The Troubles that had dogged John Conteh since he won the world light-heavyweight title in 1974 finally caught up with him when he was stripped of his crown for refusing to go through with a contracted defence against the Argentinian Miguel Cuello in Monte Carlo. Conteh once tipped to be Britain’s golden boy of boxing, never fulfilled his early promise. He had made only three defences of his title while his career was beset with recurring hand injuries and promotional and managerial problems. At one time it seemed that Conteh was reserving his fisticuffs for the court rather than the ring.
Six weeks after Manchester United had won the FA Cup Tommy Docherty publicly announced that he was leaving his wife and four children to live with Mary Brown, the wife of the club’s physiotherapist. Docherty was one of the most controversial figures in the game and had held a string of managers jobs.
Before United he had been in charge of Chelsea, Rotherham, Aston Villa, Porto and the Scottish national side. He had a wicked sense of humour and was famous for his quips. This made him fair game for the media and although his statement was supposed to stifle press speculation about his three year affair, it had the opposite effect. Instead they had a field day hounding Docherty and Catholic Manchester United.. The pressure on the club from without and within became great and Docherty was sacked within 10 days.
It was a glorious summer. The Queen was celebrating her jubilee and Wimbledon was staging its centenary. To crown it all Virginia Wade won the singles title. Wade beat Betty Stove 4 - 6, 6 - 3, 6 - 1. Her victory at the 13th attempt brought rapturous applause from the patriotic crowd. They sang the national anthem before the final and broke into a rendition of “For she’s a jolly Good Fellow” when the Queen stepped onto Centre Court to present one of her subject with the winners plate.
Wade used her solid serve to beat Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6,6-1 in the semi final but struggled at the start of a final littered with errors. Wade, nearly 32 years old and 16 days younger than Stove, appeared to have lost until she won seven games on the trot to turn the tide. She was one of the five winners of major tournaments in a year when the Australian Open was held twice. The January tournament was moved to December to avoid a clash with the Grand Prix Masters in New York
When Kerry Packer knocked on the Australian Cricket Boards door and asked if hey would like bags of money in exchange for their rights to televise Test matches they bluntly refused. Packer was miffed. Believing the ACB had not given him a fair hearing, he went away and staged the biggest revolution in the 100 year history of Test Cricket.
The multi-millionaire owner of the Channel nine television station decided to hold his own series and signed 35 of the worlds leading players. The establishment was in a flap. For years they had refused the players a fairer monetary deal. Now the underpaid were queuing at Packer’s door for a slice of the cake. All but four of the Australian team signed up for World Series Cricket and the best players in the rest of the world followed. In England, the Test and County Cricket Board stripped Tony Greig of the England captaincy when they heard he had recruited players.
Folklore suggests that dragons were slain because they breathed fire On March 4 the Welsh dragon was nearly slain because it did not breathe fire. Phil Bennett’s team looked as though they had played one match too many in the Five Nations championship when France took a 7 - 0 lead in Cardiff.
Both teams were unbeaten, the Grand Slam was up for grabs and Wales were fading. But shortly before half-time the captain provided the spark to ignite the Welsh fire.
Graham Mourie was regarded in New Zealand as one of the greatest players to lead the All-Blacks. The flanker from Taranaki enhanced his reputation by captaining his country to their first ever Grand Slam in Britain.
But there was one hiccough on the tour. Munster became the first ever Irish team to beat New Zealand. They won 12 - 0 in Limerick on October 31 and the match programme - sold out before kick-off - was reprinted as a
Lotus and their two drivers were having a wonderful year until the Italian Grand Prix on September 10. Mario Andretti, their team leader, had won six of the 13 Gps, and Ronnie Peterson two, and both drivers were storming away with the drivers championship. Then at Monza disaster struck. Riccardo Patrese, in only his second season in F1, attempted to overtake on a narrow part of circuit and hit James Hunt’s McLaren, which caught Peterson’s car. Peterson did not survive the crash. Patrese, an Italian who had something of a reputation for reckless overtaking, was charged with manslaughter but was eventually acquitted in 1981.
