Monday, 4 January 2010

2001: A Year To Forget

While 2000 had been a year recovering from the hangover of the end of the old Millennium, 2001 had some of the most sobering events in World history to date. There was little to celebrate on either side of the Atlantic, as two stories dominated the headlines.


The 11th September 2001 is the darkest and sadly, the most prominent memory of the entire decade; when Al Qaeda suicide bombers hijacked four passenger jets over the U.S.A. and caused carnage, killing just short of 3000 innocent people after destroying the “Twin Towers”, when two of the planes were deliberately flown into the building. The third jet hit the Pentagon, causing further damage and loss of life. The fourth plane went down in a rural part of Pennsylvania, all those on board were killed. The war on terrorism has raged ever since, and looks no closer to ending.

Closer to home, the farming industry suffered devastating problems with the outbreak of “Foot And Mouth” disease, the first since 1967. Around seven million animals were slaughtered, and many farms and small holdings were forced to close for good. Many sporting and social events fell victim to restrictions put in place to prevent the spreading of the virus, and much of the countryside was closed to the public. The first outbreak was discovered in an abattoir in Essex in February, and the country was not declared free of the disease until January the next year.

Despite the relative flop of Windows Millenium Edition, Microsoft bounced back to their brilliant best, and in 2001, Windows XP was launched. Microsoft also launched the first Xbox in this year, prior to the Xbox 360 which came four years later. Nintendo also launched the Game Cube, but for the time being the PS2 still ruled the roost as the comfortable market leader in the console world. In the online world, vital resource “Wikipedia” was launched on the 15th January, and continues to grow daily in terms of entries and users.


Shaggy” first bothered the U.K. singles charts with his amusing “Mr Boombastic” back in 1995, and in 2001 made another tongue in cheek hit “It Wasn’t Me” which became the biggest selling single of the year, and the fourth best seller of the noughties. The disco influenced “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” from Australian favourite Kylie Minogue was a massive number one across the world. Also in this year, “Hear ‘Say” a manufactured band from the ITV show “Popstars” made their debut in the charts with “Pure and Simple” in March, although their existence as a band was thankfully short lived. The runners up, “Liberty X” were far more credible, and also enjoyed a slightly longer run in the limelight.

Girl band “Atomic Kitten", having dispensed with Kerry Katona, hit number one with “Whole Again” just days later; which sold almost a million copies. Not to be outdone by the girls, boyband “Westlife” had yet another number one with a cover of Billy Joel’sUptown Girl” which was the official “Comic Relief” single. "S-Club 7" were also hugely popular in 2001, with two massive number one chartings – “Never Had A Dream Come True” and “Don’t Stop Moving” both hitting the top.

The unusual and downright poor also did well this year. U.S. band “Wheatus” had a surreal hit entitled “Teenage Dirtbag” which featured some peculiar falsetto vocals and countless references to heavy rockers “Iron Maiden”. Damon Albarn provided the vocals for animated band “Gorillaz” who had a massive hit with the catchy “Clint Eastwood”. As in 2000, 2001 also had its fair share of gimmicky rubbish in the charts. “D.J. Pied Piper’s” “Do You Really Like It ?” and “Afroman’s” “Because I Got High” delighted chavs in the making from all corners of the British Isles.


2001 saw the qualifying stages for the 2002 World Cup step up a gear, and David Beckham finally won round the most ardent of his critics following the debacle at the 1998 World Cup where he won few friends. His injury time equaliser against Greece at Old Trafford to guarantee qualification will forever be remembered by England fans. Almost perhaps so, as the 5-1 demolition of Germany in Munich, with a Michael Owen hat-trick making it a memorable night. The draw was made for the 2002 World Cup as 2001 came to an end, with England to face a so called “Group of Death” alongside Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria. Beckham saw out his excellent year by landing the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

It was not just for England where Owen proved he had put his injury demons behind him, for the time being at least. He helped Liverpool to three cups. Firstly, they overhauled First Division club Birmingham on penalties in the Worthington Cup, then came from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the F.A. Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, both goals coming from Owen in the dying minute, after Arsenal led for much of the match after Freddie Ljungberg put them ahead. A great game for the neutral saw Liverpool take the UEFA Cup in a 5-4 thriller against Alaves; the win being in extra time under the “Golden Goal” rule. It was a challenging year for the Merseyside club, after boss Gerard Houllier was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment in the early stages of the season.

