Tooth ache, a murder trial and Wales triumph

OLD GILLER’S ALMANACK: Our regular old git columnist, NORMAN GILLER, reviews the sporting year just past. Part 1: January to March 2013

Twelve months ago I admit to feeling sorry for 2013, having to come in on the coat-tails of what was unanimously agreed the greatest sporting year in the headline-writing, deadline-chasing life of any British sports journalist. As I said to our esteemed SJA Yearbook Editor, Randall Northam: “How d’you follow that?” The year, I was sure, could only fade into insignificance in the wake of the glorious Olympics and a tsunami of outstanding performances on the playing fields of Britain.

That’s what I thought. But as I am famously from the Michael Fish school of forecasters, I have yet again been proved wrong. Proudly, passionately, persistently, 2013 produced a parade of pulsating performances to make it a year to remember as it came kicking and whooping out of the shadows of 2012.

I am disciplining myself to a month-by-month breakdown of the highlights of the year, conquering the temptation to major on summer delights that brought the sunshine of glory to our tennis courts and cricket pitches. But we start our journey in the deep mid-winter and a familiar face and flight of arrows on the oche …


New Year’s Day and Phil Taylor wins his 16th world title by beating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final. Feel The Power.

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor: won his 16th darts world title in January 2013

From famous familiar hands to famous familiar feet as Lionel Messi becomes the first player to be awarded the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time, beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta to the coveted prize.

Alastair Cook scores 75 and Ian Bell 85 as England beat India by nine runs in their first one-day international in Rajkot. Four days later, India defeat England by 127 runs to level their five-match one-day series at 1-1.

Lance Armstrong admits widespread drug use, including taking EPO and blood doping, in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Anybody who had been following David Walsh’s exclusive exposés in The Sunday Times is hardly surprised.

A new low for football when Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is sent off after appearing to kick a Swansea ball boy, who was smothering the ball.

India take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match ODI series, beating England by five wickets in Mohali. England win the final match in Dharamsala by seven wickets, Ian Bell scoring an unbeaten 113.

Novak Djokovic retains the Australian Open men’s singles title, beating Britain’s Andy Murray 6-7 (2/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-2 in the final in Melbourne. Highlight for Murray was his five-set semi-final victory over Roger Federer. Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, retains the women’s title with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over China’s Li Na.


Wing Chris Ashton scores a try in England's Calcutta Cup win over Scotland in February 2013
Wing Chris Ashton scores a try in England’s Calcutta Cup win over Scotland in February

England get off to a winning start in the Six Nations, with a 38-18 victory over Scotland at Twickenham, while Ireland beat Wales 30-22 in Cardiff.

The Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII with a nail-biting 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans. At 4 hours, 14 minutes, it is the longest Super Bowl ever and that’s not counting a 34-minute delay following a power cut.

Goals from Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard give England their first victory over Brazil since 1990, as they win 2-1 at Wembley.

Gordon Strachan’s reign as Scotland manager kicks off with a 1-0 win over Estonia, while Wales beat Austria 2-1 and the Republic of Ireland are 2-0 winners over Poland. Northern Ireland draw 0-0 with Malta.

Wales beat France 16-6 in their Six Nations match in Paris, and Scotland overcome Italy 34-10 at Murrayfield. Then England’s 12-6 victory over Ireland in Dublin takes them clear at the top of the table.

In the first Twenty20 international match in New Zealand, England win by 40 runs in Auckland. They score an England record 214 for seven on a compact ground not much bigger than a village green. New Zealand win the second match by 55 runs.

The murder trial of Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius became one of the news stories of 2013
The murder trial of Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius became one of the news stories of 2013

The Kiwis then win the first one-day international by three wickets in Hamilton, England leveling the series with an eight-wicket victory in Napier. Joe Root’s unbeaten 79 is the highlight. England win the deciding third match by five wickets in Auckland.

South African Paralympic and Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius is arrested on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend after she is found shot dead in the bathroom at his home.

The women’s pursuit team, including Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King and A-Level student Elinor Barker, power Britain to victory over  Australia to win their first gold at the 2013 cycling world championships in Belarus.

In the Six Nations England beat France 23-13 at Twickenham for their third straight win. Wales crush Italy 26-9 in Rome. Scotland win a tight match 12-8 against Ireland at Murrayfield.


March blows in with Rory McIlroy caught in the wind of controversy after walking off the course midway through the second round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach, complaining of tooth ache. He dropped seven shots on the first eight holes, and later issues an apology for his behaviour. “There is no excuse for quitting,” he says through clenched teeth.

Perri Shakes-Drayton wins double gold in the 400m and 4x400m relay as Britain claim six medals on the final day of the European indoor athletics championships in Sweden.

Manchester United are knocked out of the Champions League as Real Madrid claw their way to a 2-1 win in the second leg at Old Trafford, having been 1-0 behind when Nani was controversially sent off. Ryan Giggs makes his 1,000th senior appearance for United.

Bernard Hopkins, right, on his way to winning the world title, at the age of 48
Bernard Hopkins, right, on his way to winning the light-heavyweight world title, aged 48

Wales sink Scotland 28-18 to set up an Six Nations title decider against England, while France secure their first point of the tournament with a 13-13 draw with Ireland. England beat Italy 18-11 at Twickenham.

At 48, Bernard Hopkins becomes the oldest man to win a world title after beating Tavoris Cloud on points to claim the IBF light-heavyweight crown in Brooklyn. He had learned to box while serving a four-year prison sentence 30 years earlier. Cue Rocky music.

Bobs Worth, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, wins the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. It is a landmark 50th Festival win for Henderson.

Wales retain the Six Nations title with a devastating 30-3 victory over England in Cardiff. France beat third-placed Scotland 23-16 in Paris for their only win of the Six Nations, while Italy defeat Ireland 22-15 in Rome.

Trainer Nicky Henderson with his 50th winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Bobs Worth, winner of the 2013 Gold Cup
Trainer Nicky Henderson with his 50th winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Bobs Worth, winner of the 2013 Gold Cup

Kimi Raikkonen, starting from seventh on the grid, wins the season-opening Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne for Lotus, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso second and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel third.

Heavy rain forces the abandonment of England’s second Test against New Zealand in Auckland as a draw.

Jermain Defoe scores twice as England slaughter San Marino 8-0 in their World Cup qualifier in Serravalle. Wales come from behind to win 2-1 against Scotland at Hampden Park, while the Republic of Ireland squeeze a goalless draw against Sweden in Stockholm.

Sebastian Vettel triggers a domestic row  at the Malaysian Grand Prix as he disobeys team orders and overtakes his Red Bull stablemate Mark Webber, denying the Australian a win.

England are held to a 1-1 draw by Montenegro in their World Cup qualifying match in Podgorica. Wales lose 2-1 to Croatia, Northern Ireland are beaten 2-0 by Israel, the Republic of Ireland drew 2-2 against Austria and Scotland go down 2-0 in Serbia.

Andy Murray is ranked No2 in the world after beating David Ferrer 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7/1) in the Sony Open final in Miami.




Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms, London
Mon Apr 14: SJA Spring Golf Day: Croham Hurst GC, Surrey. Booking details to be announced