Ten Questions. Ten Sports. One Year.
How well do you remember these significant sporting events of 2005?
Question 1 (Cricket):
England’s historic 2005 Ashes victory ended Australia’s 16-year stranglehold on the urn after winning the series 2-1. Australia won the first Test by 239 runs. However, England would bounce back, edging the second Test by just two runs. After the third Test ended in a draw, England would take the series lead by winning the fourth Test by three wickets. The Oval hosted the final Test, which ended in another tie, sealing the home side’s victory. The BBC considered it “the most thrilling series ever”, and England’s then-Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed this victory boosted the game’s popularity within the country.
All-Rounder Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff won the inaugural Compton-Miller Medal, an award presented to the man of the series, for his outstanding performances. The Lancashire native also made history by being the first Englishman to do what in a Test Series?
Flintoff became the first Englishman to take over 20 wickets and score 400 runs in a Test Series. The now-MBE ended with 24 wickets and 402 runs.
Question 2 (NFL):
On February 6th, 2005, the Alltel Stadium, now known as the TIAA Bank Field, hosted Super Bowl XXXIX. The New England Patriots entered the game as defending champions and retained their Lombardi trophy by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The Foxborough side also became only the second team in history, after the Dallas Cowboys, to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span.
Patriots’ Mike Vrabel became the 14th player to score a touchdown in consecutive Super Bowls. Vrabel, who is currently the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans, is perhaps the most surprising player to achieve this feat because of his position. What position was he listed as?
Vrabel was listed as a Linebacker. Despite this, he would score both his touchdowns on Offensive plays lined up as a Tight End. He caught a one-yard pass against the Carolina Panthers and a two-yard pass against the Philadelphia Eagles despite famously being held by Jevon Kearse.
Question 3 (UFC):
April 9th 2005 is arguably the most important date in the Ultimate Fighting Championship history. The Cox Pavilion held the inaugural Ultimate Fighter Finale, with Spike TV broadcasting the event on national television as a desperate attempt to gain mainstream exposure for the sport. While the evening’s main event featured Rich Frankin TKOing UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, the fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar stole the show. This legendary bout is widely considered one of the greatest battles in MMA history as both men went to war with each other to be crowned the Light Heavyweight winner of The Ulitmate Fighter and earn a UFC contract. Griffin would win the contest via unanimous decision. However, UFC President Dana White decided on the spot to award both men contracts for their incredible performances.
This fight kicked off what is now known as “TUF Boom” and is credited by Dana White as the driving force of the future success of the UFC. After the fight, the Spike TV executives approached White and Fertitta brothers to offer them a second season of the show. Which unusual place did the two parties agree and sign a makeshift contract?
The agreement was made outside of the Cox Pavilion by the production trucks used for the show. The Spike TV executives were so blown away by the Griffin-Bonnar fight that they decided to offer the contract on the spot. According to Fox Sport, Dana White claims that the deal was written up “on a napkin or evelope or something”.
Question 4 (Formula One):
The 2005 Formula One World Championship marked the first time Micheal Schumacher and Ferrari failed to win the World Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships. Instead, it was Renault’s 24-year old Fernando Alonso who would take the crown. The Spaniard achieved seven first-place finishes as he topped the World Drivers’ Championship standings with 133 points. McLaren-Mercedes’ Kimi Räikkönen finished 21 points behind in second place and the defending champion Schumacher only managing to take third place.
Only 11 points separated first and second place in the World Constructors’ Championship standings. The reigning champions finished in a distant third as Renault pipped McLaren-Mercedes to the title. Alonso was one of the men who guided Renault to the championship, but who was their other driver?
Giancarlo Fisichella was Alonso’s teammate for Renault. This season was his first for the team after a swap deal saw the former Sauber driver join the French constructers, with Jacques Villeneuve going in the opposite direction. The Italian won his debut race in Australia, one of only three first-place finishes in his career, but ultimately finished fifth in the World Drivers’ Championship standings.
Question 5 (NBA):
Before the 2004/05 NBA season, 30-year old point guard Steve Nash returned to the side that initially drafted him into the NBA, the Phoenix Suns, via free agency after the Dallas Mavericks would not offer the long term contract the Santa Clara alum desired. Nash flourished under the Suns’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s System. D’Antoni, a former point guard himself, deployed a high-tempo style of basketball that relied on more agility players to outrun and outshoot their opposition, a style that Nash was familiar with and thrived in. The British Columbia native led his team to an NBA-best 62-20 whilst averaging 110.4 points-per-game, the highest any side had achieved in 10 years.
The Suns would continue their momentum into the post-season, sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies before eliminating Nash’s previous side Dallas en route to the Western Conference finals, where they were ultimately defeated by eventual champions the San Antonio Spurs. Despite failing to win the NBA Championship, Nash’s incredible season saw him edge out Miami Heat’s Shaquille O’Neal to win his first 2004/05 NBA MVP Award. Nash became just the third point guard in history to win the award but what else made this accolade historic?
Steve Nash became the first Canadian ever to win the NBA NVP award. The current Brooklyn Nets Head Coach would retain his MVP crown the following season after another outstanding yet championship-less season for the Suns. He remains the only Canadian in history to win the award as of writing this.
Question 6 (Tennis):
In January 2005, Marat Safin conquered the Tennis world by becoming the 93rd Men’s Singles Australian Open champion. The fiery Russian defeated Australia’s own Lleyton Hewitt in four sets to capture his second and final Grand Slam title in his career. In the semi-finals, Safin was able to avenge his 2004 Australian Open finals loss by defeating the reigning champion and World Number one Rodger Federer.
