An unemployed East German lathe operator turned women’s tennis upside down when he stabbed Monica Seles at a tournament in Hamburg. Seles the No.1 rated player in the world, was sitting at the edge of the court when Gunther Parche jumped over a barrier and plunged a knife into her back. Parche who idolised his compatriot Steffi Graf, claimed he attacked Seles so that Graf could regain her No.1 status. Seles was traumatised by the attack and was unable to face another tennis tournament.
The arrival of Eric Cantona from Leeds galvanised Manchester united in just the way Alex Ferguson had hoped. With the French Maestro knocking in the goals United soon overhauled Norwich , who had unexpectedly opened up an eight point lead at the top of the table at the beginning of the year.
As Norwich slipped away, Aston Villa emerged as United’s main rivals. But in March, the nightmares of the previous season, when Leeds had pipped them for the title, returned as United went four matches without a win. The lessons from the previous season had been learned. United finished the season with an awesome display of form, winning their last seven matches. This time it was Villa that cracked, and on May 2 they lost to relegation threatened Oldham and United had won their first championship since 1967. Ferguson as the first manager to have won the League title in both England and Scotland.
ATHLETICS - Chinese women were shredding world records at an alarming rate. Qu Yunxia took more than 2 seconds off the 1500m record only days after Wang Junxia slashed the 10,000m record by an awesome 42.94 secs. Questions about whether the records were the result of performance-enhancing drugs were angrily rebutted.
FOOTBALL - Bobby Moore, who had captained England to the World Cup in 1966 died of cancer at the age of 51. During his time as the captain of West Ham he also won the FA cup in 1964, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1965.
TENNIS _ Arthur Ashe died, aged 49. He had previously contracted aids from a blood transfusion during a heart operation. He became the first black player to win a major men’s singles title, the US open.
MOTOR RACING - James Hunt the 1976 Formula 1 World Champion, died in June, aged 45.
Her fears were compounded when the German courts only gave Parch a two-year suspended jail sentence. The decision was widely condemned with Graf saying “The rest of the world can only shake its head when it looks at us”. With Parche at large, Seles found it impossible to return to the court. She received psychiatric counselling for her post-traumatic stress disorder but still became a virtual recluse. Seles finally plucked up the courage to return, although it was not until 1995 that she felt able to play again.
Everybody at the Winter Olympics took a back seat to two ice skaters - and they were not Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. The saga of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding had gripped the world ever since the day in January when Kerrigan was attacked at the United States Championships.
When it emerged that the attempt to break Kerrigan’s legs had been carried out by associates of Harding, Kerrigan’s main rival on the American team, the world was amazed. Sporting rivalry was one thing but this was something else.
When Harding’s former husband, Jeff Gilhooly, and her former bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, not only admitted being involved in the attack but claimed that Harding was part of the plot as well, the world was agog. This was something that not even Hollywood could have invented. With Harding facing the threat of not being allowed to go to Lillehammer, the other great American institution - their legal system - went into overdrive as well. Threatened with a $25 million case, the United States Olympic Committee decided that it would let Harding compete in the Games.
Still there was high drama to come. In the final programme Harding took the ice, fluffed her first jump and stopped. She skated over to the judges, brandishing a boot lace that she claimed had broken and was allowed to start again. The histrionics did her no good. Harding finished in eighth place, with Kerrigan collecting silver medal behind Oksana Baiul of the Ukraine.
Two terrible events cast a deep shadow over the glittering success of the World Cup. Andres Escobar, a member of the Colombian side, was gunned down when he returned to his country after they were knocked out. And Diego Maradona failed a drugs test and was expelled from the competition. Colombia had been one of the first pre-tournament favourites but when Escobar unluckily put through his own goal in the match against the United States they were left with no realistic chance of qualifying for the next round. Nine days later he was dead.
He was leaving a restaurant in Medellin with his fiancee when he was attacked by three men. One of them said “thanks for the own goal” and repeatedly shot Escobar in the chest and face. As each bullet struck home the assailants shouted: “Goal”. At his funeral 100,000 Colombians wept and demanded justice.
The Escobar tragedy came hard on the heels of Maradona’s disgrace. The Argentinian claimed that he had only been taking a cold cure, but FIFA rejected this defence stating that Maradona had tested positive for a cocktail of five banned drugs..
George Foreman definitely had the last laugh. He had come out of retirement after 10 years inactivity and, at the age of 45, was once again fighting for the world heavyweight title. His opponent, Michael Moorer, was 18 years younger and had taken the WBA and IBF titles from Evander Holyfield. Almost without exception, boxing pundits thought the contest was a farce.
With only six minutes and 57 seconds of the contest remaining they seemed to be right. Moorer had built up an unassailable lead and was able to hit Foreman at will. Then Moorer got careless. He stepped back from an attack and left Foreman an opening. The veteran caught the champion with a left and promptly followed up with a short right. It was enough. Moorer was counted out and Foreman had become the oldest man to be the World Heavyweight Champion.
