On This Day

  • November 11 down the years

World Cup glory for Great Britain

Jahangir Khan suffered a rare loss on this day © Getty Images
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1972
The last time Great Britain won the rugby league World Cup. The tournament was organised on a group basis, with the top two teams meeting in the final. Since only four countries took part, your chances of reaching it were pretty good if you were Britain and Australia. The match took place in Lyons, in front of the smallest crowd to watch a World Cup decider. It's easy to say the French public weren't especially interested in a 13-man game between two foreign countries - but what does an attendance of 4,231 say about British fans and the relatively short trip? Beating Australia 27-21 at the group stage gave their team confidence - and a more practical advantage: a draw in the final would win them the Cup. Australia set out to make such a technicality irrelevant. For the first hour, the match looked like a repeat of the 1970 final, when Australia raised their game after losing to Britain at the group stage. Running hard and backing up well, with Bob O'Reilly the hub of almost every attack, they should have scored more than two tries. John O'Neill got the first after 19 minutes to put Australia 5-2 up, and Arthur Beetson restored the lead in the first minute of the second half. But Britain withstood the battering and scored two tries of their own. The first was an all-time classic, their Welsh captain Clive Sullivan running the length of the field up the right wing. He played a part in the second too, jinking across the pitch before passing to Brian Lockwood, who put Mick Stephenson in with only six minutes to go. With the score 10-10, Australia had two drop goal attempts charged down and missed a penalty with 15 seconds left. Twenty minutes of extra time produced nothing but more missed goal kicks, and GB did lift the Cup without winning the match.

1986
The end of one of the longest winning runs in international sport. When squash legend Jahangir Khan lost the British Open final in 1981, he was only 17 ( April 9). He won it for the next ten years. He won the World Open for the next five, and was surely going to make it six in Toulouse tonight. His opponent Ross Norman was a tough New Zealander who'd lost to Jahangir in the world final the previous year and the British Open in this one. And he was nearly five years older than Khan, who was unbeaten in all this time despite being only 22. What beat Jahangir in today's world final was Norman's usual tenacity - and a dodgy ball. They were playing with a Glowball, a fluorescent aid in the doomed attempt to make squash popular with TV viewers. The ball was changed every game and had a tendency to skid. Jahangir's confidence followed his control down the tubes. He was level at 5-5 in the first game but lost it with consecutive errors. Norman won the second despite being penalised four times for obstruction. Then he pulled back from 5-2 down to level the third at 7-7, which should have demoralised Jahangir. But there were still flickers of brilliance and defiance. The champion went up a gear and took the game with a superb drop shot from the back wall. But Norman kept his grip. From 1-1 in the fourth game, he went 5-1 ahead in one hand, and won the last three points with almost no resistance. Jahangir regained the world title two years later, but his supremacy was ending. He played his last match at the top level in 1993 ( November 29).

Jahangir won the World Open six times, a record which was broken on this date in 1995. In the unlikely squash stronghold of Nicosia, Jansher Khan (no relation) kept the title for the fourth year in a row (he'd beaten Jahangir in the 1993 final). In today's decider, he met Del Harris, once the flashy golden boy of British squash, a former world junior champion who'd slipped off the radar before losing a stone and cutting out the errors. He made very few today and nearly levelled the match after leading 13-10 in the second game. Then he saved two match points in the third, the first when Jansher missed an easy volley in his excitement, the second with a brave drop shot. Harris took the game 17-16 - but Jansher led 9-4 in the fourth and won it 15-8. He added an 8th and last world title the following year ( November 22).

2006
When he came on as a replacement against Romania, Jim Hamilton became the 1,000th man to play rugby union for Scotland. Two of their seven tries at Murrayfield were scored by other new boys, including Johnnie Beattie, whose dad John played for Scotland in the 1980s and was commentating on this match. Romania lost it 48-6.

The Belgian team, including Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin,celebrate Fed Cup victory over Russia © Getty Images
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2001
The Fed Cup final in Madrid was staged on a single day, with a maximum of three matches. Belgium needed just two to win the trophy for the only time. They had their dream team out, one of the strongest pairings of all time. Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters were still only teenagers, but their opponents weren't much older and lost both singles in straight sets. Both Belgians won their opening sets 6-0: Henin against Nadia Petrova, Clijsters in only 14 minutes against Elena Dementieva. A very small crowd watched Russia win the superfluous doubles.

