AMERICAN FOOTBALL - the NFL finally spanned all of America when the Cleveland Rams announced that they were moving to Los Angeles.
BASEBALL - Pete Gray, who only had one arm, played 77 games for the St. Louis Browns.
HORSE RACING - The Flat lost two of its great characters - Steve Donoghue and
George Lambton, the greatest jockey and trainer of their day.
The Russians arrived in October in the shape of Moscow Dynamo and embarked on a very curious tour. Their demands were extraordinary: they would only play club sides; they would provide their own referee who had to be in charge of at least one match; they had to eat all their meals in the Soviet Embassy and so on. Britain starved of top-flight football agreed to everything.
Dynamo’s first match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, was packed to the rafters. Nobody knew what to make of the Russians - the press had already written them off - particularly when they took to the field with each player bearing a gift of a bouquet of flowers which were solemnly handed to their opposite numbers.
When the match began Dynamo simply overran Chelsea with fast, fluent football, but against the run of play found themselves two down at half time. They fought back however to gain a 3 - 3 draw.
Cardiff City were trounced 10 - 1 before Dynamo met an Arsenal team strengthened by the presence of three England players , Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen and Joe Bacuzi, at White Hart Lane.
The fog was so thick that visibility was down to 10 yards. Accounts vary as to who refused to call off the match, and both sides blamed the other. The game was played with, at the Russian referee’s request, the two English linesmen on one touchline and him on the other. The Russians took an early lead, fell behind and, after a host of dubious decisions, won 4 - 3.
Their final; match was at Ibrox against Rangers, where 90,000 saw the Russians take a 2 - 0 lead that evaporated into a 2 - 2 draw. And they flew home unbeaten.
Manchester United were in much the same condition as the rest of the country, ravaged by war, heavily in debt, but prepared to tackle their problems with optimism and vision.
In February they turned to Matt Busby and offered him the managers job. It was an astute move. Busby had been player for Manchester City for eight seasons from 1928, where he had won an FA cup winners’ medal and then a player at struggling Liverpool until the outbreak of war. Military service had given him great opportunities to work with footballers such as Joe Mercer, Tommy Lawton and Arthur Rowe.in the Army PE Corps and Busby’s managerial skills were born.
Sergeant-Major Busby demanded and got, a five-year contract and complete control of the team. He had much to do. Old Trafford had been destroyed in the bombing and there would be no home matches played there in the foreseeable future. The club had a £15,000 overdraft and there would be no money for players.
Busby would have to develop what he had. He did that by analysing his players’ skills and redeploying them in his teams. Busby also grasped the opportunity of a new start that the war offered. At 45, he was young enough to mix with, and play with, his own players. He became the first track-suited manager.
Sam Snead certainly did not put Britain at the top of his list of travel destinations. Instead, the Virginian compared a stay in Britain to “camping out”. He had pitched up for the Open at Carnoustie in 1937 and finished a disappointing 11th. So it was with trepidation that he ventured across the Atlantic for a second time for the open at St. Andrews.
German prisoners of war had cleared some of the rough at the course in preparation for the Championship and Snead started with a 71, two shots off the pace set by Bobby Locke, who needed only one putt on seven greens. Six players were in contention at the start of the final round. Dai Rees took seven at the first and three putted the second and third and never recovered. Slammin’ Sam though, found his rhythm and with a near-flawless swing sealed the title with a closing 75.
Benny Lynch, Scotland’s greatest boxer, was found dead in a Glasgow gutter at the age of 33. Lynch captured the World Flyweight Championship and the public’s affection in 1935. Although he was a brilliant fighter he led a wildly undisciplined life outside the ring. After his final fight in 1938, he was a pathetic figure drowning in a sea of whisky, pawning his boxing trophies and fighting in booths to support his drinking habit. When his mother died he was homeless destitute and on the inevitable road to self-destruction.
Yvon Petra was fortunate to be playing at Wimbledon. The Frenchman had been seriously wounded during the war and was taken prisoner. He seemed likely to lose his leg but for the skill of a German surgeon who saved the limb. Petra, born in Indo-China learned to hit a powerful service when playing barefoot in the French colony. He moved to France where he became a barman and part time tennis player. His service won him the first post-war men’s singles title at Wimbledon, when he beat the Australian Geoff Brown 6 - 2, 6- 4, 7 - 9, 5 - 7, 6 -4. The American Pauline Betz won the women’s title without dropping a set in the tournament, but she later dared to discuss a professional contract. The US lawn Tennis Association banned her, so she immediately turned professional.
BOXING - Sugar Ray Robinson won the vacant world welter weight title when he out pointed the stubborn, but limited Tommy Bell at Madison Square Garden on December 20.
FOOTBALL - The first Scottish League Cup competition was held. It was won by Rangers.
