British football was turned upside down on November 25 when Hungary came to Wembley, displayed the most exquisite skills and routed England 6 - 3. The headlines the next day told the whole story “The New Wembley Wizards”, “Now Its Back To School for England”. For the first time in their history England had been beaten on home soil by continental opposition. But that was the least of it.
For the first time they were made to look positively second-rate by Fernc Puskas and his Magnificent Magyars. Within 60 seconds, Hungary including Nandor Hidegkuti, Sandor Kocsis and the incomparable Puskas, were ahead when Hidegkuti skilfully drew the centre-half out of position with a swerve and then hit the ball through the gap. The Hungarians went on to play football that combined the individual skills of continental artistry with British enterprise and vigour. By half-time they were 4 - 2 ahead. In the second half Ramsey converted a penalty and Hidegkuti completed his hat-trick to leave the score 6 - 3. In the return match six months later the score was 7 - 1 to Hungary!
It took a long time but Sir Gordon Richards finally captured the one prize that had eluded him. And although it took 28 attempts to win his first Derby he could not have picked a finer occasion. The 49 year-old jockey had just been awarded a knighthood for his services to racing and the Queen had been crowned just a few days before.
The crowd at Epsom was close to half a million and their loyalties were divided. Should they back Sir Gordon on Pinza at 5 - 1, or the Queens runner Aureole at
9 - 1. In the end Pinza was the clear cut winner by four lengths from Aureole.
Ken Rosewall a tenacious right-hander with an excellent backhand and fine ground strokes, signalled his emergence as one of the worlds greatest players by winning the Australian and French championships.
As a result the 18 year-old Australian was awarded the top seeding at Wimbledon. But his charge to the Grand Slam ended in the quarter-finals when he lost to Kurt Nielsen, the sensation of the tournament. The unseeded Dane reached the final but was beaten in straight sets by Vic Seixas. Rosewall recovered from his surprise defeat but lost again to Tony Trabert in the final of the US Championships.
SOCCER - The football Association celebrated its 90th year with a match between England and the Rest of the World at Wembley on October 26. England were fortunate to escape with a 4 - 4 draw when Alf Ramsey scored a penalty in the last
There was a strong wind across the track at Iffley Road, Oxford in the early afternoon of May 6th. The 24 year-old Oxford student wanted to be the first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes. He had planned everything to the last detail. His training had gone well and he had invited Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher from the Achilles Club to act as pacers. Time was running out and someone was bound to break the barrier. The great Swede Gunner Hagg had come within two seconds and also John Landy in Australia.
Just when Bannister had given up hope, the wind died with only minutes to spare. The race was on. Brasher took the lead as agreed, with Bannister and Chataway on his tail and they were through the first lap in 57.5sec and reached the halfway mark in under 2 minutes. Brasher had done his job, now it was Chataway’s turn. The pace slowed and when Bannister went through the bell in 3min0.5sec his hopes appeared to be fading. He took the lead 200 metres out and surged down the final straight.
Ezzard Charles the 33 year-old former champion, gave Rocky Marciano the toughest fight of his career in June at Yankee Stadium, New York. The heavyweight champion was badly cut in the fourth round, with a two inch long gash by his left eye. Only Marciano’s immense strength sustained him, and by the eighth Charles was cut also, on the right eyelid.
Although Charles hung on he was at Marciano’s mercy in the 15th round. Marciano no longer had the power to dispatch the challenger and he retained his title on a unanimous points decision.
It was one of the decades great contests, and to many it signalled the decline of the impregnable champion. The rematch was three months later. Once again it was a blood bath. In the sixth round Charles caught Marciano’s nose with an elbow, splitting it wide open. The cut was so bad that Marciano’s corner asked for the fight to be stopped. Sustaining a further cut in his left eye Marciano smashed Charles to the floor in the eighth and when he got up again
ATHLETICS - Sandor Rosznyoi, of Hungary, became the first world record holder in the 3000 metres steeplechase with a time of 8min 49.6sec at the European Championships in Berne. The rules of the event had only been clarified earlier this year.
GOLF - Arnold Palmer won the US Amateur championship at Detroit Country Club. He beat Robert Sweeney at the 36th hole and turned professional soon after.
ROWING - Crews from the Soviet Union entered the Henley regatta
For the first time, and won the Grand Challenge Cup, the Stewards Cup
and Silver Goblets. The Daily Telegraph’s reporter was far from
impressed and said “I suppose we shall see Cossacks riding in the
Grand National next year”.
