World of Sport

60 defining sporting moments from the Queen’s reign

World of Sport

We decided to come up with our list of the defining sporting moments from the past six decades of Queen Elizabeth's reign. We've included both moments of glory and moments of agonising heartbreak, but while you may agree or disagree with some of our selections, we feel that each little gathering of sporting gold is certainly worth a place on our Eurosport list of legend. Each one a sparkling sporting diamond in a Diamond Jubilee year. Everybody likes a whiff of nostalgia now and again...we hope you enjoy.


View gallery


Roger Bannister runs the first sub-four minute mile

1953 - Blackpool winger Stanley Matthews turns in a vintage performance watched by the Queen as his side complete a 4-3 win over Bolton Wanderers at Wembley Stadium. Blackpool's Stan Mortensen scores the only hat-trick in the history of FA Cup finals.

1954 - Roger Bannister becomes the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, setting a time of three minutes 59.4 seconds at a meeting in Oxford. "My body had long since exhausted all its energy, but it went on running just the same," Bannister later wrote of the final few yards. "I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him. My effort was over and I collapsed almost unconscious, with an arm on either side of me. It was only then that real pain overtook me."

1956 - Devon Loch, owned by the Queen Mother, collapses unaccountably while cruising towards the finish line in the Grand National at Aintree. The horse jumped while in full flow, slipped on landing and refused to run another step, despite the finish line being just yards away.

View gallery


Devon Loch collapses

1958 - The world of football is shocked as a plane crash in Munich kills eight of Manchester United's all conquering team, known as the 'Busby Babes', who were trying to win their third consecutive league title and who had just made it into the semi-finals of the European Cup.

1958 - Mike Hawthorne becomes the first Briton to win the F1 World Championship. Graham Hill (1962, 1968), Jim Clark (1963, 1965), John Surtees (1964), Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971, 1973), James Hunt (1976), Nigel Mansell (1992), Damon Hill (1996), Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) will emulate his success in later decades.


View gallery


England after winning the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley

1963 - Britain's Henry Cooper knocks down Muhammad Ali (who at the time was still known as Cassius Clay) in the fourth round of their heavyweight fight at Wembley. Ali was only saved by the bell going a few seconds later and went on to win the bout, thus depriving Cooper the honour of being the only man ever to record a knockout win against the legendary fighter.

1964 - Welshman Lynn Davies leaps to long jump gold in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Cardiff comes to a standstill upon his return.

1966 - England win the World Cup for the first and only time after beating West Germany 4-2 after extra time. Geoff Hurst scores a hat-trick - with the aid of a Russian linesman - and remains the only man ever to do so in a World Cup final.

View gallery


Celtic captain Billy McNeill with the European Cup

1967 - Jock Stein's Celtic become the first British side to win the European Cup with a 2-1 win over Inter Milan in Lisbon. The Libson Lions manage the trick with 11 Scots as they win every tournament they enter in the Glasgow club's most fruitful season.

1968 - A decade after the Munich air disaster Manchester United win the European Cup, beating Benfica 4-1 in the final at Wembley.

1968 - Don Fox misses a last-gasp penalty in front of the posts as Leeds edge Wakefield 11-10 in the Rugby League Challenge Cup final at a saturated Wembley. Fox lost his footing before taking the kick and was crestfallen as commentator Eddie Waring described him as a 'poor lad.'

1969 - Tony Jacklin wins The Open at Royal Lytham, becoming the first British player to do so for 18 years. He then spearheaded the British and Irish Ryder Cup team at Royal Birkdale that avoided defeat against the Americans for the first time since 1957, and in 1970 added the US Open to his Open title.


View gallery


Red Rum on his way to winning a third Grand National in 1977

1970 - Gordon Banks's save to deny Pele is not enough to save England against Brazil in the World Cup. The 'Brazilian giants' win 1-0 before demolishing Italy 4-1 in the final.

1977 - Virginia Wade wins Wimbledon in the year of the Queen's silver jubilee, recovering from a set down to beat Netherlands' Betty Stove in the final, 4-6 6-3 6-1.

1977 - The regal horse Red Rum wins his third Grand National. When he dies in 1995, his ashes are buried at Aintree's winning post.

1978 - Scotland's Archie Gemmill gives Scottish fans something to cheer about at the end of their disastrous World Cup campaign, scoring a stunning individual goal that is regarded as one of the best ever seen at the tournament. Scotland won the match but missed a place in the knockout phase on goal difference.

1978 - Cambridge see their boat sink in adverse conditions on the River Thames in the annual battle with Oxford.


View gallery


Eddie Edwards unwittingly becomes a national hero in ski jumping

1980 - Scotsman Allan Wells wins the 100m for GB at the Olympics in Moscow with a time of 10.25 secs.

1981 - Ian Botham inspires England to victory in the Ashes. Australia had won the first match of the series at Trent Bridge and after a draw at Lord's were on course to take a 2-0 lead at Headingley when Botham stepped in and made an unbeaten 149 in the second innings. Bob Willis then took eight wickets for just 43 runs as the Australians were bowled out for 111. England then won the next two Tests to complete the series victory.

