The Match of the Day host researched two very different men from his ancestry. The first, great-great-
It was a typically riveting investigation but Linker isn’t the first sports star to feature on the show.
Who Do You Think You Are? Series 9 – John Barnes
Before appearing on the show, former Liverpool and England football star John Barnes always thought of his grandfather Frank Hill as a bit of a square; forever reading or writing, while a young John preferred to play football like his dad, a former captain of the Jamaica national team. But with the help of a BBC genealogist, Barnes found that he had a lot more in common with the old man than he thought.
Grandfather Frank Hill was a journalist and broadcaster who played a huge part in the campaign for Jamaican independence. A key figure in the formation of the People’s National Party (PNP), Hill spent time in prison for his beliefs. An outspoken, leader of men who fought for his beliefs, the Liverpool winger ultimately admitted that his grandfather was a much more exciting man than he’d ever thought.
Who Do You Think You Are? Series 8 – Sebastian Coe
Former Olympic Champion Lord Coe had memories of his grandmother Vera often mentioning that the family had descended from minor aristocracy, but were the stories true? While the man himself had never paid much heed, Coe’s participation in WDYTYA helped the runner to discover that there could be some truth to the tale. But another discovery was much less fulfilling.
In George Hyde Clarke, Coe discovered an ancestor who had become a member of the ruling class in 18th Century Jamaica. The fabulously wealthy man amassed a large workforce of slaves to work the sugar plantations that he owned. He also sired at least six illegitimate children to different women. Coe said that the ‘horror’ and ‘brutality’
Who Do You Think You Are? – Sir Matthew Pinsent
Incredibly, Sir Matthew Pinsent also discovered ties to royalty in his past, but the revelations didn’t stop there. Pinsent traced his family through generations of soldiers fighting in the Great War and Napoleonic War before discovering Lord William Howard, the uncle of Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. When Katherine was beheaded for adultery her uncle was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
But William Howard was also descended from Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots and one of Britain’s most famous kings, and himself a descendent of William the Conqueror. As if that wasn’t enough, one medieval scroll documents the relationship of the British monarchy to Jesus, King David, Adam and Eve and God himself. It’s quite a statement, and one that Pinsent took with a pinch of salt.
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