It was the battle of two Liverpool stars in the African Cup of Nations, as Sadio Mane’s Senegal faced Mohammed Salah’s Egypt in the final. The tournament in Algeria did finish at the very start of February, but it mainly took place throughout the second half of January. The final was a very close affair, with Senegal just scraping a win on penalties.
The Premier League continued without some of Africa’s best players, and it was Manchester City and Liverpool who continued to set the pace at the top. It was Newcastle and Everton who had the biggest months maybe with both signing multiple players in the transfer market. Newcastle’s marquee signing was Kieran Trippier who arrived from Athletico Madrid, while Everton turned to both Dele Alli and Donny Van De Beek to help their Premier League relegation battle.
Tennis saw the 110th Australian Open, which included both singles and doubles events. It was Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty who took home singles titles, while Nick Kyrgios of Australia was the most significant winner of a doubles title. It was perhaps Novak Djokovic who took January’s main Tennis headline however, as his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 led to him being detained in Australia and banned from competing in the tournament.
The greatest NFL Quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, announced his retirement at the start of the month after a 22-year long career, winning a record seven Super Bowls.
The Winter Olympics were held in Beijing, with Norway topping the lot on a record 16 gold medals. They thus stretched their overall lead to 35 Olympic victories over the US; a truly staggering feat by the Scandinavians.
The US Women’s football team also struck goal, but in the courts, as they were promised equal pay to the men’s side.
Turning the focus back to Europe, France won the Six Nations and Grand Slam for the first time since 2010. Italy also ended their pitiful seven-year winless streak in the tournament, by shocking Wales at the Principality Stadium.
Liverpool also claimed their first trophy of the season at Wembley, after a goalless game involving multiple offside goals, saw the affair go to penalties. All of the first 21 penalties were scored, before Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was substituted on specifically as a penalty saving expert, skied his penalty into a sea of red shirts.
It was a practically global, all-discipline ban, from football, to skiing, and even the International Olympic Committee recommended that athletes be barred from competition if possible. Apart from the personal exclusions, the sanctions also meant that events to be held on Russian soil were changed or cancelled indefinitely.
Even athletes who have spoken out against the war have been punished. Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev, who wrote “No war please” on a camera lens during the 2022 Dubai Open, has called the Wimbledon ban “complete discrimination”, and claimed that the ban “will not change anything”. The Belarusian Tennis Federation said that “Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis.”
While some athletes and teams certainly have hurtful perspectives, and hosting events in warring countries is irresponsible and dangerous, such bans hurt the world of sports. There is no doubt that Russia should face consequences, but is labelling and treating its citizens under one big umbrella the right way to do it?
April showers kept Tyneside damp for most of the month but also heralded a sprinkling of important results for Newcastle United, whose reinvigorated squad claimed four wins from six matches, giving title contenders Liverpool one of their toughest games of the season and grinding out an important 1-0 home win to Crystal Palace, which saw Miguel Almiron’s winning strike awarded Goal of the Month, compounding Newcastle’s best month of results since PIF’s takeover.
April also played host to the second and third rounds of the 2022 Formula One season in Melbourne and Imola. Melbourne saw Charles Leclerc claim his second of three race wins on the season, teasing F1 fans worldwide into thinking that we had a proper title fight to look forward to. This dream, however, would be quickly quashed in subsequent rounds, as Verstappen won in Italy and went on to dominate the remainder of the season. These races also hosted two new podium finishers, as George Russell and Lando Norris both finished third. This would be the first of eight podiums in 2022 for Russell, but Norris wasn’t quite so lucky. The MCL36’s lack of performance became apparent in subsequent rounds, the Briton later commenting that "I still don't know how I got a podium with the car that we had!"
Despite Liverpool doing all they could and beating Wolves 3-1, they lost out to City by just one point. Leeds United crowned this sensational Sunday afternoon of football with a last-ditch winner, maintaining their place in the Premier League and sending down Burnley instead. In what was an action-packed month of football, Liverpool suffered a second heartbreak in the space of a week as they were defeated 1-0 by Real Madrid in the Champions League final, courtesy of a Vinicius Junior winner. In the Europa League final, Rangers’ magical run came to a devastating end as they were beaten 5-4 on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt, after a 1-1 stalemate.
Teenage Spanish sensation, Carlos Alcaraz, won the Madrid Tennis Open, beating Alexander Zverev in straight sets as his sparkling young career continued to excite fans. Perhaps the highlight of his road to the final was the overcoming of his Spanish predecessor, Rafael Nadal, in the quarter finals. Tennis fans were also denied a mouth-watering third round clash between former rivals Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, with the Scotsman being forced to withdraw due to illness. Ons Jabeur took the Women’s singles title as the Tunisian continued to climb the rankings in a superb return to form.
It was a relatively quiet month of Rugby Union as the Premiership slowly built up to its climax that would take place in June. Leicester Tigers continued their dominance at the top whilst Saracens and Northampton Saints played out a thrilling eighty minutes in which Saracens came out on top 42-38 despite a late fight back from the Saints.
England’s domestic cricket season continued to produce a staggering amount of runs as Surrey scored 671 and 673 runs in two separate innings whilst Leicestershire put 756 runs on the board in a mammoth run fest against Sussex. This turned out to be a sign of things to come as England began their test match summer in the following month, under the new leadership of Ben Stokes.
