5th – The first rules of Association Football were published in Bells Life on this day in 1863. Today in 1871 (or 1870 family records not entirely clear), the American rodeo performer Bill Pickett was born, he invented the technique of bulldogging, the skill of grabbing cattle by the horns and wrestling them to the ground. Pickett soon became known for his tricks and stunts at local country fairs. With his four brothers, he established The Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association. The name Bill Pickett soon became synonymous with successful rodeos. In 1932, after having retired from Wild West shows, Bill Pickett died after being kicked in the head by a horse. A first-division football match between Sunderland and Newcastle United in 1908 pepped up considerably in the last 28 minutes with Sunderland scoring eight goals and running out 9-1 winners. Their last five goals came in the final eight minutes of the game. On this day in 1909 George Taylor made the first manned glider flight in Australia,in a glider he designed himself. England beat Australia by a Test cricket record 675 runs at Brisbane in 1928. The innings scores were England 521 all out (Hendren 169) and 342-8 declared, and Australia 122 (Larwood 6-32) and 66 all out (White 4-7). The first-division football match between Newcastle United and Portsmouth at St James’s Park in 1931 made history by ending without producing one corner kick. Hardly surprising – the final score was 0-0! American golfer Lanny Wadkins was born in 1949. He earned more than $6million from some 2-0 tournament wins since turning professional in 1971. His only Major was the 1977 PGA Championship. In 1960 Southampton’s Derek Reeeves became the first man to score five goals in a Football League Cup match, against Leeds United. His record was equalled but not bettered until 1989 when Frankie Bunn of Oldham scored six, against Scarborough. Ronaldo O’Sullivan, English professional snooker and pool player was born today in 1975. He is widely regarded as the greatest player in the sport’s modern era. He is noted for his rapid playing style, mercurial temperament and his ambivalent relationship with the sport, from which he has taken prolonged sabbaticals and repeatedly threatened to retire. Known as a prolific break-builder, O’Sullivan holds the record for the most competitive century breaks, with 841. He also holds the record for the most ratified maximum breaks in professional competition (13) and for the three fastest competitive maximum breaks, the quickest in 5 minutes and 20 second. Born on this day in 1988, British track and road cyclist Joanna Rowsell-Shand. Her greatest successes to date are the gold medals won in the women’s team pursuit at four World Championships (2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014) and the gold medal in the same discipline at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Games in Rio as well as the individual pursuit at the 2014 World Championship. She is a reigning Olympic and European champion in the team pursuit, and reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the individual pursuit. Dave Brubeck the famous American pianist and jazz composer passed away on this day in 2012, at the age of 91.
6th – The first international football match in the USA took place today in 1873, between Yale College and Eton School. The match was played at Hamilton Park, New Haven in Connecticut and for the record Yale ran out 2-1 winners. Of note here is that the Eton team included a future British Prime Minster – The 5th of Rosebery, Archibald Primrose. Thomas Edison makes the first sound recording when, in 1877, he recites ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ into his phonograph machine. The former Lancashire and England cricketer Cyril Washbrook was born in 1914. In a first-class career, which lasted from 1933-1964, he scored 34,101 runs at an average of 42.67 per innings. He played in 37 Tests and regularly partnered Len Hutton to open for England. Only 462 spectators turned up at the third-division match between Thames and Luton Town in 1930. This stood as the record for the lowest attendance of a football league match under normal circumstances until 1974, when the Rochdale-Cambridge United game drew a crowd of 450. The so-called “Blood in the Water” water polo match between Hungary and USSR took place today in 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics. The match, which took place against the background of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and saw Hungary defeat the USSR 4–0. The name was coined after Hungarian player Ervin Zádor emerged during the last two minutes with blood pouring from above his eye after being punched by Soviet player Valentin Prokopov. In 1963 The Beatles began a tradition of releasing a Christmas record for fans, conceived as a means to appease fan-club members whose letters, due to their sheer volume, were not always being answered in a timely manner, the records included the Beatles’ messages of thanks to “loyal Beatle people”, along with skits, Christmas carols, and original compositions. The first Christmas recording from the Beatles featured several renditions of the traditional carol “Good King Wenceslas” and individual messages from the four, ending with a closing chorus of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ringo”. Also on this day in 1963 Graeme Pollock makes his Test cricket debut at the Gabba. Germany speed skater Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann skates a ladies world record 5km in 7:13.29 today in 1993.
