- May 11 down the years
Disaster for Don Fox
The most famous miss in any rugby league Challenge Cup final. Two minutes from the end at a waterlogged Wembley, former rugby union Lion Bev Risman kicked a penalty to put Leeds 11-7 up against Wakefield Trinity. But then his team didn't pay attention at the kick-off, and Ken Hirst kicked the ball through the puddles towards the posts. Assorted Leeds players missed it as he hacked it over the line to score his second try of the game and leave Trinity only a point behind with the conversion to come. The kick was slightly to the right of the posts, a complete formality for Don Fox, who'd emerged from a shadow to win the big prize. Fox had a younger and more shining brother Neil, who scored 228 points for Great Britain, 20 points in the Challenge Cup final of 1960, and three drop goals in the 1962 final. In contrast, big Don won just a single GB cap, as a sub. But today he was the star at last, with an easy conversion kick to reinforce his position as winner of the Lance Todd Trophy, the best player in the final. He took a few steps back, kicked straight on - and sliced the ball horribly wide. As commentator Eddie Waring sympathised ('The poor lad') and the Leeds players jumped in jubilation behind the posts, Fox dropped to his haunches in despair. It was the end of an era for Wakefield. Leeds deposed them as champions the following season, and Trinity haven't won the League or Challenge Cup since.
Tiger Woods' bid to return to form hit a stumbling block when long-standing trainer Hank Haney quit as the world No. 1's swing coach. Woods, who had returned to the golf course in April following a four-month break following revelations about his private life, had retired from the Players Championship with a neck injury after missing the cut at Quail Hollow the week before. Haney, who teamed up with the world No. 1 in 2004, was at pains to insist that the decision was entirely his: "Just so there is no confusion I would like to make it clear that this is my decision," he said. "I know Tiger Woods will be successful in the future no matter who helps him."
Jason Queally was born in Lancashire. A nearly man of track cycling who changed his status in a single race. In the time trial and team sprint, he won five medals in three Commonwealth Games, all of them silver. At the World Championships he won four bronzes and another three silvers. At the 2000 Olympics: silver again in the team event. But in those same Games, his storming ride on September 16 brought him a surprise gold in the time trial. Four years earlier, he'd survived a horrifying crash that left him with 70 stitches after an 18-inch splinter speared through his chest. In 2005, when he was nearly 35, he became a world champion at last, in the team sprint.
A regular day for the Monaco Grand Prix.
In 1975, Niki Lauda won the race on the way to becoming Formula One World Champion for the first time. This was the fifth race of the season. The other four had been won by four other drivers, including the Spanish Grand Prix on April 27, when five spectators died and Lauda didn't finish the first lap. Today he started from pole and held off Émerson Fittipaldi, who came through from 9th on the grid. Lauda won the next two races too, and finished the Championship well clear of Fittipaldi.
In 1986, Alain Prost won in Monaco for the third year in a row. Like Lauda, he started on pole, which gives you an inordinate advantage through those tight streets. Prost won the drivers' title after a dramatic final race on October 26.
The 1997 race was hit hard by rain, and officials stopped it after 62 of the 78 laps. Heinz-Harald Frentzen started on pole but Michael Schumacher set the fastest lap on the way to winning the race for the third time. Jacques Villeneuve finished third on his way to winning the Championship.
Wigan rugby league club plundered further spoils from the union game. Having thrashed Bath on May 8, they went to Twickenham as the first league team to play there under union rules - and ran away with the Middlesex Sevens. It wasn't much of a surprise. Wigan were overfilled with world class players: Shaun Edwards, Martin Offiah, Scott Quinnell, Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell, Henry Paul, Va'aiga Tuigamala, Gary Connolly. Too much firepower for every team they faced. Wigan beat Richmond 48-5, Leicester 35-12 in the semi-final - and came back from early deficits: 12-0 to beat Harlequins 36-24, and 15-0 before overpowering Wasps 38-15 in the final. For much of the day, only 10,000 of the capacity 61,000 crowd sat in the seats they paid for. The rest were downing venison pies and champers in the car park. As one paper put it, the Middlesex Sevens were still just 'a top-drawer piss-up.'
At the Olympic Games in London, there were two tennis tournaments, one outdoors in July, the other on covered courts in May. Today 40-year-old Arthur 'Wentworth' Gore won the gold medal in the singles two days after winning the doubles with Roper Barrett. The four singles semi-finalists were all British. In the final, Gore was 40 but George Caridia was unexceptional. Gore won in straight sets and went on to take his second Wimbledon singles title later that year.
In the Olympic indoor tournament, the women's field was spectacularly weak. None of the semi-finalists ever reached that round at Wimbledon. Again the final was an all-British affair. Gladys Eastlake-Smith dropped the second set to Alice Greene but won the decider 6-0. They'd both beaten Swedish nonentities in the semis. There's strong evidence that the winner's dad CE (Charles Eastlake) Smith played football for England in 1876.
The first boxing match commentary in Britain. Listeners tuned in to Station 2LO to hear Georges Carpentier keep his world light-heavyweight title and European heavyweight title against another class act, Britain's Ted 'Kid' Lewis. Both men were light for heavyweights, but while Carpentier weighed 12½ stone, Lewis was a former world welterweight champion who came in at a puny 11st 3. They spent the first round holding more than hitting, and the referee had to separate them after the first few seconds. Legend has it that while he was warning Lewis, Carpentier landed a sneak right hand that ended the contest. It isn't true. Lewis threw a left hand as they were breaking up, then dropped his guard as Carpentier landed his trademark right. The Kid never looked like getting up.
Willie Applegarth was born in Yorkshire. Britain's top sprinter just before the First World War, he won bronze in the 200 meters at the 1912 Olympics, then he and his team mates had a stroke of luck in the relay. The USA were disqualified in the semi-final, leaving Applegarth and Co to win the final on July 9. It was the first time the 4x100 metres had been held at the Games. Applegarth was AAA champion twice at 100 metres but that Olympic bronze showed he was better at 200. He won the AAA title three years in a row and in 1914 set a world record of 21.2 for 220 yards that wasn't broken until 1928.
Henri Desgrange helped found the Tour de France. Today, ten years earlier, he set the first official world record for distance travelled on a bike in an hour. Seventeen years after Frank Dodds rode 15.85 miles (25,508 metres), Desgrange went more than six miles further, covering 35,325 metres at the Buffalo Vélodrome in Paris.
Big Jim Jeffries kept his world heavyweight title against former champion Jim Corbett - but only because he outweighed him by nearly three stone. Unless you were the same size as Jeffries, you could punch him all day and it was like hitting a side of beef: you just hurt your hands. Corbett, a master boxer, made him look foolish at times, but Jeff wore him down by the 23rd round. The fight was scheduled for 25, and Corbett had been well ahead on points. He retired after losing to Jeffries again in 1903.