Little Bits of History

February 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2017

1958: British European Airways flight 609 crashes at it attempts to take off. Manchester United football (soccer) team had been playing in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) against Red Star Belgrade. They were flying home in an “Elizabethan” class Airspeed Ambassador. The plane needed to refuel, as the distance between Belgrade and Manchester was beyond its range. They stopped in Munich for this. James Thain, pilot, and Kenneth Rayment, co-pilot attempted takeoff at 14.19 GMT. They aborted takeoff due to issues in the left boost pressure gauge along with an odd sound from the engine. Three minutes later, a second attempt was made and again they had the same issues. They offloaded all the passengers and began to troubleshoot the issues. It began to snow, heavily. There was talk of the plane remaining in Germany for the night, but Thain knew that would put the team behind schedule.

Elizabethan planes had a known issue with the boost surging and it was noted that a slower opening of the throttle could lessen impact. Munich had an exceptionally long runway of about 1.2 miles. This would have been enough space to slow the throttle increase and gain enough momentum for takeoff. Thain made the call to fly. The plane was deiced and the passengers reboarded. They were given clearance for takeoff at 15.02 and agreed to watch instruments carefully. They pulled back on the throttle and began their drive down the runway. They called out speeds at 10-knot increments and had a slight problem at 85 knots. After a quick correction they pushed forward. At 117 knots, Thain called “V1” which meant it was no longer safe to abort takeoff. They were committed. But just at that point, speed began to drop.

The plane skidded at the end of the runway, crashed through a fence, crossed a road, and clipped a house with the left wing, sheering it from the aircraft. Everyone in the house was able to escape safely. Not so, for the passengers of the plane. The plane continued to rip apart. Twenty of the passengers died aboard the plane and three more died later at the hospital. Rayment was trapped in his seat, but Thain was able to escape. As flames crept closer to the engine filled with 500 imperial gallons of fuel, Thain warned everyone away from the soon to explode plane. He grabbed fire extinguishers and attempted to keep the flames from the engine while goalkeeper Harry Gregg regained consciousness inside the plane. He was able to escape and brought out some of the passengers with him.

Two crew members, Rayment and a cabin steward, were killed. Eight of the Manchester United players and three staff members were killed. Eight journalists and two other passengers also perished. Four of the crew survived as did nine footballers, two of whom never played again. Matt Busby, the team manager, survived and was eventually able to rebuild the team. Six other passengers survived. The cause of the crash was at first assumed to be pilot or mechanical error. But the real cause was the runway. Most planes took off with less distance, as the aircraft could have without the problems. But at the end of the runway, slush was accumulating and as they reached this portion just before takeoff, the drag from the slush slowed the aircraft, making takeoff impossible. German authorities took action against Thain, but he was cleared of all charges.

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. – Carl Reiner

The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality. – Andy Goldsworthy

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow. – Roy Bean

Battle of Berne

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 27, 2015
Hungarian soccer team

Hungarian soccer team

June 27, 1954: Hungary and Brazil meet in a quarter-final game of the FIFA World Cup series. The 1954 FIFA World Cup was played in Switzerland at six different cities with this day’s match held at the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne. Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, and Zürich also hosted games. The Wankdorf Stadium had the largest seating capacity at 64,000. Geneva’s stadium, Charmilles, only held 9,250. The FIFA World Cup was founded in 1930 as a worldwide competition for football/soccer. The tournament is played every four years (with 1942 and 1946 cancelled due to World War II). Brazil has been included in every single FIFA match (the only team to do so) and been the most successful team with five titles.

Thirty-two teams compete in the tournament which lasts about a month. The 1954 games were played between June 16 and July 4 – a period of 19 days. There were 26 matches played with a total of 140 goals scored for an average of 5.38 per match, a record. Brazil had already beaten Mexico (5-0) and tied with Yugoslavia (1-1). Hungary had already beaten South Korea (9-0) and West Germany (8-3). The day’s weather was pouring rain which led to slippery conditions and difficulty controlling the ball. Within minutes of the start, Hungary took the lead and before ten minutes had gone by, the score was 2-0 Hungary. Brazil made a goal on a penalty kick and at half time the score was 2-1.