1981 - Bob Champion battles back from testicular cancer and being given eight months to live to win the Grand National on Aldinti, a horse that had battled back from three leg breaks. It remains one of the most emotional moments in British sporting history.

1983 - Keith Deller wins the World Darts Championship with a 6-5 victory over hot favourite Eric Bristow at the Lakeside. It remains arguably the biggest upset in the history of darts. He does it drinking milk rather than lager.

1983 - Sir Alex Ferguson's unfancied Aberdeen side win the 1983 European Cup Winners's Cup against Real Madrid in Gothenburg. Ferguson leaves Aberdeen for Manchester United three years later.

1984 - Daley Thompson pulls of a backflip on the landing mat after the pole vault that helped him on his way to victory in the decathlon at the 1984 Olympics. Thompson, whose rivalry with West Germany's Jurgen Hingsen was one of the great athletics tussles of the 1980s, broke the world record four times during his peak years. He whistles the national anthem with the gold medal round his neck.

1984 - The barefooted Zola Budd clashes with Mary Decker in the women's 3,000 metres final at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Decker falls in a heap, and later refused to speak to Budd, who is booed by a partisan crowd despite finishing well outside of the medal positions.

1984 - Sebastian Coe holds off the challenge of British rival Steve Cram to win back-to-back 1500m Olympic golds.

View gallery


Torvill and Dean give the world 'Bolero'

1984 - Ice skating icons Torvill and Dean strike gold for Great Britain with 'Bolero' at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984.

1985 - Northern Irishman Dennis Taylor beats Steve Davis in the final of snooker's World Championship at the Crucible in an incredible final which was decided on the final black of the final frame. Taylor recovers from trailing 8-0 aided by his unforgettable 'upside-down' glasses. Davis would win six world titles, but 18.5 million viewers - a record audience for BBC 2- would see him lose after midnight.

View gallery


Sam Torrance on the verge on sinking the winning Ryder Cup putt

1985 - Europe win the Ryder Cup for the first time, Sam Torrance holing the winning putt at The Belfry to spark scenes of wild celebration. Now it is accepted as commonplace.

1988 - Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards charms the world with his heroic performance at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. The ski jumper's bug-eyed appearance (caused by thick glasses), loveably daft grin and optimistic attitude despite a woeful lack of talent made him the star of the Games, though his notoriety prompted BOA officials to institute new rules denying plucky no-hopers a chance to compete.

1988 - Sandy Lyle makes a birdie from a bunker on the 18th hole at Augusta to become the first British player to win The Masters, and starts an era of dominance in which European players win seven out of nine green jackets

1989 - Michael Thomas scores a last-minute goal to give Arsenal a 2-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield to give the Gunners the title for the first time in 18 years, with the title being decided on goal difference between the two sides. The circumstances of the match made it all the more extraodinary: it was the only remaining game of the season, played on a Friday night the week after the FA Cup final since the fixture had been postponed due to the Hillsborough disaster, and broadcast live on television at a time when live First Division football was rarely broadcast.

1989 - Frank Bruno rocks an undefeated Mike Tyson in their world heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas before being counted out in round five. Cries of 'Get in there, Frank' by commentator Harry Carpenter eventually fall on deaf ear. Bruno would win the title six years later against Oliver McCall after other challenges to Tim Witherspoon and Lennon Lewis end with Bruno counted out.


View gallery


Jonathan Edwards after breaking the world triple jump record

1990 - England batsmen Graham Gooch hits a record-breaking 333 against India at Lords. The BBC miss Gooch hitting the triple century by heading for the horse racing. Good decision-making.

View gallery


Gazza cries his eyes out in Italy

1990 - Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle miss penalties as England lose the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in Turin, thereby missing out on a place in the final that would have given them a chance to avenge their 'Hand of God' defeat by Diego Maradona's Argentina in Mexico four years earlier.

1991 - Scotland's Gavin Hastings misses the simplest of penalties against England to help the 'Auld Enemy' into the Rugby World Cup final. England went on to lose 10-9 to Australia in the final.

1992 - Linford Christie wins gold in the 100m in the Olympics in Barcelona, recording a time of 9.92 seconds. Christie confirmed his status as the fastest man in the world with gold in the World Championships a year later in a time of 9.87 seconds that remains the British record almost 20 years later.

1993 - British middleweight warriors Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank draw their second epic fight watched by 42,000 fans inside Old Trafford three years after Eubank stopped Benn in round nine of a brutal contest.

1995 - Jonathan Edwards breaks the triple jump world record twice in consecutive jumps as he wins gold in the World Championships in Gothenburg. 17 years later Edwards's record of 18.29m still stands.

1995 - Scotsman Colin McCrae becomes the first Briton to win the World Rally Championship.

