Monday, 17 July 2017

Sporting celebrations of the 1980s: Part 2

When I wrote a blog in October 2013 about sporting celebrations of the 1980s, I thought there may well be room for a volume two at some point. So without further ado, here it is. Including two world champions, an ecstatic manager, a jig around a corner flag in Yorkshire, and a golfer making a splash. I wonder if there is a volume three in this?

1985: Dennis Taylor

The final frame, the final black. After 14 hours and 50 minutes of intense snooker, and a final frame that spanned 68 nerve-shredding minutes, Dennis Taylor bent down to pot a black ball that would change his life forever. Trailing Steve Davis 8-0 on the Saturday, and 17-15 behind on the Sunday, Taylor had somehow managed to get himself into a position to win his first world title. As 18.5 million watched on their televisions at 12.23am, Taylor sunk the black to complete a barely believable comeback.

"He's done it," Ted Lowe pronounced, as Taylor's celebrations could well and truly begin. Gripping his cue with both hands - as tightly as you would expect for a man who had just been through that amount of pressure - Taylor waved the cue above his head, before blanking referee John Williams and shaking the hand of the disconsolate Steve Davis. Unable to wipe the smile off his face, Taylor appeared to be cramming in as many celebratory moves as possible.

Next came the random thumping of his cue on the floor, and then the finger wagging towards his close friend Trevor East, ITV's executive producer for snooker, who had sat through every session of Taylor's march to the title. Finally, after folding his arms and nodding with satisfaction, Taylor walked across to to kiss the lady on top of the World Championship trophy. Looking at the trophy longingly and with a great deal of love, the enormity of his achievement was perhaps starting to hit Taylor.

Taylor revealed in this article that people still mimic his celebrations that he performed at the end of that memorable final. "Either they do a mime of flourishing a cue above their head, or they waggle their finger at me." I guess it's not a bad thing to be remembered for, though.

1983: David Pleat

The equation was simple: avoid defeat at home to Luton Town, and Manchester City would stay in Division One for another season. Lose, and the victors would enjoy the spoils. If this match had taken place in the modern era, then Sky would undoubtedly have labelled it 'Survival Sunday' and possibly had a clock counting down to the kick off. But this was before football began (9 BS), the match kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday, and we had to make do with highlights on Match of the Day. How did we cope back then?

Luton had only won four away matches in the League prior to their trip to Maine Road, but City were vulnerable. Since the start of February, the team had won just three matches under John Benson's management, and taken just 11 points out of a possible 48. So it wasn't a complete surprise when Yugoslav Raddy Antic drilled a shot past Alex Williams and a sea of blue shirts with just minutes of the season remaining, a goal that had John Motson questioning: "Has Luton's life in the harsh world of the English First Division been saved by a Yugoslav?"

Indeed, Antic's strike had kept Luton up, and as the final whistle sounded, a delighted Luton manager David Pleat took to the pitch in celebration. Decked out in a beige suit, and tan shoes, Pleat skipped across the pitch, bouncing about like a demented Zebedee, arms raised above his head in the style of a cricket umpire signalling a six. The clip has been repeated on numerous occasions since that day in 1983, and unless you are a Manchester City fan, you have to marvel at Pleat's enthusiasm and balance during the whole performance.

"He did a complete circuit of the studio," Frank Skinner wrote in his autobiography, about this clip, with Pleat dressed in the original outfit from that famous day. "Past the bemused guests, and then skipped out through the door again. It absolutely brought the house down." Manchester City fan Eddie Large may not have found it as funny as the rest of us, but he should know that it's hard to get everyone to laugh at a gag.

1983: Eamonn Coghlan

Irish athlete Eamonn Coghlan had experienced a number of lows on and off the track before the inaugural World Championships in 1983. Two fourth-placed finishes at the 1976 and 1980 Olympics were agonising, as was a stress fracture that kept him out of the 1982 season. But worse was to follow. The death of two of his coaches, and his father, were crushing blows, yet Coghlan used this tragedy to set himself some goals at the start of the 1983 season: to break the world record for the indoor mile, and win gold in the 5,000m at the World Championships, for the three men who were his closest allies.