Once again, Manchester United took the Premiership title, but lost out in the Champions League to eventual winners Bayern Munich. Sir Alex Ferguson spent big once more with one excellent signing in Ruud van Nistelrooy, and one ill advised one in Juan Veron. Their combined cost to the club being a princely £47million !

As ever the Old Firm dominated the Scottish football scene, but Martin O’Neill was making Celtic the team to beat, who eclipsed Rangers in all competitions, landing a memorable treble, their first since 1969. This was an all conquering Celtic team, featuring the likes of Henrik Larsson, Alan Thompson and Lubo Moravcik, a team which O’Neill nurtured to further success in the coming years.

Australia were the dominant force in World Cricket, winning almost everything they played in, taking the Ashes series 4-1. The season was overshadowed by the death of Sir Donald Bradman in February. In a sport so dominated by statistics, one which is almost certain never to be beaten is his batting average of 99.94.

A combination of bad weather and the aforementioned “Foot and Mouth” crisis decimated the jump season. The Cheltenham Festival was cancelled altogether, and although the Grand National at Aintree went ahead, many critics felt it should not have done so after a period of prolonged rain. Richard Guest aboard Red Marauder avoided the worst of the Liverpool track’s mud, and a melee at Canal Turn, to win a memorable race. The flat season fared slightly better, with Galileo running well in the early season, taking victory at the Derby.

Michael Schumacher made it back to back Formula One titles for Ferrari, equalling his record of nine wins in a season. Williams BMW and McLaren Mercedes were the best of the rest in what was a fairly stale season. Italian Valentino Rossi won his first MotoGP title, in what was to be a period of dominance for him. However, for the first time since World War Two, the Isle of Man TT races were cancelled, owing to the “Foot and Mouth” epidemic.

Tim Henman had his best showing at Wimbledon, eventually going out in the Semi Finals, to the winner Goran Ivanisevic, who took a five set victory over Pat Rafter in the final.

The aftermath of 9/11 saw the postponement of the Ryder Cup, which was the main headline in the golfing world in 2001. First time major winner David Duval took the Open title at Royal Lytham by three shots.

Once again, one result denied England the Grand Slam in the Six Nations Rugby Union tournament, this time Ireland beat them in Dublin. Earlier in the year, the British and Irish Lions toured in Australia, but were edged out in the deciding test following a Jonny Wilkinson error, leading to the deciding try.

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat John Higgins in the Snooker World Championship, to become the first Englishman to hold the title since John Parrott in 1991.

It’s fair to say there was jubilance and disappointment in equal measure in the sporting world in 2001. The anticipation of the 2002 sporting year was almost certainly going to be a more positive and action packed one than 2001, for sure, even if the World Cup matches were to be held at anti social hours for us Brits !

Looking back at 2001 from my research, it was without a doubt the most depressing year of the decade. I am glad I was a heavy-drinking student at this time, it seems the world was a pretty depressing place to be … roll on 2002. Coming soon !

Thanks for reading,
Mountain Man


mixu said...

Great year to be a Celtic fan. I remember fondly the cup final when we all ate fish and chips in the garden and my mate came out as being gay in the pub afterwards.

Mountain Man said...

Haha, indeed that was a great day in the Ferry, featuring the likes of Postie, Kelly and Billy ... who indeed did exit the closet that day !!

TheHat said...

I'm struggling to believe that Shaggy's It Wasn't Me is the 4th highest selling song of the noughties. Especially with the introduction of Pop Idol etc.

Mountain Man said...

List of best-selling singles of the 2000s (UK) - Wiki source

I was surprised too, the two biggest sellers came from Popstars:The Rivals in 2002, then Peter Kay & Tony Christie. The biggest selling X Factor single was Alexandra Burke.

I'll have a look and double check the stats elsewhere, to be sure. It does sound suspect, I agree.

Tom said...

What a crazy year!

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Bayern Munich, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

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