I've never been a massive fan of basketball, but I'm certain that people across the world were shook when we heard the news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant had passed away on January 26th, accompanied by 8 others. One of those others was Bryant's daughter, Gianna.
At age 41, Bryant had made quite an impact on the NBA, with five NBA championships, 18 times being made an All-Star and making the All-NBA star team 15 times. His number, 24, had become synonymous with the tenacity, grit and success which shadowed his career.
His empire wasn't built in a day. It took him years of hard work and dedication to become the biggest star in the NBA, and he's obtained a status which will remain unmoved for many years to come.
On February 22, Tyson Fury asserted himself as the best heavyweight in the world, as he obliterated Deontay Wilder in a thrilling, one-sided rematch. Javan ‘Sugar Hill’ Steward was employed as Fury’s new trainer for the rematch, as the adjustments made from the first fight were clear to see. In the opening stages of the fight, Fury controlled the centre of the ring and was the aggressor, landing a powerful right hand flush halfway through the first round. Wilder found himself on the back foot and was unable to find his range to land his lethal right hand. Fury’s onslaught of jabs continued and had Wilder hurt with a right hand at the beginning of the third round. Minutes later, Fury scored the first knockdown of the fight as a devastating one-two dropped Wilder. After landing another series of crushing right hands in the fifth round, a left hook to the body sent Wilder to the canvas again. Fury was in his element, goading Wilder and in total control of the fight. Midway into the seventh round, Fury backed an unsteady and exhausted Wilder up against the ropes and landed another two clean right hands. “The towels in, the towels in, they’ve thrown the towel in, the fights all over” cried the commentators as referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight.
Fury cemented his legacy as a British boxing great, as he won the WBC World Heavyweight Championship and the Ring Magazine Belt. Fury’s performance epitomized the saying, ‘the best form of defence is attack’ as he was able to neutralise Wilder with ease and convincingly made him look like a novice. The win meant that all of the belts in the heavyweight division are held by Fury and Anthony Joshua, which sets up arguably the biggest fight in British boxing history next year.
The Australian GP is usually the first race of the Formula 1 season with 10 teams from all over the world meeting in Melbourne with a sense of possibility. Aside from pre-season testing, no one knows who will do the best, the teams and drivers lower down in the standings are yet to have their world championship dreams crushed.
On the 13th of March, however, it was announced that the Australian GP would be canceled, despite everyone being there and set up ready to race.
Mclaren Racing Team had announced they had a member of the team with COVID, and subsequently decided to drop out of the race. Yet this did not encourage the FIA (the F1 governing body) to cancel the race.
It was most likely the comments made by Lewis Hamilton that encouraged this cancellation. Hamilton said three simple words when asked why he thought the race was set to go on despite the World Health Organisation officially declaring Coronavirus a pandemic and many countries across the world closing their borders. He said: "Cash is king."
“Cash is king.”
It seemed as though as soon as Hamilton made those comments the race was considered being canceled. With it eventually being cancelled just 4 hours before the first practice was due to begin.
This highlights the power Hamilton holds within his sport. Perhaps his comments were slightly hypocritical considering his suspected £30 million a year salary, but we can all agree the large-scale, international circus that is Formula 1 most definitely needed to be halted in light of the pandemic.
2020 was an unorthodox year for sport in that a lot happened and no one was there to see it. That narrative was no different across the pond, as arguably the second biggest single event in the American sports calendar, the NFL Draft, came, not from the Las Vegas strip as originally planned but from the home of the Commissioner Roger Goodell.
This year’s instalment was easily the strangest Draft in the history of the league. The Draft is a major worldwide media event, which is essentially created for the benefit of the media. As such it’s difficult to get the exact same atmosphere when you’re essentially watching one of the biggest events in all of sports through a camera in someone’s living room.
However, the draft did not disappoint. We got a glimpse into what goes on in the background, seeing the prospects and head coaches in their home environments. It was certainly strange but the draft was as eventful as ever. The Green Bay Packers unexpectedly took Quarterback Jordan Love against all odds in the first round. Joe Burrow went first to the Cincinnati Bengals and Twitter lit up with comments about how nice Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsberry’s house was. The 2020 NFL Draft may have been unorthodox but it was far from boring.
A rather brief but sweet highlight from May, fans saw ways of supporting their teams from home with some innovative cardboard cut-outs in the stands.
Borussia Mönchengladbach was amongst some of the first teams in Football to instigate the cardboard cut-outs, which while looks quite dystopian, was a fun and creative way of immotating a crowd atmosphere during those empty weekend games.
