London, and Dick McTaggart, from Scotland.

These two team mates took on the best amateur boxers in the world, and were victorious; two magnificent feats.

Now the Olympic code is meant to represent the best in sport, and sporting behaviour. It is a great pity that those who are responsible for compiling the Honours List in this country prior to 2002, failed to honour this creed, and were guilty of gross unfairness.

Following upon the return to this country by the two Gold Medal winning boxers, Terry Spinks went on to become a highly regarded professional, and became a champion. There is no doubt that had it not been for his soft facial skin he would have been a professional world champion.

Dick McTaggart whose style of boxing was unsuited to professional boxing, never discarded his amateur vest, and remained an amateur. He adopted the profession of a pest control consultant, and later coached the Scottish national boxing team. When Terry Spinks retired from competitive boxing he became a trainer, and a publican. In due course Dick McTaggart was awarded an MBE. Terry Spinks was ignored. Dick went out of his way to congratulate Terry when he heard the news of the award, and Bronwen Winstone, the wife of Howard Winstone, who was given an Honours award, along with other boxing people, while Terry was ignored, was kind enough to send a message of congratulations.

The elitist morons who ignored Terry did so because those alleged 'nice guys' boxing officials, with feeble minds, that controlled amateur boxing were miffed when Terry decided he wanted to fight for financial security, and turned professional, under the management of another East End champion boxer and icon, the much-loved Sammy McCarthy.

THE PREJUDICED MORONS

Kind-hearted Terry upset even more prejudiced morons when he so generously supported worthwhile charities, all over the country.

When other so-called celebrities would say no, Terry always said yes.

If the Kray brothers put on a charity event in the East End they knew that if Terry Spinks was to be a guest of honour it was a guarantee that the money raised for charity would be seriously increased.

Terry supported charities for all the right reasons. He would never boast of his great generosity, and those that were aware of his unstinting dedication to raising money for charity respected the wishes of Terry to keep a low profile.

This denial of publicity played right into the hands of the morons. They also used the charity association with the Krays as another reason to justify their prejudice.

The fact that the only connection with the Krays was to help others desperately in need of help, cut no ice with those whose thumbnail sized hearts are encased in icicles.

A MAN OF HONOUR

In 1965 I was a member of a team of footballers that played in charity events. We called ourselves the 'Soho Rambler's'. The team was organised to play charity matches by our fruit machine business office.

It was on one of my regular trips to Parkhurst prison where I would visit Jimmy 'Robbo' Robson and Jimmy Essex, that 'Robbo' came up with a gem of an idea.

'Robbo' had been sentenced to 10 years, and then 14 years for two robberies to run consecutively; this combined sentence of 24 years was eventually reduced on appeal to 21 years, the 24 years, and the reduced 21 years terms of imprisonment were then the longest sentence in modern history.

Jimmy, was the only man to be 'nicked' for murder inside a prison, but was found guilty of manslaughter, and received 10 years preventive detention,

The suggestion by 'Robbo' was that 'Soho Ramblers' should play a team of prisoners chosen from the prison population in the then absolute top security Parkhurst prison, on the Isle of Wight.

'Robbo' was the gym Red Band, and was in the home straight of his long, long, sentence. He had been incarcerated in Parkhurst for such a long time he was well thought of by the prison administration. It was him that convinced the prison administration to allow 'Soho Ramblers' to play at Parkhurst.

It was a blatant cheeky idea. Nevertheless the team unanimously agreed that they should play in Parkhurst prison.

Terry Spinks was among several celebrities who were asked to join us. One or two of the other celebrities invited 'caught a cold', and couldn't make it. Terry didn't hesitate to agree, and honoured his word.

MISTAKEN IDENTITIES?

It was a really remarkable coup to get permission to take the team to Parkhurst.

Those of us who played in this match still smile today as we recall the looks of amazement on the faces of prison officers who thought they knew me but could not believe their eyes, and believed they had to be mistaken.

I remember one prison officer in particular. I recognised him as someone that I had came across in several prisons. He kept looking at me with a curious expression, but could not bring himself to believe that the scourge of prisons throughout the country, 'Mad' Frankie Fraser was an invited guest at the top security prison in the country, and was being feted by the top brass of the prison.

The officer was a seriously confused man, and as I mixed with the prison top brass, and shared jokes with them, the more confused he became.

The fact that Olympiad Terry Spinks was there convinced him that it had to be a case of mistaken identity.

Of course many of the prisoners knew the truth.

I believe the Parkhurst team beat us by an odd goal, but it was a lively match.