Muhammed Ali went from the ridiculous to the sublime in seven months, made heavyweight history, and inadvertently plunged his prized title into anarchy.
On February 15 in Las Vegas he managed to contrive a listless defence of his title against Leon Spinks, the 1976 Olympic Light-Heavyweight champion with only seven professional fights under his belt, and lost on a split decision. The frenetic youngster was even more of a shock winner than Ali was 14 years previously against Sonny Liston. Spinks quickly agreed a rematch.
A month later the WBC stripped Spinks of his title because he was fighting Ali and not their No 1 contender, Ken Norton, who was immediately proclaimed the world champion. In June, Norton lost the WBC version of the title to Larry Holmes on points in Philadelphia. However the boxing world still saw Spinks, the WBA holder, as the legitimate champion.
Then on September 15, Ali bamboozled everybody when he regained the title (at least one half of it) from Spinks with a performance that belied his 36 years.. Ali had now virtually confirmed his immortality. He had taken part in 24 world title fights and became the first man to win the world heavyweight championship three times.
He side stepped his way through for a try, Gareth Edwards kicked a dropped goal and when Bennett scored again Wales were 13 - 7 in the lead at the interval. They were on their way to a 16 - 7 victory.
Never underestimate Brian Clough’s ability to shock. On February 9, a month after the British transfer record of £500,000 was broken, Clough smashed it into little pieces when he paid £1 million to Birmingham City for Trevor Francis. Everybody believed Clough was mad particularly since Francis would only be eligible to play in the European Cup final assuming Forest got there. Francis repaid a significant slice of the money when he made his European debut on May 30 in Munich in the Euro Cup Final. He headed the only goal and Forest, two seasons out of the Second Division were the champions of Europe.
Six of her titles were singles, 10 were women’s doubles and four mixed doubles. The bespectacled American who was the leading campaigner for women‘s equality in the game, eclipsed the record held by Elizabeth Ryan who died at Wimbledon the day before. King’s strong serve-volley repertoire and fighting qualities made her one of the sports “greats”. She played in 256 matches at Wimbledon and was a quarter-finalist 20 times in 22 years. She did not play in 1976, when she retired temporarily and in 1981, when she became a TV commentator and was unsuccessfully sued by her former lover Marylin Barnett for palimoney.
A camera and computer in Perth put the final stamp on Jeff Thomson’s claim as the fastest and most accurate Test bowler in the world. The Australian was recorded bowling more than four miles an hour faster than his West Indian rival Michael Holding on November 22. Each bowler had eight balls. Bob Willis of England, Sylvester Clarke of Barbados and Australian Rodney Hogg were the only leading players missing from the line-up.
The fleet had little idea of what they were about to face as they set off in moderate winds on the Fastnet Race, the last event in the Admiral’s Cup. And after a day the wind was getting lighter, with no indication that a storm was about to break. But as the leaders were approaching the Fastnet rock the wind suddenly roared up to force 10 and more and the seas became tempestuous. The yachts took a fearful pounding and many of the crews had cause to regret experimenting with lightweight carbon-fibre rudders, which could not stand the strain.
Lifeboats had to tow several craft to safety, and the crew of the Irish Cup yacht ‘Golden Apple of the Sun’ were winched to safety by a helicopter. Many of the small yachts in the fleet were not able to withstand the battering and, in all 15 people died. At the height of the storm the coast guards dealt with more than 10,000 messages in 60 hours.
BOWLS - David Bryant of England, who had become the inaugural outdoor world champion in 1966, repeated his feat indoors.
BOXING - Larry Holmes made three successful defences of the WBC version of the world heavyweight title, and Muhammed Ali relinquished the WBA version and announced his retirement.
