- May 18 down the years
Davis wins marathon final
Snooker maestro Joe Davis (born April 15 1901) won the world professional title for the last time. The Championship had been held 15 times and dapper Joe had won the lot, the first on May 12 1927. Today he finished off a marathon final by beating Australia's Horace Lindrum in a final for the third time. Matches were the real thing in those days. None of your best-of-35 dashes. With so little media exposure, they spun it out to collect as many spectators as they could: Davis won by 78 frames to 67. At the Horticultural Halls in London's Vauxhall, ticket prices ranged from five shillings to a seriously expensive three pounds. A thousand bums were on those seats for the first session, watching Davis win the very first game 55-54 on the black. He led throughout the 24 sessions: 4-2, 7-5 at the end of the first day, 23-19, 39-33, 51-45, 68-58. Lindrum played the flashier shots, but the old master had much better control of the cue ball, which led to bigger scores. He made six century breaks to Lindrum's none, including Championship records of 133 and 136. At 45, Davis was the oldest world champion until Ray Reardon on April 29 1978.
Fred Perry was born in Cheshire. For four years in the mid-Thirties, this was the dominant tennis player in the world. He won Wimbledon three times in a row (July 6 1934, July 3 1936), the US title three times too, the Australian, and the French, making him the first player, male or female, to win singles titles at all four Grand Slam events, though not all in the same year. He won the Wimbledon mixed doubles twice and reached the doubles final in 1932. When Britain won the Davis Cup four years in a row, Perry won all eight of his singles matches. After he turned professional, they never won it again. He did well to leave when he did because he wouldn't have won much more when Don Budge (born June 13 1915) was in his prime. Perry's game was primarily based on fitness. His serve wasn't much and his groundstrokes were pit-a-pat by today's standards. But he took the ball early on his forehand, and he was moving forward when he hit it, so he cut down his opponents' angles and time. He could run all day, too - and he had presence. Every inch a star, and he knew it: completely at ease with his chums in Hollywood. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Those shirts with his name on them haven't done too badly, and he was world singles champion in table tennis (January 21 1929).
It's a wizened old quiz question. Who are the reigning Olympic champions at rugby? The USA. They weren't supposed to be, of course. They were there to make up the numbers, which were very low indeed. Only three countries turned up in Paris, including the hosts, who were rubbing their hands at the prospect of such an easy gold medal. No Five Nations opposition in sight. No Southern Hemisphere powerhouses. Just the States and Romania, who hardly played the game. France enjoyed a hors d'œuvre by thrashing Romania 61-3. That was played on the May 4, so they had plenty of time to rest and contemplate their forthcoming success. This was a full-strength France, with some talented backs. What's the French for rude awakening? The American boys may not have been versed in the intricacies of rugby, but they knew all about running and tackling and handling an oval ball. 'Fitter than probably any Rugby football side ever has been before', they were stronger, faster to the breakdowns, and essentially roughed their hosts up: France were down to 14 men after half an hour and 13 with 15 minutes left. They trailed only 3-0 at half-time but then conceded a second try soon afterwards. There's some confusion as to who scored the USA's five, but four of them seem to have come from their forwards, including one by a prop and two by lock forward Linn Farrish in his only international match (one English paper says he scored only one, and fly-half Bob Devereaux two). Full-back Charlie Doe was successful with one conversion and hit a post with two others. The USA won 17-3 and the crowd of 25,000 are still turning in their graves.
Daley Thompson set his first world record in the decathlon. The Austrian town of Götzis hosts one every year. Thompson's 8,622 points edged past the 8,618 set by Bruce Jenner when he won the Olympic gold medal four years later. Thompson set another record in the same place two years later.
Meanwhile burly bearded budgie buff Geoff Capes put the shot 21.68 metres to break his own Commonwealth record. It remained the best by a British athlete until 2003.
A popular day for the Monaco Grand Prix, especially among gentlemen of a certain age.
In 1969, Britain's Graham Hill was 40 when he won a Formula 1 race for the last time. He was fourth on the starting grid, but the first three dropped out with suspension or transmission problems. It was Hill's 14th Grand Prix win and his fifth at Monaco, a record until Ayrton Senna on May 23 1993.
French driver Maurice Trintignant was also 40 when he won the Monaco for the second time. They were the only two Grands Prix he won in 82 starts. You could tell he came from a money background. He was christened Maurice Bienvenu Jean Paul Trintignant, and he had Graham Hill's pencil moustache. His brother Louis died during a race in 1933. His nephew Jean-Louis was a famous French actor who starred as a racing driver in the classic 1966 film Un homme et une femme.
In tennis, the Fed Cup final wasn't a great. Both teams fielded weakened teams, but Australia had Evonne Goolagong and the USA Jeanne Evert and not her better sister. It made all the difference. On a clay court in Naples, Goolagong won her singles match and helped Janet Young win the deciding doubles in two advantage sets. Their team mate Dianne Fromholtz finished on the winning side despite losing to Evert Light. At 17, Fromholtz was one of the youngest tennis players to appear in a Fed Cup final.
In rugby union, right wing Mario Gerosa scored three tries on his debut for Italy. Nearly seven years earlier, he'd scored two in each of his two matches for Argentina. Now, in a World Cup qualifier against Czechoslovakia in Viadana, Italy set various national team records that still stand. Fly-half Luigi Troiani converted 12 of the 16 tries in a 104-8 win. He'd kicked 10 against Croatia the previous year, one of the very few players to reach double figures in more than one international match. Centre Nicola Aldrovandi also crossed for three tries, and scrum-half Alessandro Troncon scored his first two in international rugby. He scored his last on September 29 13 years later. Italy could have won by many more points: they led 71-0 at half-time.