The Perth 1962 British Empire & Commonwealth Games - We Are England
The Perth 1962 British Empire & Commonwealth Games
Perth 1962

The Perth 1962 British Empire & Commonwealth Games

England faced 'a well-nigh impossible task' to even reach Perth, yet still managed 29 gold medals and a second place finish.

As ever, the Commonwealth Games Council for England (CGCE) faced the daunting prospect of raising funds to send an England team to the Games, and there was little doubt Perth would be their toughest test yet. Chairman the Earl Beatty wrote in the England team official report; "In 1961 the Council for England found itself faced with a well-nigh impossible task... The amount required, about £80,000, was an extremely large one."

Despite the formation of an Appeals Committee and several fundraising efforts, a deficit was forecast. Only after a grant from the Commonwealth Relations Office was enough money raised to send a team of 143 athletes to Australia, and even then their budget was £4000 short.

As a result, more bargaining was required to transport the team from London to Perth. Negotiations were made with BOAC and Qantas that saw other home nations sharing specially scheduled flights, arriving ten days before the start of competition - a less than ideal schedule. Regrettably, 41 members of the team had to return home independently, such was the logistical and financial strain on England.

Chris Davidge, a three-time Olympian and three-time winner of the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta's silver goblet, was chosen to lead the nation out at the Games' Opening Ceremony (above). He would go on to win the Games' coxless fours title a few days later. Davidge would return to the England fold in various roles for subsequent Games, including Team Manager in 1974.

It was a Games debut for England's legendary lawn bowls man David Bryant, who marked the occasion by winning the first of his four Commonwealth singles titles. Sid Drysdale also led the men's fours team to gold, for which his hometown awarded him the Whitley Bay Town Cup and Freedom of the Borough.

England Athletics' Hall of Fame member Dorothy Hyman added three medals to her 1958 gold - two gold and one silver - but the nation struggled in track and field events due to the imperious form of the host nation's competitors. There was better luck in aquatics where Anita Lonsbrough won three gold medals whilst Linda Ludgrove, aged just 15, won two. Brian Phelps claimed both men's diving titles.

Four of the seven fencing titles went England's way and there was even a rare cycling gold. Australia won four of the five gold medals in the sport but Wes Mason pipped Kiwis Anthony Walsh and Laurie Byers to the road race crown.

A first ever trip to the Caribbean was on the cards four years later as Jamaica hosted the Games.