2002 Commonwealth Games

In 2002, Manchester brought the world together by hosting the first Commonwealth Games of the millennium, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The games saw many records broken, most notably; Wilberforce Talel of Kenya, who broke the Commonwealth record for the men’s 10,000m; Frantz Kruger of South Africa, hurling the discus further than any other man in the games’ history; and England’s Jonathan Edwards, who hop, skipped and jumped further than anyone ever has in past games.

The games were a huge success and demonstrated how Manchester had responded to the 1996 bombing, bringing with it a top class sporting infrastructure.

The venues were eclectic, ranging from high-tech architecture at the City of Manchester Stadium to the 19th century Grade II listed Manchester Central hall. The Games' main venue was the City of Manchester Stadium (now The Etihad Stadium). The stadium formed the centrepiece of an area known as Sportcity. Other venues developed in Sportcity include the Manchester Velodrome, and the National Squash Centre; which were built specifically for the Games.

Swimming and diving events took place at Manchester Aquatics Centre, another purpose-built venue, and the only one in the United Kingdom with two 50m pools.


Image credit: Wikipedia

Football

Both Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC boast a long list of world-class talent that have graced the pitch over the years, and created some of the most memorable and spectacular footballing moments along the way – United and City’s alumni include Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, Bobby Charlton, David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Denis Law, Sergio Aguero, Francis Lee, Vincent Kompany, Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell, to name just a few!

One of the most captivating moments in Manchester City’s history took place in recent times – on the final day of the 2011/12 Premier League season . City needed to beat Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium to win the league and things weren’t going in City’s favour as they trailed at the 90th minute. It looked like the title was going to be handed to fierce local rivals Manchester United, who had already beaten their opponents, Sunderland. However, substitute Edin Dzeko equalised in the 91st minute to give the blue side of the city a glimmer of hope. Even then, Roberto Mancini’s men looked to need a miracle, but Argentine striker Sergio Aguero sent the fans into wonderland when he fired home in the dying seconds to give City their first league crown since 1968, and their first ever Premier League title.

Moments in United’s history epitomises the city’s resilience in the face of adversity – a prime example of this was on 19th February 1958. A mere 13 days after the plane crash in Munich that left 8 of the Busby Babes dead, United (with a blank team sheet in the matchday programme) turned out at Old Trafford to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in the FA Cup 5th Round.

More recently, Alex Ferguson’s ‘Class of ‘92’, immortalised in a 2013 feature length documentary, dominated English football throughout the 1990s and went on to capture the pinnacle of club football in 1999 by winning the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich. The team created countless magical moments at Old Trafford, all of which can be re-lived in the club’s Museum and Stadium Tour.

Aside from club completion, Old Trafford has been the venue for amazing footballing on the international scene – David Beckham’s dramatic 93rd minute goal against Greece in 2001, sent the 66,000 wild, and booked England’s place in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

There is a rich tapestry of football history spread across Greater Manchester, beyond City and United. Bolton WanderersBuryOldham AthleticRochdale and Wigan Athletic also boast their own magical moments in football history.


Image Credit: LCCC

Cricket

Manchester is home to Lancashire County Cricket Club which has hosted some historic cricketing moments at its Emirates Old Trafford home.

The birth of the Ashes, arguably the biggest prize in Test cricket, took place at this venue. The first Test match of the Ashes was held in July 1884 and ended in a tame draw. However, it laid the seeds of the biggest rivalry between two great cricketing nations – England and Australia. And the rest as they say; is history!

In the fourth test of the 1956 Ashes series, Jim Laker of England created magic with his bowling like never seen before in Test cricket. He took 10 wickets for 53 runs against Australia at Old Trafford, becoming the first bowler ever to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings. Laker made the Old Trafford ground his own in that historic match.

In the 1993 Ashes, Shane Warne bowled arguably the best ball ever in Test cricket at the Old Trafford cricket ground. It was a piece of rare beauty and captured the imagination of the entire cricket-watching public. That single ball showed to the world the talent of Warne, who went on to become one of the greatest leg spin bowlers of all time. Many other Ashes battles have seen great moments at the Old Trafford ground, but this ball has a unique place in Ashes folklore!

Rugby League

Old Trafford hosts the Rugby League Super League Grand Final every season and, in the process, has staged some of the game’s most memorable moments. Possibly the most exciting Grand Final ever was contested by Bradford Bulls and St Helens, on 19th October 2002. Bradford had led for the majority of the game but, in the final minute of play, Sean Long stepped up for St Helens to seemingly win the match with a drop-goal. When play restarted, St Helens captain Chris Joynt appeared to take a voluntary tackle with just seven seconds left on the clock to run out the game. The decision should have been a penalty against Joynt, which would have most likely resulted in Bradford taking the victory – however, the referee missed the incident and sent the Bulls players into apocalyptic rage as Saints went on to take the title.
 

Ice Hockey

On 23rd February 1997 Manchester Storm set the record for the largest ice hockey attendance at a UK league game when 17,245 people watched a match against Sheffield Steelers at the NYNEX Arena (now Manchester Arena). At the time, this was also a European record. Storm are now based at the Silver Blades Ice Rink , Altrincham.

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