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13th March 2024

Memories of the game: A look back at favourite sporting moments

Whether it be on the world stage or during adolescence, there has been one sporting moment that has stuck with everyone. Explore the emotional and accelerating seconds that remain with our team to this day
Memories of the game: A look back at favourite sporting moments
Credit: Steffen Prößdorf @ Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that the first few months of the year can be a rough time. Money is tight, the weather is cold and miserable, and essay deadlines mount up. Therefore, we, at The Mancunion sport section have decided to spread some positivity and cheer, by getting our writers – alongside our esteemed colleagues from other sections – to recount the greatest and happiest moments that sport has given them in their lives.

Kappa Kugabalan, Head Sports Editor

UFC 274 was a fight card I was especially looking forward to as one of my favourite fighters, Charles Oliveira, was the main event. And although he won in thrilling fashion, there was another fight that’s lingered in my memory to this day. It was that of Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson. Chandler by that point had cemented himself as one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster, and this fight was a paragon proving said status.

Meanwhile, Ferguson was amid a gruelling losing streak that has unfortunately yet to come to an end. Within the final minute of the second round, Chandler sent Ferguson to a realm unbeknownst to us spectators with a devastating front kick to the head. Adrenaline tearing through every morsel of his being, Chandler was compelled to do three backflips in the octagon whilst Ferguson’s idle body lay unconscious.

Despite the awe I was in, it was difficult not to feel disturbed by this celebration that was being cheered on by those in the crowd, who in that moment were possessed by a primitive frenzy the likes of which was enough to prove that we did indeed evolve from our ancestors of the Palaeolithic period. However, as soon as the celebration was over, Chandler climbed onto the cage-side fence and at the top of his breaking voice, screamed, “Where’s my son?” The words came roaring out of him as though they were brewed within a raging crucible of emotion. He kept on screaming the words as his eyes darted around the crowd until eventually, he found him. At that point, a man, who had just displayed the lethality of the human anatomy, broke down into tears, holding his hand to his heart, as if that was all he ever wanted to give to his son. As to why this memory stands tall in my mind, I believe it serves to encapsulate the dichotomy of human nature. 

Tom Woodcock, Deputy Sports Editor

43 years and 28 days. A long time in football, a long time in regards to anything, the amount of time that West Ham United had gone without winning a major trophy. 

Three generations deprived of the chance to see us lift silverware, robbed of an opportunity to watch an open-topped bus parade down Barking Road. Bad memories sit uncomfortably on the conscience: Gerrard from 35 in the 91st, Dyer’s miss at St Andrews, Cresswell seeing red in Frankfurt.

7th June 2023, Prague, Czech Republic; the date and scene for our Europa Conference League final match-up against Fiorentina. 

Minute 89, the game is finally poised at 1-1, with Benrahma’s penalty cancelled out by a Bonaventura equaliser the contest looks as if it will drag on even further into the hot, sticky summer night in Bohemia.

Out of nowhere, Soucek holds it up, Paqeuta knocks it forward, Bowen’s through on goal … Time slows down, surely he’s going to miss … Jarrod lashes at it with his left foot, it clips Terraciano’s midriff, it trickles into the back of the net … surely he’s offside … no flag in sight … we’ve done it. 

Surrounded by friends with whom I have spent a lifetime attending matches with, I fall into a state of delirium, frantically hugging and screaming. The one hour’s sleep on an overnight train, the hundreds spent on flights … all worth it for this. From the stands in Prague, to the fan park in Hackney Wick, to The Beehive in Basildon, pints of beer go flying into the night sky.

Alex Hennah, Sports Writer

ANZAC DAY tradition dictates that on April 25th, a country should fall silent in commemoration of fallen soldiers, and one-hundred-thousand people pack out the MCG to watch Essendon play Collingwood. 

In 2022, I was lucky enough to be a part of that crowd in Melbourne to watch the historic fixture on a glorious autumn day. Though a neutral fan, the ceremony before the game was incredibly moving and the visual of seeing a packed-out stadium at a complete standstill for 60 seconds before the thunderous roar echoed out will forever be in my mind. I was right at the pitch side and the magnitude of the occasion was equalled by the quality of the match. Australian rules football is a niche in England, but in Victoria, it’s a religion and I could sense it over the course of the preceding four quarters.

Lexie Baynes, Head Opinion Editor

My favourite sporting memory has, unfortunately, turned out to be a factually and logistically incorrect one. There’s nothing quite like being delusional. When my twin and I were of the age of bickering over who got to read the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid first, we used to share a season ticket for the glorious Norwich City Football Club, which my dad has supported ever since his dad bought him the wrong football club shirt as a Christmas present.

