19thIn London on this day in 1924 the last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was sold. In 1932 the BBC World Service begins broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service. Born on this day in 1951 was the British mountaineer Alan Rouse, who was the first British climber to reach the summit of the second highest mountain in the world, K2, but died on the descent. In August of 1986 Rouse, who was attempting to climb a more difficult route up the mountain with a British team, eventually teamed up with two of Austrian climbers, Willi Bauer and Alfred Imitzer, reached the summit together on 4 August 1986. On the descent a snow storm with 160kph winds and freezinf conditions hit, with no food and no gas to heat snow for water, the climbers started to suffer from high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). All were in a much weakened state and Rouse, who was either unconscious or in agony was unable to continue, so the others took the difficult decision to leave him in order to save their own lives. Rouse is presumed to have died on 10 August 1986. He was survived by his girlfriend, Deborah Sweeney, who gave birth to their daughter, Holly, three weeks later. The library of the British Mountaineering Council is named in honour of Alan Rouse. Liverpool played their first game under new manager Bill Shankly on this day in 1959. Shankly had been appointed manager a few days earlier after being released by Carlisle United. The new partnership did not get off to a good start, the second-division side losing their match 4-0 at home to Cardiff City in front of 27,291 fans, Shankly’s first Liverpool team was: Slater, Molyneux, Moran (later managed the side), Wheeler, White, Campbell (later managed Fulham and Chelsea), Morris, Hunt, Hickson, Melia (the man who guided Brighton to the 1983 FA Cup Final) and A’Court. Shankly would be instrumentalinbuilding the Merseyside club into one of the most successful sides in Europe. Born today in 1985, Italian foil fencer Andrea Baldini, who was the world champion in 2009 and team Olympic champion in 2012. Gary Kasparov beat fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov in 1987 to retain the world chess title he won in 1985. The Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams was jailed for nine months, five of them suspended, on this day in 1990 following a drink-driving offence. On the same day that Adams was sent down, the East and West German international football teams underwent ‘reunification’, playing as a United German Team, the first for 40 years, in a friendly against Switzerland, Germany won 4-0. The Spanish bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez died today in 1998. He was one of the top bullfighters of his time. As a matador, Ordóñez came face to face with over 3,000 bulls. He finally retired in 1968, having fought over 60 bullfights in that year alone, but came back until finally retiring in 1988. He was honoured with a monument at the gates of La Malagueta bullring in Málaga and his ashes lie beneath the “toril” gate, opened to allow the bull to enter, in the oldest bullring in the world, in his home town of Ronda. His family owned the arena and there is a statue of him outside. English football professional and personality Jimmy Hill died on this day in 2015.  His career included almost every role in the sport, including player, trade union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and assistant referee. He began his playing career at Brentford in 1949, and moved to Fulham three years later. As president of the Professional Footballers’ Association, he successfully campaigned for an end to The Football League’s maximum wage in 1961. After retiring as a player, he took over as manager of Coventry City, modernising the team’s image and guiding them from the Third to the First Division. In 1967, he began a career in football broadcasting, and from 1973 to 1988 was host of the BBC’s Match of the Day.


