On This Day

  • April 11 down the years

A Wembley shocker for England

Jonny Wilkinson was unable to prevent England's loss to Wales © Getty Images
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1999
England went to Wembley looking for a Grand Slam - at rugby. Wales were using the old place for their home fixtures while the Millennium Stadium was being built - and they hadn't taken to it very much. In February, they'd lost to Ireland there, soon after defeat at Murrayfield. They recovered to win a remarkable match against France on March 6 - but they simply leaked too many points: 33 against Scotland, 29 against Ireland, 33 in Paris. The try count was 10-7 against them. And the match today kept up the averages. England had beaten Scotland only 24-21 at Twickenham, and needed Jonny Wilkinson's boot to beat France on March 20. But against Wales, their backs suddenly cut loose. They were a bit of a mixed bag. Mike Catt at fly-half with Wilkinson at centre alongside 6' 7 rugby league player Barrie-Jon Mather, who won only this one cap, as did left wing Steve Hanley. A young mixed bag at that: Wilkinson and Hanley were only 19, the first time for decades that England had picked two teenagers in the same team. It worked, too. After Dan Luger had sprinted in from halfway in the first two minutes, Hanley scored the second try. Just before half-time, Richard Hill took advantage of a Welsh error, and England had scored 25 points. But they'd also conceded 18, falling foul of South African referee André Watson, who nearly whistled them out of the World Cup final on November 22, 2003. Neil Jenkins kicked six penalty goals before half-time, then converted Shane Howarth's try to level the scores.

Wilkinson kicked his third and fourth penalties to put England back in front - and might have put the game beyond reach if Lawrence Dallaglio had let him go for goal instead of opting for a kick to touch. Still, it seemed only a matter of time before England scored more points - but then Wales won a lineout on the right with seven minutes left, and the last thing England wanted to see was Scott Gibbs coming in on a crash ball. His stint in rugby league had turned him into a slab of turbo-charged beef, player of the series when the Lions won in South Africa. Now he broke the gain-line before sidestepping the next two defenders. There was still the conversion to come, but Jenkins had kicked seven out of seven and didn't look like missing it. The first rugby points at Wembley had been scored by a Welshman on May 4, 1929. So were the last ones today. England lost 32-31 and had to hope for better from their Grand Slam attempt on April 2 the following year. Hanley broke his wrist and wasn't capped again. Scotland, who beat France the day before, won the title.

2008
Mark Foster was nearly 38 when he became the oldest ever medallist at the World Short-Course Championships. In the 50 metres freestyle in Manchester, he finished second to Croatia's Duje Draganja, who set a world record in retaining the title. On October 9, four years earlier, Foster had become the oldest gold medallist. He won his first medal in the inaugural Championships back in 1993.

2004
At long last Phil Mickelson could pass on the tag of Best Golfer Never To Win A major. At the 47th attempt, and after finishing third at the last three Masters, he made a birdie on the last hole to beat Ernie Els by one stroke. Mickelson was only the third left-hander to win a major, after Bob Charles on July 12, 1963, and Mike Weir in 2003. He won the Masters again on April 9, two years later.

2010
Mickelson was at it again in 2010. His great rival Tiger Woods hogged the headlines by making his comeback, but Mickelson had the last laugh by beating Lee Westwood by five shots. Mickelson started the day a shot adrift, but produced some sensational golf to leave Westwood trailing.

1965 and 1966
Jack Nicklaus won the Masters for the second time, then became the first player to win it twice in a row. In 1965, he won by a crushing nine strokes after shooting 17 under par, including 64 in the third round. Things were a tad tougher the following year. The lead changed hands 17 times, the scoring was much higher, and Nicklaus was forced into an 18-hole play-off which he won by two shots from Tommy Jacobs with Gay Brewer a further six shots off. At the very last hole, Nicklaus pitched his second shot down a bank - but recovered to within six feet.

1993
Bernhard Langer won two majors: The Masters on both April 14, 1985 and today. He was in touch throughout the whole competition, scoring consistently to finish four shots ahead of Chip Beck. Dan Forsman was only a shot behind before finding the water twice at the short 12th - but this was a tournament won by Langer and not lost by someone else. At the 13th, he curled a beautiful shot round the dog-leg and holed an eagle putt to go three ahead.

1999
Yet another golfer who won the Masters for a second time. After his Major breakthrough on April 10, five years earlier, José María Olazábal had been crippled by a painful condition that stopped him putting any weight on his feet, let alone walk round a golf course. So this was a triumphant comeback. And not just for him. Greg Norman had missed all the previous year's Majors to have his shoulder rebuilt. Now, as he holed a 30-foot eagle putt at the 13th, he looked about to wipe out the horrors of April 14, 1996. But Olazábal sank a birdie at the same hole to stay level, then regained the lead at the next. A brilliant tee shot used the contours of the 16th to edge him further ahead, and he eventually finished two clear of Davis Love with Norman another shot further back. It was the 11th time a European had won the event in the preceding 20 years. Gene Sarazen, the champion in 1935 (April 8), teed off for the last time at the age of 97. The 1957 champion, 76-year-old Doug Ford, withdrew after shooting the worst score (88) in the first round.

Jose Maria Olazabal receives the green jacket at The Masters © Getty Images
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1976
After opening rounds of 65 and 66, Ray Floyd became the last player until April 13, 2008 to lead the Masters from start to finish. He won by eight shots from Ben Crenshaw. Floyd was back in a play-off for the title on April 8, 14 years later.

1896
At the first modern Olympic Games, Paul Masson of France won three cycling events in one day. In the sprint and one-lap races, he finished just ahead of local boy Stamatios Nikopoulos. Masson was versatile enough to win the 10 kilometres as well, beating his team mate Léon Flameng into second place. Flameng also finished third behind him in the sprint. On April 8, Masson had paced Flameng in the 100 kilometre race but essentially kept himself fresh for today.

The swimming events at these inaugural Games were held in the open sea near the port of Piraeus. In unseasonably cold water, Alfréd Hajós of Hungary won the first ever Olympic 100 metres freestyle - and the 1200 on the same day. He finished just ahead of Germany's Otto Herschmann in the shorter race and nearly three minutes clear in the 1500 after smothering himself in a thick layer of grease. Competitors with less foresight were being fished out of the water by boats before they froze to death. Austria's Paul Neumann won the 500 metres event by nearly two minutes. In 1902, Hajós played for Hungary in their first ever international football match. In 1924, he won an Olympic Games prize for architecture. Yes, really.

1981
The last two boxers to fight Muhammad Ali met for a world title. In his first fight after beating the shell of The Greatest on October 2, Larry Holmes retained his WBC belt with an easy points win over Trevor Berbick, who later ushered Ali gently into retirement on December 11. One of the spectators at the Holmes-Berbick fight was famous former champion Joe Louis, who died of a heart attack the following day.

1956
Before she made it big as a tennis player, Ann Jones (born October 17, 1938) was right up there at table tennis. As Ann Haydon, she came achingly close to being a world champion, losing five finals without ever winning one. The first on 14 April 1954 when she was only 15, in all three events on 15 March 1957 - and in the mixed doubles today. Her partner Ivan Andreadis of Czechoslovakia, was almost 15 years older. He was world champion four times in the men's doubles and once in the mixed - and he and Haydon were up against two unseeded Americans. But after four tight games, Erwin Klein and Leah Neuberger won the fifth 21-14.

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