2001 memories will be made of these

In April it will be 20 years since Bob Champion so poignantly won the Grand National on Aldaniti
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Another year, another set of anniversaries. We are a nation preoccupied with the past, often to the exclusion of the present and future, and nothing illustrates this more clearly than our obsession with anniversaries. So, if you'll forgive the contradiction in terms, here is a sneak preview of bygone events, many of which, you can be sure, will be hyped to the hilt and beyond in 2001.

Another year, another set of anniversaries. We are a nation preoccupied with the past, often to the exclusion of the present and future, and nothing illustrates this more clearly than our obsession with anniversaries. So, if you'll forgive the contradiction in terms, here is a sneak preview of bygone events, many of which, you can be sure, will be hyped to the hilt and beyond in 2001.

January sees the 30th anniversary of the first one-day cricket international, between Australia and England in Melbourne. In February, Fred Trueman and Peter Alliss are 70, and Kevin Keegan is 50. It will be 25 years since John Curry became the first British man to win an Olympic gold medal for figure-skating, and 10 years since Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager, citing nervous exhaustion following a dramatic 4-4 draw against Everton in the FA Cup. I knew how he felt.

In March Dalglish turns 50, but won't be expecting many cards from Celtic Park, while Ellery Hanley, he of the huge shoulders, and Fatima Whitbread, she of the even huger ones, are both 40. It will be 75 years since Scotland beat England for the first time in a rugby union international at Twickenham, and 20 years since a mere 7,000 people took part in the first London Marathon. In April it will be 20 years since Bob Champion so poignantly won the Grand National on Aldaniti, and 100 years since Joe Davis, 15 times world snooker champion, was born. David Coleman is behind him to the tune of a black, a pink, a blue, a brown and a green. On 26 April he turns 75. Quite remarkable.

On 1 May 1961 betting shops were legalised. Five days later, Spurs beat Leicester City 2-0 at Wembley to become the first team in the 20th century to win the League and FA Cup double. I don't know how many of their fans cleaned up in those new-fangled betting shops. I do know, and so, to his cost, does Sir Alan Sugar, that some of them have been living off the kudos ever since.

In June it will be 20 years since Shergar won the Derby by a record 10 lengths, and in July, 50 years since one of the most startling upsets in boxing history. On 10 July 1951 at Earl's Court, the European middleweight champion Randolph Turpin outpointed the great Sugar Ray Robinson, who, pound for pound, was considered probably the best fighter of all time. Turpin remained world champion for only 64 days before Robinson won the rematch in New York, but they were 64 glorious days. Tragically, however, the glory did not sustain him. He became a wrestler to stave off bankruptcy, and ended up working in a transport caff in his home town of Leamington Spa. In 1966 he took his baby daughter into a room above the cafe, shot her (she survived) and then shot himself (he didn't).

July also marks the anniversary of the end of an era, if that notion is not too confusing, for in July 1981 John McEnroe finally broke Bjorn Borg's remarkable grip on Wimbledon. That was the year he cemented his notoriety with an unforgettable outburst: "You cannot be serious, man? That ball was on the line! Chalk flew up!" A slightly less histrionic sportsman, Sir Richard Hadlee, turns 50 in July.

In August Don King turns 70, Walter Swinburn 40 and Pete Sampras 30. And it will be 10 years since John Daly burst into the sporting consciousness. In August 1991 the unknown Daly sensationally won the USPGA at Crooked Stick, Indiana. In August 1971, just as sensationally, the Lions - captained by John Dawes and comprising such legends-to-be as JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Willie John McBride - returned home having won their first Test series against the mighty New Zealand.

September marks the 75th anniversary of the world heavyweight bout between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, watched, at the Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia, by an astonishing crowd of 120,757. And in October it will be 50 years since a competitive football match was first played under floodlights (Southampton reserves v Tottenham reserves at The Dell was the rather unromantic fixture chosen, if you're wondering). On 24 October it will be 25 years since the late James Hunt clinched the Formula One drivers' championship, by finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix. Ian Rush turns 40 in October, followed in November by those peas in a pod, obviously separated at birth, Frank Bruno and Nadia Comaneci.

On 7 November it will be 10 years since Magic Johnson shocked America with the news that he was HIV positive. As far as I know he's still going strong. As is Sir Geoff Hurst, Gawd bless him, who celebrates his 60th birthday in December. And if you thought this column was over, it is now. Happy New Year.

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