Saturday, 16 January 2010

2005 - Drama & Drunkeness

There were once again sombre scenes, as terror attacks dominated the headlines in the summer of this year. However, this time they were uncomfortably close to home, with the London transport system the victim of tragedy. Music saw a year with numerous movers and shakers at the top and a mimed charity single the biggest seller. While in sport, we witnessed a thrilling Champions League final, and an inebriated Director, so 2005, “Lesbie Avenue !” (I’ll explain later if you didn’t get it).

News

The aftermath of the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami was the big topic in much of the early part of the year. The other big talking point in January was a gaffe made by Prince Harry, who made something of a faux-pas by attending a fancy dress party in full Nazi regalia ! He later accepted it was a “poor choice”. Father, Prince Charles was in the news shortly after, when it was confirmed that he was to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Do-gooder television chef Jamie Oliver brought the ugly world of school dinners to the forefront of the news, with his campaign against “turkey twizzlers” in a bid to get the obese youth of today eating green vegetables, and crunching lentils.

In April, tens of thousands of people travelled to The Vatican, to pay their respects to the late Pope John Paul II, who passed away. Much ado was made about the appointment of his predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

In the early part of the summer, the stars of showbiz dominated the headlines, attracting more interest even than Tony Blair securing a historic third term in office after May’s General Election. Firstly, we learned that Australian soap star turned singer, Kylie Minogue was suffering from breast cancer. Furthermore, Yorkshire Television stalwart, “Countdown” presenter, and general all round good guy, Richard Whiteley died suddenly in June. Also in June, scenes reminiscent of the mudbaths of the mid 90’s at Glastonbury were commonplace as the festival season got underway. Later in the year, we also lost comedy legend Ronnie Barker, while Daniel Craig was announced as the new 007 in the forthcoming James Bond movie. November also saw the passing of flawed genius seventies footballing icon George Best, following several turbulent decades.

Much as 9/11 is remembered for all the wrong reasons, so too is 7/7/2005. A series of suicide attacks by extremist groups upon the London transport network at rush hour brought tragedy and devastation to the city. At 8.50am, three bombs exploded within 30seconds of one another on the Tube, and an hour later a double decker bus too was a victim. In all, 56 people were killed, and over 700 injured. Two weeks later, a further attack failed, but the reverberations of this dreadful day, were of course, far reaching.

New Orleans was hit by devastating storms, as Hurricane Katrina ravaged parts of the U.S.A. This was made all the more tragic by the mass panic, as inhabitants fled the area, leading to chaos and criticism of poor emergency contingency plans.

In the U.K., the big story in December centred around a massive inferno at the “Buncefield Refinery” in which some fuel storage tanks exploded. The fire burned for several days, damaging other industrial units around it, including alcoholic drinks distribution company headquarters “Waverley T.B.S.” sparking a rumour that some pubs (including a well known Dundee snooker hall !) would be short of spirits over the festive period … which thankfully proved to be incorrect !


Music

The first twelve weeks of 2005 saw twelve different number one singles, in a chart of major fluctuation. This was largely thanks to the re-release of many of Elvis Presley’s former hits, three of which made it to number one. However, if the first three months were of rapid change at the top, the next two months were dominated by the Tony Christie song “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo”, which was at the top from 20th March to the 8th May. Interestingly, although this was a charity single for “Comic Relief”, it knocked the official double A-Side from "McFly", “All About You” / “You’ve Got A Friend” off the top after just one week This was largely due to the involvement of Britain’s favourite funnyman, Peter Kay miming the hit alongside a number of big name guest stars in the video.

"Eminem" became the most successful rap artist in the history of the U.K. singles chart with his hit “Toy Soldiers” giving him his sixth number one, sampling the eighties Martika hit of the same name. Also scoring a number one in March, was Welsh indie rock outfit “Stereophonics” with “Dakota”. Although perhaps more recognisable from the later days of nineties “Britpop”, this was actually the trio’s first (and only) U.K. chart topper.

Despite their best days of chart releases and live gigging being over a decade earlier, "Oasis" made a return to the number one spot for a solitary week in May with “Lyla”, hitting the top later in August also, with “The Importance Of Being Idle”. They were a welcome respite from the helium voiced chav-anthem “Lonely” from "Akon", which had two weeks at the top before them, and then the following four weeks were dominated by the loathsome “Crazy Frog” with a toe-curling remix of eighties instrumental anthem “Axel-F”. There is a pattern emerging here – every May and June the record buying public seem to lose their mind and get the most gimmicky, tacky, manure-stenching tracks into the charts. Enough !

If the months of May and June 2005 were remembered for purchases by “Kappa” clad tosspieces, then I’m afraid that the summer months were not much better either. James Blunt made the number one slot his own from early July to mid August with the sickly “You’re Beautiful” finally making it to the top, and stayed there for six weeks, despite lingering about in the top fifteen for six weeks before getting to the top spot.

