1st April

  • On this day in 1888 the football team Sparta formed in Rotterdam. Today in 1912 the Greek athlete Kostas Tsiklitiras broke the world record -in standing long jump jumping 3.47m. Born in 1888 he played soccer for Panathinaikos and also took part in water polo, but is best remembered for winning Olympic medals in the standing long-jump and standing high-jump and he was also Greek champion 19 times. His career came to a halt in 1913 when he volunteered to fight in the Balkan Wars and fought at the Battle of Bizani, although he could avoid conscription he insisted on fighting for his country. He contracted meningitis and died at the age of 24. His family home still exists in Pylos, Greece, it is functioning as a museum of his athletic achievements, and is adorned by his marble statue in front of it.
  • In 1933 Walter Hammond set a new world Test match record when he made 336 not out against New Zealand at Auckland.  He surpassed Don Bradman’s old record of 334, set three years earlier.  Hammond’s innings included a then Test record ten sixes.
  • Welsh rugby John James Williams known universally as J. J. Williams, is a former Welsh rugby union player who gained 30 caps for Wales as a winger, was born today in 1948.  Williams was a talented track athlete, representing Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970 and becoming Welsh sprint champion in 1971. He initially played for Bridgend, joining Llanelli RFC in 1972, and gaining his first international cap in 1973. He was rated as one of the fastest wingers in the game, and scored 12 tries in 30 appearances for Wales. He went on two British and Irish Lions tours, playing in all four tests in South Africa in 1974 and in three tests in New Zealand in 1977. He played a major role in the 1974 ‘invincible’ series against South Africa, scoring two tries in each of the second and third tests and earning the title “The Welsh Whippet”. Williams now runs a commercial and industrial painting company based in Pyle, near Bridgend. He also fronted a consortium which offered to take over the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. All three of his children have represented Wales at Track and Field events. His son Rhys was the Welsh track record holder in the 400m hurdles (49.09) in 2005.
  • Today in 1957 the BBC fooled the nation by presenting a spoof documentary about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest. It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. But some viewers failed to see the funny side of the broadcast and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what is supposed to be a serious factual programme. Others, however, were so intrigued they wanted to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush. Spaghetti was not a widely-eaten food in the UK at that time and was considered by many as an exotic delicacy. Mr Dimbleby explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters all over Europe as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti. He also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers. This is believed to be one of the first times the medium of television has been used to stage an April Fools Day hoax.
  • Also on this day in 1957 the former England cricket captain David Gower was born. He exceeded Geoff Boycott’s career record of the most runs scored for England in 1992, but was surprisingly omitted from the winter tour to Indian later that year. His omission split the MCC membership.
  • The Rangers v Celtic match from Ibrox was the first British League game to be broadcast on satellite, by BSB, in Britain.
  • British Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle was born today in 1985.  She was the first female gymnast from Great Britain to win a medal at the European Championships, World Championships, and Olympic Games. Tweddle represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games. She is the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist on uneven bars, the 2006 and 2010 World Champion on the uneven bars and the 2009 World Champion on floor exercise. Tweddle retired in August 2013. Post retirement, Tweddle’s profile allowed her to take on a variety of media and sporting work. On 10 March 2013, Tweddle won the eighth series of Dancing on Ice along with partner Daniel Whiston, who won the show for the third time. In 2014, she took part in the ninth and last series of Dancing on Ice, the “All-Stars” series, with new skating partner Łukasz Różycki, making the final and coming third. In 2016, Tweddle participated in the third series of Channel 4 reality contest show The Jump. However, on February 7; two weeks into the show, Tweddle suffered a back injury and was forced to withdraw from the competition. It was reported on 8 February 2016 that she had successfully undergone neck surgery to fuse two vertebrae together using a piece of her hip bone.