20thHazel Hotchkiss Wightman was born on this day in 1886.  She is among the most influential figures in tennis and founder of the Wightman Cup, an annual team competition for British and American women. She dominated American women’s tennis before World War I, and won 45 U.S. titles during her life  In recognition of Wightman’s contributions to tennis, the USTA Service Bowl was donated in her honour. In 1973 Queen Elizabeth II named Wightman an honorary Commander of the British Empire. On this day in 1894 England beat Australia by 10 runs in the 1st six-day Test cricket, Australia needed 177 to win but were all-out for 166 on the 6th day. The former Belgian professional cyclist Rik Van Looy was born in 1933. Nicknamed the King of the Classics or Emperor of Herentals, after the small Belgian town where he lived, he was twice world professional road race champion, and was the first cyclist to win all five ‘Monuments’: the most prestigious one-day classics – a feat since achieved by just two others (both also Belgians: Roger De Vlaeminck and Eddy Merckx). With 379 road victories he’s second to Merckx only. He is ninth on the all-time list of Grand Tour stage winners with thirty-seven victories. American motor-cycling ace Freddie Spencer was born in 1961. The world 500cc champion in 1983, he became the first man to win the 250 and 500cc titles in the same season two year later, all his titles were won on a Honda. His grand prixcareer was short, only lasting four seasons (1985-85), but in that time he won 27 races. Yugoslav midfielder Dejan Savicevic became the world’s most costliest footballer in 1991 when he moved to AC Milan from Athletico Madrid for £11.5million. Under the deal Savicevic would receive about £7 million over four years. The American dog-breeder and trainer Anne Rogers Clark died today in 2006. She was one of the few people licensed to judge all 165 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club. She was also the first woman to win best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a professional handler, and she tied for second there among all handlers with three best in shows. Her 22 judging appearances at Westminster matched the record


21st – Walter Hagan, one of golf’s most flamboyant characters, was born on 1892. He helped to popularise the game in the 1920s and played a considerable role in elevating the status of the professional golfer in both the USA and Britain. He won the US PGA title five times, the British Open four times and the US Open twice. This total of 11 Majors has caused some debate among golf historians, some of whom think that Hagan should actually be credited with 16 major championships, second only to Jack Nicklaus and two ahead of Tiger Woods. However, counting the U.S. Amateur, which is no longer considered a major championship, Woods’s three Amateurs titles gives him a total of 17, three behind Nicklaus’s 20. Hagen captured the Western Open five times (1916, ’21, ’26, ’27, and ’32), at a time when the Western Open was considered one of the premier events on the world golf schedule, second only to the U.S. and British Opens. Hagan died in 1969, aged 76. On this day in 1913 , Arthur Wynne‘s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, is published in the New York World. Irish golfer Christy O’Connor Sen was born in 1924. A veteran of ten Ryder Cup contests between 1955 and 1973, he came closest to winning a Major in 1965 when he was runner up to Peter Thompson in the British Open at Birkdale. British flat-race jockey Greville Starkey was born in 1938. He rode Shirley Heights to victory in the 1978 Epsom and Irish Derbies. He also won the Arc de Triomphe on Star Appeal in 1975. US tennis player Chris Evert was born in 1954. She won a one-time world record 157 tournaments, including 18 Grand Slam singles titles. She won her first Wimbledon singles title in 1974, her second in 1976 and her third in 1981; she was also runner-up seven times. American track star Florence Griffith Joyner, better known as Flo-Jo was born in 1959. The darling of the track at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, she won 100 and 200m gold medals and added third in the sprint relay. Some have cast suspicion on how the Los Angeles-born sprinter had managed to knock almost half a second off her pre-1988 best to clock 10.49s and set a new 100m record at that year’s US Olympic trials. A few weeks later, Flo-Jo followed that up with a new 200m world record in the Seoul final. Her time of 21.34s was an improvement of 0.62 in one year. To put that into perspective, Carmelita Jeter’s 10.64s for the 100m in 2009 and Marion Jones’s 21.62s in 1998 for the 200m are currently the second best marks on the all-time list. Her sudden death in 1998 as the result of an epileptic seizure at the age of 38 added further fuel to this suspicion. Cricketer Jack Hobbs died on the day in 1963. The Spanish National football side has one of its most amazing results on this day in 1983. The team went into a European Championship qualifying match against Malta at Seville needing to win by 11 clear goals to reach the finals. They won 12-1, qualified, and set a record for the highest score In the championship. Vincenzo “Enzo” Bearzot, Italian professional football manager and former footballer died today in 2010. He played as a defender or midfielder. He led the Italian national team to a triumph in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Nicknamed Vecio, he holds the record for most appearances on the bench of the Italian national team at 104 times from 27 September 1975 to 18 June 1986. A year after his death, an award was named in honour of the 1982 World Cup winning coach, the “Enzo Bearzot Award”, for the best Italian coach of the year


