Tim Henman

Tim Henman officially retired from professional tennis in September, 2007, but for more than a decade previously had been the ‘great British hope’ for victory in the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon, last won by Fred Perry in 1936. However, before the arrival of Andy Murray, who turned professional – and played Wimbledon for the first time, on a wild card – in 2005, Henman was, without doubt, the best British male player of the Open Era and, in fact, since Perry himself.

Year after year, Henman bore the weight of not-altogether-realistic expectation in SW19 but, at the time of his retirement, said, ‘Am I disappointed I didn’t win it [Wimbledon]? Yes I am, but this is as good as I could have been, so I don’t have too many doubts.’ Lingering self-doubt may have been the root cause of inconsistency in his play and, indeed, his less-than-convincing, ‘limp-fisted’ celebrations, from time to time. However, accusations of ‘choking’ under pressure – as levelled by Pete Sampras, among others – are probably a little unfair; on the whole, Henman did pretty well with the tools with which he was equipped.

All told, Henman reached 28 ATP singles finals during his career, winning 11 of them. At his peak, was ranked number four in the world. At Wimbledon, he reached the semi-finals in the Men’s Singles in four of the five years between 1998 and 2002, losing to Pete Sampras in four sets in both 1998 and 1999, Goran Ivanišević in five sets in 2001 and Lleyton Hewitt in three sets in 2002. Henman also reached the semi-finals of both the French Open and the US Open in 2004, losing in four sets to Guillermo Coria in Paris and in straight sets to Roger Federer in New York.

Dean Macey

To a modern audience, Dean Macey is possibly best known as the presenter of angling shows, such as ‘The Big Fish Off’ and ‘Fishing Allstars’. However, in his younger days, ‘The Dean Machine’ was, of course, a world-class decathlete. Indeed, early in his career, Macey was considered the natural successor to dual Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson, who became his coach. In fact, his personal best of 8,603 points, achieved when winning the bronze medal at the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada in 2001, is second only to the 8,847 points achieved by Thompson when winning the gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 in the all-time list of performances by British decathletes.

Macey announced his arrival on the world stage when winning the silver medal at the World Championships in Seville in 1999 with a personal best of 8,556. points. Sadly, though, in a career ravaged by injury, Macey only achieved a fraction of what, at one point, seemed likely. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, he increased his personal best, slightly, to 8,567 points, but that was still only good enough for fourth place. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, it was a similar story, with sub-standard pole vault and javelin performances leaving him stranded on 8,414 points, once again in fourth place.

Macey did win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, but didn’t have to be at his best to do so. Hampered, not for the first time, by recurring injuries, his winning total of 8,143 points was well below his personal best. In July, 2008, having failed to reach the B qualifying standard for the Beijing Olympics, Macey retired from athletics. At that point, he said, ‘My heart is there, my mind is there but my body has finally given in.’

Graeme Hick

Born and raised in Rhodesia, which gained official independence as Zimbabwe in 1980, Graeme Hick was considered promising enough to be selected for the Zimbabwe squad for the 1983 Cricket World Cup at the age of 17, while still at school. He did not play in that tournament, but made his first-class debut for a Young Zimbabwe against Young West Indies at Harare in October that year.

In 1984, Hick joined Worcestershire on a Zimbabwe Cricket Union scholarship and made his first-class debut in Britain in the final County Championship match of the season, against Surrey at Kennington Oval, London. He did not bat in the first innings but, batting at number nine, contributed 82 not out to a total of 327 in the second innings.

Having already played international cricket for Zimbabwe, Hick had to wait the mandatory seven-year qualifying period before being eligible to play Test cricket for England. By the time he made his Test debut, against West Indies at Headingley in June, 1991, he had already made a huge impact in county cricket. Indeed, he came to the crease with 57 first-class centuries to his name, including a County Championship record 405 not out against Somerset at Taunton in May, 1988.

His Test debut, although eagerly-awaited, proved to be an anti-climax. He was caught at the wicket off the bowling of Courtney Walsh for just six in the first innings and clean bowled by Curtley Ambrose for the same score in the second. Of course, Hick went on to enjoy a long, illustrious career during which he scored over 40,000 first-class runs, including 136 centuries, at an average of 52.53. However, his 65 Test matches yielded just 3,383 runs which, while not exactly a paltry total, represents an average of 31.32, or an underachievement when compared to his first-class record as a whole.

Brooklyn Dodgers

Of course, it has a long time – in fact, as long ago as 1957 – since Brooklyn Dodgers moved west to Los Angeles, California, to become Los Angeles Dodgers. The team originally known as Brooklyn Atlantics was founded in 1883 and has won the World Series seven times in its history, in 1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988 and 2020. However, earlier in its history, Brooklyn Dodgers earned an unwanted, but throughly deserved, reputation as ‘nearly men’ as far as the World Series was concerned.

Under the management of Wilbert ‘Uncle Robbie’ Robinson, Brooklyn Robins, as the team was known as the time, first appeared in the World Series in 1916, losing 4-1 to Boston Red Sox. A 5-2 defeat at the hands of Cleveland Indians followed in 1920 and the Dodgers did not make the World Series again until 1941, by which time Leo ‘Lippy’ Durocher was at the helm. A 4-1 defeat by New York Yankees took the Dodgers record to 0-3 and worse was to follow.

In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers made history by signing the first black player in modern major league baseball, Jackie Robinson. Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year award, but could not prevent a 4-3 defeat by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Indeed, Robinson must have become sick of the sight of New York Yankees, who beat Brooklyn Dodgers three more times in the World Series, winning 4-1 in 1949, 4-3 in 1952 and 4-2 in 1953, before the Dodgers won their inaugural title.

Finally, defending an unenviable 0-7 record, they managed to inflict the Yankees’ first lost in the World Series since 1942 when winning 4-3 at Yankee Stadium in 1955. Ironically, Robinson did not play in the World Series game, having been replaced in the line-up by third baseman Don Hoak.