Autumn saw a few notable debuts, and the return of the biggest selling female artist of all time. “Pussycat Dolls” made an instant impact with their r&b anthem “Don’t Cha”, along with a raunchy video, to become the first American girl band to top the charts since “Destiny’s Child” in 2001. On 23rd October, “The Arctic Monkeys” from Sheffield, surged into the mainstream with their debut single “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor” storming in at the top, beating off competition from the likes of Robbie Williams. November saw the return of “Madonna” whose single “Hung Up”, with heavy sampling of “Abba” hit “Voulez Vous” sat proudly at the top for three weeks, although the video, featuring the fifty-something gyrating about the streets in a figure hugging pink lycra leotard was not a sight to see on an empty stomach !

The Christmas number one slot was taken by the “X-Factor” winner, Shayne Ward, who displaced the previous weeks number one surprise package “Nizlopi” with “The J.C.B. Song”. Ward’s single “That’s My Goal” became one of the fastest selling singles of all time, shifting 742,180 copies in just four days. The critics were out in force by this time, with reality pop show winners having dominated the Christmas number one slot for the last few years. Still, when you look back, they have to be better than the likes of “Mr Blobby” in 1993. Don’t they !?


Sport

2005 was the year when everyone faced up to the fact that money speaks loudest in football, as Chelsea, funded by the Abramovich millions, and guided tactically by gaffer Jose Mourinho surged to the Premier League title, their first since 1954/55. Chelsea lost just one Premiership game all season, and set a new top flight record of 29 wins and 95 points, taking the victory by twelve points over second placed Arsenal, who were in turn a further six points clear of third placed Manchester United. In fourth were surprise package, Everton, who having only just avoided relegation in the season previous excelled in the league in this year.

In a tense dogfight at the bottom of the table, all three relegation places were not decided until the last day of the season. Eventually, it was Crystal Palace, Norwich and Southampton (following 27 consecutive years in the top flight) who prepared for life in the Championship. Meanwhile, West Brom dodged several bullets to stay up, despite having the worst points record for a surviving team in Premiership history (six wins and 34 points). They were also the first Premiership team to avoid relegation after being bottom of the table at Christmas, and the first top flight side to achieve this feat since Sheffield United in 1991. Winners of the Championship, Sunderland along with Wigan Athletic and play off winners, West Ham (who only finished sixth in the league) were promoted for the following season. Meanwhile, Leeds continued their fall from grace, labouring to fourteenth place in the Championship, following their relegation from the Premiership in the previous season.

Arsenal won the F.A. Cup, beating bitter rivals Manchester United on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes. Patrick Viera scored the decisive spot kick, in what was to be his final game for the “Gunners”, in the first final to be decided in such a way. Earlier in the year, Chelsea had also taken the League Cup, beating Liverpool 3-2 after extra time. Jose Mourinho generated as many headlines as the match itself for taunting the Liverpool fans each time Chelsea scored.

The 2004/05 season also saw some rebranding of the lower leagues. The First Division became the championship, and the second and third divisions becoming League One and League Two respectively. Coca Cola became the major sponsor, replacing the Nationwide Building Society.

Dramatic scenes in the Champions League final saw Liverpool crowned the kings of Europe for a fifth time, beating AC Milan 3-2 on penalty kicks in one of the greatest footballing comebacks of all time, having been 3-0 down at half time. Three quick fire goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half drew the scores level, and took the game into extra time, and then spot kicks. As Liverpool finished outside of the qualifying slots in the English Premier League, they were allowed to play in the following seasons tournament following much heated debate, meaning five English representatives would be taking part, the only time to date this has happened.

As ever, there were controversial moments in the world of football. Chelsea found themselves in hot water over the “tapping up” saga surrounding eventual new signing Ashley Cole. Harry Redknapp stirred up ill feeling with his former club after leaving as manager of Portsmouth, then joining bitter rivals Southampton only a fortnight later. However, the biggest talking point of the year was the conduct of Norwich City director Delia Smith, after making a preposterous tannoy announcement at half time in the match with Manchester City. I am delighted to say, that I was actually in attendance at this match, and the media reports were in no way exaggerated. Smith had clearly been enjoying the corporate cooking sherry and slurred at the crowd “We need our twelfth man ! Where Are You ? Lesbie Avenue !” ("Let’s Be ‘Aving You”) It has to be said the half time entertainment was far more enjoyable than the match itself.

In Scotland, Celtic faced life without Henrik Larsson, and they missed out on the S.P.L. title by one point to fellow Glasgow outfit Rangers in a dramatic closing day, with Rangers beating Hibernian, while Celtic were beaten by Motherwell, thanks to a late brace from Scott McDonald. Dundee ended a difficult year after drawing with Livingston on the last day, finishing a point shy of eleventh placed Dunfermline, to send them down to the First Division. Falkirk, having finally improved their ground, were able to be promoted to the Premier League at last, having won the First Division. A 1-0 win over Dundee United was enough to see Celtic win the major cup, while Rangers hammered Motherwell 5-1 in the C.I.S. Cup final. It was not a good year in Europe for Scottish club teams, with Rangers failing to make it through the qualifying stages for the Champions League, then going out in the group stage of the UEFA Cup. Celtic crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages after being drawn in a torrid pool, with AC Milan, Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk. Hearts made it into the group stages of the UEFA Cup, playing home games at Murrayfield, but made no further progress beyond this, while Dunfermline exited the same competition at the second qualifying round stage.

