The Notable - Tommy Farrell – (1943 - 1951)
TOM FARRELL went to his third Olympic Games in the summer of 1972 - 16 years after his first Olympic experience - all thanks to the power of prayer.
was a Quarry Bank schoolteacher who ran in the 400m hurdles in Melbourne in 1956, then the 800m four years later in Rome.
He had long since hung up his running spikes in 1972 when he got the call to return to the Games arena in Munich - this time as one of a team of eight chaplains to be on hand to offer spiritual advice to competitors.
Then curate of St Peter's Church in Woolton, The Rev Farrell admitted: "I believe it is legitimate to pray before an event. I used to pray before an event that I wouldn't fall or do anything soft. But I never prayed for victory - that would be unfair. I just wanted to do my best."
Farrell never needed spiritual assistance when he was breaking national records - including the British 400m hurdles mark running under the Liverpool Harriers banner.
He was a Harrier when he represented Great Britain in Melbourne 1956 as a hurdler - and he still had the Liver Bird on his chest four years later when he went to Rome as a half-miler and reached the 800m quarter-finals. His reasoning for the switch was admirably honest. "The Olympic 400m hurdles will be won in about 49.2 seconds," he said. "Which means that to come near that you have to be able to run a quarter of a mile in 46 seconds. I cannot do that."
But in the build up to Rome he did beat AAA title holder Brian Hewson in the 880 yards.
On June 15, 1960 Farrell, who had earlier won 800m and 400m invitation events during the British Games, raced over 400m hurdles in an England v Italy match at London's White City in UK record time of 51 seconds.
A month later he won his second AAA championship, this time over 880 yards. As a result he decided to make 800m his objective for Rome and made the team - ironically the day after his national quarter-mile hurdles record had been ratified.
Born in Moscow Drive, Stoneycroft, he taught at various schools, including Quarry Bank and Maghull - and in his early athletic days as a pupil of Liverpool Collegiate School, his main events were sprints and long jump.
He finished fourth in the All England Schools Long Jump final with a leap of 20 feet four inches - and soon after switched to the quarter mile.
He always modestly insisted that he wasn't the best athlete in the Farrell family. Tom was Collegiate School's Victor Ludorum in 1951, emulating the performance of his father 30 years earlier, who was described by his son as 'a better all-round athlete than he could ever hope to be.'
Farrell senior must have been some athlete, although he couldn't claim to have been at three Olympic Games!
(A note from Webby)
We don't usually add a comment from the recipient of this Notable Section. However, to set a precedent , here is Tommy’s opinion of our efforts :-
I’ve looked at the website blurb. Well put together! Could have done with blocking out those knobbly knees! I hope it’s a plus for the old school, and other OBs will enjoy it.
And now I know what a jpg is!