1996 - Gazza juggles the ball over Colin Hendry to score for England in a 2-0 win against Scotland in the European Championships. England suffer heartbreak in losing to winners Germany 6-5 on  penalties in the last four with Gareth Southgate missing a key penalty after a 1-1 draw.

1997 - British and Irish Lions win their series 2-1 in South Africa despite the bruising tactics of rugby union's world champion Springboks on their home turf.

1998 - Liverpool teenager Michael Owen gallops through the Argentina defence to give England a 2-1 lead in their last 16 match at France '98. Despite Owen's brilliance, England lose on 4-3 penalties after a 2-2 draw.

View gallery


Manchester United win the Champions League in Barcelona

1999 - Manchester United score twice in injury time to win the Champions League final 2-1 and complete a historic treble, with Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finding the net to overturn Bayern Munich's 1-0 lead.


View gallery


Jonny Wilkinson after kicking England to World Cup glory

2000 - Steve Redgrave, who four years earlier had said that "anyone who sees me near a boat again has my permission to shoot me", wins a gold medal in rowing at the fifth consecutive Olympic games.

2001 - The rain begins to fall in the fourth set of Tim Henman's Wimbledon semi-final against Goran Ivanisevic, with the Englishman two sets to one ahead and on course for victory. The exhausted Croatian veteran returned revitalised after the weather delay, forced a fifth set in a tie-break and went on to win the title.

View gallery


Lennon Lewis floors Mike Tyson

2002 - Lennox Lewis retains IBF, IBO and WBC heavyweight titles against Mike Tyson with a KO win in the eighth round.

2003 - Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in extra time sees England win the Rugby World Cup for the first time, giving his side a 17-14 victory over host nation Australia in Sydney.

2003 - Celtic carry the largest travelling support to a European final overseas of any British club. An astonishing 80,000 fans head for Seville in Spain to witness an epic UEFA Cup final with Jose Mourinho's Porto. Celtic lose 3-2 after extra-time, but UEFA and FIFA reward the travelling contingent's behaviour.

View gallery


Kelly Holmes revels in her golden moments

2004 - Kelly Holmes wins gold at both 800 and 1,500m in the Olympic Games in Athens. The medals were the first and only gold medals of her career in top-level, worldwide competition.

2005 - England win the Ashes for the first time since 1987. After being thrashed in the opening Test at Lord's, the home side levelled the series by winning the next Test at Edgbaston by two runs, the narrowest victory in Ashes history, before being held to the narrowest of draws in the very next match at Old Trafford as Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath saw out the final four overs. They won the next Test at Trent Bridge then secured the victory with a draw at the Oval thanks to Kevin Pietersen's unforgettable 158.

2005 - Liverpool win their fifth European Cup with a stunning victory over AC Milan on penalties. They trail 3-0 at half-time in the final, but somehow draw level at 3-3 by the hour mark. They hold their nerve after extra-time to win 3-2 on penalties.

2005 - Yachtswoman Ellen McArthur breaks the world record for the fastest single-handed non-stop circumnagivation of the globe.

2006 - Colin Hendry lookalike Rhona Martin leads GB women's curling team to gold at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics with the 'stone of destiny'.

2006 - Colin Montgomerie, Europe's leading player for over a decade, blows the chance to win a first major when he empties a second shot into thick rough on the 72nd hole of the US Open at Winged Foot. Australia's Geoff Ogilvy wins it as Monty reflects on what might have been.

2008 - GB finish fourth overall at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Track cyclist Chris Hoy is knighted for his three golds with Rebecca Adlington fishing two out of the swimming pool. GB win 47 medals including 19 golds - their best haul for 100 years.

2008 - Manchester United win their third European Cup with a win on penalties over English rivals Chelsea in the Champions League final. John Terry suffers agony by missing a penalty that would have claimed it for the Blues.


View gallery


England's cricketers celebrate their Ashes success

2011 -Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy makes good on his early promise by lifting the US Open golf title with a resounding eight-stroke win at Congressional.

2011 - England cement their place as Test cricket's top side with a resounding win over Australia Down Under and victory over India later in the year.

View gallery


Manchester City end their long wait for the English title

2012 - Manchester City score twice in injury time against QPR to win the Premier League on goal difference in the most thrilling finish to the season for 23 years. City had not been beaten at home for over 18 months, but trailed 10-man QPR 2-1 before Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero scored in injury time to win the title.

2012 - Chelsea lift the European Cup for the first time with a win on penalties over Bayern Munich in the final of the Champions League in Munich. The final finishes 1-1 after extra-time before Didier Drogba slots the winning penalty for a 4-3 success. It is his final, poignant kick of the ball for the club.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so that everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Win cash in one day fantasy football contests. Join now!

    Learn how to play

    Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
    Premier League £1,500 Saturday 18/335 £5 £1500 Saturday 10:00 AM Enter
    Premier League £600 Saturday 0/26 £25 £600 Saturday 10:00 AM Enter
    Premier League £300 Saturday 31/340 £1 £300 Saturday 10:00 AM Enter