Brian Viner: With hindsight, can we foresee history turning full circle at The Oval?

Traditionally, this column's first outing of a new year serves notice of some of the sporting birthdays and anniversaries we can expect to be loudly trumpeted over the forthcoming 12 months, as well as some that might otherwise slip by without fuss or fanfare.

Traditionally, this column's first outing of a new year serves notice of some of the sporting birthdays and anniversaries we can expect to be loudly trumpeted over the forthcoming 12 months, as well as some that might otherwise slip by without fuss or fanfare.

Let's start with Jack Nicklaus, still the greatest golfer who ever lived. He turns 65 on 21 January. The following day it will be 50 years since Joe Davis scored snooker's first official 147 break. And on the 31st it will be 40 years since Jock Stein became manager of Celtic.

In February, a pair of British footballers, two superb goalscorers who always knew what to do with a killer pass, become eligible for a bus pass. Jimmy Greaves is 65 on the 20th, Denis Law four days later.

On 1 March it will be 25 years since the death, at a Merseyside derby, of Everton's legendary goalscorer Dixie Dean. Later that month a somewhat less impressive scoring feat will probably not be commemorated in New Zealand; on 28 March 1955, in Auckland, England's cricketers bowled out the Kiwis for just 26 runs. It remains the lowest score in Test match cricket.

A more distinguished half-century comes up on 2 April. It will be 50 years since the great but ill-fated Duncan Edwards was first capped for England, aged 18, in the 7-2 defeat of Scotland. On 4 April it will be 75 years since another notable first: Andy Sandham - whom I remember as a frail old man being interviewed by Peter West during a tea break at the Oval - became the first batsman to score over 300 runs in a Test match, against the West Indies in Jamaica. Three days after Sandham's 325, and doubtless under greyer skies, a baby boy called Cliff Morgan was born. Although it was later claimed that he came off a conveyor belt in a Welsh fly-half factory.

On 4 May it will be 225 years since the first Derby at Epsom, the name of the race reputedly decided by a coin toss between the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury. On the 29th of the same month, another racing institution reaches a big birthday: Martin Pipe turns 60.

On that date in 1985 came one of English football's darkest hours: the Heysel stadium disaster.

Another disaster should be remembered in June. On the 11th it will be 50 years since Pierre Levegh's Mercedes somersaulted off the track during the Le Mans 24-hour race, killing Levegh and 82 spectators. Two days later, rather scarily for those of us who knew him as snooker's pin-up boy, Tony Knowles turns 50.

In July come two noteworthy anniversaries at Wimbledon: on the fifth it will be 30 years since Arthur Ashe became the first black champion; on the seventh, 20 years since Boris Becker became the youngest champion.

On 12 July is the 75th anniversary of the day Donald Bradman eclipsed Sandham's achievement three months earlier. Against England at Headingley, the Don scored 309 runs in a day. And in the same month, but a different hemisphere, football's first World Cup final took place - Uruguay beating Argentina 4-2 in Montevideo.

Another 75th anniversary arrives in August; the first British Empire Games, later renamed the Commonweath Games, opened in Hamilton, Canada, on 16 August 1930.

On 6 September it will be 125 years since The Oval hosted the first Test match in England, and let us hope for the same result this year; England beat Australia by five wickets. On 21 September is the 50th anniversary of Rocky Marciano's last professional fight. In knocking out Archie Moore, in the sixth defence of his world title, he completed his career with a 49th victory in his 49th fight. Another big boxing anniversary arrives on 1 October: it will be 30 years since the Thrilla in Manila between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

On 21 October, Ali's sporting antithesis, Geoff Boycott, reaches 65. Pele turns 65 two days later, Martin Peters on 8 November. Better still, on 23 November it will be 250 years since the birth of Thomas Lord, who gave his name to cricket's holiest shrine. The following day brings up the half-century of a man who has thrilled crowds at Lord's more than most: Ian Botham. And 3 December marks the centenary of the England wicket-keeper who scored more first-class runs - 37,248 - than any other: the late Les Ames.

Finally, on Christmas Day it will be 150 years since the first game of ice hockey was played, in Kingston, Ontario. Or so they say. Which gives us lots to look forward to looking back at.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own