Tuesday, 31 July 2012

1985: 1st Ashes Test

June 1985, and as the English nation tries to get over the shame of Heysel, and prepare itself for the forthcoming Live Aid concert, an Ashes series is about to get under way in Leeds. Think of the Ashes in the modern era and the hype is almost suffocating, Sky's '100 days to go' banner prior to the 2010/11 series a prime example of this.

It wasn't always this way though, as the 1985 series proves. A three-page cricket special in the Daily Express on the morning of the first test, and coverage starting at 10:55am (five minutes build-up!) was as far as the Ashes hype stretched to in Thatcher's Britain.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

1984: Seb Coe 1500m

As Lord Sebastian Newbold Coe appeared on television yet again the other day, a thought occurred to me: How many people only know this man for his role as chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, rather than that of a world-class athlete? Holder of numerous world records in his running career, twice Olympic champion, and still a British record holder in two distances (800 and 1000 metres), Coe quite rightly sits proudly amongst the Olympic heroes of our nation, and should be celebrated accordingly. 

Beating Steve Ovett in the 1500m at the Moscow games was spectacular enough, but the back story to his repeat performance in Los Angeles is even more remarkable. If it wasn't for a very favourable selectorial decision going in his favour, the whole tale would have been over before it began.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

1988 Open Championship: Seve Ballesteros

Sunday 22 July, 1984: A Spaniard stands on the 18th green at St. Andrews, punching the air in sheer joy, with a smile on his face that lights up the world. Some 400 miles away, an 8-year-old boy watches his first ever Open Championship on television, and is immediately captivated by this man, beginning an obsession with Severiano Ballesteros that still goes on to this day.

As the Open Championship returns to Lytham in 2012, it is impossible not to think of Seve, and all that he achieved there. As this blog specialises in 1980s sporting events, it is obvious that Seve's 1988 Open triumph will be the focus of this piece, and not his first major win in 1979 on the same course. It is hard to write about your heroes, but here goes....

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

1987: Stephen Roche

What is the favourite year of your life? What, you don't have one? Surely you must? I'm betting if you ask any sportsman or woman that question, then the chances are that the answer will come that much easier than from the mouths of us mere mortals; Steffi Graf may well say 1988, the year in which she pulled off her Golden Slam; Dennis Taylor would surely reply 1985; Andrew Flintoff 2005; Kelly Holmes 2004. The list goes on and on. But certainly it would be unlikely that if you ever saw Irish cyclist Stephen Roche and asked him to pick his favourite twelve months of his life, that he would answer any differently than 1987.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

1985: European Grand Prix

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. A phrase that trips off the tongue easily enough, but imagine trying to apply this principal 72 times to a certain aspect of your life. For that is the number of attempts that Nigel Mansell, CBE, had to make before achieving his first Grand Prix victory, which could easily be forgotten amongst all that followed for the Englishman. And to make things that much sweeter, Mansell achieved his maiden success on home soil and left a former team principal with a rather large portion of egg on his face.