Sunday, 23 February 2014

1988: Suntory World Matchplay

Come the end of the 1980s, British wins at the World Matchplay golf were very much like buses. After a 23 year drought, Ian Woosnam had finally ended the British wait for a winner of the autumnal tournament played at Wentworth, by winning the 1987 event, and in 1988 another Brit was about to see his name join an illustrious set of winners such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Ballesteros and Norman. For Sandy Lyle, his win at the 1988 World Matchplay capped off a fine year, and put an end to his frustration in the tournament.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

1980/81 European Cup Winners' Cup: Newport County

As I watched Swansea progress in the Europa League before Christmas, my mind inescapably rewound to the 1980s, recalling similar such adventures for the Welsh club. Four times Swansea would participate in the old European Cup Winners' Cup, but nothing they did in the eighties would match the exploits of Newport County in the 1980/81 competition. For Newport's tale is one of triumph and despair, little hope but then great expectations, and above all, a sad conclusion containing massive slices of ill fortune. Not bad for a club that years previously had struggled for mere existence.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

1986/87 FA Cup: Fifth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the 1986/87 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here and here.

Prior to the 1987 FA Cup Fifth round, a football think-tank got together to discuss the future of the English game. Chaired by Jimmy Hill, assisted by Bertie Mee and Ron Greenwood, 13 first division managers attended the meeting, along with other luminaries such as England manager Bobby Robson, league secretary Graham Kelly, and PFA secretary Gordon Taylor, as the men at the top of the sport pondered how to improve the product currently on display.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

1988: Eddie The Eagle Edwards

Sport, especially in this internet age, divides opinion. As soon as anything happens that is slightly contentious - for example, the Luis Suarez penalty against Aston Villa recently - you just know what is coming. Battle lines are drawn, as views are expressed passionately, and heaven forbid anyone whose perspective on an incident differs from that which is seen as the definitive answer. It makes you wonder how the modern world would have coped with some of the sporting events of yesteryear.

Take Eddie The Eagle Edwards for instance. For some, the man was a hero, someone who sacrificed a lot to live the dream, an athlete who competed with a smile on his face, and deservedly reaped the rewards of his unexpected fame whilst he could. For others, Edwards was a laughing stock, belittling both the sport of ski jumping and the 1988 Winter Olympics, and represented everything that was bad in a nation that seemed to adore sporting losers. Either way, the story behind Edwards' rise to stardom is still fascinating all these years later, and love him or hate him, you cannot deny Edwards his place in Winter Olympics history.