• December 1 down the years

McGrath numbers Lara among his hat-trick

The sporting events of December 1 down the years
Brian Lara waves farewell to the fans © Getty Images

Glenn McGrath took a hat-trick against West Indies. The second victim of the three - Brian Lara, no less - was McGrath's 300th in Test cricket. To add insult, Australia broke West Indies' record by winning a 12th Test in a row.

A bumper day at the Olympic Games.

Two British boxers won gold. Cheeky little Terry Spinks at flyweight (after desperately losing half a kilo just before the final), and Scotland's Dick McTaggart at lightweight. McTaggart won the Val Barker Cup as the most brilliant boxer in the competition.

In the same ring, Laszlo Papp took the light-welterweight title to become the first boxer to win gold medals at three Olympic Games. In the final, he outpointed future world light-heavyweight champion Jose Torres of the USA. Papp eventually turned professional and became European champion, but his Communist government apparently stopped him fighting for the world title.

In track and field, Ronnie Delaney's high-stepping sprint took him to a surprise win in the 1500 metres and made him Republic of Ireland's last Olympic gold medallist until August 8, 1992.

On the same track, Betty Cuthbert completed the Olympic sprint treble by anchoring Australia in the 4x100 metre relay. On October 17, 1964, she won gold in a fourth event. In this same relay race, Shirley Strickland de la Hunty won the third gold and record eighth medal of her Olympic career.

On the track but mainly on the road, the splendid Alel Mimoun won gold at last. Unlucky to be around at the same time as a giant like Emil Zatopek (born September 19, 1922), 'Alain' Mimoun had to settle for three Olympic silver medals behind him before winning the 1956 Marathon with defending champion Zatopek fifth. What made this Marathon even more memorable was the fact that it had a false start!

Sarah Hardcastle won Britain's only gold at the World Short-Course Championships in Rio, finishing less than a second clear in the 800 metres freestyle.

The coming and going of two all-time greats. Jonathan Davies played rugby union for Wales again after a successful eight-year stint in rugby league, and David Campese won his 101st and last cap. Campo couldn't manage a farewell try, and Davies kicked 14 points - but Australia scored three tries to one and won 28-9 in Cardiff.

Andy Ripley was born. In the 1970s, the England selectors tried very hard not to pick him at the back of the scrum. Too loose in his play, they said. Not enough graft. Too blind to see, they were. His height in the lineout and pace around the pitch, his knees-up runs with ball in hand, made him an asset they should have cherished instead of using in only 24 matches. In his big year, 1974, he scored a try to help beat Wales at Twickenham, and went on the Lions tour. He later became a world indoor rowing champion and wrote a book about the cancer he suffered.

USA won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1995 by beating defending champions Russia in Portland, Oregon. The Bryan brothers Bob and Mike clinched victory by winning the doubles in straight sets against Igor Andreyev and Nikolai Davidenko.

In the Davis Cup final in Paris, the deciding match was between two 20-year-olds. Paul-Henri Mathieu, making his debut in the competition, had lost to Marat Safin on the first day. Now he was beaten again, more harrowingly, by Mikhail Youzhny, becoming the only player to lose the deciding match in a Davis Cup final after winning the first two sets.

Australia were right to go with experience. For the Davis Cup final, they used John Newcombe and Rod Laver in the doubles as well as the singles. Newcombe was 29 and somewhere near his peak - but the great Laver was 35 and not considered one of the great doubles players. Meanwhile America's Stan Smith and Erik Van Dillen had won in the Challenge Round the previous year. But the Australians won in straight sets to add to their singles successes the previous day, inflicting the USA's first defeat in the competition for five years; they'd won 17 ties in a row, still the Davis Cup record. Laver first played in the event in 1959; this was his last tie, and not a bad way to go: he and Newcombe won 5-0.

On the same day in 1990, USA beat Australia to win the Davis Cup, Rick Leach and Jim Pugh winning the doubles against Pat Cash and John Fitzgerald.

Lee Trevino was born. Golf's great high-stakes poker player (his constant banter on the course was probably as much a weapon as his fighting spirit). He had a card player's luck at the 1972 Open, when he sank a chip from off the green on the penultimate hole, a shot that retained the title and seemed to crush Tony Jacklin for ever. But luck doesn't explain the six Majors he won from 1968 to 1984. He was born into poverty and made damn sure he wasn't going to die in it.

Willie Thorne had a day to forget in 1985 © PA Photos

The 33-year-old John Virgo won his only important snooker title, the UK Championship, beating world champion Terry Griffiths in the final despite being penalised two frames before the match even started because he got the start time wrong and arrived late after oversleeping. He won 14-13 from 13-12 down.

Earlier in the year, Willie Thorne had won a ranking snooker tournament for the first time, the Mercantile Classic. Now, in the UK Championship final, he led 13-8 against hot favourite Steve Davis - then missed an easy blue off its spot and let Davis in to win 16-14. Thorne never won another major tournament.

On the final day of the Commonwealth Games, New Zealand's Olympic 800 metre champion Peter Snell won the mile, England's Howard Payne won the first of his three consecutive golds in the hammer (ahead of only six other competitors), and Pam Kilborn of Australia won the 80 metres hurdles and the long jump on the same day.

Dick Stafford died of spinal cancer when he was only 19. A precocious 18-year-old prop in all four England matches earlier that year, he seems to have been the shortest-lived international rugby player from any country.

In their first rugby match against South Africa, Wales lost 11-0 at Swansea. The Springboks scored two tries before half-time and converted another in the second half.

In ice hockey, the NHL abandoned its 20-minute penalty for 'slashing about the head'. Sounds scary.

Eugenio Monti committed suicide while suffering from Parkinson's. One of the giants of bobsleigh, he won nine world championship titles and, at long last, two Olympic golds. After two silvers in 1956 and two bronzes in 1964, he was on the winning team in the two-man and four-man in 1968 at the age of 40. At the 1964 Games, he became the first competitor to win the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for an act of sportsmanship, in his case two acts. When the British pair broke a bolt on their sled, Monti lent them one of his own. When the Canadians broke their axle, Monti sent his mechanics in to help. Britain and Canada won gold (see February 1), Monti won everything else.

American Greg Page stopped South African Gerrie Coetzee in the eighth round to take his WBA heavyweight title.

The first day of the Test in Nagpur was almost abandoned. West Indies captain Courtney Walsh led his players off the field after spectators pelted them: Phil Simmons with an unripe guava, Shivnarine Chanderpaul more seriously with a brick. The match was drawn.

Australian spinner Ernie Toshack took the cheapest five wickets in any Test innings: for the cost of only two runs to bowl India out for 58 in Brisbane. They managed 98 in the second innings (Toshack 6-29) and lost by an innings.

South Africa's Lance Klusener took 8-64 on his Test debut against India.

Viv Richards didn't attend his OBE investiture at Buckingham Palace. Didn't obey the Order of the British Empire, you might say...