The incredible story of a javelin thrower who travelled from Twickenham to Australia as airfreight has been told for the first time in a new book.
Australian javelin thrower Reg Spiers first met his English counterpart John McSorley, from Twickenham, in Perth during the 1962 Commonwealth Games.
It was two years until their paths were to cross again when Spiers turned up, out of the blue, at McSorley’s flat.
The larger-than-life Aussie had worked his way to the UK on an oil liner in time for the athletics season in an ill-fated bid to qualify for the Olympics.
It was disaster both men who, suffering from sporting injuries, were throwing well below their best distances - Spiers worked at an airport but his situation worsened when he wallet was stolen, leaving him penniless.
Spiers needed to return to his young wife in Perth and fast - and his old friend McSorley came up with an outrageous plan to, quite literally, send him home.
Co-author Marcus McSorley, John’s son, said: "Preparations were made in various locations around Twickenham, where my father built a man-sized crate for his friend’s escapade.
"On October 17, Reg was boxed as airfreight, described as ‘rubberised emulsion’, and sent to a fictitious shoe company in Perth, cash on delivery.
"There followed a gruelling 13,000 mile, sixty-three hour journey, fraught with delays, forklift trucks, and near-dehydration on the tarmac of Bombay airport."
When McSorley had not heard from Spiers after a week, he contacted his friend James Coote, a journalist at the Telegraph, who tracked the Australian down to Adelaide.
Mr McSorley added: "Over the ensuing years Reg Spiers gained notoriety for a number of other misdemeanours away from the athletics field.
"After his sporting fortunes waned he embarked on a career as an international drug smuggler and skipped bail with his partner on false passports.
"There followed several years of cat-and-mouse journeys across continents, as the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ couple evaded Interpol and lived off their wits."
Out of the Box: The Highs and Lows of a Champion Smuggler, on sale now, is the joint-effort of Mr McSorley and his mother, John’s wife, Julia.
Co-author Marcus McSorley is holding book signings at Waterstones Twickenham on December 6 and Waterstones Teddington on December 13, both at noon.