I used to feel that the retirement of one’s sporting heroes was a sign of ageing.
I remember when Borg quit, for the first time, almost as if, having finally lost to McEnroe at Wimbledon, the game was over. I pass over his quixotic and unsuccessful comeback.
Geoffrey Boycott retired having accumulated over 100 first class hundreds, and having broken the Test career scoring record. He succeeded, I think, in aggravating more people in cricket than anyone since Douglas Jardine, but his single-mindedness and determination allowed him to reach heights that more talented batsmen failed to approach. He was once dropped from the England team for scoring a double hundred too slowly! There followed many years after his retirement when England would have given anything for a player to score 200.
Kenny Dalglish finally moved from the playing field where he could never stop being successful to the dugout, where he initially continued that success, both at Liverpool and Blackburn.
With golfers it is different – they never seem to retire, instead they fade away to uncompetitiveness, but still get their massive cheers as they go down the 18th fairway at the Open. But Seve Ballesteros, wonderful Seve, did not survive to head into his later years to that acclaim. He remains alive in the minds of Europe’s golfers, as seen by his undoubted presence at the Ryder Cup. And anyone who was privileged enough to have been at St Andrew’s on the final day of the 1984 Open to see Seve hole his put on the last to win, and go into his fist pumping celebration, before they became commonplace, and to see the broadest smile ever to light up a sporting stage, will never forget the moment or the man. Continue reading