The Ashes series in 2005 was the biggest sports story of the summer, and England’s heroics made even the biggest detractors of the game show some interest and patriotism as England beat Australia in one of the most enthralling test series ever. Andrew “Freddie” Flintoft became a household name, and like sporting heroes in the previous years was made “BBC Sports Personality of the Year”. Following the opener at Lord’s, it looked like Glenn McGrath’s grim prediction of a 5-0 victory for the Ozzies could well be on the cards, as England crashed to a 239 run defeat, despite skittling the Australian batsmen for 190 in the first innings. England’s reply was only 155, in an action packed first day when an incredible seventeen wickets fell ! However, in one of the most thrilling climaxes to a match ever, England took the second test at Edgbaston by a mere two runs, following a big fightback from Shane Warne and Brett Lee, after Australia found themselves in dire straits in the early stages. The third test ended in stalemate, despite England being in a position of dominance, a third day of prolonged rainfall at Old Trafford putting paid to England’s hopes of taking a lead in the series. It was however the first time in a decade that Australia’s batsmen had been forced to play out a draw against their Ashes rivals. Despite looking the form team, England were still 3/1 outsiders with the bookies to take the series down. Trent Bridge was the setting for the all important fourth test, with a fine three wicket victory for the home team. England should really have sown this one up earlier, after a dominant 477 run first innings, however, they stuttered in the second, and laboured to 129-7, which was enough to dominate the scores racked up by the Australians, who now found themselves in a position, at best, where they could only tie the series with victory in the fifth test. However, this was not to be, as 4/7 favourites England won the Ashes to the jubilation of the “Barmy Army” in the draw at The Oval, the first time they had got their hands on the “Urn” since 1987.

In Rugby Union, the Lions Tour to New Zealand was an unmemorable washout. For the first time in 22 years, the selects lost every test match, as well as the game against New Zealand Maori. In the Six Nations championships, Wales came out of the closet after years in the doldrums, and claimed a huge Grand Slam victory. Italy were back to their habitual hangout at the foot of the table, however, England continued their descent from the summit of the 2003 World Cup, by finishing fourth in the Six Nations, losing to Wales, France and Ireland. The Calcutta Cup triumph over Scotland was scant consolation for a side obviously missing the star performers who had left a rapidly sinking ship.

Just as former dominant Formula One legend Michael Schumacher had done so, promising youngster Fernando Alonso won his first Drivers World Championship for Renault (Schumacher winning with the same team in its Benetton days). His team, Renault also took the Constructors World Championship, at last loosening the Ferrari stranglehold which had dominated both championships in the first half of the decade. At the time, Alonso was the youngest World Champion in the history of the sport. 2005 also saw the final season for several manufacturers, with Sauber, Jordan, BAR and everyone’s favourite minnows, Minardi, bought out at the end of the year. Ferrari struggled for pace, citing their “Bridgestone” tyres to lack the grip of rivals “Michelin”. Schumacher laboured to third in the final points table, with a solitary victory to his name, while Rubens Barrichello, his team mate, looked all at sea in eighth. Once again in motorcycling, Valentino Rossi took the elite MotoGP class, once again with Yamaha power.

Tiger Woods saw a return to form in 2005, winning two majors – the Open at St. Andrews, and The U.S. Masters after a playoff against fellow American Chris DiMarco. In racing, “Hedgehunter” won the Grand National, while “Kicking King” took the feature race at the Cheltenham Festival. On the flat, “Motivator” ridden by Johnny Murtagh romped to victory in “The Derby”. Meanwhile the “Royal Ascot” meeting was held at York’s “Knavesmire” while Ascot was undergoing course improvements. In Snooker’s World Championship, a close fought final went in favour of Shaun Murphy, eventually beating Matthew Stephens 18-16. It was another successful Wimbledon for Roger Federer, beating Andy Roddick in the men’s finals, Federer also adding a victory over Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open final to his c.v. in 2005. Venus Williams took the women’s singles at Wimbledon, while sister Serena won the ladies final at the Australian Open.


Well, 2005 had it all. Triumph and tragedy. Laughter and tears. 2006 follows, which as far as I remember was a year which I faced some big lows but also some really enjoyable moments in my own life, during what was to be my swansong year of a decade of living the student life in Dundee. More importantly, what did the wider picture bring ? Keep an eye on this page, I’ll bring you all the retro news you could ever wish for !

Thanks for reading,
Mountain Man

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