If you’re a sports fan then no doubt you’ll have a collection of memories that range from joy to heartbreak. We will all remember Leicester City’s Premier League triumph as one of sports great moments and for young fans it may be the first moment they think of 20 years from now.
For me, going through a sports journalism course has created many new memories but now I’m on the eve of graduation and looking for a employment in the sporting world – but what has shaped me to this point? What are my memories from sport? For this reason I shall be doing a series of sporting memories and creating a timeline of what has moulded me into the sports journalist I am today – and the foundation of what has made me such a believer in sport and what it can indulgence and drama it can offer.
Being born in 1992 you’d think I have many sporting memories from the 1990’s but strangely as a racked my brain I could not find any. I always remember my dad telling me it was the year Denmark won the European Championships after initially not being involved in the tournament but I can’t say I remember it – I was only just born after all. I know about big sporting events in the 1990’s, David Beckham’s half way strike, Mike Tyson getting the munchies mid-fight against Evander Holyfield, even Manchester United’s famous Champions League win over Bayern Munich to complete the treble in 1999 I have limited memory of. But to say I remember them would be slightly farfetched as only through going back and looking at them as a teenager or adult do I recognise them now as great sporting moments. This series is all about organic memories; watching live on television or being in the stadium itself. Anyway, Without further ado I present to you my memories of sport.
The first memory that sprung to mind when thinking of sport was the 5-1 demolition job England handed out Germany in Germany no less. I remember when I saw referee Pierluigi Collina lead the teams I got so nervous – being English brought with it great pessimism and I was preparing myself for 90 minutes of disappointment and misery – completely underestimating the quality of the squad we had at the time. After Germany striker Carsten Jancker put Germany ahead not much had changed in the atmosphere at home. “We’re expected to lose anyway” was the mentality and as a kid the thing you fell back on as to not burst into tears was “it’s only a friendly anyway” but still – the game was not even ten minutes old and Germany were in front. Owen grabbed the equaliser with a typical fox in the box type goal but even then I wasn’t really settled, Germany had played the much better football after all until that Steven Gerrard goal. Long range goals now are slightly more commonplace – for me they are anyway as I watch significantly more football nowadays – but then it was like opening a pack of Pokemon cards and finding a shiny Charizard in there.
Now I believed, anxiety of “how many are we going to get beat by?” turned into “How many can we beat them by?” It was the game I thought Emile Heskey and Owen was the greatest strike partnership in the land. For whatever reason I had a soft spot for Heskey after that game and defended him left, right and centre until I finally conceded that maybe he is a bit below international football standards. But his knock down for Owen to make it 3-1 followed by his putter celebration after scoring England’s fifth goal, something about him and his style of play made him stand out to me.
When Owen scored England’s fourth, his third of the game, the house had reached fever pitch. I was watching at a friend’s house two doors down and we were hugging and jumping all over the place. We got shouted at and told to calm down but we couldn’t – we just witnessed the greatest England performance in our short lives, this was our 1966 World Cup final. Although just a friendly we could now start to really get excited about the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea with the cliché, at the time anyway, that England were going to win the World Cup. After that game everybody I knew tried to cross a ball like Beckham did. It didn’t even have to be a ball, an empty soft drinks bottle or a rock, anything we could find that could simulate a football we’d attempt to curl it with our own running commentary of “Beckham, into OWENNNN!!” There were many more of those moments to come be they football or any other sport but that was the one that started it all.