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B J Angle

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Angle was a first-class captain and a good judge of a player for he had to pick a different side for almost every game. He had the services of Alfred Clunies-Ross, the Scottish International, J.M Biggs (success to Angle as Captain of the Club, who played for England in 1878 and 1879) and T.A. Fison, a great dribbler of the ball, who played for the South v the North. Clunies-Ross and Biggs were the first two internationals to play in Wasps colours.

Angle was himself an all-round athlete with a national reputation, and evidently a remarkably fit man. In March 1875, he won the 120 yars Members’ Handicap of the London Athletic Club; in September he on the same club’s half-mile Open Handicap against 23 starters who included all the notable runners of the day. In July 1878, he was one of the eight in the Thames Rowing Club, which won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.

He was known widely as ‘Handsome Jack’ or ‘Angle the Scrapping Stockbroker’. Other fields of sport and recreation knew him as a mountaineer and a walker of renown. As an amateur boxer he was extremely well-known and became a great favourite. Figaro paid him tribute in these words when he boxed at St. James’s Hall, Regent Street, on 26 January 1878: “The way in which B.J. Angle (Thames Rowing Club and Wasps Football Club) handled his mauleys was a caution. It was no use trying on with him the professional axiom of ‘hit away, get away, and when away keep away’, for be would not be 16 denied. He meant business, and kept his props going with a ding-dong precision that reminded one of Jonny Walker or Tom Sayers in their palmiest days.

There was a ‘straight from the shoulder’ force in his deliveries, a cleanness in countering, and a firmness and agility on his pins, that proclaim a very ‘ugly customer’ in a scrimmage, albeit a very presentable gentleman in a drawing room. During 1877 and 1878, while still Captain of Wasps Football Club and also its Hon Secretary and its Hon Treasurer (he combined all 3 jobs for 3 seasons), Angle was engaging in evening boxing bouts at Clubs and at assaults-at-arms. He relinquished the captaincy of the Club at the end of the 1877-78 season, but continued boxing. In November 1879, the Referee wrote: “Enthusiasm is a mild term with regard to the feeling shown over Angle and Frost-Smith. ‘The Scrapping Stockbroker’, though anything but a kitten, looked slight and small by the side of the burly brickfielder. These, the uninitiated must know, are the terms of affection and endearment by which smith and Angle are known in those elegant circles of the London Athletic Club. Disparity notwithstanding, Jack, if not as good as his master, was able to keep that estimable person hard at work. The result was highly satisfactory to gods and balconians, who quivered with delight and swayed about as though in actual combat themselves. Even the cold and elusive offers in the stalls for once unbent and nodded their aristocratic approval. It was, in very truth, a sight to see.” A year later, the same writer wrote in the Referee of 26 November 1880: “Angle, alias Handsome Jack, general utility man, had a rare turn with Good, the professional. Hard knocks and extreme good humour were the leading characteristics of this encounter. This may have been Angle’s last sporting appearance for it is the last cutting in the book, started by Fison and evidently taken over by Angle. Both were members of the Stock Exchange.

Perhaps the best appreciation of Angle’s unbeaten Wasps season of 1875-76 appeared long afterwards in the Sportsman (9 November 1912) over the signature ‘Cestus’, who was G.T Dunning: “When I say that Mr Angle was a footballer it is hardly necessary to add that he affected the Rugger code. For three years he was Captain of Wasps, a team that included J.M Biggs and A.C. Clunies-Ross (Internationals), T.A Fison, A Poland, F.S Alford, C Ingleson, C.L Lockton, John Shearman and Montague Shearman, the latter being three of the finest sprinters of the day, the last named now being a K.C., and G.L Lyons, who as a member of Lewisham Cricket Club won many prizes. I need hardly add that Wasps were a power in the land in those days. John Shearman was a record holder, and Montague nearly his equal in speed, while Lockton with his power and pace was an extremely useful three-quarter.” B J Angle was a founding member and Treasurer of the Amateur Boxing Association when it was created in 1880.

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