American jockeys had fast got a name this side of the Atlantic as a disreputable bunch. British jockeys disliked their aggressive style of riding, and they were often suspected of being involved in betting coups by doping horses and fixing races. Lester Reiff, the leading jockey in 1900, won a bruising Derby on Volodyovski.
But in September he was reported to the Jockey club for stopping a horse at Manchester in a race won by his brother. The Jockey Club wasted no time in making an example of Reiff. The next month he had his licence withdrawn and was warned off
Tottenham Hotspur of the Southern League won the Football Association Cup when they defeated Sheffield United of the First Division 3 - 1 at Burnden Park, Bolton in a replay. It was an amazing achievement by Spurs, who became the first non-league club to win the Cup since the formation of the Football League.
As in the semi-final and the final, it was their striker Sandy Brown who rose to the occasion. As they did a week earlier, at Crystal Palace, in the first match, Spurs soon went a goal down. But three goals in the second half, the third from Brown - who had scored all four in the semi-final - clinched the trophy.
Unfortunately, few of the Tottenham faithful were able to make the long trek north to Burnden Park. Because of the weather and the refusal of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Rail Company to issue any cheap tickets, only 20,000 were present to see an historic replay.
The home international between Scotland and England at Ibrox on April 5th ended in disaster. Twenty-five people died and more than 500 were injured when the wooden stand on the west terrace collapsed.
With heavy rain falling and a huge crowd, there was a surge of spectators into the ground. They pushed their way to the top of the stand for a better view, but the flimsy structure could not sustain the weight.
Amazingly the match was not abandoned because the authorities thought that would have aggravated matters, and after a 20 minute delay the game was re-started. It finished 1 - 1 but did not count as an official international. Ironically, Ibrox was chosen as the venue because of its modern amenities, Rangers having returned to their ‘new’ stadium only three years earlier.
RUDYARD KIPLING - in the Times, blamed the Boer War fiasco on Britain’s obsession with sport.
BADMINTON - The All-England Championships were moved to Crystal Palace because they were so popular. The competition even attracted W.G. Grace as a spectator
CRICKET - South Africa and Australia met for the first time. Their draw in Johannesburg was the 75th Test in history and the firstin which England were not involved.
FOOTBALL - Stockport County players, disgruntled at not being paid, declared independence, selected their own team and shared the gate receipts. It seemed to work because they avoided relegation from the Second Division.
Sunderland bought Alf Common from Sheffield United in the first £500 transfer.
The penalty area was modified to the modern design. Previously it had been two adjacent six-yard rings in a kidney shape.
TENNIS - Muriel Robb won the woman’s singles at Wimbledon at the second attempt. Her final against Chattie Sterry was stopped by rain at one set all and replayed from the start the next day.
After three years of inactivity, Gentleman Jim Corbett tried one last time to recapture his heavyweight crown on August 14th. But he was stopped in the tenth round in San Francisco by the Grizzly Bear of the West, Jim Jeffries. Corbett promptly quit the ring and turned his attention to the stage, where he had made a successful debut in the 1890‘s in a melodrama named Gentleman Jack.
Corbett, a former bank clerk, had first won the title in 1892 from the legendary John L Sullivan, when his scientific fighting completely outshone the outdated slugging methods and rocked the world of boxing. It was the first heavyweight championship to be held under Queensberry rules. Corbett had been a popular champion, and had attracted a different kind of audience to the sport - the swells rather than the low-lifes. At his peak there was not a fighter who could match his mental and physical agility.
The former world heavyweight champion, Bob Fitzsimmons, won the light heavyweight championship in San Francisco on November 25th when he out pointed George Gardiner over 20 rounds in the first year of the newly created title. It was his third crown, and he was the first boxer to achieve such a feat.
Fitzsimmons was born in Cornwall but he and his family emigrated to New Zealand when he was nine years old. He took up professional boxing in New Zealand and Australia before arriving in the United States, where he won the world middleweight crown in 1891 and the heavyweight title in 1897 when, at the age of 34 and weighing only 167 pounds, he knocked out Jim Corbett with a much publicized punch to the solar plexus.
Fitzsimmons heavyweight reign lasted only 27 months. In 1902 he squared up to Jim Jeffries, a mountain of a man, and mercilessly hammered him for eight rounds - breaking his nose, cutting open both cheeks, and opening gashes over both eyes - before succumbing to a crashing left hook to the jaw.
BOWLS - The English Bowling Association was founded. Its first president was W G Grace, who, when not playing cricket, encouraged the development of the game.
GOLF - The Vardon Brothers, Harry and Tom, finished first and second in the British Open. Willie Anderson became the first player to win the US Open twice. His first round of 73 was a new low and he beat David Brown in a play-off, 82 to 84.
MOTOR RACING - The Paris-Madrid race was abandoned after the first day at Bordeaux because of accidents. As a result, motor racing was generally taken off open roads and transferred to closed circuits.