22nd – Myer Prinstein, Polish-American track and field athlete and member of the Irish American Athletic Club was born today in 1878. He held the world record for the long jump and won gold medals in three Olympic Games for the long jump and triple jump. He won the silver medal in the long jump at the 1900 Summer Olympics losing to Alvin Kraenzlein after being denied permission by Syracuse officials to compete in the final because it was contested on a Sunday – despite the fact that Prinstein was a Jew, and Kraenzlein, who was a Christian, did compete.  The two had had an informal agreement not to compete on Sunday, and when Prinstein learned that Kraenzlein had competed he became angry and, depending on the account, punched Kraenzlein in the face or was restrained from doing so. The following day, he won the gold medal in the hop, step and jump (forerunner of the triple jump), beating 1896 champion James Connolly with a leap of 14.47m which simultaneously set the Olympic Record. Competing as a member of the Irish American Athletic Club in St. Louis 1904 he won the long jump (setting a new Olympic record) and the hop, step and jump on the same day, the only athlete ever to win both events in the same games. He also came 5th in both the 60m and 400m dash. In Athens 1906 he again won the long jump competition, beating the world record holder, Peter O’Connor. The only judge for the competition was Matthew Halpin, who was manager of the American team. O’Connor protested, but was overruled. He continued to protest Halpin’s decisions through the remainder of the competition. The distances were not announced until the end of the competition. When they were, Prinstein had won with his very first jump. The first modern-type speedway race around a short track was held at West Maitland, New South Wales on this day in 1923. The races were organised by a 31-year-old New Zealander, John Hoskins. Born on this day in 1931 was Giorgio Oberweger, Italian discus thrower who won a bronze medal at the 1936 Olympics and a silver at the 1938 European Championships. He was sixth at the 1934 European Championships and 15th at the 1948 Olympics. Oberweger won five national titles, in the discus throw (1934 and 1936–1938) and 110m hurdles in 1939. Oberweger graduated in law from the University of Bologna, but later favoured engineering related occupations. In 1938 he obtained a pilot license, and fought as a fighter pilot during World War II, receiving three medals for bravery. Between 1946 and 1960 he was head coach of the Italian athletics team. Then until 1967 he worked at the Italian Athletics Federation and until 1972 at the Italian Central School of Sport. Born in today in 1970 was Gary Anderson the Scottish professional darts player. He currently is playing in the Professional Darts Corporation, and a former BDO and WDF world number one. He is the reigning PDC World Champion and is nicknamed The Flying Scotsman. Anderson is renowned for his heavy scoring in the game and having one of the smoothest throws. He is the reigning two-time PDC World Champion after defeating Adrian Lewis 7–5 in the 2016 final, while he was also a finalist in 2011. His other career highlights include winning the International Darts League in 2007, the World Darts Trophy in 2007, the Zuiderduin Masters in 2007 and 2008, the Premier League in 2011 and 2015 and the Players Championship Finals in 2014. Between the BDO and PDC, Anderson is a nine-time major winner. Leigh Halfpenny, Wales and British Lions international rugby union player was born today in 1988. Halfpenny is the third highest record points scorer for Wales after Neil Jenkins and Stephen Jones. Elina Mukhina, a former Soviet gymnast passed away toady in 2006 aged 46. She won the all-around title at the 1978 World Championships with her career was on the rise and widely touted as the next great gymnastics star, in 1979 a broken leg left her out of several competitions, and the recovery from that injury combined with pressure to master a dangerous and difficult tumbling move (the Thomas salto) caused her to break her neck just two weeks before the opening of the 1980 Summer Olympics, leaving her permanently quadriplegic just one month past the age of 20. After Mukhina’s paralysis and several other close calls with other Olympic-eligible female gymnasts, the Thomas salto has been removed from the Code of Points as an allowed skill for women. Her condition notwithstanding, Mukhina was a guest columnist for Moscow News in the late 1980s. Her injury was a featured topic in the 1990 A&E documentary More Than a Game; and her World Championship performance is captured in the ABC Sports video Gymnastics’ Greatest Stars. Mukhina took a keen interest in children and young gymnasts both before and after her injury. She died of apparent complications from quadriplegia.  As a memorial to one of the greatest Soviet-era gymnasts ever, the biggest sports newspaper in Russia, Sovietskij SPORT, dedicated the cover of their Christmas 2006 issue to her. A memorial service was held in her honour on December 27, and she was buried at the Troekourov Cemetery in Moscow.