Soon after the start of the second half, Hungary was awarded a penalty and scored to bring the score to 3-1. Brazilian journalists and officials were outraged and had to be ushered off by the police. The game became a battlefield with increasingly nasty fouls and borderline tactics. A Hungarian player was fouled and he and his opponent got into a fight on the field and both were sent off. The final score was 4-2 Hungary. There were 42 free kicks and 2 penalties awarded during the game along with 4 cautions and 3 dismissals. The end of the game did not mean the end to the hostilities. After the game, the Brazilian players entered the Hungarian dressing room to continue the fight. The game became known as the Battle of Berne.

The final match for the 1954 FIFA World Cup was a rematch between West Germany and Hungary. West Germany won (their first win) and Hungary was in second place with Austria and Uruguay in third and fourth places respectively. Brazil was out of the top four but came back to win the 1958 Cup. They went on to win again in 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. Hungary has made nine appearances at the World Cup with the first in 1934. Their best outcome has been as runners up in 1938 and in this event. The German team has been in 18 World Cup tournaments and took first place in this one as well as 1974, 1990, and 2014.

One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it. – Knute Rockne

I would advise all youths aspiring to athletic fame or a professional career to practice clean living, fair play and good sportsmanship. – Major Taylor

Sportsmanship and easygoing methods are all right, but it is the prospect of a hot fight that brings out the crowds. – John McGraw

Professionalism is not sportsmanship. If you don’t succeed, you won’t be in your profession for long. In our society, it’s not about good or bad. It’s about who’s on top. – Chili Davis

Also on this day:  The Oscar of the Children’s Library – In 1922, the Newbery Medal was first awarded.
Collinswood – In 1966, Dark Shadows premiered.
ATM – In 1867, the world’s first ATM was installed.
Helen Keller –  In 1880, Helen was born.
High Score – In 1899, the highest score in cricket was made by AEJ Collins.

Zambian Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2015
Lusaka Heroes Acre - memorial

Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial

April 27, 1993: A DHC-5D plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was heading out of Libreville, the capital city of Gabon – a sub-Saharan county on the west coast of Africa. The flight carried the Zambian national football team on their way to Dakar, Senegal to play a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Senegal. The Zambian Air Force had specially arranged to fly the team and had three refueling stops scheduled. The first was at Brazzaville, Congo and the second was here at Libreville. The de Havilland Canada DHC-5D Buffalo had taken off from Lusaka, Zambia and made the first refueling stop without incident. At the stop, there was an issue with one of the engines but the flight continued on without delay.

A few minutes after takeoff from the second refueling stop in Gabon, the left engine caught fire and failed. The pilot shut down the right engine which caused the plane to lose all power. The plane had still been in its climb and without power, fell into the water about 550 yards offshore. An investigation report issued ten years later attributed the accident to instrument error, pilot error and pilot fatigue. The same pilot had flown the team from a match in Mauritius the previous day. There had been 25 passengers and five crew aboard and all of them were killed in the crash. The team, Chipolopolo, had been doing well and they were hoping to win the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations and make their first World Cup appearance.

The plane had been in service since 1975 but out of service for five months from late 1992 until April 21, 1993. Test flights were done on April 22 and 26. Before takeoff in Zambia, a number of defects in the engines along with carbon particles in the oil filters, disconnected cables, and trace of heating were found. The plane was used for the football team’s transport anyway. There were 18 players, the national team coach, and support staff aboard the plane. The captain of the Chipolopolo team, Kalusha Bwalya, was not aboard as he had been playing in the Netherlands for PSV and had made separate arrangements to get to Senegal. Bennett Mulwanda Simfukwe was supposed to have been on the fatal flight, but was removed from the list of travelers by his employers.

It took a decade for the official report to be released by the Gabonese government. Relatives of the victims continue to lobby the Zambian government to find out how the faulty plane was ever permitted to leave Zambia in the first place. The members of the national team killed in the crash were buried at what is now called Heroes’ Acre near the Independence Stadium in Lusaka. A new team was quickly put together in 1993 and Bwalya was faced with bringing them together to face off in the African Nations Cup, just a few months away. They made it to the finals, but were unable to defeat Nigeria in the last game. The team won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 in Libreville, only a short distance from where the plane had crashed nearly two decades earlier.

Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruyff

For me soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day. I’ve had the good fortune to take part in major competitions like the Olympics, and winning the World Cup was also unforgettable. – Ronaldinho

The first World Cup I remember was in the 1950 when I was 9 or 10 years old. My father was a soccer player, and there was a big party, and when Brazil lost to Uruguay, I saw my father crying. – Pele

I need a life outside of soccer. So I very much welcome, you know, new love interests and dating and friends and family. – Hope Solo

Also on this day: Sultana – In 1865, the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
John Milton – In 1667, Paradise Lost was purchased for £5.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.
Expo 67 – In 1967, the Expo held official opening ceremonies.
Operation Moolah – In 1953, an unusual offer was made by the US.

* “Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial” by Francis Alisheke / – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Icelandic Football

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 16, 2014
Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur

Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur

February 16, 1899: Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur is founded. They are the oldest football club in Iceland. The name began as Fótboltafélag Reykjavíkur which means Reykjavik Football Club and changed to Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur which also means the same – except a literal translation for Knattspyrna is ballkicking rather than football and to the Icelandic ear, it is more elegant. The name is often shortened to KR. Since this is European football, it isn’t what Americans call football, but rather it is what we call soccer. KR is based in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital where they play home games at KR-völlur which has a seating capacity of almost 2,800.

KR is the nation’s most successful football club. They won the Úrvalsdeild championship 26 times. The championship would be akin to the US Super Bowl where the 12 Icelandic teams vie for the title. Since Iceland has such hard winters, this game is usually played in the spring or summer. The championship began in 1912, with KR winning and they are also the current holder of the title. A more international trophy is the Icelandic Cup where 72 teams compete with the mid-August game being held at Laugardalsvöllur, another stadium in Reykjavik – but this one seating 15,000 people. KR is the most successful club here, too, with 13 wins. They are not the current title holder as that honor goes to Fram, another Icelandic team which was founded in 1908.

When the team was first founded, they modeled their uniforms on those worn by Newcastle United, the British football club founded in 1892. Like their British counterparts, the home uniform is black shorts and socks with a black and white vertically striped shirt. Unlike Newcastle, KR’s away game colors are white shorts with an orange shirt and orange socks. For nearly a decade, there were no other clubs in Reykjavik, but as soon as Fram was founded, competitions with championships were mentioned. The first time they played, KR won. Because there are only 12 teams in the top division of Iceland football, they each play the other 11 teams twice, once at home and once away.

The Icelandic league was divided into two divisions in 1955 and once again KR took the winners spot. KR was the first Iceland team to play in the European Cup and did so with the 1964-65 season. They lost in a preliminary round to Liverpool with a score of 11-1. KR won their 20th title in 1968. They were demoted to the Second Division in 1977 and had narrow losses in 1990, 1996, and 1998. As they turned 100 years old in 1999 they had not won a league title for 31 years. On this milestone year, they won against Vikingur with a score 4-0 to make it to the top spot where they beat IA with a 3-1 score. They were back on a winning streak.

Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruijff

I’m a rock star because I couldn’t be a soccer star. – Rod Stewart

When I was ten, I wrote an essay on what I would be when I grew up and said I would be a professional soccer player and a comedian in off season. – Will Ferrell

I never felt the same passion for the game in the States and there were a lot of headaches, a lot of obstacles to overcome – it didn’t just run itself for the love of the game because soccer is not the No. 1 sport as it is in Europe. – Hope Solo

Also on this day: King Tut – In 1923, Howard Carter opened the tomb of King Tutankhamen.
Nylon – In 1937. Nylon was patented.
Altmark Incident – In 1940, the German ship, Altmark, was boarded by cutlass wielding soldiers.
What Is our Emergency? – In 1968, 9-1-1 service began.

Football – No, Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2013
Ebenezer Cobb Morley

Ebenezer Cobb Morley

March 3, 1891: The idea for a Penalty Spot Kick is conceived and the lobbying process to have it included in the rules begins. Association football, known as soccer in the US, had some of its first laws drawn up in London in 1863. The men who gathered at the Freemasons’ Tavern founded the Football Association and wrote up one of the first sets of codified rules. The game was being played routinely at Cambridge in the late 1840s but the ball could still be caught during play.

In fact, the game had a long history of often violent village games. In 1863, the codifying process was overseen by Ebenezer Cobb Morley. A list of 14 rules was produced and defined the game. It was far more similar to rugby than the game of soccer as played today. The first set of rules included as many as eight forwards and moving the ball was via dribbling or scrimmaging as in rugby. There was to be no “hacking” or kicking below the knee – which made one man leave in a huff and return to the rugby fields.

