Image Credit: BBC
A year of firsts and lasts, and not one of bad luck for Britain’s sporting heroes, 2013 was a momentous year in British sport. Records were broken, immortals were born, and legends departed – in varying circumstances.
The year began with the good, the bad and the ugly. Lionel Messi picked up the previous years’ Ballon D’Or, after scoring an eye-watering and record-breaking 91 goals in 2012.
A few weeks later, a sporting icon instead fell far from his pede-stool, as Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career and was subsequently stripped of seven Tour de France titles.
February and March were months to remember, particularly if you hailed from Wales. Firstly, Swansea City won the League Cup at Wembley for the first time in their history. However, the real heroes of the 3-0 victory were their opponents, League 2’s Bradford City, who defeated Arsenal and Aston Villa on their way to a first-ever League Cup Final for a fourth-tier side.
Wales’ Rugby team then took centre stage, destroying England 30-3 at Twickenham to snatch the Six Nations title from English hands and secure their second consecutive Six Nations title ahead of July’s Lions tour to Australia.
The spring also saw Oscar Pistorius, months after breaking Paralympic records in London, charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after shooting her through his bathroom door.
The years’ early months also saw the retirements of some legends of sport. First, Britain’s most successful Olympian Sir Chris Hoy retired from the cycling saddle, and in May Sir Alex Ferguson announced he would step down as Manchester United manager after 26 years in the role. He crowned his departure with his 13th Premier League Trophy, United’s 20th , to
regain the title they lost to Manchester City in 2012.
Elsewhere in football, Wigan condemned Manchester City to more misery, producing one of the FA Cup’s greatest giantkillings to win 1-0 at Wembley. However just days later, Wigan were relegated from the top-flight.
The Wembley pitch again hosted another momentous final, with the all-German Champions League finale seeing Bayern Munich seal an historic treble over Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund.
The summer of 2013 proved to be a glorious one. Andy Murray, always British tennis’ great hope for success, finally achieved his lifelong dream of winning Wimbledon. The thousands on Murray Mound and millions at home witnessed a demolition of Novak Djokovic in the final, which saw Murray become Wimbledon’s first British winner since 1935.
The quadrennial Lions Rugby Tour also took place in the summer, and saw Warren Gatland’s Lions return home with their first tour victory since 1997. The third test that sealed the series was a 41-16 thrashing of the Wallabies, that saw players like George North become household names.
September saw the world record transfer fee broken by Real Madrid, signing Tottenham’s Gareth Bale for a massive £86.7 million. Bale’s arrival in Madrid saw him excel in his first season, making his price tag look to be worth every penny.
The Autumn saw nations descend on the UK for the Rugby League World Cup. England, inspired by Sam Burgess, almost went all the way in one of the best semi-finals the game has seen, but New Zealand won it with 20 seconds on the clock to set up a final with Australia, where they lost 34-2 to the dominant Kangaroos.
For British sportspeople, 2013 was a year of incredible highs and soul-crushing lows, with retirements signalling the end of legacies and new stars discovering their place amongst sporting idols. The moment of the year was arguably Murray winning Wimbledon, although it’s unlikely the Scotsman’s ‘smile’ would tell you he agreed!