TENNIS - Marcel Barnard was the last Frenchman to win the men’s singles title at the French Championships for 37 years.
Jimmy Demaret, a wise-cracking Texan and one of golf’s nattiest dressers, made a confident start to his quest for a second Masters title. Then he reached the 520 yard 15th hole.
He hit a bold second shot and although the ball carried the pond protecting the green it hit the bank and rolled back into the water. Undeterred, Demaret took off his shoes and socks and waded into the water. With one foot in the pond he splashed his wedge into the water and the ball landed four feet from the hole. He sunk the putt for a birdie, finished the opening round in 69 and won the tournament by two strokes.
For the first time in his career Joe Louis left the ring to boos when he controversially retained his world heavyweight title against Jersey Joe Walcott in December.
The challenger, who had an indifferent record before facing Louis, knocked the champion down twice - in the first and fourth rounds. At the end of the fight both boxers were convinced that the title had changed hands. Louis had left the ring and had to be called back to hear he had won on a split decision.
Louis at 32, may well have been past his prime, but the setback was put down to the ring rust he had accumulated during the war, when he had relentlessly given exhibitions to boost the morale of the troops. The following year the two fighters met again and this time, again following a knock-down by Walcott, Louis K.O.ed him in the 11th round
Jack Kramer mapped out his career while doing duty for the United States Coast Guard during the war. He would win Wimbledon and the US Open, turn professional and earn a lucrative salary playing tennis.
There was one problem. He aggravated a blister on his hand during a fourth round match against Jaroslav Drobhny at Wimbledon in 1946 and lost.
With the US title in his pocket he was determined to put his plans back on track. So Big Jake honed his powerful serve and volley game during the winter until his relentless percentage game was at its peak. He dropped only 37 games on his way to winning the men’s singles title at Wimbledon and in the final took a mere 35 minutes to crush Tom Brown 6 - 1, 6- - 3, 6 - 2.
Kramer’s first professional match made a lasting impression on him. A crowd of 15,000 ploughed through thick snow to watch him lose to Bobby Riggs at Madison Square Garden. They brought with them $250,000
The astute Kramer knew then that the professional tour would become a gold mine. He took control of it in 1951.
CRICKET - The first ever Test between Australia and India started in Brisbane on November 28. Australia won by an innings and 226 runs.
FOOTBALL - William Sharp was quick off the mark on December 20.. He scored for Partick Thistle against Queen of the South seven seconds after kick-off.
After a break of 12 years, the Olympic Summer Games were to be staged once again. For the second time since 1908, the IOC selected London - earmarked for the 1944 Games - as a venue.
London was a likely option for the first post-war Summer Olympics because its existing facilities had remained largely intact through the war. In front of King George VI, the Swedish IOC President, Sigfrid Edstrom, and more than 80,000 spectators, the XIV Olympic Summer Games were opened at the Empire Stadium, Wembley.
Despite some concerns, the IOC continued the tradition of relaying the Olympic torch from Athens, but decided to re-route the runners. On their way from Olympia to London, the torch bearers were diverted via Pierre de Coubertin’s tomb in Lausanne and thereby avoided having to run through Germany.
Not surprisingly the Games took place without teams from Germany and Japan. Both countries were considered the aggressors of World War II and as a result were excluded from participating. Athletes from the Soviet Union did not take part either, the USSR not being affiliated to the IOC. Before the Games, the organisers dropped the idea of building an Olympic village because of anticipated high costs; Britain was, after all almost bankrupt in the years following World War II. Instead, the athletes stayed in military barracks and colleges around the capital; rationing meant that many teams had to bring their own food with them.
In the competitions, polo and outdoor handball were no longer included, while the Olympic arts competitions were held for the last time, thus ending Pierre de Coubertin’s original idea of combining art with sport.
The woman’s competitions were expanded by the addition of the 200 metres, long jump and shot events. Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands became the star of the Games making history as the “flying housewife”. A mother of two children she won gold medals over 100 metres, 200 metres, in the 400 metres relay, and in the 80 metres hurdles, where a photo-finish confirmed her win over Britain’s Maureen Gardner. Even though the 30 year old Blankers-Koen was already past her sporting best, a more favourable timetable might have seen her take further medals.
With three gold medals (combined, team and pommel-horse) one silver (parallel bars), and a bronze (horizontal bar), the Finnish gymnast Veikko Huhtanen managed to surpass the Dutch athletes medal tally. The Hungarian athlete Aladar Gerevich won two golds in London. He competed in Olympic Games from 1932 right up until 1960, winning seven golds, one silver and two bronze medals in various fencing events. In winning 38 events the USA became the most successful team of the Games, ahead of Sweden with 16 golds and France with ten Olympic titles.
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