2011: Manchester’s Year in Sport - Part 1
2011: Manchester’s Year in Sport - Part 1
By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
Manchester again enjoyed a stellar year across many sports as it’s teams, athletes and stadia provided memorable events and victories throughout 2011.
From championship victories in football, cricket and ice hockey to name just three to personal triumphs in boxing, tennis and swimming, Greater Manchester has again proven to be a hot bed of sporting talent
In the first of two features, we look back at the year’s highlights across all sports.
For so many years now, annual reviews would have concentrated on United and how Sir Alex Ferguson had led his team to yet more silverware in both domestic and continental competitions.
This year however, Roberto Mancini’s City have stolen the limelight – winning the FA Cup in May – their first major trophy in 35 years and currently sit atop of the Premier League, one place above their arch rivals, albeit on goal difference.
In addition to this, the 6-1 drubbing of United in October was one of the shock results of the century – not for the City win, but the magnitude of it.
A promising debut in the Champions League in a tough group will also be a positive for Blues fans as they look to the Europa League for consolation on the continental front.
Of course, none of this can take away from the Old Trafford team. Sir Alex led them to yet another Premier League title last season and they made the Champions League final before being undone by the magnificent Barcelona.
Fergie did his own bit for result of the century by destroying old rivals Arsenal and Arsene Wenger 8-2 in August, prompting the Frenchman into transfer window panic and buying the likes of Per Metersacker and Mikel Arteta.
Also, Sir Alex celebrated 25 years in charge of United earlier this year – it’s doubtful whether a top flight manager will ever do this again – Andre Villa Boas, anyone?
In the lower leagues, Bury celebrated promotion to League One as runners up to Chesterfield in the old Third Division.
Manager Richie Barker took over from the departing Alan Knill in April, and led the team to six straight wins, fittingly ending in a 3-2 win over League winners Chesterfield to secure promotion – the first time since 2002 the club has held League One status.
Rochdale punched above their weight in the 2010/11 season and came close to a shock play off place before finishing ninth – equalling their best ever league position set way back in 1970.
Greater Manchester boasts its own Wimbledon champion in the form of George Morgan.
Morgan – from Bolton – won the boys doubles with Croatian partner Mate Pavic at the All England Club in the summer, beating Stockport’s Liam Broady on the way.
George also made the semi finals of both the Australian and US Junior Open singles tournaments this year, a feat he repeated in America in the doubles.
Liam Broady made the final of the boys’ singles at SW19 this year before losing to Australian Luke Saville.
The Heaton Moor based player also won doubles tournaments in Italy and the USA partnering Oli Golding and Joshua Ward Hibbert respectively.
Liam’s sister Naomi has struck up a winning partnership with France’s Kristina Mladenovic, winning tournaments in recent months in Slovakia and Poland.
In singles competition her best performaces have come in France and Turkey where she was a beaten finalist.
Greater Manchester’s boxers enjoyed a fine year as the sport enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance on these shores in 2011.
Wythenshawe born Tyson Fury remains unbeaten in his professional career, his record now reading 17-0. Fury won the British and Commonwealth heavyweight belts in the summer after defeating Dereck Chisora and is now targeting the dominant Klitchsko brothers in the coming year.
Amir Khan won double world championships in 2011 and made the BBC Sports Personality of the Year final ten, albeit coming last in the public vote.
His triumph over Zab Judah to unify the WBA and IBF light welterweight titles in Las Vegas in July was one of the high points off the 25 year old’s career but his reign was short lived.
In a controversial result, he lost both belts to Lamont Peterson in December in Washington DC with many respected judges going against the match judges decision to avoid the American a points victory.
Khan is insistent on getting a rematch this year and after such a close fight this time, it should definitely be one to watch.
Gallaghers Gym in Denton continues to produce national and international class fighters, with John Murray recently going eleven rounds with Brendan Rios in New York before ultimately losing in a world title fight.
With the likes of European champion Murray, his Olympic medallist brother Joe and British Champion Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla on their books, 2012 looks to be another successful one for Joe Gallagher and his team.
Wigan Warriors won the Challenge Cup 28-18 against Leeds in August at Wembley, the first time they have won the trophy since 2002.
The victory cemented Warriors position as most successful team in the Cup's history with 18 victories, well ahead of St Helens in second with 12.
Old Trafford hosted the Super League Grand Final this year as Leeds Rhinos beat St Helens 32-16 to win their fourth Super League title in five years.
There was good news for the venue with RFL chiefs declaring the biggest fixture in Super League will remain in Manchester after the resounding success of this year's final.
November saw the city host its’ first Power Snooker tournament at EventCity next door to the Trafford Centre.
The tournament – a quicker, more interactive affair than the standard game – produced a shock winner in Martin Gould, who beat reigning champion and bookies favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
We spoke to snooker pro Stuart Bingham before the tournament and he advocated the format, saying the sport had been ‘dead’ for a few years.
Look out for the second part of our review, featuring success in cricket, ice hockey, wrestling, taekwondo, swimming, cycling and athletics.