What an amazing year it’s been for sport. If you ignore another disappointing campaign for myself in Fantasy Football (which I certainly have to or else the tears start to flow…), this year has been full of thrills, spills and surprises. Here is Spyglass’ comprehensive round-up of the sporting year.
2019 was another fantastic year for football. You would struggle to find a more dramatic and high-quality title race down in England, with Man City pipping Liverpool to the trophy in a contest which went down to the wire. It should be noted (particularly so I don’t get accused of bias from my Man-City-supporting friend!) that City were 7 points behind Liverpool on January 3rd, but put together an astonishing run – winning their last 14 league games – to win the title by a point. Oh, and they won the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup (winning 6-0 in the final) and League Cup – an English first. And whilst I’m sorry for reminding Liverpool fans of this, given that, at the time of writing, they currently hold a 10 point lead with two games in hand, I suspect the long wait will soon come to an end… In Scotland, Celtic won an unprecedented treble-treble in Steven Gerrard’s first season at Old Firm rivals Rangers. In Spain, France, Italy and Germany, the leagues were won by Barcelona, PSG, Juventus and Bayern respectively.
Another Rugby World Cup year, culminating in a high quality and thrilling final between South Africa and England. Time for an interesting statistic, methinks – did you know that in the history of the Rugby World Cup, since its creation in 1987, only 4 teams have ever won the trophy: England (1), Australia (2), South Africa (3) and New Zealand (3)? Hosts Japan served up a fantastic tournament, and the host team itself performed admirably throughout – beating Ireland and Scotland to qualify from a tough group. It wasn’t to be Scotland’s year though – with some crippling injuries and other issues, they had a disappointing tournament – and they failed to replicate the highs they achieved four years previously. Congratulations to South Africa on their victory, and a more detailed review of that final can be found here.
Old faces, current talent on fire, and some emerging new talent: 2019 had it all. The stage was all set in April for the first major of the year – the Masters in Georgia, USA. The same questions were flung round – could Rory McIlroy end his Masters hoodoo? Could Brooks Koepka maintain his impressive major record? But, in the end, an old face triumphed. One of the greatest players in the history of the game, and arguably the one who has become the image of golf itself: Tiger Woods. His win at Augusta – astonishingly his 15th major title – put him just three behind Jack Nicklaus in the all-time record list. Then, to cap off an amazing year, Tiger won in Japan to equal the all-time record for PGA Tour victories – 82 – held by Sam Snead. It capped off an astonishing year for Woods – showing that, despite major back surgery, he can still well and truly compete amongst the best. The Open Championship was won by Shane Lowry in an astonishing display in Northern Ireland; the US PGA by Brooks Koepka; and the US Open by Gary Woodland. Rory McIlroy won the FedEx Cup in the US, whilst Jon Rahm won the European Tour’s Race To Dubai. Another notable mention should be to Catriona Matthew’s European Solheim Cup team, who served up an absolutely amazing contest against the US, which went down to the final putt, in the last match still going, on the final green. An amazing tournament, with Europe triumphing 14.5-13.5.
Another impressive season for Lewis Hamilton culminated in his sixth World Championship. He now lies just one behind the all-time record held by racing legend Michael Schumacher…
Andy Murray made his long-awaited return from a hip-resurfacing operation – a return more successful than anyone could have expected – in which he won the doubles title at Queen’s Club alongside Diego Lopez, as well as the European Open singles title in Antwerp. The four Grand Slams were won by two players: Rafael Nadal winning the French Open and US Open, and Novak Djokovic winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon (with the latter for Djokovic being in an absolutely thrilling 5-set final against Swiss great Roger Federer).
Another year of sport gone. Personally, I think it was one of the most exciting in recent memory. And, seriously, that’s coming from a Hearts fan.