  • Kathy Stobart, English jazz saxophonist died on this day in 2014. Stobart was born in the coastal town of South Shields, and first learned piano as a child. After picking up saxophone, she first played in Don Rico’s all-girl band at the age of 14, then locally in Newcastle. She then moved to London in the 1940s playing with Denis Rose, Ted Heath and Jimmy Skidmore. Later that decade she played with Art Pepper and Peanuts Hucko. She played with pianist Art Thompson in the late 1940’s, and was married to him briefly. She toured with Vic Lewis in 1949 and led her own group in 1950-51; among its members were Derek Humble, Dill Jones, and Bert Courtley; she was married to Courtley from 1951 until his death in 1969. In the 1950’s and 1960’s she went into semi-retirement to raise her family. From 1969 to 1977 she played with Humphrey Lyttelton. Following this she led her own groups, with Harry Beckett, John Burch, and Lennie Best, among others. Aside from this she played with Johnny Griffin, Al Haig, Earl Hines,Buddy Tate, Zoot Sims, Marian McPartland, and Dick Hyman.
  • Romanian football referee and player Nicolae Rainea died on this day in 2015. Nicknamed The Locomotive of the Carpathians, he played football in the lower leagues of Romania for Laminorul Brăila, Metalul Piatra Neamț and Constructorul Bârlad, he retired in 1959 to start his career as a referee, making his debut in Liga I in 1965. He refereed at three FIFA World Cups (1974, 1978, 1982), the UEFA Euro 1980 Final, the 1983 European Cup Final, the second leg of the 1978 European Super Cup and the second leg of the 1978 UEFA Cup Final. Rainea officiated the Italy v Argentina game at the 1982 World Cup. He was linesman in a later match between France and Northern Ireland. Rainea was decorated by two presidents of Romania and was made an honorary citizen of Galați where he resided and served four local council terms. The Nicolae Rainea Stadium in Galați is named after him.


  • Australian motor-racing driver Jack Brabham was born in 1926. Brabham was world champion in 1959 and 1960, in both seasons with the Cooper-climax team. He won his third title in 1966 becoming the first man to win the championship in his own car. Brabham continued to manufacture racing-cars after his retirement in 1970.
  • Born on this day in 1934, Brian Glover, English character actor, writer and wrestler. Glover was a professional wrestler, teacher, and finally a film, television and stage actor. He once said, “You play to your strengths in this game, and my strength is as a bald-headed, rough-looking Yorkshireman”.  Glover was born in Sheffield, but grew up in Barnsley. His father was a wrestler, performing as the “Red Devil”. He attended Barnsley Grammar School and the University of Sheffield, where he supplemented his student grant with appearances as a professional wrestler, going under the ring name “Leon Arras the Man From Paris”. In 1954 he married and became a teacher at the same Barnsley school where he had been a pupil. He taught English and French from 1954 until 1970, some of it at Longcar Central School Barnsley where he met Barry Hines who was also teaching there. He managed to combine this with regular performances as “Leon Arras”, whose appearances included bouts on World of Sport, and in Paris, Milan, Zurich and Barcelona. Glover’s first acting job came playing Mr Sugden, the comically overbearing sports teacher in Ken Loach’s film Kes, a job offered to him when Barry Hines, who wrote the film, suggested him to the director. Although untrained, Glover proved to be a skilled and flexible character actor, using techniques learnt during his wrestling career.]His large bald head, stocky build, and distinctive voice, with his Yorkshire accent, garnered him many roles as tough guys and criminals. He also played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and had a recurring role in the classic sitcom Porridge as dim-witted prison inmate Cyril Heslop who, when accused of being illiterate, utters the memorable line “I read a book once! Green, it was!” He played Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop, and lent his voice to a number of animated characters, including the “gaffer” of the “Tetley Tea Folk” in a long-running series of television advertisements for Tetley tea, the voice behind the slogan, ‘Bread with nowt taken out’ for Allinson’s bakery and the voice of “Big Pig”, the mascot for the long running Now That’s What I Call Music! Album series.  Glover went on to play “Lugg”, the endearing rogue manservant to Albert Campion in the series Campion and the role of a crook, “Griffiths”, in the Doctor Who story Attack of the Cybermen in 1985. He played Edouard Dindon in the original London cast of La Cage aux Folles. In 1991 he starred in the second episode of Bottom  “Gas” – as “Mr Rottweiler”. His last film was John Godber’s rugby league comedy Up ‘n’ Under  1998). Glover was married twice, secondly to television producer Tara Prem, the daughter of TV actor Bakhshi Prem. He had two children, one son and one daughter. Glover developed a brain tumour and died in a London hospital on 24 July 1997. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.