Jimmy Essex, a long-time friend, was only one of eleven characters that made-up the prison team from a 'Debrett's' style Who's, Who of the underworld society.

You would expect the Governor of the prison to be impartial, but this wasn't so. The Governor was cheering on the prison team, as if they never had enough supporters, and became visibly upset when the referee waved play on after a foul by a 'Soho Ramblers' player.

It was great fun, and everyone appeared to have had a good time.

After the game was over the buzz became fairly loud as to whom I really was.

Nevertheless, the prison officials kept a stiff upper lip, and served us high tea with ham salad as the main course.

WHEN GOOD REASONS RULE

At first none of us would eat the food because we thought it might have come from the prison kitchen, and would decimate the food for those incarcerated. However, the Governor, and his aides, took pains to assure us that it had been specially bought in from outside shops.

Nevertheless, it took confirmation from 'Robbo' that it was true the food had been specially bought in. So, we ate and enjoyed it.

The impression given was that the Governor, and his officials, respected our concern.

The prison administration, and most of the officers, made us welcome, and this did not go unappreciated.

If there was one prison official that knew for certain whom I was then he deserves credit for not spoiling the fun.

We too played our part and took no liberties. We took with us a liberal supply of 'goodies' for the prisoners, but before distributing them we went though the formality of asking permission from the Governor to give them out, and there were no objections. I was confident there would not be any restriction.

Perhaps, he might have been shocked had he known the amount that was given out, and quickly spirited away.

So for the next few weeks the good guys in Parkhurst had a little light relief from the drudgery. No harm was done, and the prison hierarchy admitted that everyone had enjoyed a good time.

Several prison officials were so pleased at the general good behaviour of the prisoners for weeks after the match that they remarked that they wished we could be regular visitors.

This is usually the result when good reasons rule.

CHEQUE BOOK JOURNALISM BOUGHT NOTHING

The media got a whiff of the visit to Parkhurst and tried every means foul or fair to find out the names of the Soho Ramblers players that went to Parkhurst. Most of the ploys were foul some were amusing, while the rest were just silly.

It was made abundantly clear that chequebook journalism was freely available for anyone wishing to give the names of the players.

However, they did not succeed in officially getting confirmation on one name. The blanket answer was that the players gave their services for charity, and wanted their anonymity to be respected. This was true so it was easy to keep repeating it.

A TWIST OF IRONY

It was a twist of irony five years later at Parkhurst prison, by now under a new Governor, that I would be involved in, probably, the most serious riot in prison history.

Make no mistake I was guilty of being part of the riot, but I, and any other prisoner, was completely innocent of the cause of the riot. For this the prison authorities were solely to blame. They had been warned time and time again that the unacceptable treatment of the large Parkhurst prison population had to change or there would be serious trouble. They arrogantly ignored the warnings.

The prison was a volcano waiting to erupt. Had commonsense been available instead of heavy-handed ignorance, the riot would not have happened.

The position for prisoners had become completely untenable, and it was decided that there had to be a demonstration.

SHE'S A LADY!

For seven years a fine East End woman, Rosemary Elmore has bombarded those responsible for preparing the Honours List with requests that Terry Spinks be given his just reward.

Thanks to her efforts, and that of others, and after a 46 years delay, in 2002 Terry Spinks finally received his thoroughly deserved gong, and was awarded an MBE.

Throughout that long period Terry Spinks has kept a dignified silence, and has never once complained of being victimised.

They do say better late than never, but 46 years is a long, long time, and those responsible for this denial of fair play have every reason to be thoroughly ashamed.

Marilyn Monroe said that, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." She may well be correct, although some may disagree.

Where there is no doubt is that a 'diamond' like Terry Spinks is a best friend of communities across the country. He has done, and still does, health permitting, more in one month than many knights of the realm and members of the peerage do in a lifetime.

His generosity comes from the heart, and is never a token gesture from a social climber, or political party generous donor, with a well-breeched pocket that was filled by very dubious means, and for which those less fortunate have gone to prison for many years.

The 'Golden Boy' Terry Spinks became a world champion, and has universal respect as a person.

One of the boxers he trained that good lightweight, Johnny Claydon from West Ham in East London is now a publican, When he bought a pub situated about half-a-mile from the home of West Ham football club, he decided to rename his new acquisition.

His first intention was to rename the pub after the great late legend, Bobby Moore the England and West Ham football captain.

However after careful consideration Johnny decided to name his pub after a living legend, Terry Spinks.

This is an example of genuine respect for one of life's gentlemen, and a true honour by real people.

Stand tall Terry Spinks MBE every good guy salutes you.

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