SAILING - Reliance was the largest yacht ever built for the Americas Cup and it beat Shamrock III,
3 - 0. Shamrock got lost in the fog and never finished the third race.
The floundering Olympic Games continued to flounder. Instead of taking a lesson from the disaster in Paris, President Theodore Roosevelt decided to move the Games from Chicago to St. Louis to co-incide with the World Fair. Like its predecessor, the Olympics became a badly organised side-show. If ever gold medals were awarded for sporting fiascos this one would have been a strong contender.
Nothing epitomized the farce more than the marathon. Fred Lorz led 31 runners out of the stadium but he developed cramp after 15 kilometres, dropped out of the race and was given a lift in one of the many cars that clogged the course. When the car broke down Lorz resumed running. He over took the eventual gold medalist, Thomas Hicks, and came into the stadium to be acclaimed the winner. Lorz said he continued to run as a joke but was banned for a year. He returned to win the 1905 Boston marathon. The majority of the 625 competitors were American and the Games were little more than an inter-college championship, with the United States winning 244 of the 281 medals.
Pretty Polly was almost invincible. Her first victory in 1903 was the only time she did not start as favourite. The bookmakers soon caught on as she won eight more times, including several leading 2-year-old races.
She carved a swathe through the summer of 1904 as she extended her winning streak to 15, taking the fillies triple crown in the process. Her triumphs were: 1,000 Guineas,: the Oaks: Coronation Stakes: Nassau Stakes: St. Leger; Park Hill Stakes. Her amazing run finally came to an end in October when she was beaten by a 66-1 outsider in Paris.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL - Charles W Follis signed for Shelby in exchange for a job at a hardware store and became the first verified black professional player.
BOXING - Joe Bowker, the British Champion, took the world bantamweight title when he outpointed Frankie Neil, from San Francisco, over 20 rounds at the National Sporting Club in London.
SOCCER - Aston Villa became the first club to score 1000 goals in the football league. In the Second Division, Manchester United set a record of 14 consecutive League wins.
GOLF - Jack White became the first man with winning total under 300 in the British Open. He was also the first champion to break 70 with a first round of 69.
There was no respite for the bookies in 1905 either. Pretty Polly took the Coronation Cup in record time and two of her other victories were at the prohibitive odds of 55-1 on, and 1,000 - 35 on. In total Pretty Polly won 22 of her 24 races. Her only other defeat was in her final race, the 1906 Ascot Gold Cup.
The main event in Paris in 1900 was the World Exhibition and the games which accompanied them were regarded by the IOC and the international media as the second Olympic Games. However public interest in these games was relatively subdued. Controversy was no stranger to these games as Greece had claimed the right to stage all future Olympiads but world events such as the revolt in Crete and the Greek-Turkish war effectively put Greece out of the running for 1900. As a result the Olympic Committee returned to its resolution of 1894 to bring the 1900 Olympiad to Paris.
Due to lax organization and poor pre-event advertising, the public took scant notice of the Games. A further reason for the publics indifference was that the competitions took place throughout the full five months duration of the World Fair. The Games could hardly be called a meeting of athletes when the track and field competitions were held in July in the Bois de Boulogne, whilst the swimming events took place in August in a pool on the River Seine.
Sailing took place for the first time, also women took part in the Olympics, though they competed in a limited number of events, among them Golf and Tennis. America’s Margaret Abbot won the golf, whilst Great Britain’s Charlotte Cooper was victorious in the tennis, taking both the singles and mixed doubles titles, being partnered in the latter by fellow Briton Roger Doherty, who won the Men’s Doubles with his brother, Laurie, the Men’s Singles Champion.
The Long Jump finally ended in bizarre fashion by today's standards. Since in 1900 the results from the qualifying rounds were taken into account in the final result, America’s Myer Prinstein finished second in the competition without having made a single jump in the final. Prinstein was absent from the final because it took place on a Sunday, and his Methodist College forbade him to compete.
By winning three titles (standing high jump, standing long jump, and standing triple jump), the American track and field, athlete, Ray Ewry embarked upon a an amazing Olympic career. He competed until 1908 and won no less than ten titles, making him in terms of first places the most successful Olympic competitor of all time. The most successful competitor of the 1900 Games was however, Alvin Kraenzlein.
The son of German emigrants to America, he won the 60 metres, both the 110 and 200 metres hurdles as well as the long jump.
The hosts dominated the fencing, taking five of the seven titles contested. With one win each only the Cuban Ramon Fonst and the Italian Antonio Conte were able to break the French monopoly.
Tottenham’s FA Cup campaign was brilliantly master-minded by their player-manager John Cameron. It was hailed as a breakthrough against Northern domination, even though the team was a collection of one Irishman, two Welshmen, five Scots and three Englishmen, none of whom were born within 100 miles of White Hart Lane.
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