Thursday, March 27, 2008

David France article in The Telegraph

Outstanding article in The Telegraph about David France and his collection with a good mention to the Everton Former Players Foundation. :

As the granddaughter of William Ralph 'Dixie' Dean, Melanie Prentice grew up surrounded by football treasures accumulated by the Everton legend during a playing career that brought him two League championships and an FA Cup triumph. But nothing had prepared her for the array of artefacts awaiting her arrival at Dr David France's home in Victoria, British Columbia.

"We were bewildered by the original artwork of Picasso, Magritte, Dali, Chagall, Warhol, Miro and others," she recalls. "It was an overwhelming sight but a mere distraction because before our eyes lay a priceless exhibition of the masterpieces of football's history. I can only draw comparison with Howard Carter as he opened the door to Tutankhamun's tomb. While there were no gilded mummies or papyrus scrolls, there were simply too many sacred football items to comprehend…"

Programmes dating back to 1886, ancient medals and photographs, books and international caps, documents and letters, cigarette cards and trading cards… Dr France's collection of football memorabilia attracted two bids of £1.25 million from the Middle and Far East in 2006, instead of which it will go on display when the new Museum of Liverpool opens in 2010, having been purchased by the Everton Collection Charitable Trust for a fraction of what the 10,000 or so items would have commanded at auction.

Born in a two-up, two-down in Widnes with one cold tap, one electric light, one outside toilet and one nail holding up a zinc bath, Dr France was dismissed as a 'slow learner' as a schoolboy and was unable to read until the age of 14. Having begun his working life as an apprentice gas-fitter riding the streets on a bike with coils of copper pipe over his shoulders, he resumed his education and gained several university degrees, including a PhD in chemical engineering. He subsequently won the Institute of Physics' Joule Medal for his research into hydrogen combustion, served as a consultant to NASA in rocket science (his Green Card having been sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy) and ended his working life at the age of 42 in 1990 to concentrate on 'good deeds'.

As well as combing the world for Everton jewels for the past 25 years, he has flown more than two million miles from his homes in Canada and Washington state to attend games, published 16 books (the latest, The Golden Vision, about 1960s centre-forward Alex Young) to raise money for Alder Hey Children's Hospital, established the club's Hall of Fame and founded the Everton Former Players' Foundation, a charity to assist old Evertonians who have fallen on hard times and which Uefa use as their template for all such associations.

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