BASEBALL - Major league players went on an indefinite strike over salary capping on August 12. Both the team owners and the players stubbornly refused to compromise and, for the first time since it started in 1904, the World Series was cancelled. The case against team owners went to court, with the players seeking an injunction.
ICE SKATING - John Curry, the European, World and Olympic champion in 1976 died of an AIDS -related illness.
RUGBY UNION - Wales won the Five Nations Championship for the first time since they shared it with France in 1988. South Africa roared back to defeat England 27-9 in the second Test at Newlands and draw the series after England won the first Test at Loftus Versfeld 32-25.
The scandals that rocked the game at the end of 1994 just seemed to be never ending. The first shock came when Eric Cantona decided to take the law into his own hands at Selhurst Park in January.
As Cantona trudged along the touchline after being sent off, Matthew Simmons, a so-called Palace fan, leapt from his seat and allegedly hurled obscenities at the United player. Cantona’s reaction was swift. He launched a kung-fu assault on Simmons. Paul Ince also was involved in the general melee. Cantona was prosecuted for his offence and initially was given a two week jail sentence. On appeal this was reduced to 120 hours community service. Manchester United banned him for the rest of the season and fined him two weeks wages. The FA increased the fine and extended the ban until October 1.
Playing in the World Cup for the first time, South Africa, the hosts, celebrated by beating New Zealand, the clear favourites 15-12 in extra time of the final. A dropped goal by Joel Stransky eight minutes from time sent the rainbow nation of 43 million and President Nelson Mandela into joyous hysterics. Hardly anybody though the Springboks, who scraped past France in the semi-final, had much of a chance against the All-Blacks. New Zealand were undoubtedly the team of the tournament and in Jonah Lomu they possessed the man of the tournament. The 20 year-old winger was 6ft5ins, 18stones 7lbs and ran the 100m in 10.8secs. Opponents described him as unstoppable, and until the final they were proved right.
Lomu had destroyed England in the semi-final with four tries, the first in the third minute, as the European champions were humiliated 45-29. It was a disappointing end to England’s campaign which had promised so much when a Rob Andrew drop goal in injury time eliminated Australia. the defending champions. England had done well to progress so far after Will Carling had been sacked as captain before the tournament. Carling had been inadvertently caught on television calling the RFU “57 Old Farts”.
It was a tragic end to a classic brutal contest. Gerald McClellan, the 27 year-old American challenger, had to receive emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain after he was knocked out by Nigel Benn in the 10th round of their WBC super middleweight world title fight.
McClellan who was noted for his furious punching and fast finishes , seemed to have won the fight in the first few seconds when he sent the title-holder crashing through the ropes. Somehow Benn miraculously used the minutes rest between rounds to launch his own onslaught in the second round. McClellan thought he was going in for the kill; instead the hunter became the hunted. As the fight progressed both men were stretching their endurance to the absolute limit. In the 10th McClellan caved in.
BASEBALL - The eight month dispute ended when the players were granted an injunction against the owners for unfair labour practices.
BOXING - Chris Eubank in his 15th defence of his WBO super-middleweight crown, was comprehensively beaten by the Irishman Steve Collins on points in County Cork. It was Eubanks’s first defeat in a 10-year career.
Mike Tyson was released on parole after serving exactly three years of his six year jail sentence for rape. Herbie Hide, in his first defence of his WBO world heavyweight title, was knocked out in the sixth round by Riddick Bowe in Las Vegas. It was the ninth time hide had hit the canvas.
FOOTBALL - Arsenal’s attempt to become the first side to retain the European Cup Winners Cup foundered when, with only seconds remaining in extra time, Nayim scored a spectacular goal to give Real Zaragoza a 2-1 victory.
RUGBY UNION - England won their third Grand Slam in five seasons when Rob Andrew kicked all of their 24 points to defeat Scotland . Scotland were also previously unbeaten, but 12 from the boot of Gavin Hastings and Craig Chalmers were not enough.
TENNIS - Fred Perry, Britain’s last Wimbledon men’s singles champion, died. Andre Agassi won the Australian Open at his first attempt when he beat Pete Sampras in the final in Melbourne 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4.
Britain lost to Slovakia in the Davis Cup
And then the floodgates opened. In February Chelsea fans invaded Stamford Bridge after they had lost to Millwall; England’s “friendly” against Ireland was abandoned because of rioting English fans, and Belgian police deported more than 800 Chelsea fans before, and after, their European Cup Winners Cup match against Bruges. In March Crystal Palace’s Chris Armstrong was tested positive for cannabis; the Chelsea captain Dennis Wise was sentenced to three months imprisonment for assaulting a taxi driver and Bruce Grobbelaar, Justin Fashanu and Hans Segers were arrested by police investigation alleged match-fixing.
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