Len Hutton could not have asked for a better way to bow out of Test cricket. The only thing he did wrong in the second Test against New Zealand was lose the toss.
New Zealand were dismissed for 200, and the England captain steadied the batting when he came in with his side 112 for three which soon became 112 for four. Hutton had the top score of 53 in England’s total of 246.
After that everything ran England’s way. The pace pair of Frank Tyson and Brian Statham started the rout of New Zealand, and when Bob Appleyard and Johnny Wardle took over the home side were on their way to the lowest total in Test history
New Zealand were bowled out for 26 in 106 minutes, to give England victory by an innings and 20 runs. The previous lowest totals in Tests were 30 by South Africa against England in 1896 and 1924.
Hutton who had hoped to captain England in the home series against South Africa was troubled by lumbago and retired..
The Le Mans 24 hour race witnessed the worst disaster in the history of motor racing when 83 people died and more than 100 were injured on June 11. Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes was travelling at 150mph when it hit the rear of another car, somersaulted over the safety barrier, caught fire and broke into pieces, killing Levegh and sending. debris flying into the crowd.
Incredibly, the race continued to the finish and the drivers were not told about the extent of the tragedy. Eight hours after the accident, the other two Mercedes, driven by Juan Fangio and Stirling Moss were pulled out of the race at the express command of the German manufacturers.
The organisers believed that cancelling the race would have started a panic and a mass exodus of spectators would have impeded rescue operations. As a result, Spain, Switzerland and Mexico banned motor racing completely.
Alberto Ascari, a genius of a driver and second only to Juan Fangio as the greatest since the war, crashed while testing a borrowed Ferrari sports car and died instantly at Monza on May 26.
The accident was inexplicable since he was not travelling very fast when he skidded and the car turned over several times. Nor was he wearing a crash helmet. Strangely, Ascari had escaped unscathed from a potentially more dangerous accident four days earlier at the Monaco Grand Prix
ATHLETICS - There were a pair of firsts on June 29. Glenn Davis broke 50secs barrier in the 400 metres hurdles and Charles Dumas became the first to clear 7ft in the high jump.
FOOTBALL - Because of falling attendance's, the Football League reported a deficit of £10,489. To cover the loss they decided to raise the minimum admission charge from 1 shilling and nine pence to two shillings
Duncan Edwards of Manchester United, became England’s youngest international when, at the age of 18 years and six months, he played against Scotland.
The XVI Olympic Games were opened in Melbourne by the Duke of Edinburgh in late November 1956. As the northern hemisphere moved into winter, Australia was just getting ready for summer.
The first Olympic Games to be held south of the equator posed a particular set of problems for athletes from Europe and America. For a start many athletes did not have sufficient funds to spend a period of time acclimatizing before the Games. In addition, the late timing of the competition within the athletics season meant that athletes had to retrain their peak fitness over a longer period than usual.
Contrary to the regulations laid down in the Olympic Charter, one discipline had to be separated from the rest of the programme. As the Australian government were unwilling to shorten the usual six month quarantine period for horses entering the country, the horse riding events were forced to take place in June in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
As a result of the high cost of travelling to Australia fewer athletes participated in these Games than, for example in Berlin 20 years previously. The already relatively low numbers of competitors (approximately 3200) further decreased when China pulled out (because of Taiwan’s participation), then Egypt and Lebanon decided not to attend
Liechenstein, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland also withdrew in protest at the invasion by the USSR of Hungary.
The competitors themselves also suffered from the effects of political crises. One water polo match in the final round between Hungary and the USSR had to be abandoned because of the misconduct of some of the players. However by beating Yugoslavia in the final, Hungary successfully defended their 1952 title.
Outstanding athletes in Melbourne included the Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who won four gold medals (the team, the combined exercises, the horse, and the floor), a silver medal (the asymmetric bars) and a bronze (the portable apparatus). Betty Cuthbert turned on the style in front of her home crowd with three track and field wins, the 100, 200 metres and the 4 x 100 metres relay. In the 5000 and 10,000 metres events, the Soviet Vladimir Kuts took the titles held by Emil Zatopek, the Czech himself retired from international competition after finishing sixth in the marathon.
The Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser marked the beginning of her Olympic career by taking two gold medals (100 metres and 4 x 100 metres freestyle) and one silver (400 metres freestyle). Her compatriot Murray Rose became the first male swimmer to win two individual freestyle events (400 metres and 1500 metres) since Johnny Weissmuller’s achievements in 1924.
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Billy Wright leads the England onto Wembley
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