With the clock ticking over into 2016, it’s the time of the year for making lists reviewing the previous year. 2015 was a wonderful year for sports and here is a selection of the some of the best moments.
1.Australia win 5th ICC Cricket World Cup – hard to go past this one as the number one sporting moment of the year. The atmosphere was electric as Mitchell Starc came in to bowl the first over at the MCG and reached fever pitch when he bowled Kiwi skipper Brendan McCullum in the first over. From that moment on the Black Caps were never really in it, Aussie captain Michael Clarke signed off his one day career with a fine 74, with his side just 9 runs from victory as he left the field to a standing ovation.
2. Cowboys win the NRL Grand Final in golden point – the most exciting NRL Grand Final ever, decided in extra time after an amazing last play try from the Cowboys to tie the game as time expired. Jonathan Thurston missed the wide chance to win it in regulation time, but didn’t miss in extra time where his field goal off the back of a knock on from Broncos half back Ben Hunt gave North Queensland the golden point that delivered a first premiership to the club.
3. Malcolm Butler’s interception in Super Bowl XLIV – all seemed lost for the Patriots when Seattle had the ball at the goal line with downs up their sleeve. The obvious play was a Marshawn Lynch run to deliver the Seahawks back to back titles, however a pass play was chosen, which Butler showed great anticipation to step in and intercept, adding a fourth Superbowl crown to the Belichick/Brady/Kraft dynasty in New England.
4. Hawthorn’s 3-peat – the Hawks have hoodwinked the rest of the AFL for the last 15 years to allow them to build a juggernaut. Seven of their premiership line up came from other clubs, mostly acquired for not much in return, at the draft table they obtained Hodge, Rioli, Franklin, Lewis, Roughead and others. They are by far the best team in the competition and overcame a slow start in 2015 to surge to a third consecutive premiership with a crushing victory over the West Coast Eagles.
5. Melbourne Victory winning A-League premiership/championship/FFA Cup triple – a magnificent feat by Kevin Muscat’s team, the first time this had ever been done, albeit in only the second year of the FFA Cup. Class all over the park, well coached and with some great squad depth, the next challenge for the Victory will be to finally get out of the group stage of the Asian Champions League in 2016 after a couple of unsuccessful attempts in the past.
6. The first day/night test match – test cricket was abuzz for three days in December as the Adelaide Oval hosted this historic match. A lot of questions were answered about how the pink ball would behave and how the night sessions would go. The ball was easy to see (at least on TV) and the night added that atmosphere and added some strategy to the game for the team batting in that period. Australia got home to record a 3 wicket victory in a hard fought test match. We will see more of this in the future.
7. Chicago Blackhawks win 3rd Stanley Cup in five years – any team that can win three championships in five years deserves to be called a dynasty. The Blackhawks, led by captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and finals MVP Duncan Keith, did just that when they disposed of the Tampa Bay Lightening in six games.
8. New teams featuring in the MLB LCS and World Series – the excitement generated by the Cubs, Mets and Royals, all success-stareved teams, breathed new life into the MLB Playoffs. The Royals went on to defeat the Mets in the World Series.
9. Wallabies making Rugby World Cup final – it was a great effort by the boys in gold to make the final of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Like their cricket counterparts they came up against New Zealand, but unlike the cricket, the All Blacks are a far superior team and delivered when it mattered most, walking away with a 34-17 win in the final.
10. Queensland winning back the State of Origin crown – after losing the title in 2014, Queensland bounced back in emphatic fashion to take the series 2-1 in what turned out to be Mal Meninga’s final game in charge of the Maroons. The return on Origin to the MCG was a highlight, a crowd of 91,513 turning out.
11. The rise of the NBL – the NBL has long been the problem child of Australian sport. They have that title no longer, the game is back on TV, the promotion is driving fans back to the league and the standard of play is keeping them coming back in droves. The force that was the NBL in the early 1990’s is coming back.
12. Quarterbacks going number 1 & 2 in the 2015 NFL draft – its a rare event that two quarterbacks in the same draft are considered to be the best two players and two teams with a need at that position have the first two picks. That happened when Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans respectively. While they have both had the ups and downs that rookies have, both have given the fans of their teams great reason for hope in the future.
13. Matthew Delevedova’s NBA Finals – Aussies playing in the NBA Finals is not unusual these days, but Delevedova’s effort in stepping into the starting line up just before the finals and blunting the effectiveness of league MVP Steph Curry had the world following the back-up from country Victoria.
14. Perth Heat winning 4th ABL Championship in five years – another dynasty capped off with a championship, the Heat are a class act. This time they did it the hard way, beating the Adelaide Bite, who had finished four games ahead of them and were led by former Perth manager Brooke Knight, in Adelaide.
15. Golden State Warriors 23-0 start – winning 23 games to start a season is a phenomenal achievement and the Warriors did just that coming off the back of their NBA champiosnship jsut a few months earlier.
I’m sure there are plenty I have forgotten.
Please feel welcome to let me know what your best moments of the year were.
Next up I will take a look at 16 predictions for 2016.