7th – Today in 1783 the Theatre Royal opens in Covent Garden, London. Eugene Corri in 1907 became the first referee in a boxing ring. He was well-known and popular in the UK, and was himself a boxer in his youth. His father changed his surname from Corry to Corri to make it appear more Italian in the hopes of furthering his singing career. He refereed over 2,000 fights, including Mickey Walker against Tommy Milligan in 1927. He made an appearance as himself in Alfred Hitchcock’s silent movie The Ring (1927) introduced to the audience by the MC. He was one of the original members of the National Sporting Club He published several books, including Fifty Years in the Ring in 1932, which appeared the summer before he died. Today in 1936 Australian cricketer Jack Fingleton becomes the first player to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings. Passing away on this day in 1960 was Clara Haskil, a Romanian classical pianist, renowned as an interpreter of the classical and early romantic repertoire. She was particularly noted for her performances and recordings of Mozart. She was also noted as an interpreter of Beethoven, Schumann, and Scarlatti. Haskil died from injuries received through a fall at the staircase of a Brussels train station. She was to play a concert with Arthur Grumiaux the following day. She was aged 65. An esteemed friend of Haskil, Charlie Chaplin, described her talent by saying “In my lifetime I have met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil. I am not a trained musician but I can only say that her touch was exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary.” In a 2013 interview, Pope Francis mentioned Haskil as one of his favorite musicians, especially when performing Mozart. Martin Pipe, the National Hunt Trainer, saddled the 1000th winner of his career at Kempton Park in 1990. His total of 230 winners in that season earned more than £1million in prize money, a record at the time for a National Hunt trainer. On this day in 1975 Pat Bradley wins the Colgate-Far East Ladies Golf tournament. In 1990 the Scarborough versus Wrexham Football League game at Seamer Road, Scarborough, attracted just 625, the smallest crowd ever to watch a fourth-division match at the time.
8th – Today in 1660 a women, thought to be either Margaret Hughes or Anne Marshall appears on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello. In 1863 at Wadhurst, Kent, Tom King of London beat John C Heenan of the USA in the first boxing match (bare-knuckle) for which a world title (and a $5000 side bet) was at stake. James Galway was born today in 1939, the Irish virtuoso flute player from Belfast, nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Flute” who became one of the first flute players to establish an international career as a soloist. In 1940 the Chicago Bears established at NFL record score of 73-0, which still stands- against the Washington Redskins. Geoff Hurst, the only man to score three goals in a World Cup final, was born in 1941. He spent most of his career at West Ham United but finished it with spells at Stoke City and the West Bromwich Albion. He scored 24 goals in 49 appearances for England. His only other hat-trick for England was against France in 1969. After managing at various clubs at home and abroad he went on to run a successful car insurance company along with his former England and West Ham colleague Martin Peters. Władysław Kozakiewicz, Polish pole-vaulter was born on this day in 1953. He was the Olympic Champion at 1980 Games, where he is perhaps more famous for makes the Bras d’honneur gesture towards booing and jeering Soviet crowds seconds after securing his gold medal at the Lenin Grand Stadium. The gesture became known as is as “Kozakiewicz’s gesture” and he later confirmed his dominance over the competition by breaking the world record, clearing at 5.78m. After the 1980 Olympics ended, the Soviet ambassador to Poland demanded that Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal over his “insult to the Soviet people”. The official response of the Polish government was that Kozakiewicz’s arm gesture had been an involuntary muscle spasm caused by his exertion. Manchester United and Scotland footballer Brian McClair was born in 1963. He started his career at Motherwell after failing to find a place at Aston Villa. He joined Celtic and then in 1987, moved to Manchester United for £850,000. He scored over 70 goals for United in more than 200 Leagues games and won 26 Scotland caps. In 1983 The House of Lords voted in favour of allowing cameras to broadcast live discussions from its chamber. The motion by Lord Soames, who said he wanted the public to see the Lords “warts and all”, won an overwhelming majority. Peers voted 74 in favour with 24 against the motion. At the 74th Australian Open in 1985 Stefan Edberg beats Mats Wilander (6-3, 6-3, 6-3) and Martina Navratilova beats Chrits Evert-Lloyd (6-2, 4-6, 6-2). Germany’s football captain Lothar Matthias, became the first official World Footballer of the Year in 1993 following a poll of FIFA coaches. World Soccer magazine has run its own such award since 1982, when Paolo Rossi of Juventus was the first recipient. John Gowans, Scottish clergyman, who was the 16th General of The Salvation Army from 1999 to 2002 passed away on this day in 2012.