Alongside Hewitt and Federer, Safin defeated Bohdan Ulihrach, Mario Ančic, Olivier Rochus and Dominik Hrbatý en route to winning the tournament. He also defeated a young hopeful competing in the main draw for the first time in the opening round. What was this competitor’s name?
Marat Safin defeated the future record-breaking eight-time Australian Open champion and 17 time Grand Slam winner, Novak Djokovic. The young Serbian only managed to win three games as Safin dominated, winning easily in straight sets.
Question 7 (MLB):
The Chicago White Sox’s 88 year-long championship drought finally came to an end on October 26th 2005 after sweeping the Houston Astros 4-0 in the 101st edition of the Wolrd Series. The South Siders finished the regular season with the American League’s best record, earning a 99-63 record. Ozzie Guillén’s men also became the third team, after the 1995 Atlanta Braves and 1999 New York Yankees, to win the title whilst only losing at most one game during the Divisional and Championship Series’ combined. This the second year in a row a team with “Sox” won the World Series, with Boston winning it all in 2004. However, this was not the most bizarre thing that connected these two franchises. The last time either side won the World Series before their 2000’s successes was also in consecutive years, with Chicago winning in 1917 and Boston in 1918. The White Sox’s victory symmetrically bookended both sides “cursed” period.
The Fourth and final game of the 2005 World Series finished in a tense 1-0 Sox victory, with the Series’ MVP Jermaine Dye scoring a game-winning single at the top of the 8th, driving in Willie Harris. The endings of the third and fourth game of the series shared a very unusual thing in common, what was it?
According to Central Time, which is used in Houston, both games three and four of the 2005 World Series technically ended on the same day. Game three, which took place at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, finished shortly past midnight on October 26th with game four concluding at the Astros Minute Maid Park at 11:01 pm later that day.
Question 8 (NHL):
For the first time since 1919, the Stanley Cup was not awarded due to the 2005-05 NHL Lockout. The NHL and NHLPA were in civil conflict with each out. The primary disputes revolved around the 1995 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement’s expiration and failure to reach a new agreement ahead of the 2004–05 season. The NHL also wanted to implement a salary cap since 76% of the NHL clubs’ revenues were spent on team salaries before the end of the 2003–04 season. The lockout, which lasted ten months and six days, resulted in the season’s cancellation. This was the first, and so far only, time in the major North American sports leagues that an entire season was cancelled because of a labour dispute.
There had to be an alternate way to decide the 2005 NHL Draft order due to the lack of league standings. The NHL decided to implement a lottery system. The lottery was titled in favour of teams with the least playoff appearances over the last three years and those with the fewest number one first overall picks in the previous four season. Which team won the Draft lottery?
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery, selecting Sidney Crosby as the first overall pick. Sid The Kid became the youngest player to record a 100 point season, the youngest player to reach 200 points in his career, Youngest Art Ross Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award winner and the Youngest NHL captain to win Stanley Cup. He is also the leading playoff point leader in Penguins history and the player who has played the most game for the franchise. The three-time Stanley Cup champion and two time Hart Memorial trophy winner is considered one of the greatest players of all time and forever changed the Pittsburgh team.
Question 9 (Cycling):
Although he has since been stripped of all his achievements from 1998 onwards due to his famous doping scandal, Lance Armstrong won his record-breaking seventh consecutive Tour de France. The Team Discovery rider saw off Team CSC’s Ivan Basso by 4′ 40″ to claim cycling’s most prestigious award. Jan Ullrich finished in third place, although this result was later annulled. The T-Mobile Team topped the team rankings, earning a time of 256h 10′ 29″, defeating second placed Discovery Channel team by 14′ 57″.
The record many no be recognised, but Armstrong also claimed another accomplishment alongside his seventh consecutive win as he completed the Grand Tour. What did he achieve?
Lance Armstrong completed the Tour at the highest pace in its history. The now-disgraced athlete averaged speed over the entire competition was 41.7 km/h or 26 mph. The Texan decided to retire after the Tour, stating he wanted to spend more time with his family and foundation. He did attempt a comeback in 2009, however, in 2011, whilst facing a U.S. Federal investigation for doping, he retired once again, claiming this time it was ‘for good’.
Question 10 (Football/Soccer):
On May 25th 2005, the Atatürk Olympic Stadium would be the site of the “Miracle of Istanbul”. In what is considered one of the greatest finals of all time, Liverpool astonishingly defeated AC Milan on penalties to win the UEFA Champions League. Milan’s captain Paulo Maldini put the Italians ahead in the first minute of the game before a brace from Hernán Crespo looked to have secured the Rossoneri’s seventh European cup win before half time. Following halftime and a tactical shift, Liverpool miraculously found themselves level after 60 minutes. Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso quick-fire triple tied the game up after what Milan’s legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti called the ” six minutes of madness.” Milan continuously threatened to reclaim their lead. However, the combination of poor finishing and heroic defending saw the game head to penalties after extra time.
Liverpool’s Jerzy Dudek cemented his place in history as the Polish goalkeeper saved Pirlo and Shevchenko’s attempts as the Merseyside team won the shootout 3-2, with Hamman, Cisse and Šmicer converting for the Reds. The famous trophy belonged to Liverpool for the fifth time in their illustrious history, with their last triumph coming 21 years prior. The victory also meant that Vladimír Šmicer and Milan Baroš achieved something that had never been done before. What did they accomplish?
Šmicer and Baroš became the first players from the Czech Republic to earn a Champions League winners medal. Since then, only two other Czech’s have won the tournament. Marek Jankulovski won it in 2007 with Milan after defeating Liverpool in a rematch of the 2005 final and Petr Čech with Chelsea in 2012. Djimi Traoré also became the first representative from Mali to lift the famous trophy. Seydou Keita is the only other Malian who won the prestigious competition after Traoré, winning it twice with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.