1978
One of the most controversial endings to any international match. The 1970s were a golden age for Welsh rugby. Players like Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Barry John, Gerald and Mervyn Davies, Phil Bennett, the Pontypool front row. Assorted grand slams and triple crowns. Best team in the world, surely? Well, try telling it that to New Zealanders. Wales played the All Blacks twice in that decade. Each time at home. And lost both matches. In Cardiff today, they met a team who were on their way to a grand slam of their own, beating all four British Isles countries. But the game started badly for them. In the first few minutes, All Black full-back Clive Currie broke his jaw in a tackle by Steve Fenwick. His replacement Brian McKechnie was a one-day international cricketer. He was later on the receiving end of an infamous underarm ball against Australia; here he hit a post with a penalty kick after 19 minutes. When Fenwick landed one soon afterwards, Wales were 9-0 up. Bill Osborne's well-placed kick made a try for wing Stu Wilson, but Gareth Davies kicked his third penalty to put Wales 12-4 ahead. McKechnie's penalty made it 12-7 at half-time, and he added another one early in the second half, but Wales were still leading with three minutes to go. Then the big controversy. At a lineout near the Welsh 22, the referee awarded New Zealand a penalty. Roger Quittenton was taking charge of an international match for the first time. Reviled in Wales, his reputation rests on what he saw. If he spotted Geoff Wheel leaning on Frank Oliver's shoulder, fair enough. If he saw only the more obvious sight of Andy Haden out of the lineout, he was conned and Haden should have been sent off for diving. McKechnie kicked the penalty and New Zealand won 13-12. They haven't lost to Wales since 1953.

On the same day, an 85-kilometre walking race was staged from Compiègne to Paris to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War. The British team included two 49-year-olds in Ken Harding, the oldest athlete to represent GB, and Peter Worth, the oldest to make his GB debut. Harding finished 7th and Worth 17th in a race won by Alain Moulinet. France also beat Britain in the team event.

2000
Lennox Lewis was 35 years old by now and coming to the end of his boxing career. So he told us he was 'building my legacy' - by taking on easier opponents. Željko Mavrović, Michael Grant, François Botha, and now David Tua from Samoa. Defending his WBC, IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles in Las Vegas, Lewis made full use of his 15-inch advantage in reach, but Tua went the distance, and his hyped left hook caught Lewis a few times early on, sending him reeling back towards the ropes - so the defensive weakness exposed by Oliver McCall was still there ( September 24, 1994), although most people didn't expect his next opponent to expose it ( April 22)...

1999
When France beat Morocco 80-8 at rugby league, Yacine Dekkiche scored 40 points on his international debut, made up of five tries and ten goals. It lasted as a world record for only six days.

2000
The first rugby union international to be played under a closed roof took place in Melbourne on July 8, 2000. The first in the Northern Hemisphere was Wales' 50-6 win over Samoa at the Millennium Stadium today. Wales didn't score a try for the first half-hour but finished with six against a team with seven new caps who had two players sin-binned.

At the Stade de France, Andrew Mehrtens equalled a world record for the second time by kicking nine penalty goals. So although both sides scored two tries, New Zealand won 39-26 to avenge their defeat at the previous year's World Cup. Mehrtens had also kicked nine penalties against Australia in 1999, which matched a feat achieved earlier that year.

In Dublin, Ronan O'Gara had an easier time racking up successful kicks. He converted ten of Ireland's eleven tries in a 78-9 win which proved only that Ireland thought Japan were suitable opponents.

1990
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas sacked Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg an embarrassing seven times. It was an NFL record which still stands - but it wasn't enough to win the game. In the last play of the day, Krieg escaped Thomas's clutches to throw a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-16 to Seattle.

1908
The first official world record for the 200 metres freestyle. In a 25-metre pool in Vienna, Otto Scheff came home in 2 minutes 31.6 seconds. He won the 400 metres at the 1906 Olympics. Like Scheff, Paul Biedermann was born in Germany. In 2009, he won the 200 free at the World Championships in Rome, using his bodysuit to set a world record of 1 minute 42.

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