9th – The 15th Australasian Championships, the first in which women took part, saw Margaret Molesworth beating Esna Boyd (6-3,10-8) on this day in 1922. Billy Bremner, the man who was an integral part of Leeds United’s rise to the top of British football in the 19701s, was born in 1942. A fiery and tough competitor, Bremner was one of the great captains of his era. He played for Scotland 54 times but his international career ended under a cloud after an alleged brawl in Copenhagan while on duty with the national side 1975. He later went into management; he managed Leeds for a short time but with indifferent results. His most successful spell in management was spent at Doncaster Rovers. American golfer Tom Kite was born in 1949. In 1990 he became the first golfer to take his career earnings past $6million. In 1992 he was the first to pass $7million and in 1993 the first to pass the $8million mark. In 1992 Kite also shook off the tag ‘Best Player Never to win a Major’ by winning the US Open at Pebble Beach by two strokes from Jeff Sluman. On this day in 1978 the first game of Women’s Pro Basketball League (WBL) took place between Chicago Hustle and Milwaukee Does. The world record streak of 32 consecutive wins by greyhound Ballyregan Bob came to an end in 1986 when his owner George Curtis decided to retire him and put him at to stud. Bob had not lost a race since 25th August 1984. In 1987 the England Cricket tour to Pakistan was at being danger of being called off following a row between Mike Gatting and the umpire Shakoor Rana. Rana refused to take the field until the England captain apologised to him for a heated exchange that broke out the previous day. Gatting himself demanded an apology from the umpire and stalemate ensued after the men clashed twice at Faisalabad. Gatting was heard saying “one rule for one, one for another”, after Rana turned down his appeal for a catch, later the umpire triggered a furious row in which the captain began pointing and shouting when he accused Gatting of cheating. The following day the Test and Country Cricket Board ordered Gatting to apologise and play resumed. But the incident marred relations between the two countries and the Foreign Office became involved. It prompted a national debate with accusations of racial bigotry. England did not tour Pakistan again until the winter of 2000. In 1988, Gatting was allegedly involved in an affair with a barmaid and was sacked as England captain but it was widely perceived as an excuse for something which sporting authorities had wanted to do after the Pakistan tour. The American professional mixed martial artist and kickboxer Shane Kalani del Rosario passed away on this day in 2013. He competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Heavyweight division, Strikeforce, M-1 Global, ShoXC, and King of the Cage. He held the distinction of being the first American to become the WBC Muay Thai World Heavyweight Champion.
10th – On this day in 1810 Tom Cribb (GB) beats Tom Molineaus (US) in 1st interracial boxing championship (40 rounds). Jahangir Khan, arguably the finest squash player of all-time, was born in Pakistan in 1963. Khan won six World Open titles between 1981 and 1988, and ten consecutive British Open titles between 1982 and 1991. Jahangir’s father, Roshan, won the British Open title in 1956 and Roshan’s cousin, Hashim, won it seven times between 1950 and 1957, his brother, Azam, also won the title four times (1958-61)! Daredevil Eddie Kidd accomplished a death-defying motorcycle leap on this day in 1979. During the spectacle he crossed an 80foot gap over a 50foot sheer drop above a viaduct on a 400cc motorcycle. Kidd, who was only 20 at the time, completed the stunt before a stunned group of spectators, fans and press, at the River Blackwater at Maldon, Essex. Eddie Kidd remained a top stunt rider winning the stunt bike world championship in 1993 over Robbie Knievel, son of Evel Knievel. He holds many world records for jumping over cars and buses and he jumped the Great Wall of China at Simatai in 1993. His talent brought him parts in several movies, including as a double for Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye, Roger Moore in Bull’s Eye and Val Kilmer in Top Secret. Quirky fact – despite performing over 12,000 jumps in his career, he did not hold a full UK motorcycle licence until 1995. He also branched into modelling and even pop-music, but his career ended after he suffered serious head injuries in 1996 at a Hell’s Angels rally in Warwickshire, when his motorbike crashed into an incline after he attempted a jump across a drag strip. After the accident, doctors told Kidd’s parents that it was possible he could be in a coma for up to 10 years. However, he regained consciousness within three months of the accident, but was left paralysed and with brain damage and consequently he was confined to a wheelchair. Kidd underwent years of rehabilitation in order to walk again and in 17th April 2011 he started the 2011 London Marathon, 43 days later on 6th June he completed it. In July of 2012 he carried the Olympic Torch during its journey through Lewes, East Sussex. In 1982 Michael Dokes won the WBA heavyweight title by stopping the defending champion Mike Weaver after just 63 seconds of their bout at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vagas; it is the shortest world heavyweight title fight on record. Dokes became the first man since Sonny Liston 20 years earlier to win the title with a first-round stoppage. Dan Maskell, the ‘Voice of Wimbledon’ passed away today in 1992 aged 84. In his youth he captained his school football team, and was a ballboy at Queen’s Club during the school holidays. Maskell soon decided to concentrate on tennis, and left school in 1923 to become a full-time ballboy at Queen’s Club. He became a junior teaching professional at Queen’s in 1924, aged 16, and was given a five-year contract in 1926, teaching real tennis, rackets, and squash in addition to lawn tennis. The main tennis championships were then open only to amateurs. Maskell arranged the first World Professional Championships, played at Queen’s Club in October 1927, which he won by defeating Charles Read. Maskell became British professional champion in 1928, and won the title another 15 times until 1951. He was coach of the winning British Davis Cup team of 1933. After he was demobilised, he returned to the All England Club, and continued as tennis professional. He coached members of the British Royal Family, including Princess Alexandra, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew. He was chairman of the Professional Tennis Coaches Association, and became the first professional to be admitted as an honorary member of the All England Club in 1953. He retired as a tennis professional in 1955, but was then employed by the Lawn Tennis Association as its training manager until 1973. He then took to commentating and as the saying goes never looked back.
