On This Day

  • December 24 down the years

England's first Open winner

John Ball etched his name into Open history © Getty Images
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1861
John Ball junior was born. By 1890, the Open golf tournament had been going 30 years when he became the first Englishman and the first amateur to win it. The event was played over only two rounds at the time, and Ball finished three strokes clear of former champion Willie Fernie. Of the 31 English golfers in the field, he was the only one to complete the course. Ball was more famous in matchplay, winning the British Amateur title a record eight times from 1888 to 1912.

1959
Keith Deller was born in Ipswich. He had only one great darts tournament in him, but it was the biggest of the lot. At the 1983 World Professional Championship, he came from nowhere to beat former champion John Lowe in the quarter-final and defending champion Jocky Wilson in the semi. Then the great Eric Bristow left him a 138 checkout to win the final 6-5. It looked a safe leave, but Deller was on fire during that tournament and Bristow was taking a bit of a chance. Deller never looked like missing it. The following year, he lost his title in the first round.

1967
In rugby league, France beat the mighty Australia 10-3 in Carcassone, proving that the 7-7 draw between the two sides a week earlier in Marseille had been no fluke. It was the last time the Kangaroos gave their pre-match 'war cry', a version of the All Black haka. They haven't done badly without it.

1888
In pouring rain, the 'New Zealand Natives' became the first southern hemisphere team to win a rugby match in Wales, beating Swansea by three tries and a conversion to nil. Joe Warbrick and 'Tabby' Wynyard were the pick of the 'Maori' backs.

1983
The first boxing world championship fight held on Christmas Eve. Kwon Soon-chun of South Korea stopped René Busayong of the Philippines in the fifth round to win the vacant IBF flyweight title. So now you know.

1967
Mikhail Shchennikov was born in the USSR. In the 5,000 metres walk, he won all four official titles at the World Indoor Championships as well as three European Indoor golds. At longer distances outdoors, he finished second over 20 kilometres at the 1991 and 1997 World Championships, and second over 50 k at the 1996 Olympics.

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