‘Bazball’ started with a flourish for England, they decimated the current World Test Champions, New Zealand, with a 3-0 whitewash. Furthermore, the English white ball team also found success in June as they managed to break their own ODI scoring record, hitting a gargantuan 498 against the Netherlands.
Whilst the Golden State Warriors asserted their Basketball dominance, a true great of the game, Stephen Curry, achieved another personal milestone as he was named the NBA Finals MVP for the first time in his illustrious career. The Warriors reigned supreme overall in the Finals, obtaining a 4-2 win in Game 6.
Matt Fitzpatrick claimed golfing glory at Brookline, Massachusetts, having won the U.S. Amateur Championship nine years before his first major victory, this historic win was also surprisingly his first on the PGA Tour. Fitzpatrick etched himself into an extraordinary club, being only the second player to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on the same course.
Wimbledon also brings some of the World's most remarkable tennis talent to London's All England Club, including this year's gentlemen's singles champion, Novak Djokovic, and ladies' singles champion, Elena Rybakina. British tennis player, Emma Raducanu suffered an early defeat in the tournament and Swiss tennis legend, Roger Federer missed the tournament as a result of his recovery from a knee surgery - preceding his retirement from professional tennis at the Laver Cup later in the year. Elsewhere in British sport, England’s lionesses claimed victory at the 2022 Euros. The lionesses defeated their German counterparts 2-1 in extra-time - a victory which has inspired young women across the country.
A thrilling English summer of test cricket reached an exciting climax as two test matches were played out across the month, seeing both South Africa and England both win one game each by more than an innings. Captain, Ben Stokes struck the finest knock of his personal summer, with a match defining 103 in a stunning sixth wicket partnership with Ben Foakes in the second test. England went on to claim a 2-1 series victory early in the following month, capping an excellent summer of test cricket.
New Zealand were historically beaten 25-18 by a thrilling Argentina side as a quiet Rugby Union summer built up towards a new season. In Tennis, the US Open continued to grip fans as Brits, Jack Draper, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie, and Andy Murray all progressed to the second round along with Rafael Nadal. September saw the business end of the tournament, in which none of the Britons progressed past the last 16 stage. Finally, major sport in August finished with a continuation of Max Verstappen’s dominance as he emerged victorious in the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
One notable exception was the Great North Run where 60,000 runners took to the Newcastle streets. Founder Brendan Foster described it as 'a moment for communities to come together' following The Queen's passing.
In football, Arsenal continued their great start and still edged Manchester City in the title race.
There was a major managerial casualty as new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly sacked Thomas Tuchel citing 'no shared vision' between the two. Brighton manager Graham Potter was his replacement.
Max Verstappen effectively wrapped up the 2022 Formula One World Championship after passing Lewis Hamilton to win at Zandvoort and a dominant performance in Monza.
Cycling went down under for its World Championships. Remco Evanepoel added to his Vuelta victory in the Men's race and Annemiek Van Vleuten capped off an extraordinary year by winning the Women's race after winning every grand tour this year.
The final word goes to Roger Federer who hung up his boots after competing in the Laver Cup alongside his long-time rival Rafael Nadal, closing the chapter on one of greatest careers in tennis.
On a more positive note, for Newcastle fans, Miguel Almiron and Eddie Howe began the respective campaigns that saw them swoop both manager and player of the month awards, with ‘Miggy’ also taking home the goal of the month with his delightful volley in the Toon’s 4-1 slaughter of Fulham. The 4th day of the month saw Liverpool host Rangers to a 2-0 victory in the two sides’ first-ever competitive fixture.
October saw the Men’s and Women’s Rugby World Cup group stages commence. The men’s rugby league opener saw England cruise past Samoa 60 – 6 at St James Park. In the Women’s tournament, likewise, the hosts opened with a victory by some margin beating Australia 41 – 17. England’s successful campaign in the T20 world cup began on the 4th Saturday of October when they took victory over the Afghans in Perth. The 4 F1 Grand Prix during the month saw Max Verstappen claim 3 race wins as well as sealing the drivers’ championship with his victory in Japan on the 9th.
Of course, this meant a pause in the Premier League season, with the final two weeks being played at the beginning of the month. This saw Newcastle climb to third in the table after a 1-0 victory over Chelsea and collect triple awards including Eddie Howe getting manager of the month for October. This month also saw a wrap on the tracks as the F1 season came to an end with Max Verstappen securing his second Championship victory. In an emotional departure under the Abu Dhabi lights, Sebastian Vettel passed the checkered flag for a final time before his retirement. There was also glory in the men’s T20 World Cup final as England managed victory over Pakistan and went on to secure their second title.
This race constituted the fourth leg of the APP World SUP competition, witnessing competitors like Connor Baxter, Titouan Puyo and Annabelle Anderson go head-to-head in this open contest to try and blow each other out of the water.
Against a backdrop of picturesque Parisienne scenery, fleets of paddle boards braced and battled it out in the 14km race down the infamous River Seine. Endurance was certainly key for these athletes, as any mid-race injury or fatigue left them in hot water.
Michael Booth really stepped up to the board, winning the Overall and Sprints titles for the day. Whilst competitor Fiona Wylde came storming through the ripples and surges to place first in the Long Distance portion of the day.
With 2022's June SUP in LA, September SUP in London, and December SUP in Paris now complete, these athletes have three legs under their belt with two more to go — finishing up at the Jeddah SUP Open in Saudi Arabia next February.