  • Mike Hailwood, one of Britain’s most successful motor cyclists was born on this day in 1940. Hailwood was known as “Mike The Bike” because of his natural riding ability on bikes with a range of engine capacities. Later in his career he went on to compete in Formula One and other classes of car racing, becoming one of the few men to compete at Grand Prix level in both motorcycle and car racing. Following his retirement from motor sport, in late 1979 Hailwood established a Honda-based retail motorcycle dealership in Birmingham named Hailwood and Gould, in partnership with former motorcycle racer Rodney Gould. On Saturday 21 March 1981, Hailwood set off in his Rover SD1 with his children Michelle and David to collect some fish and chips. As they returned along the A435 Alcester Road through Portway, Warwickshire, near their home in Tanworth-in-Arden, a truck made an illegal turn through the barriers onto the central reservation, and their car collided with it. Michelle, aged nine, was killed instantly. Mike and David were taken to hospital, where Mike died two days later from severe internal injuries. He was 40 years old. David survived with minor injuries. The truck driver was fined £100. Hailwood claimed to have been told by a fortune teller in South Africa that he wouldn’t live to 40 and would be killed by a truck. The story was repeated by Elizabeth McCarthy in a 1981 memoir, while recounting her relationship with Hailwood, whom she had met at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1967. When he asked her hand in marriage, she replied that she was hesitant to marry someone who could die at any weekend race. He then told her his story and said; “…so you see, it won’t happen on a track.”
  • On this 1977 Red Rum galloped into racing history by winning the Grand National for a record third time. The steeple chaser won the race in 1973 and 1974 and came home second in the following two years. Before the race concern was expressed that at 12 the horse was too old for an event widely regarded as the most dangerous on the jumping circuit. But after he romped home his jockey, Tommy Stack, said Red Rum’s entry had been justified. “He is so intelligent, always looks for the open places and is always on the alert for loose horses,” Mr Stack said. Red Rum’s win brought his career earnings to a then steeple-chasing record of £114,000. The horse took the lead on the second circuit of the course when Andy Pandy, the leader and pre-race favourite, fell. After that Red Rum was never in danger of being caught and came home well clear of second-placed Churchtown Boy and Eyecatcher in third. Only nine of the 42 runners completed the infamous 4.5 mile (7.2km) course at Aintree in Liverpool. Two horses, Zeta’s Son and Winter Rain, had to be put down after falling and one jockey was taken to hospital. After the race Red Rum’s trainer, Ginger McCain, said he believed the horse would compete again next year. Bookmakers responded by offering odds of 20-1 against him. This year’s race also featured the first woman rider. In spite of dire warnings from male jockeys and trainers, Charlotte Brew, 21, almost completed the course though she was a long way behind the leaders. Her horse, Barony Fort, refused the fourth fence from home forcing Ms Brew to pull out of the race.
  • Broadcasting lost one of its most distinctive voices in 1990 when BBC radio commentator Peter Jones died shortly before reporting on the Boat Race.
  • In 1993 the Great Britain Rugby League team beat France 72-6 at Swindon to establish a new Test record.  Jonathan Davies also kicked a record ten goals in the match.
  • Today in 2011 Indian won the Cricket World Cup, defeating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the final in the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, thus becoming the first country to win the Cricket World Cup final on home soil.