Billie Jean King crowned her career by winning a 20th title at Wimbledon. Her moment of glory came in the women’s doubles final when she teamed up with Navratilova to beat Betty Stove and Wendy Turnbull 5-7,6-3,6-2.
Bjorn Borg staked his claim as one of the sport’s greatest players when he won a fifth successive Wimbledon title, beating John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3,6-7, 16-18, 8-6 in arguably the finest final in Wimbledon history. For nearly four hours Borg and his arch rival thrilled the Centre Court in a dramatic 55 game match.
Borg worked hard on improving his play at the net, and his only chink was his inability to stretch wide on his left because he employed a two-handed backhand. It was a flaw exposed by left-handers with swinging serves like McEnroe.
The American abandoned the boorish behaviour he had displayed in a bitter semi-final against Jimmy Connors and with some exquisite play he took the first set in 20 minutes. Borg came bounding back to win the next two sets and was on the brink of victory at 5-4 and 40-15 in the fourth set. McEnroe saved both match points, won the game and then forced the champion into a memorable tie-break. It lasted nearly 23 minutes. McEnroe saved five championship points and Borg seven set points before McEnroe levelled the match. Most players would have fallen in a heap after missing seven championship points. Not Borg, He maintained his nerve and when McEnroe could not answer a two-handed cross-court shot on the eighth championship point won the title.
The two races between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, both in classic showdowns at the Moscow Olympic Games, would have captured the attention of the sporting world where ever they happened. That they were on the Olympic stage heightened the drama. In 1979 the paths of the two Britons had never crossed competitively. The speculation as to who would win, should they meet, was intense. By the summer of 1980. It was clear that both were still in top form but had no intention of racing each other before the Olympics.
In the weeks preceding the Games, both produced performances guaranteed to add fuel to the anticipatory flames.: on July 1 in Oslo Ovett broke Coe’s world record mile with 3:48.8 while on the same track the same night Coe set a 1,000m world record of 2:13.40 A fortnight later, Ovett equalled Coe’s 1500m world record of 3:32.21
With the last 200 m run in under 25 secs Coe did well to move from fourth to second, “I threw it away in the second lap” he admitted. Ovett having won his less favoured event was full of confidence going in to the 1500m. But Coe had been smouldering all week. Roundly criticized even by his own father, he poured every ounce of competitiveness into the 1500m. After a slow first 800m, the East German Jurgen Straub took the lead. The field stretched out behind him and with 200 m left Straub was leading by 4 metres. from Coe, and six from Ovett. Entering the home straight, all of Coe’s frustration was transformed into usable energy. He kicked past Straub with 80m left to victory.
Yet the first of their Olympic clashes (they were both entered for the 800m and the 1500m) at 800m on July 26, was almost an anticlimax. Ovett won after Coe, most peoples favourite for the shorter distance, had run a poor tactical race in which he was last at the bell. Coe simply left himself too much to do in the home straight
Search results published at foot of INDEX page
Did this web site interest you? If so perhaps a visit to the following by the same web master, you would also find enjoyable and informative -
Football aka Soccer - The Game - CLICK HERE
Louis XVI and the French Revolution - CLICK HERE
World War II - Epic Events - Key Players - CLICK HERE
Aviation - 1890 - 1949 The Pioneering Years - CLICK HERE
The History of the British Empire - CLICK HERE
Fall of The British Empire - CLICK HERE
Victorians and Empire, The British Way - CLICK HERE
True Tales of War, Adventure and Exploration - CLICK HERE
Greatest Highlights of Sport in the 20th Century - CLICK HERE
Milestones of the 20th Century Cinema - CLICK HERE
The fascinating story of the British Monarchy - CLICK HERE
Eyewitness to the History of America CLICK HERE
Eyewitness History of America - The Later Years - CLICK HERE
Lindfield Village - An English Classic - CLICK HERE
Start Lawn Bowls - CLICK HERE
Explore Sussex England - CLICK HERE
Gripping True Stories - CLICK HERE
Play Lawn Bowls to Win - CLICK HERE