Not to everyone’s astonishment, Liverpool won the Premier League title; however, not under the circumstances that everyone thought they would. I think we can all agree that with COVID-19 around none of us expected to be watching the Premier League Title being won.
When your club wins, it’s always amazing when you watch your own team secure their victory; however, Liverpool fans, on June 25th, tuned in to watch Chelsea vs. Manchester City.
Chelsea won 2-1 over Man City, securing the title for Liverpool, who on the previous night won 4-0 against Crystal Palace.
The scenes at Anfield were unbelievable as England was slowly coming out of lockdown. Many fans gathered to celebrate – nothing will stop the English celebrating football coming home to your local. As much as these celebrations were condemned, Liverpool winning the Premier League was the lift that England needed.
Fans, whether they support or hate Liverpool, enjoyed the fact that football was back! And after years of trying and coming close to the title in previous seasons – all football fans can agree Liverpool deserved the title.
The majority of students at Newcastle were under the age of 8 the last time a Leeds team appeared in the Premier League, losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the 03/04 season, their relegation and financial ruin already confirmed.
A frantic post-lockdown nine fixture mini-season was all that stood between Leeds and a legendary return.
Many Leeds fan won't admit to superstition, but after 16 years in the wilderness, losses to the likes of Histon, Sutton, and Gillingham and four playoff defeats, it started to feel like the club was cursed. The 'lost generation' of Leeds children who chose to support a high flying Premier League team rather than watch Leeds lose 5-0 to Blackpool in the shell of a once proud Elland Road, was set to continue. The dodgy owners, seemingly destined to destroy the club, was set to continue.
Andrea Radrizzani, Victor Orta, and the man they hired as manager, Marcelo Bielsa, finally lifted the curse and turned the club around on and off the pitch. On July 16th, Leeds scraped a 1-0 win versus league strugglers Barnsley at home and promotion was closer than it had ever been. Within 24 hours, it would be confirmed as West Brom lost to Huddersfield.
Another 24 hours later, they would be champions.
Celebrations occurred continuously all week across the city as the people of Leeds took advantage of a bright spark in a terrible year. Years of mismanagement and poor results on the pitch, a trip to League One and back, had finally been overcome and relief was all that remained. Leeds are finally back.
On August 1st, 2020, Australia brought in the Super Shot for its Netball Super League. What is the Super Shot? It is a two-point shot that has to be taken within a 1.9 metre zone inside the circle. This zone only becomes ‘active’ in the final five minutes of each quarter.
This rule has been controversial for many, especially considering that all 8 league teams only found out for themselves a few weeks before the rule came into play. This means that they had limited time for practice of drills and tactics; however, all players embraced the new rule.
Vixens and Australia shooter Caitlin Thwaites said at the time she had been putting in “lots of extra shooting practice.”
Vixens and Australia shooter Caitlin Thwaites said at the time she had been putting in “lots of extra shooting practice.”BBC Sports Netball
Whilst, England and GIANTS Goal Shooter and Goal Attack, Jo Harten, has welcomed this new rule as she has scored 78 Super Shots from 125 attempts. This makes Harten the highest scoring and attempted scoring of the 2020 season.
With many thinking that this rule is controversial – it certainly has turned some heads, bringing the game of Netball to life. Imagine being 6 points behind the opposing team and only needing three goals to score for that draw your team probably needs. It definitely has caught Netball viewers and side-line players and coaches’ breaths.
I am really happy to share my big moment in sport this year talking about my hometown team in the Ligue 1, Saint-Etienne. Even though after September they dug into the table -16th as I am writing this- they made us, fans, dream for a good month and this is all we could have asked for.
Saint-Etienne was on top of the league for the most part of September with 3 wins in 4 games, 10 points, 2 goal conceded and 8 goals scored. We were rolling. The younger and newer players played fearlessly with a will to attack and score. This was brilliant to see.
We won the away at Marseille which stopped a 30-year drought at the Vélodrome, and what a game. An easy two nil victory over a team that played really well last season finishing third and qualifying for the Champions league.
Even after losing our pair of starting centre-backs, our emblematic captain retired after 17 seasons at the club and our promising young star, William Saliba, was transferred to Arsenal we didn’t look fragile on defence. Which was obviously surprising. But the coaching staff did a great job keeping the team hungry for victory after the very unfortunate final loss against Paris in August. It seemed like the players hated the taste of defeat after this cup final and were ready and motivated to win.
Nonetheless we got bring back to reality since then and the struggle and problems are obvious now, only 5 goals scored since this game in Marseille… But at least it brought joy to every fan for a solid month during this very tough year and September was great for every Verts (nickname of the team and fans).
