Tuesday, 28 June 2022

1982: The Lost Final

Sometimes life can be full of pleasant surprises. Your day can be plodding along and all of a sudden you discover something that brings a bit of buzz. It says a lot about me as a sad individual that my life can feel a little more exciting when I discover a new documentary about a little-known football tournament 40 years ago.

As a bit of a 1980s sports obsessive - I've kept that quiet - you can probably appreciate my sense of anticipation when I heard news of a BBC Scotland programme called The Lost Final. Presented by Pat Nevin, the 45-minute documentary takes a look back at Scotland's triumph in the 1982 U18 European Championships.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

1985: Anne White causes a storm

On the face of it, the first round match at Wimbledon between Americans Pam Shriver and Anne White in 1985 was not expected to provide many headlines. White had never been beyond the third round at SW19, so a routine win seemed the order of the day for number five seed Shriver, a 1981 Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Shriver would progress. But come the end of the match, the actual tennis was very much a sideshow. The reason for the furore would be revealed at approximately 7.20pm on Thursday June 27. As soon as White took off her tracksuit, it was very much a case of hold the front pages.

Monday, 13 June 2022

1983/84: British Home Championship

The tributes after the death of former Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham inevitably evoked glorious memories. Two World Cup finals tournaments, Arconada...Armstrong, a double over West Germany in a so near and yet so far Euro 84 qualification campaign. Even that Josimar goal was a special moment.

Sandwiched between Spain and Mexico is one particular victory that left a sweet taste in the mouth. Winning the 1983/84 British Home Championship was an achievement in its own right. Only the third time Northern Ireland had won the competition outright, claiming the trophy took on extra significance that season.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

England's unwanted Test record

England's recent win at Lord's against New Zealand was just their second in 18 matches. In the 1980s we weren't so fortunate.

All seemed rosy in the England cricket garden in December 1986. As Gladstone Small settled himself to claim the catch that retained the Ashes at the MCG, the "can't bat, can't bowl, can't bowl" outfit had silenced the doubters. The celebrations were long and hard that night in Melbourne, and in hindsight that was just as well. Because England would not win another Test match for 20 months.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

1984 Open Championship: Seve Ballesteros

Although he was 9/1 second favourite to win the 1984 Open Championship at St Andrews, the year Seve Ballesteros was experiencing had been far from ideal. Missing the cut as defending champion at the Masters - after being penalised two shots for grounding his club in Rae's Creek on the 13th - the Spaniard was not enjoying a fruitful season on the US PGA tour.

Ballesteros had pushed himself into contention for the US Open at the halfway stage, but a poor weekend saw him drift away, and as a record crowd flocked to the home of golf, many were pondering whether the 27-year-old was able to reverse his fortunes.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

1983: England v New Zealand Second Test

If at first you don't succeed. For 52 years various cricketers from New Zealand had tried and failed to win a Test match in England, and as the 1983 series between the two countries commenced it looked a case of same old same old. With England winning the first match of the series at the Oval, the chances of Geoff Howarth's tourists ending the drought looked slim.

Played 28, lost 17, drawn 11. This was New Zealand's unenviable record in England as the two teams prepared for the second Test at Headingley. The bookies certainly did not expect an immediate change in fortunes, with England priced at 4/6 with the visitors the outsiders at 6/1. Come the end of day three, these odds would be significantly different.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

1985: England in Mexico

If you're a football lover who doesn't like cricket then I feel for you, as Chaka Khan might say. Those long summer months can be hellish without any action, as you count down to pre-season tours, friendlies, and the beginning of a new campaign that may just be the year that your club shines (or not).

The last few summers have been slightly unusual. Euro 2020 took place in 2021, and due to money the climate in Qatar, the 2022 World Cup has been pushed back to November/December. We do have the World Cup play-off and the Nations League to keep us going, but there is nothing quite like a proper summer tournament.