23rdOne of the finest welterweight boxing champions, Barney Ross (real name Beryl David Rosofsky) was born on this day in 1909. He took up professional boxing as a means of supporting his family after gunman killed his father in Chicago. Ross won the world lightweight and junior-welterweight crowns in 1933 by beating Tony Canzoneri. In the following year he beat Jimmy McLarnin on a split points decision for the welterweight title. Ross lost the return with McLarnin on another split decision before regaining the title with a unanimous decision. All three contests between the two men were rated as ‘classics’. Ross lost his title to Henry Armstrong in 1938. Serge Reding, Belgian heavyweight weightlifter was born today in 1941. He competed in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics and won a silver medal in 1968. Between 1968 and 1974 he won four silver medals at the world championships and set six ratified world records: three in press, one in snatch and two in clean and jerk. Born today in 1956 was Michele Alboreto, Italian racing driver. He is famous for finishing runner up to Alain Prost in the 1985 Formula One World Championship, as well as winning the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2001 12 Hours of Sebring sports car races. Alboreto competed in Formula One from 1981 until 1994, racing for a number of teams, most notably his five seasons (1984–88) driving for Ferrari. In April 2001, Alboreto was performing straight-line speed tests in an Audi R8 at the Lausitzring, near Dresden, Germany, when a tyre blow-out caused his car to veer off track and crash into a wall, killing him. One of Britain’s finest golfers, Henry Cotton, died on this day in 1987. In 1981 Geoffrey Boycott became the then leading run-scorer in Test Cricket with 8033. Agnes Milowka, Australian technical diver, underwater photographer, author, maritime archaeologist and cave explorer, was born today in 1981. She gained international recognition for penetrating deeper than previous explorers into cave systems across Australia and Florida, and as a public speaker and author on the subjects of diving and maritime archaeology. In February 2011, she ran out of air and died after parting company to explore a tight restriction, which necessitated going solo in the Tank Cave near Tantanoola in the south east of South Australia. In recognition of Milowka’s achievements and legacy, The Agnes Milowka Memorial Environmental Science Award has been established by Mummu Media for underprivileged schools in the area of science, marine studies or exploration. In May 2011 Agnes Milowka posthumously received the Exploration Award, in recognition of the outstanding and dedicated service to the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section, USA. A number of geologic features have been named in memory. Today in 2007 the Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson passed away. He was called the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, but simply “O.P.” by his friends. He released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists and played thousands of concerts worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47 assault rifle bearing his name, dies at his home in the city of Izhevsk at the age of 94 on this day in 2013.


24th On this day in 1889 Daniel Stover and William Hance, of Freeport, Illinois, were up late putting together bicycles for their children for Christmas when, hey presto, they
patented the back-pedal brake! It would later be known as the safety brake
and became a standard feature on most brands of bikes. Today, we tend to have at least 18 gears, more than on an artic-wagon! Some of us need two hands to use those brakes –
instead of just pedalling backwards like crazy. Ah, those were the days. Born on this day in 1897 was Finnish athlete Ville Pörhölä who competed in shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and weight throw. He won the gold medal in shot put at the 1920 Summer Olympics. He also competed in discus throw finishing in eighth place and in weight throw in which he was ninth. He later concentrated on work leaving his sports career behind him. He re-emerged in the sports scene as a hammer thrower in 1929, and later became an Olympic silver medalist in 1932 and European champion in 1934. At his last Olympics in 1936 he finished 11th.ationally Pörhölä won eight Finnish titles: in standing triple jump in 1922, in shot put in 1929–31 and in hammer throw in 1934–35. He also won the British AAA shot put title in 1922. His trademark was wearing a cap in competitions. After retiring from competitions Pörhölä worked for a large Finnish timber company, eventually becoming its managing director. He also served as president of the Sports Federation of Lapland in 1946–50. The former England goalkeeper Frank Swift was born in 1914. Swift played 338 League games for Manchester City between 1933 and 1950. A year after making the first team, in 1934, the 19-year-old Swift collected and FA Cup winners’ medal; City beat Portsmouth 2-1 in the final at Wembley. He played 19 games for England. Swift was travelling with the ‘Busby Babes’ as a journalist for the News of the World when the aircraft on which they were travelling crashed at Munich airport in 1958. Swift lost his life in the tragedy. England and Kent cricketer Colin Cowdrey was born in Bangalore, India in 1932. He scored a one-time English record 7624 runs in 114 Test matches between 1954 and 1975. He was the world’s first cricketer to appear in 100 Tests; his record of 114 was equalled in 1991 by David Gower. Cowdrey and Peter May put on a record 411 runs for the fourth wicket against the West indies at Edgbaston in 1957, a Test record that still stands today, the closest any other partnership has got to this was Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow with 399 (sixth wicket) against South Africa in Cape Town in 2016. Cowdrey was elected president of the MCC in 1986 and his son Chris followed him into both the Kent and England teams.
Today in 1997 the Singaporean freestyle and ‘fly swimmer Marina Chan was born. Hailing from a prominent swimming family, Chan only took up the sport in her first year of high school. She has represented her country at the FINA World Cup, Asian Games, Asian Swimming Championships, Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games and the Asian Youth Games with her aim win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.