On October 4th, 2020, Mourinho’s Spurs side managed to secure one of the most bizarre and encapsulating victories in recent Premier League history, putting Ole’s United to the sword in a brutal 6-1 win at Old Trafford.
A satisfying result for Mourinho setting out for his revenge against his former club, whom he was controversially sacked from despite silverware and a better win rate than previous United managers, amidst serious criticism from the red devils fans due to his defensive style.
Spurs were resurgent under the special one’s guidance and with a dangerous yet untamed Man United side this game was set up for fireworks and it definitely lived up to expectations.
Within the opening two minutes, an amateur foul by Sanchez on Martial gifted United a penalty which Bruno Fernandes calmly took with his signature run up, granting them a dream start to the fixture.
Then two minutes later, after defending from United which a Sunday league side would be embarrassed of, Tanguy Ndombele slotted home his first goal of the season to go 1-1 in the first five minutes.
3 minutes further, Kane buys a silly foul from Maguire just past the half-way line in which he takes quickly in an inspired way, through to Son which he lofts deftly past an outstretched De Gea; pointing the finger sternly at the capability of Harry Maguire and the United backline.
Uniteds defence were stretched far too thin by the direct and pacey Spurs attack piling more pressure upon the United goal.
Just before the half hour mark, prior to a Tottenham corner, Martial was ludicrously dismissed after a pathetic tussle with Lamela highlighting the embarrassing and deceitful tactics employed by the Argentine forward in an attempt to force the referee’s hand.
Shortly after, following a comical error from Bailly, with Spurs smelling blood pounced as Kane slots past De Gea due to another unforced defensive error from United.
Following two frivolous goals, any side you’d think would ride the storm and see a poor start out until half time and regroup at the interval.
Yet not even ten minutes later, through sheer negligent marking from Luke Shaw, Son found space again and slotted a beautiful finish through De Gea’s legs to make it 4-1 to Tottenham with only 37 minutes played, dumbfounding Solskjaer and his feeble side.
The half-time break provided salvation from the Spurs onslaught, yet it was clear that Ole failed to inspire a heroic comeback from United, as Serge Aurier finished into the bottom corner following a stunningly weighted through ball from Spurs new signing Emile Hojgberg.
However, the space for the venturing right back was created through the sheer delinquency of Pogba and Shaw, leaving a gaping hole on the left side of United.
Kane put the final nail in United’s coffin, dispatching a penalty from Pogba’s foolish foul in the box, rounding off an absolutely miserable afternoon for Manchester United.
This ludicrous fixture showcased the awful defensive ability of United, the tactical knowledge of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is clearly inept and that of Mourinho is far superior.
Mourinho was practically licking his lips after the Spurs victory; defeating his former team in the most satisfying manner in one of the most extraordinary games the Premier League has ever seen.
One of the biggest events of the year in terms of pure fan anticipation was Mike Tyson's return to the boxing ring. Tyson, to this day, is probably the biggest name in boxing alive. Roy Jones Jr., another legend of the sport, was no foe to be disrespected. On 28th November, the two met eachother in the ring. With both fighters in their 50s, there were some doubts to the authenticity of the fight. Regardless, an exciting energy surrounded the monumental event in a year somewhat lacking big sporting moments.
The bought ended in a draw, leaving some underwhelmed - with Snoop Dog comparing the match-up to watching "two of my uncles fighting at a barbecue". Nonetheless, the return of two greats was a moment for the history books, and, more than anything, felt like a warm-up. Although question marks surround a possible rematch, one thing is clear: Mike isn't done. He's already stated he would "absolutely" fight again, and that he'll be "better the next exhibition."
While the event was a bit of a novelty, it is hard not to get swept up in the excitement. While far from a technical masterclass, it is hard to argue Tyson vs. Jones Jr. wasn't at least entertaining.
It's been a funny old year at The Courier. From early postponement in February when we were told we'd have to shut up shop indefinitely due to COVID, to our timid restart in September which saw us, inevitably, close up shop again in November due to COVID, student journalism has been challenged in ways we couldn't have anticipated.
However, through the passion and creativity of so many gifted writers and editors, we've managed to produce one final paper for the year. An amazing collection of some of the greatest stories of the year, some of the most engaging and creative article ideas all compacted into 40 pages of what makes The Courier magic.
Who knows what the next year will hold, but I'm sure that with the tenacity shown by many an editor and writer of this last month we definitely won't be saying goodbye any time soon.
And of course, The Courier is nothing without it's readership. So, to you, the reader who's made it towards the back end of our fantastic Christmas special. Thank you. You've made the blood, sweat and tears of the last month all worthwhile.
See you next year...