• Wales played their first international football match in 1876, losing 4-0 to Scotland in Glasgow. Five years and eight matches later they recorded their first win, beating England  1-0 at Blackburn.
  • Visitors to Hampstead Heath in north London could have been forgiven for thinking they had somehow taken a wrong turn and ended up in Norway on this day in 1950. The unexpected sight of a nearly full-size ski jump, complete with real snow and skiers, on a sunny March day in southern England, was enough to make the most broad-minded of observers do a double-take. The snow, and most of the skiers, were indeed from Norway, but the ski jump was the creation of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, alongside the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Oslo Ski Association. The team of 25 Norwegian skiers brought the snow with them, 45 tons of it, packed in wooden boxes insulated by dry ice. The jump itself was supported by a tower of scaffolding 60ft (18.29m) high, giving skiers a 100ft (30.48m) run-up to the jumping point, 12ft (3.66m) above the ground. Modern ski jumps reach 200ft – 300ft (60m – 90m), but skiers on Hampstead Heath only had enough room to jump to about 90ft (27.43m). The London ski jumping competition, as it is known, held a trial contest the previous evening involving only Norwegian skiers. The event the crowd was waiting for, however, was this afternoon’s contest between Oxford and Cambridge University. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the sunshine to watch the University Challenge Cup. It was the first time ski jumping had been seen by most of the crowd. A broadcast commentary on the competition kept everyone informed of the quality of each jump. Spectators, however, seemed to be more interested in how deep each skier disappeared into the straw laid at the bottom of the run. In the end, the Oxford team, captained by C. Huitfeldt, won the competition, while the London challenge cup – open to all competitors – was won by Arne Hoel of Oslo. An official said of the event, “This exhibition has been such an unqualified success that we are very much hoping it will become one of the country’s major sporting features.”  The ski-jump competition was never held again, despite several attempts to revive it. The competition numbered among the last major events to use real snow to create ski conditions.  The first artificial snow was made two years later, in 1952, at  Grossinger’s resort in New York, USA.
  • Two boys who would later become Britain’s best middle-distance runners competed in the 1972 British Schools Cross Country Championship, Intermediate division. Steve Ovett came home in second place while his great rival of the future, Sebastian Coe, finished down the list in 10th position.
  • In 1980 the British Olympic Association (BOA) voted by a large majority to defy the government and send athletes to the Olympic Games in Moscow.   Fifteen sports voted to accept the invitation to participate in the Olympics in July. Only hockey opposed travelling to Moscow, while fencing, equestrian, swimming and yachting deferred the decision. The decision was a blow to the government which issued a statement claiming that Downing Street “seriously regrets” the BOA decision. Earlier in the week the government placed pressure on the BOA not to attend the games after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan last year. Sir Denis Follows, the chairman, said the “rather heavy letter” received from Mrs Thatcher after a commons debate had been placed before the committee ahead of the meeting. He added while he was sympathetic to the government’s stance “we believe sport should be a bridge, and not a destroyer”. Earlier that week Michael Heseltine, secretary of state for the environment, outlined the government’s hope of taking sporting sanctions against the Soviet Union in a parliamentary written answer in the House of Commons. Mr Heseltine stressed there would be no government funding or attendance in support of the BOA’s presence in the games in Moscow. Monique Berlioux, the director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said earlier the IOC might provide funds for teams attending the games against their government’s wishes. It came as National Olympic committees from the United States and 15 Western European countries, who met in Brussels during the week, rejected calls for a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In the end many countries joined the US-led boycott of the 22nd Olympic Games in 1980 because of the Societ invasion of Afghanistan the previous December. Almost 6,000 competitors from 81 countries arrived to compete in 22 sports compared to the 10,000 athletes expected. The Soviet Union took home 197 medals, Britain, 21. The IOC condemned the boycott and said athletics should not be concerned with politics although sport had long been a tool in international affairs. Ironically, at the time South Africa was banned from participating because of its policy of discriminating against those of colour
  • In 1990 the Wales rugby union team rounded off their worst ever season in the International Championship with a 14-8 defeat by Ireland at Lansdowne Road. It was the first time they had lost all four games in a championship season.