In February, Coghlan achieved his first target, breaking the world indoor mile record, and dedicating the run to the trio. And Coghlan would complete the double in Helsinki, winning the 5,000m after sprinting away from the Soviet Union's Dmitry Dmitriyev in the home straight. As Coghlan passed Dmitriyev, the Irishman clenched his fists in delight, seemingly celebrating his victory a significant distance before he had crossed the finishing line.

"When I went by the Russian and clenched my fists, it was because here and now I'm going to do something that these people wanted me to do, and that's become champion of the world," Coghlan recalls. "It wasn't arrogance, it wasn't cockiness, it wasn't with any disrespect for the Russian. It was because here, having finished fourth twice, now I'm going to become the champion of the world."

Celebrating too early has its dangers, though. For every Coghlan and Ross Barkley, there are numerous examples of sports men and women counting their chickens before they have hatched, as this YouTube compilation demonstrates. But you couldn't blame Coghlan for prematurely punching the air, before claiming the gold medal which was a fitting tribute to his three mentors.

1980: Frank Lampard

A goal so loved by West Ham fans that it has its own song, Frank Lampard's headed winner in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final replay at Elland Road came from an unexpected source, with the celebration that accompanied literally coming from left field. Lampard looked as surprised as everyone else that he had stooped to conquer - just listen to the astonishment in the voice of the brilliant Barry Davies - and he immediately set off to the corner flag to celebrate.

Lampard's jig around the corner flag may have been sadly cut off in its prime for television viewers, as the director obviously thought that the scenes of West Ham's delirious fans was the money shot, yet everyone who is old enough remembers that celebration that took West Ham to Wembley.

Frank Lampard Junior, as he was known at the start of his career, may have not been the most popular man at West Ham during his time at Chelsea, but after scoring the winning goal in the 2009 FA Cup final, he would celebrate in the same style as his father, 29 years before. "It was just for my dad. My dad scored against Everton many years ago and he ran round the corner flag, albeit in a semi-final. It was the proudest moment in his career and so it was just a little thing for my dad."

Frank Lampard Senior will forever be a legend at West Ham, with only Billy Bonds making more appearances for the club. And that goal is celebrated in the back catalogue of the Hammers' terrace songs, with this ditty composed to the tune of White Christmas: "I'm dreaming of a Frank Lampard, Just like the one at Elland Road, When the ball came over, And Frank fell over, And scored the f*cking winning goal, Winning goal!"

1981 and 1982: Jerry Pate

After a three-year drought on the US Tour, Jerry Pate returned to winning ways by claiming the Memphis Classic in 1981. Despite this famine, Pate felt confident at the halfway point of the tournament, informing friends and the press that if he won the tournament then he would celebrate by swimming in the lake by the 18th green. Pate was good to his word, diving in and swimming 50 yards in the murky waters. "I hadn't won in so long," Pate revealed. "I wanted to be sure this one soaked in."

A year later he was at it again. Winning the Tournament Players' Championship at Sawgrass, Pate marched down the 18th after playing a glorious approach to the green with his orange ball, promising that course designer Pete Dye would be going for a swim. But Dye would not be the only man in the drink after Pate's birdie sealed the win. PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman would also join the party.

"Deane went in first because it (the course) was his idea and concept," Pate informed the media once he had dried out. "Pete went in next because he built it. And I went in because I wanted to drown them both." A memorable moment, and the sort of clip that was a godsend for the people who put together the What Happened Next round in A Question of Sport.

This type of celebration should come with a Government Health Warning, however. In 2011, France's Thomas Levet won the French Open and copied Pate by leaping into the lake at Le Golf National. But a broken leg suffered in the jump ruined Levet's season, and saw him miss out on a place at the Open Championship. Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie was suitably unimpressed. "I have always been suspect about people diving into lakes, not knowing how deep they are and what is in there." I blame Jerry Pate, personally.

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