Simply the most exciting football match I have ever had the privilege to watch. Funnily enough, both teams were nervous and the quality of football was rather poor, although we conveniently forget that.
Here’s what I wrote at the time:
What a night. WHAT A NIGHT. Where to start? Ten yellows, two reds for Bolton. No cards for Ipswich. Three penalties conceded by Bolton. None by Ipswich. So has the chant “X-X to the football team” ever been more appropriate? I don’t know. A mad, mad game. Both teams were completely overcome with nerves, and were just unable to play football. Almost every decent effort went in. We discussed Man of the Match afterwards, and decided that Jim’s (three) goals were the only thing that could decide it. Who cares about football quality when it’s as exciting as that? And who cares when one player – Jim – was so fired up that he just wouldn’t let it lie? An unbelievable performance. Some ratings: Wright 10 Croft 10 Brown 10 Mowbray 10 Venus 10 Clapham 10 Magilton 10 Holland 10 Scowcroft 10 Stewart 10 Johnson 10…
5: David Beckham curls in a free kick, a nation goes mental (2001)
The time, the place …how can any team leave World Cup qualification to the 93rd minute and then do this? Like all of the top five here, a sporting moment when I can remember exactly where I was and who I was with …and which still brings shivers down the spine.
4: England win the greatest Ashes series ever (2005)
Flintoff’s hand stretched out to Brett Lee, Gary Pratt running out Ricky Ponting …this series had enough great individual moments of its own to make up a sporting top 20. Some of the matches were almost beyond belief. Edgbaston was the best of the lot.
3: Germany 1 England 5, (2001)
Nobody could believe this. Half way through, my neighbour went and woke his toddler up and made him watch it, saying the boy would never forgive him if he hadn’t allowed him to say “I watched that”.
2: Jonny Wilkinson wins the World Cup for England (2003)
Extra time in rugby? Yet another sporting classic which went right to the wire. We were down the pub, having enjoyed a greedy boys’ breakfast. The great thing about the winning kick was that it was all so planned.
10: Europe win the Ryder Cup in Oakland Hills (2004)
There was just something about his one. Watched it in a packed bar full of Dads who’d got away from their families for a joyous evening.
9: Usain Bolt saunters past the world 100m record (2008)
It was the fastest anyone had ever run, and he was celebrating before the end. Still quite shocking, even if it was only a stepping stone for the man.
8: Liverpool win the Champions League in Istanbul (2005)
On my birthday, went out with a few friends to watch this in town. Didn’t expect much. How wrong we were.
7: Lewis Hamilton wins the Formula One title at the last gasp (2008)
On the last bend. How on earth did that ever happen? Blimey, finding some sporting events on YouTube is hard, but F1 highlights are the hardest. What a sad life some people in blazers lead.
6: Ipswich 4 Barnsley 2 (2000)
A hot afternoon, the last club match at the old Wembley stadium, and a place at English football’s top table at stake. Two good teams who everyone seemed to like. What an astonishing match. With so much at stake too. And finally: Reuser …Premiership!
15: Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals in Beijing (2008)
When a sport you’re not usually that interested in totally grabs you for a few hours or days, it can only be because something extraordinary is happening. And good grief, this guy was worth getting up early in the morning to watch at the Beijing Olympics.
14: Zidane bows out with a memorable head-butt (2006)
Fantastic. A real “did that really just happen?” moment. Not just any old player, but Zidane. In his last match. The World Cup Final. Of course the media wittered on about it all being disgraceful and bringing the game into disrepute, while hundreds of millions of fans around the world thought: “brilliant!”
13: Steve Redgrave wins his fifth Olympic gold in Sydney (2000)
He looked totally knackered at the end, and he had every right to be. Then at the end, Matthew Pinsent clambers back along the boat, hugs Redgrave, and falls in the water.
12: John Terry slips and hits the post with a penalty in Moscow (2008)
Of course, these highlights can’t always be about achievement. One of the great things about sport is laughing at objectionable sportsmen failing. And here the captain of the most disliked team in England makes an epic fail, and a nation falls about.
11: Tom Watson nearly wins The Open at 59. But doesn’t. (2009)
Sometimes dreams don’t come true. Surely the script says he was supposed to win? Anyway, this one reeled in a large part of the nation over four days. It was magical.