  • Aldershot FC lost their fight for survival in 1992, folding with debts of £1.2million.
  • British female track and field athlete Jean Pickering (nee Desforges) died on this day in 2013 aged 83.  She made her international debut at 18, competing in the 80m hurdles for GB v France in 1947 but missed the 1948 Olympics due to illness. In the 1950 European Championships she finished 5th in the 80m hurdles and was part of the gold medal winning 4×100m relay team, at  the 1952 Games in Helsinki she again finished 5th in the 80m hurdles and won bronze in the 4x100m. In 1953, Jean broke a British record and became the first British woman to long jump over 20 feet, when jumping 6.10 m in Nienburg, Germany.  She was European Champion in the long jump, in the 1954 European Championships in Berne, Switzerland, with a leap of 6.04m. At the same championships Jean finished 6th in the 80m hurdles. She remains the only British athlete to have won a European gold medal in both a track and a field event. In the 1954 Commonwealth Games she won a bronze medal in both the long jump and 80m hurdles. Jean was an eight-time British champion in athletics, having won the 80m hurdles four times (1949, 1952, 1953 and 1954), the long jump twice (1953 and 1954), and the pentathlon twice (1953 and 1954).  She ended her career with personal bests of 11.1secs for both the 100-yard dash and the 80m hurdles.  She also broke the British record for the pentathlon in her career, accumulating a total of 3997 points in 1953. She married Ron Pickering, a prominent athletics coach and television commentator in 1954 and the couple had two children, a daughter (Kim) and a son (Shaun Pickering) who went on to athletic success in his own right, following in his mother’s footsteps, going on to become an Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist in the shot put.  Her husband’s death in 1991 led Jean to create the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to help support athletics in Britain at a grass-roots level. By 2013, the Memorial Fund had given out £1.3 million in grants to young athletes, coaches and athletics groups. Such was the breadth of the fund’s support; around 75% of the British track and field team have been Ron Picking Memorial Fund grant recipients earlier in their career, among them Olympic champions Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu and Greg Rutherford. Jean was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List for her services to athletics and was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.  Her passion for the sport remained until the end of her life – she suffered from bad health due to a heart condition in her last years but focused on being present for the Athletics at the 2012 London Olympics.  She vehemently supported the continued use of London’s Olympic Stadium for athletics after the Games, saying “If you pull that stadium down, who’s going to inspire the kids of today? What message does it send them?”


  • The first steeplechase under National Hunt rules took place at Market Harborough, Leicestershire in 1863.  The winning horse, Socks, was ridden by Mr Goodman.