11th – The dawn of ocean yacht racing can be pinpointed to a drunken night at the exclusive Union Club, on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, in October 1866. That evening, a group of super-rich playboys of the flourishing New York yachting scene – Pierre Lorillard, George Osgood and James Gordon Bennett Jr – gathered to drink and brag about the performance of their respective schooners. Insults and challenges were swapped, and by the time the men staggered out into the dawn in an alcohol fug they had signed up to a dangerous race across the full width of the north Atlantic in midwinter. Each owner would stump up a $30,000 stake, and the winner would take all. On Tuesday 11 December 1866, three little ships Henrietta, Fleetwing and Vesta gathered off Sandy Hook, and despite many antics on the way, the yachts were still virtually neck and neck when they approached Bishop Rock in the Scilly Isles on 23 December. Just a few hours separated the frontrunner, Vesta, from the back marker, Fleetwing, and as Vesta was forced to tack to clear the rock, Henrietta stole the lead. Bennett’s boat crossed the finish line at the Needles first, having completed the 3,000-mile course in the remarkably quick time of 13 days, 22 hours. The arrival of the New York yachts was met mostly with admiration in England. The yachtsmen ate their Christmas dinner in Cowes, and were congratulated by Queen Victoria, who invited them to Osborne House. In the opinion of the Times, the Great Ocean Yacht Race was a very American innovation: “We would not say that an Englishman would not have accomplished such a race,” the paper noted, “but the idea would perhaps hardly have occurred to them.” It may not have been the most significant yacht-racing landmark – that accolade must belong to the moment in 1851 when the New York yacht America beat a field of English rivals around the Isle of Wight and established the America’s Cup – but deep-water yachting was a different form, and after this first high-profile event it would continue to develop. Today in 1882 a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe at Boston’s Bijou Theatre becomes the first performance in a theatre lit by incandescent electric lights. Born on this day in 1884 was Dutch freestyle swimmer and water-polo player Peit Ooms. He competed in the 1500m at the 1908 Olympics as well as being a member of the Dutch water-polo team who finished 4th at the tournament. He was probably the first Dutch athlete with a personal coach and mentor. From the beginning of his career he worked with Bram Felleman, who accompanied him in a boat on all his distance swims, apparently if Ooms had a slump, Felleman uncorked a bottle of champagne and jumped into the water to pour it inside his swimmer. He regained his strength to continue. Indeed, it might then. His most impressive performance came in the at sea in 1911, at Le Havre in France. The competition was over a distance of 26km, of the 32 swimmers that started only two finished, Ooms being the first and the other some six hours behind. The French, sighing deeply, erected a plaque for the Dutchman, Peit died in 1961. The biggest win in the Scottish League recorded in the 20th century was recorded by second-division side East Fife, who beat Edinburgh City 13-2 in 1937. In the same season East Fife became the only second-division team to win the Scottish FA Cup beating Kilmarnock 4-2 in a replay. Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement from baseball on this day in 1951. Born today in 1951 was Ria Stalman, an ex-discus thrower and shot putter from the Netherlands. She won the gold medal in the discus at the 1984 Olympics, which earned her the Dutch Athlete of the Year award the same year. Between 1973 and 1983 she won medals, including 15 gold, in the discus throw and shot put at every national championships. Her July 1984 discus throw of 71.22m still remains the Dutch national female record. She retired shortly after the 1984 Olympics to work as a journalist and athletics commentator with Eurosport. In early 2016, Stalman admitted in a TV interview that she had been using doping when she won her 1984 gold medal. The results and records remain, because the offence is too old to prosecute. Greg Chappell makes his Test Cricket debut today in 1970. The 21 goals produced in a National Hockey League match between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Black Hawks in 1985 equalled a 65-year old NHL record for the highest scoring game. Edmonton won the game 12-9. On this day in 2009 American Golfer Tiger Woods announced an indefinite leave from professional golf to ‘focus on his marriage’.