I should point out, of course, that these are my twenty most memorable moments in sport from 2000-2009. They won’t be yours. But my goodness, there are some moments here that make those long winter nights in between worth persevering with.
20: David Beckham scores against Argentina from the penalty spot (2002)
A nation holds its breath. Could there be anything more dramatic, after the history between the teams and the player, than a penalty, by David Beckham, against Argentina, in the World Cup?
19: Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final after five hours (2008)
Has there ever been a better game of tennis? By the time this finished, past 9pm, it had become more than just who was the better tennis player. It was a matter of who was the most superhuman.
18: Inter Milan vs Ipswich Town in the UEFA Cup: a tie to remember (2000)
Town’s reward for the astonishing fifth-place Premiership finish in 2000-2001 was a UEFA Cup run which eventually ended at the hands of the mighty Inter Milan, but not before this 1-0 win at Portman Road.
17: James Anderson and Monty Panesar hang on for dear life to draw against the Aussies (2009)
See? Great sporting moments don’t have to be about winning. I love this amateur video above, which really shows the reaction from the crowd after the world’s worst batsman and his not-that-much-better mate batted out 12 overs to draw the First Test in the Ashes. Some further Googling will turn up Ricky Ponting trying not to be too grumpy afterwards.
16: Padraig Harrington wins The Open Championship – his first “major” (2007)
A really nice guy, and great to see an Irishman win the Open, but the real reason this got in was my totally speculative 25-1 bet on Padraig Harrington to win the tournament at the start of 2007. I still don’t know why I did it, but the winnings funded my sports betting for the next two and a half years.
My favourite of the three, if only because of the astonishingly unsettling scene where everyone was waiting before the Battle of Helms Deep. Brrr… Sauron’s forces increase. His allies grow. The Ringwraiths return in an even more frightening form. Saruman’s army of Uruk Hai is ready to launch an assault against Aragorn and the people of Rohan. Yet, the Fellowship is broken and Boromir is dead. For the little hope that is left, Frodo and Sam march on into Mordor, unprotected. A number of new allies join with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Pippin and Merry. And they must defend Rohan and attack Isengard. Yet, while all this is going on, Sauron’s troops mass toward the City of Gondor, for the War of the Ring is about to begin.IMDb summary
(Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Yeah, I know, the second half’s not as good as the first, but it’s still a masterpiece. In a distant, but not so unrealistic future, where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess. One day, Eve, a sleek (and dangerous) reconnaissance robot, is sent to Earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with Eve.IMDb summary
3. Moulin Rouge!
(Baz Luhrmann, 2001)
I came out of the cinema like I’d just been hit on the head with a brick. Weird and quite wonderful. The soundtrack shouldn’t work, but it most certainly does. The year is 1899, and Christian, a young English writer, has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian revolution taking hold of the city’s drug and prostitute infested underworld. And nowhere is the thrill of the underworld more alive than at the Moulin Rouge, a night club where the rich and poor men alike come to be entertained by the dancers, but things take a wicked turn for Christian as he starts a deadly love affair with the star courtesan of the club, Satine.IMDb summary
2. School of Rock
(Richard Linklater, 2003)
This made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Which is just what comedies are supposed to do. The film that Jack Black was born to make. Down and out rock star Dewey Finn (Black) gets fired from his band, and he faces a mountain of debts and depression. He takes a job as a 4th grade substitute teacher at an uptight private school where his attitude and hijinx have a powerful effect on his students.IMDb summary
1. High Fidelity
(Stephen Frears, 2000)
The odd thing is, I’m not a particular fan of Jack Black, who’s done some dire stuff, so it’s odd that he features in both of my top two films of the decade. But he’s great in this, again, as is John Cusack. A Nick Hornby novel transported to Chicago sounds like a recipe for disaster, so massive respect to them all for pulling it off. Watched it again the other day to check it’s still great. It is. High Fidelity follows the ‘mid-life’ crisis of Rob, a thirty-something record-store owner who must face the undeniable facts – he’s growing up. In a hilarious homage to the music scene, Rob and the wacky, offbeat clerks that inhabit his store expound on the intricacies of life and song all the while trying to succeed in their adult relationships. Are they listening to pop music because they are miserable? Or are they miserable because they listen to pop music?IMDb summary