The very first time I went – bundled up in about 13 layers and asking a million irritating questions a second – Norwich won 7-0. The supporters leapt up from their seats, creating a wave of green, yellow, and black. I remember my glee as my twin raged that he wasn’t the one to watch the ever-struggling Canaries bring it home, while I was heralded as Norwich’s “lucky charm.” However, it turns out that this is all a lie, this scoreline didn’t happen in any games between 2009 to 2014, nor did we play the team I thought we did. I don’t know how I’ve remembered this so wrongly, but the memory lives on. 

Delusions aside, my favourite memory is when I won the year 9 girls’ 300m race at my secondary school’s sports day. That, as my Snapchat memories reveal, definitely happened.  

Alex Cooper, Head Music Editor

My favourite sporting memory was on my 16th birthday: Headingley, day four, the third test of the 2019 Ashes series. The England cricket team was about to lose to Australia on home turf, for the first time since 2001. I was at a festival, and I periodically checked my phone as wickets fell. Seeing England 286-9, I was about to give up hope, but I just kept checking, holding on to a pipe dream.

Stokes and Jack Leach put together the greatest 76-run stand to have ever been. Australia burned their reviews, dropped catches, and missed chances. As I began to believe, I saw other festival goers checking their phones, even one watching it on Sky Sports! All of us were tethered together by the power of sport. A reverse sweep into the Western Terrace boundary, and Stokes sealed it, keeping the Ashes alive. 

It’s the closest I’ve felt to there being a higher power.

Annabel Benton, Managing Editor

Growing up, there was often sport playing in the background at home, but it wasn’t until the London Olympics in 2012 that I felt the full extent of a sporting moment. And, whilst I enjoyed seeing international athletes swimming, cycling, and rowing across the capital over the course of that summer; it was a love of athletics that the 2012 edition of the Olympic games really instilled in me. It has since been one of my favourite sports to follow, and I’ve even been to watch the Diamond League in person. 

On what has since been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, 4th August 2012, nine-year-old me watched on as British athletes championed at the London Stadium. Both Sir Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford won gold, yet it is clips of Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon which still give me goosebumps. As they relentlessly compete in seven events ranging from 100m hurdles to shot put, I’ve always felt that the heptathletes provide some of the most impressive entertainment at the Olympics. As Ennis crossed the line of the 800m with her arms raised, it both gave younger me an inspirational role model and cemented my love of big sporting occasions.

Jake Aldridge, Deputy Investigations Editor

27th May 2019. Wembley. Play-off final. 85,000 people and two of Jack Grealish’s fine, fine calves are in attendance to watch the mighty Aton Villa and in true Danny Dyer spirit, I was fucking shitting myself.

The game gets off to a cagey start, a shot gets fired off for each side but neither team is really clicking. Dean Smith, the man, the myth, makes a few tactical changes. Elmo swings a ball in and the flying Dutchman, El Ghazi, dives in to head home. 1-0, Villa, 44 played.

The second half, like the first, starts slowly. An hour in and a blocked shot loops up for the keeper to catch. He drops it. John McGinn’s lovely round head and an open goal, a match made in heaven. McGinn knocks it in. 2-0 villa, 59 played.

The minutes start to drag by now. 73, 77, 78, 78:30, 78:35. (Have they paused that clock because it seems to be moving very slowly?) The last ten minutes begin. At 2-0 this feels too comfortable, this can’t be a true villa team. Being this comfortable in a play-off final? No, thank you. The team obliged, and to make it edgy we gave Derby a goal in the 82nd minute. 2-1 villa, 9 to go. 

I can honestly say the last ten minutes were the longest of my life. Big up to Einstein and the physics lot, because they really were right with all that ‘time is relative’ stuff.

Derby had a couple of chances, but fortunately nothing too serious. The final whistle finally blew, and we’d done it. Premier League football had returned.

Jacob Hartley, Managing Editor

I’m not a particularly talented athlete. I am, however, immensely competitive (I’m more competitive than you if you’re wondering). I also love winning. Especially if you’re 11, and you’ve just won your year six football tournament in the dying seconds with the best goal you’ll ever score. It’s even better if the school disco is later that evening.

Just picture it. You’re playing the school from down the road that wins everything, and it’s 2-2 with a few minutes to play. I take a throw-in from about the halfway line, get the ball knocked back to me, take two touches, and look up. The keeper’s off his line (he’s also about 4’5 for reference – as we all are, we’re 11). So I have a go.

There’s nothing better than winning a game, except winning a game when you know you get to go and tell swarms of adoring fans (literally not a single person cared) all about it later that evening in the short gap between Gangnam Style and Call Me Maybe. And as much as Mark Thompson wanted to pretend it was a cross – it wasn’t. I was much too selfish for that.

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