Norfolk's own Golden Balls who beat Beckham to it
- Credit: PA
We know it as the tongue-in-cheek nickname for David Beckham – but it seems the name Golden Balls had already been trademarked in Aylsham back in the 1800s.
Lou Cocker, who has undertaken a huge mission to photograph every gravestone and memorial in Norfolk, has taken more than 220,000 pictures of Norfolk stones.
Occasionally, a gravestone will stand out – for obvious reasons.
In Aylsham Cemetery on Norwich Road, amid the beautiful Victorian gravestones, there is one that causes raised eyebrows whenever its inscription is read.
It is the grave of Mr Golden Balls.
“When I came across the stone at Aylsham I had to look twice,” Lou, who lives in North Walsham and who has visited more than 700 cemeteries and graveyards in Norfolk, said.
“You do see some unusual names on gravestones but this one really caught my eye. Not one, but two Golden Balls who lived in Aylsham!”
Mr Golden Balls was the son of John Balls and his wife Maria (nee Golden) and worked as a boat builder on the River Bure.
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He married Mary Pull on June 29 1835 and they had three children, their very own Golden Balls, born in 1836, and then Sarah Ann Golding Balls born in 1837 and John Balls in 1840.
Tragically, Golden Balls senior died at just 29 and was buried on November 2, 1841, leaving wife Mary with three young children under the age of four, including Golden Balls junior.
It appears the unusual moniker was chosen to honour Golden Balls senior’s mother’s family name of Golden, a very old tradition which has seen children given surnames as first names for centuries.
Whether the family name continued down the line is a matter for further research.
David “Golden Balls” Beckham started his career at Manchester United and was in the famed Class of 92 that included Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
While his nicknames of Becks and DB7, to reflect his number seven shirt, were often used, it was wife Victoria’s nickname for him that is most memorable.
Victoria appeared on an episode of Parkinson in 2008 and praised her husband for turning his reputation around after being sent off at the 1998 World Cup, revealing that her special nickname for David was “Golden Balls”.
Norfolk Record Office has noted other strange names from its files which include twins called Lemon and Orange Pitcher from Great Melton, Cinnamon Man from Thompson and Snow Frost of Little Walsingham.