25th HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you all

The first game of ice hockey is believed to have been played at Kingston, Ontario, Canada on this day in 1855. Born on this day in 1926 was the Cuban violinist, composer and music director Enrique Jorrín. He is considered the inventor of the cha-cha-chá, a popular style of ballroom music derived from danzón At an early age, his family moved to the El Cerro neighborhood of Havana, where Jorrín was to live for the rest of his life. At the age of 12, he began to show a particular interest in music and decided to learn the violin. He then pursued musical studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Havana. He started out as a violinist in the orchestra of Cuba’s National Institute of Music, under the direction of González Mántici. In 1941, he became a member of the danzonera Hermanos Contreras. It was here that he became interested in popular music. Next, he joined the renowned charanga Antonio Arcaño y sus Maravillas. In the early 1950s, while a member of Ninón Mondéjar’s Orquesta América, he created a new genre of dance music which became known as the cha-cha-chá. Basil Heatley, retired British marathon runner was born today in 1933. On 13 June 1964 Heatley broke the world record for the marathon at the Polytechnic Marathon in England, running 2:13:55 to surpass Leonard Edelen’s world best from the previous year’s race by 33 seconds. Four months later, on 21 October 1964, Heatley competed in the marathon at the 1964 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan. Defending Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila won another Olympic gold medal in another world record time. Heatley managed to stay close to Japan’s Kokichi Tsuburaya and passed Tsuburaya shortly before the finish line to win the silver medal. He was a seven time participant at the International Cross Country Championships from 1957 to 1964. He was the runner-up to teammate Frank Sando at his first outing in the senior race and became the world champion in the sport at the 1961 International Cross Country Championships. According to footballing myth – Wrexham FC’s forward Ambrose Brown was dismissed by the referee Bert Mee of Mansfield after just 20 seconds in their away match against Hull City in 1936. It is feted as the quickest sending off in Football League history. However, in researching for this article, I have only found newspapers reports that suggest it was in the sixth minute, when Brown received his marching orders after an alleged foul on Treanor – make of that what you will. Whatever caused the sending off I haven’t discovered but Brown was later suspended for a month and fined £8 as a result of the “incidents” that took place on the pitch. Oh and by the way Hull won the game 1-0. Staying with Christmas Day football, the rules were more relaxed in war-time, in 1940 Len Shackleton played for Bradford Park Avenue against Leeds in the morning and Bradford City against Huddersfield in the afternoon while Tommy Lawton turned out for Everton (against Liverpool) in the morning and for Tranmere against Crewe in the afternoon. On the same day, according to footballing legend – Brighton and Hove Albion arrived for their game against Norwich with only 5 players, they made up their numbers with the Norwich reserve players and some fans that had turned to expecting to be spectators. Norwich won 18-0 and instantly jumped up 10 places in the table. Again I can’t find any definite reports as to the numbers, most of the local papers just report that B&HA had to borrow some or several players. Françoise Dürr, French professional tennis player was born today in 1942, who won 26 major singles titles and over 60 doubles titles. , Dürr was ranked in the world top ten from 1965 through 1967, from 1970 through 1972, and from 1974 through 1976, reaching a career high of World No. 3 in those rankings in 1967. She finished second to Billie Jean King in prize money earnings in 1971. Dürr reached a total of 27 Grand Slam finals – 1 in singles, 18 in women’s doubles, and 8 in mixed doubles. She won 12 of them. The comic genius of the silent film era Charlie Chaplin died on this day in 1977 at his home in Switzerland at the age of 88. The English cricketer Alastair Cook was born in 1984, a left-handed opening batsman, he is the currently the captain of the England Test team and former ODI captain, and plays county cricket for Essex. Cook played for Essex’s Academy and made his debut for the first XI in 2003. He played in a variety of England’s youth teams from 2000 until his call up to the Test side in 2006. He normally fields at first slip. The Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev, who made ascents of 10 of the 14 eight-thousander peaks, i.e., peaks above 8,000 m (26,247 ft), without supplemental oxygen, died today in 1977. Between 1989 and 1997, he made 18 successful ascents of peaks above 8000 m. Boukreev had a reputation as an elite mountaineer in international climbing circles for summiting K2 in 1993 and Mount Everest via the North Ridge route in 1995, but became more widely known for his role in saving climbers during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. He was killed in an avalanche during a winter ascent of Annapurna in Nepal.