The rules were not immediately accepted by everyone who played the game. Sheffield clubs had written their own rules in 1857. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) was created and met for the first time on June 2, 1865. They united the different factions and codified the rules for all to abide by – needing ¾ majority to pass any changes, as still is the process today.

Over the years the game evolved into what we would recognize as football (soccer) today. Goal-kicks made the rule list in 1869 and corner-kicks were added in 1872. Referees were given whistles in 1878, but still relegated to the sidelines. Penalties were a later addition because it was assumed that a gentleman would never intentionally commit a foul. When competitiveness trumped gentlemanly manners and sportsmanship was in disarray, “the kick of death” was added to the rule book. With the need to watch more closely for fouls, the referee was finally permitted on the field of play.

“The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.” – Phil Woosnam

“I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting.” – George Orwell

“Soccer is a game in which everyone does a lot of running around. Twenty-one guys stand around and one guy does a tap dance with the ball.” – Jim Murray

“The rest of the world loves soccer. Surely we must be missing something. Uh, isn’t that what the Russians told us about communism? There’s a good reason why you don’t care about soccer – it’s because you are an American and hating soccer is more American than mom’s apple pie, driving a pick-up and spending Saturday afternoon channel-surfing with the remote control.” – Tom Weir

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Ebenezer Cobb Morley was an avid sportsman, born in 1831. He lived in Hull until age 22 when he moved to Barnes. While there, he founded the Barnes Club, today called Barnes Rugby Football Club. It claims to be the oldest club to have any code for football. Morley served as the first secretary and the second president of The Football Association (FA). He was also a player and scored in the first representative match between Sheffield and London. He was an oarsman and also founded the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta. He was a solicitor by profession and severed on Surrey County Council and was a Justice of the Peace.

Also on this day: Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.
Panic – In 1943, 173 people were killed at Bethnal Green during a bombing raid over London.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 22, 2012

1927 Arsenal FC met Sheffield United FC

January 22, 1927: The first radio commentary of an association football match is broadcast. Arsenal Football Club (FC) also called The Gunners met Sheffield United FC (the Blades, United, or Red & White Wizards) at Highbury, home field of the Arsenal. Association football (a.k.a. soccer in the US and football in the UK) has been around in one form or another for centuries. Played in China as early as the 3rd century BC, the current rules were set down by Cambridge University in 1848. Rules were modified and an overseeing governing body was established as time went on.

Arsenal FC was founded in 1886 as Dial Square. They are a member of the Premier League and are one of the most successful clubs in English football with thirteen First Division and Premier League titles and ten FA Cups. Their home field was at Highbury, London from 1913-2006. The new Emirates Stadium open on July 22, 2006. The new venue cost £430 million to build and seats 60,355. The name came from the sponsorship of Emirates Airline who donated £100 million to the club. The Emirates name may be changed after 15 years according to the deal made.

Sheffield United FC was founded in 1889. Home for the club is Sheffield, South Yorkshire and they play at Bramall Lane. The stadium was built in 1855 to host cricket matches. It is the oldest still-in-use major stadium in the world. It has been renovated several times and expanded twice. It now seats 32,609. The team is a member of the Championship League and brought home the League championship once, in 1898. They won the FA cup four times.

The Arsenal has had a number of firsts. This first radio broadcast (tied at 1-1) was followed a decade later with the first football match televised live. On September 16, 1937 an exhibition game between the first team and the reserve team was filmed. The first edition of BBC’s Match of the Day aired on August 22, 1964 and featured highlights of the Arsenal and Liverpool match. Today, football is played professionally around the world, millions of fans attend games while billions watch on television or the Internet. A 2001 survey reported over 240 million people in more than 200 countries regularly played the sport.

To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. – J.B. Priestley

A sport where the players actually enjoy getting hit in the head by a ball. – Soccer advertisement

If you’re attacking, you don’t get as tired as when you’re chasing. – Kyle Rote, Jr.

The goalkeeper is the jewel in the crown and getting at him should be almost impossible.  It’s the biggest sin in football to make him do any work. – George Graham

Also on this day:

Roe v. Wade – In 1973, the Supreme Court decided on the abortion issue, assuring all women a right to privacy.
Bloody Sunday – In 1905, a Russian uprising took place in St. Petersburg.
Pontifical Swiss Guards – In 1506, the first of the Swiss Guards come to protect the Pope.