Brian Viner: This is the year to toast the memories of Blanchflower, Fangio and Shergar

The Last Word

Share
Related Topics

As regular readers will be aware, it is a tradition here at The Last Word to look forward, early in a new year, to all the anniversaries and milestones that will prompt us, over the next 12 months, to look back.

Indeed, we've already marked the most poignant of the lot: 40 years since 66 people died in the Ibrox tragedy of 2 January, 1971. Here are some others, along with some notable 2011 birthdays, looming between now and the end of June, with the big dates from July to December to follow next week.

Tomorrow it will be precisely 200 years since the first golf tournament for women, or at least the first one recorded. It took place in Musselburgh, with a fishing-basket as first prize. On 21 January it will be a mere 100 years since the inaugural Monte Carlo rally, the initiative of Prince Albert I of Monaco, great-grandfather of the present Prince Albert.

The sixth of February marks the 50th anniversary of a television first. Nobody had refused This Is Your Life host Eamonn Andrews before, but Tottenham Hotspur captain Danny Blanchflower did, walking away from Andrews live on air and calling the show an invasion of privacy.

A man who said yes to Eamonn's big red book, Kevin Keegan, turns 60 on St Valentine's Day, and on the 22nd it will be 20 years since the man who succeeded Keegan in the Liverpool No 7 shirt, Kenny Dalglish, abruptly resigned as the club's manager following a nerve-shredding 4-4 draw with Everton in the FA Cup. If the dafter sentimentalists on the Kop get their way, Dalglish might yet be reinstalled.

On 24 February, Lleyton Hewitt turns 30. Frankly it's a surprise he's not at least 40; he seems to have been around for ever. Four days later, Peter Alliss, who has been around for ever, will be 80. On the same day, Barry McGuigan hits 50, possibly with a right uppercut.

Into March, and that fellow Dalglish again; he'll be 60 years old on the fourth, which would also have been the 75th birthday of another great sporting Scot, Jim Clark, who perished at Hockenheim in 1968. On the day Clark died, another former world champion was serving a ban from his sport. Muhammad Ali, having refused to join the US Army and fight in Vietnam on the basis that "I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong, they ain't never called me nigger," had been suspended from boxing, but on 8 March, 1971, he finally got a chance to win back his world heavyweight title, against Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden. He lost, but it was a hell of a fight.

On 11 March it will be 100 years since the largest crowd ever recorded in the bottom tier of the English football league, 39,146, crowded into Valley Parade to see Bradford City beat Burnley in the FA Cup. The following day it will be 20 years since a Third Division game between Bournemouth and Reading made history. For the first time, the reserve official was a woman: Wendy Toms.

On 27 March a rugby league legend, Ellery Hanley, turns 50. Two days later the London Marathon will have been running for 30 years. And if you need staying power for the Marathon, what about the staying power of Jack Nicklaus? On 13 April it will be 25 years since I had the privilege of watching him, at the age of 46, win his 18th major title, the 1986 US Masters.

I also had the privilege of being at Wembley to watch Everton beat Manchester United in the 2009 FA Cup semi-final, a great day, although on the whole I deplore the business of holding semi-finals at Wembley. It all started on 14 April, 1991, when Tottenham beat Arsenal.

What's the betting on Tottenham, who play Charlton in the third round tomorrow, reaching this season's final? Mr Ladbroke and Mr Hill will tell you, and they'll also tell you that on 1 May it will be 50 years since betting shops were legalised. That happened just in time for punters to back Spurs to win the League and Cup Double. On 6 May, 1961 Danny Blanchflower was much happier to be handed a big silver cup than a big red book: Spurs had become the first Double-winners of the 20th century, back when it was English football's transcendent feat rather than the relatively commonplace achievement it has sadly become.

A different kind of record was achieved by Shergar on 3 June, 1981; the Aga Khan's wonderful horse won the Derby by the biggest-ever margin: a remarkable 10 lengths. Two years later he was kidnapped, never to be seen again. And so to what to some folk is a crime just as heinous: on 22 June it will be 25 years since Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" scored past Peter Shilton in a World Cup quarter-final. Two days later sees the centenary of a more honourable Argentine, the brilliant racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, and two days after that comes another sporting centenary: 100 years since the birth of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, an Olympic gold medallist as an athlete, an All-American basketball player, and the winner of 82 golf tournaments, including three US Opens. Women's sport, in fact sport in general, has never known her like.

It's still quiz time, so look sharp

There might still be time, depending on how early you're reading today's paper, to enter The Last Word's celebrated annual quiz, for which the fabulous prize, as always, is 365 bottles of Spitfire Ale, generously donated by master brewers Shepherd Neame. You have until noon. But be warned: some readers have been working on it since 18 December. Anyway, you can find the questions by googling 'Christmas Quiz: A Second Chance'. Happy New Year.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas