• December 2 down the years

An epic final between two greats

The sporting events of December 2 down the years
Stephen Hendry dominated snooker in the 1990s. © Getty Images
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1990 The UK Championship final was one of the great snooker matches of all time. The players were the best of their generations, but the younger one was beginning to take over. Steve Davis had won the event six times, but he'd lost the previous year's final to Stephen Hendry. This time Hendry went ahead again, 7-2, then Davis led going into the final session, only for the youth of the day to make a break of 98 in the last frame and retain the title 16-15. Davis was getting used to these narrow defeats: he'd also lost 16-15 in an equally marvellous final on December 4 1983.

1967 The All Blacks beat Scotland 14-3 at Murrayfield - despite the sending-off of Colin Meads. About time too, the British muttered. 'Pinetree' was the great totem of New Zealand rugby throughout the decade, tremendous in the tight and the loose but a true master of the dark arts, a tad naughty for the British gin-and-tonic brigade. So they saw it as simple comeuppance when big Colin took a kick at a bouncing ball and caught Scotland fly-half David Chisholm where it hurts. Meads was only the second player to be sent off in an international rugby match, the first since another New Zealander on January 3 1925.

1907 In the first world heavyweight title held in Britain, Tommy Burns knocked out James 'Gunner' Moir at the National Sporting Club in London. A tattooed British sailor, Moir was taller and heavier (Burns weighed only 12½ stone) but didn't have the champion's punching power. Burns knocked him down in the third round and stopped him in the 10th. Moir was completely, er, outgunned. He fought another nine bouts, losing eight, before retiring.

1973 Monica Seleš was born. Until she was stabbed on April 30 1993, she was the dominant tennis player in the women's game, firing howitzers from the back of the court. Already the winner of eight Grand Slam singles titles by the time she was 19, she looked set to win many others at Steffi Graf's expense. After the knife attack, she was never quite the same again, winning only one more Grand Slam title while Graf went on filling her trophy cabinet. Seleš was French Open champion when she was only 16 and was denied a Grand Slam in 1992 by Graf who won the Wimbledon final in straight sets.

1972 Wales fully expected to beat this undistinguished All Black team. They were at home and their side included Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Mervyn Davies, Phil Bennett...but New Zealand's pack kept them in the game and full-back Joe Karam kicked five penalty goals on his Test debut. It was the first rugby match to be televised live by satellite in New Zealand, and the folks back home enjoyed a 19-16 win. The All Blacks' try was scored by their powerful prop Keith Murdoch. In the early hours of the following morning, he punched a security guard and was sent home. He disappeared into the New Zealand countryside and was never capped again.

1896 The boxing match between Tom Sharkey and Britain's Bob Fitzsimmons's, billed as being for the world heavyweight title (it wasn't), was refereed by none other than Wyatt Earp, of Gunfight at the OK Corral fame. After disqualifying Fitz in the eighth round, it's said he pulled a gun to quell any complaints. Not the ideal preparation for Fitzsimmons's next fight, on March 17 1897, which was for the real world title.

1961 Anton Geesink beat Koji Sone to become the first non-Japanese winner of a world judo title. The giant Dutchman further dismayed the rising sons by winning gold at the 1964 Olympics.

2000 In their 25-17 defeat at Twickenham, Braam van Straaten scored all of South Africa's points, including a try. England's points came from exactly the same sources as in the 2003 World Cup match against the Boks: a try by Will Greenwood, the other 20 from Jonny Wilkinson's boot.

1973 Jan Ullrich was born. Early in his career, he looked set to become the greatest road cyclist of all time. He won the Olympic road race in 2000, two world championship time trials, a Tour of Spain, and above all a Tour de France, more than enough for most people. But for someone of Ullrich's talent, there should have been many more titles. He was held back by incredible fluctuations in weight, the arrival of Lance Armstrong, who beat him into second place in three Tours de France - and one piece of sportsmanship: when Armstrong fell during the 2003 Tour, Ullrich waited for him to recover. He lost the entire race by just 61 seconds. Then there were the drugs. He was a cyclist, after all, and a product of the East German state system. Banned from the 2006 Tour, he retired the following year.

2001 France weren't expected to beat Australia in the Davis Cup final. They were away from home and faced with a grass court, which didn't suit their clay-court specialists. But the unfancied Nicolas Escudé rose to the occasion - and rose to it twice. On the first day, he shocked everyone by coming from two sets to one down to beat Lleyton Hewitt. On this last day, he beat big-serving Wayne Arthurs in four sets to regain the Cup.

1905 In New Zealand's first rugby match against England, the great Billy Wallace couldn't kick any conversions with the heavy wet ball - but it didn't matter much. The All Blacks won 15-0, five tries to nil, four of them by right wing Duncan McGregor, who scored three before half-time and equalled the record for most tries in one match against England. No-one has ever scored five.

1932 Day One of the Bodyline Series.

2006 Paul Collingwood hit 206 against Australia. A rare double hundred by someone who finished on the losing side - and the first by an English batsman in Australia since Wally Hammond in January 1929.

1975 In his first Test as Australia's captain, Greg Chappell hit a hundred in each innings against West Indies.

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