  • One of the famous cricketing Edrich family, Bill, was born in1916, he played for Middlesex, MCC, Norfolk and England. Edrich’s three brothers, Brian, Eric and Geoff, and also his cousin, John, all played first-class cricket. Locally in Norfolk the Edriches were able to raise a full team of eleven.  All told, Bill played in 571 first-class matches between 1934 and 1958, scoring 36,985 runs, with a highest score of 267 not out. He scored 2,440 runs for England in his 39 Test matches, with 219 not out at Durban, in the 1938/39 tour, being his best.  A professional before the Second World War, he turned amateur afterwards and captained Middlesex jointly with Compton in 1951 and 1952, continuing in sole charge from 1953 to 1957. After retiring from Middlesex, he returned to Norfolk and played Minor County cricket until he was 56, captaining the county until 1971. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1940.  Edrich played football as an amateur for Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur during the 1930s. A famously convivial man, Edrich was married five times and had two sons, Jasper and Justin. He died following a fall at home in 1986, aged 70. The MCC named the twin stands at the Nursery End at Lord’s Cricket Ground, in his and Denis Compton’s honour. Cricket writer, Colin Bateman, noted, “it is a dull, practical structure which does little justice to their mercurial talents and indomitable spirits”
  • In 1927 Ferdinando Minoaia and Giuseppe Morandi , driving an OM, won the inaugural Mille Miglia at an average speed of 77.22mph (124 km/hr). The race, from Brescia to Rome and back, was the most famous long-distance race of its time. A bad accident in the 1957 race forced changes which resulted in a smaller version of the event in subsequent years.  The Mille Miglia was responsible for popularising the Alfa Romeo, which won the race 11 times between 1928 and 1939. British photographernoted for chronicling Paris in the 1950s,
  • Harold Chapman was born today in 1927. He has produced a large body of work over many years, with his most significant period from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, when he lived in a backstreet Left Bank guesthouse in Paris later nicknamed (by Verta Kali Smart) ‘the Beat Hotel’. There he chronicled in detail the life and times of his fellow residents – among them Allen Ginsberg and his lover Peter Orlovsky, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Sinclair Beiles, Brion Gysin, Harold Norse, and other great names of Beat Generation poetry and art. When the Beat Hotel closed its doors in 1964, Chapman was the last guest to leave. The collection of photographs he had taken there provide an artistic and historic record, and became the mainstay of his reputation. His other works attract worldwide attention, and include portraits, landscapes, bizarre objets trouvés and, especially, distinctive enigmatic street scenes (often involving incongruous background advertising) that combine his two characteristic emotions: pervasive moody anxiety and quirky wit.
  • On this day in 1934 the driving test is introduced in the UK.
  • On this day in 1937, American sprinter Barbara Jones (later Slater), was born. She was part of the 4×100m relay teams that won gold at the 1952 and 1960 Olympics and at the 1955 and 1959 Pan American Games. At the 1952 Olympics she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics, aged 15 years 123 days. She later became a member of the US Paralympic Games Committee.   
  • Tatyana Providokhina, Soviet 800m runner was born today in 1953. She competed for the USSR in the 1980 Olympics, where she won the 800m bronze. She also won gold in the 800m  at the 1978 European Championships.
  •  In 1959 Mushtaq Mohammad, aged 15 years and 124 days, made his Test cricket debut for Pakistan against the West Indies at Lahore. The youngest man ever to play Test cricket at the time, he went onto become one of the world’s top batsmen. His record was broken in October 1996 by his 14 year-old (and 227 days) countryman Hasan Raza, playing against Zimbabwe at Faisalabad.
  • In 1992 Mike Tyson received a six-year prison sentence for rape.
  • Today in 2005 the BBC broadcasts “Rose”, the first returning episode of Doctor Who, after its cancellation in 1989. It is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
  • Shane McConkey, Canadian professional skier and BASE jumper died in 2009.  He started his professional skiing career in Boulder, Colorado where he attended the University of Colorado Boulder before dropping out.  McConkey started as a competitive ski racer, but moved on to be featured in a long line of extreme skiing movies. McConkey was known for combining BASE jumping with skiing, as seen in such feats as skiing into a BASE jump off the Eiger. McConkey went to Burke Mountain Academy. He was also known for his contributions to ski design, notably being the father of reverse sidecut and reverse camber skis (aka: skis with rocker); first mounting bindings onto water skis for use in Alaska, then with the Volant Spatula and, more recently, the K2 Pontoon ski design. McConkey’s high-speed chairlift and ski area at Park City Mountain Resort are named after his father, Jim McConkey, who was an early proponent of extreme skiing in the US.  On April 2, 2011 Shane McConkey was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of fame along with other Tahoe skiers, Daron Rahlves and Glen Plake. On March 26, 2009, Shane McConkey died while executing a ski-BASE jump in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. One of his skis failed to release, sending him into a spin. After he corrected the problem, it was too late to deploy his parachute.