What a Year: The Highs & Lows of 2018
Luke: What a year it’s been; my main highlight, much like everyone else has to be England’s World Cup run. Heading into the tournament with little to no expectations aside from ‘we’ve got a young team that can give it a go’, we had the drama of a late winner in the first game, the decimation of Panama and the nonsense of the Belgium game. People began to buy pints with the sole intention of just throwing it in the air after another crucial (or not) goal flies in, and to put it lightly we all just started to believe. The best summer ever. If I was to single it down to a single moment here, it would be the penalty shootout win against Colombia, I’ve never felt anything like it.
To round up the rest of the year, the closest feeling I had to England’s run was Groves defeating Eubank Jr in Manchester – attending it in person, the energy in Manchester was electric, those Super Series lights are truly something to behold and that final round where it looked like it could all come crumbling down just added to the occasion and gave it just another layer on top of it all. Special mention to Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide closing out a thriller in the National Championship – Roll Tide.
With no emotion involved, other highlights from a pure sporting perspective were a game of magic from Nick Foles and the Eagles as they toppled Brady’s Patriots, Henry Cejudo upsetting Demetrious Johnson, Dustin Poirier going to war with Justin Gaethje and Loyola-Chicago (with Sister Jean) making the Final Four.
As far as lowlights for 2018, it would be easy to jump straight to England’s World Cup exit, but upon reflection the journey still left enough positive memories to keep that from topping my list. I’ve made no secret on the podcast of my dislike for Tyson Fury and seeing him rise up in the 12th round against Deontay Wilder and forcing me to halt my celebrations is something I’m unlikely to ever get over.
On top of that, Groves looking like a suddenly aged fighter and suffering defeat to Callum Smith, David Haye being slumped again by Tony Bellew, waving goodbye to Arsene Wenger/Olivier Giroud and JR Smith’s almighty blunder to condemn Lebron to another finals defeat made it a rough year at times.
Rory: Whilst we enjoyed numerous highs following the England football team this summer, it very clearly provided one of the lowest sporting moments I’ve ever experienced. From thinking winning the World Cup may genuinely be achievable to Croatia dumping us out in the semi final. It was without doubt one of the worst moments of the year and will long serve as one of the worst moments in sport.
Another footballing moment provided a low this year with Liverpool being beaten by Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League. I was lucky enough to attend some of the knockout games at Anfield on our run to the final and we were superb. However, going up against a formidable Real Madrid side was one step we couldn’t make and it was horrendous to watch as we came up short.
The sporting high this year may have been seen with the whole country uniting to support England. It might not be an original choice but who didn’t enjoy singing the songs and getting behind the Three Lions? It provided so much drama and excitement and was a summer that none of us wanted to end!
As for a more personal sporting high it has to be backing Brooks Koepka in the US Open and France to win the World Cup in a double for a nice little return. Once England were eliminated I was free to cheer for France in the final. However I can make it clear England winning would have meant far more!
Connor: Best sporting moment for me this year is the World Cup. England with a young side not expected to do too much, maybe quarter final at a push mastered one of the greatest summers/tournaments of a generation and one that will live long in the memories for years and years to come.
Sporting low is a mixture of a few sports. England getting knocked out by Croatia in the semi final was heartbreaking, khabib and Conor drama after the fight put a bad name on the UFC and now means the pair of them won’t fight again for a very long time. And finally the Leicester City chairman and company unfortunately losing their lives in the helicopter tragedy