Highs, lows, controversies and confusion. 2015 was a great year to be a sport fan. Take a look back at the most memorable sporting moments of the year that had us on the edge of our seats.
Asian Cup triumph – January
What better way to start with the Socceroos triumph in the Asian Cup on home soil in what could be regarded as the greatest achievement by the national side, up there with the likes of our 2006 World Cup Qualification, dare I say it!
Australia cruised through the group stage recording big victories over Kuwait and Oman, but stumbled against South Korea going down 1-0. It was only fitting that the Roos got their revenge in the final, in what was an absolute thriller. James Troisi’s winner sending the country into pandemonium.
Stars were born as Massimo Luongo and Matthew Leckie took the tournament by storm, while Tim Cahill provided us with a few trademark goals to remember.
Ange Postecoglu’s men will now look to reach greater heights with the 2018 World Cup on the horizon (should we qualify).
World Cup domination – March
Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand were the favourites coming into this year’s Cricket World Cup and proved almost impossible to split when they met in an Eden Park thriller in the group stage.
The Kiwis took the home the biscuits in that one, but fell short at the final hurdle, succumbing to Michael Clarke’s men in the final with current skipper Steve Smith hitting the winning runs.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable tournament which saw Ireland cause upsets and England exiting at the group stage. The semi-final showdown between South Africa and New Zealand was perhaps one of the best one-dayers I’ve seen as far.
Remembering Richie – April
Staying with Cricket, and from player to leader to administrator to broadcaster, Richie Benaud was a pivotal and beloved part of cricket over 60 years.
A man who has probably had the most impact on a sport that we’ll ever see will be sorely miss with his death in April leaving a gaping hole in the commentary box.
In the space of just a few months, Cricket lost two utterly fantastic men with Philip Hughes passing away in November 2014. The way the sport has dealt with these tragedies is a true testament to all involved with the great game.
Delly’s moment of fame – June
With so much talk around Dante Exum, Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut coming into the 2014/15 NBA season, Matthew Dellavedova was something of a forgotten man. That was until the finals.
Dellavedova’s presence was made even more pivotal when starting Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving succumbed to a leg injury that had been plaguing him all season. In steps Delly.
His tenacious defence hounded Golden State’s MVP, Stephen Curry, into a rare poor shooting night and he nailed the game-winning free throws as the Cavs squared he series at 1-1.
Ultimately, the Cavs fell short to Andrew Bogut’s Warriors, but for a few days in June, the basketball world was about our Delly.
Matildas impress in Canada – June
The Matildas’ performance at the Women’s World Cup in Canada was one of the most enjoyable national sporting experiences of the year.
After somehow emerging from the group of death that included the eventual champs USA, the Matildas came up against the world number seven Brazil in the round of 16.
Kyah Simon became Australia’s latest footballing hero when she pounced on a mistake by Brazil goalkeeper Luciana, slotting home the game-winner in the 80th minute.
Their memorable run ended in the quarter finals against Japan, but their attacking and tenacious style inspired a nation and began a frank and honest national discussion about pay inequality.
Crows find inner strength without Walsh – July
The death of Phil Walsh saw the AFL stop in its tracks in July. It was hard to believe that such a tragedy had happened and the league wisely did not force Adelaide to play the following weekend.
When they did take the field again, it was in front of an emotional back drop of solidarity and sadness. The fact the Crows fell to the Eagles barely mattered.
Players wept as they left the ground and their spirited performance for the rest of the season made them the go-to second team for fans.
Walsh’s love of the game was ever present in the way he led the Crows and sport’s unifying and healing qualities were on show during 2015.
Fanning vs. the shark – July
One of the scariest moments of the year turned out to be one of the great sports stories for 2015. Mick Fanning fighting off a shark at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa was as crazy as we’ll ever see.
Terrifying to witness but fortunately, Fanning escaped with only a broken leash and one hell of a story. The level of concern among the surfers at the event was genuinely touching and he and Julian Wilson were awarded the Spirt of Sport award.
Goodes’ career comes to an end sadly – July
Racism and woeful fan behaviour became just too much on a number of occasions during the 2015 AFL season, but there was no chapter uglier than the booing that plagued Adam Goodes around the country.
It became too much for the dual Brownlow medallist after a round-17 game in Perth and he was given time off by the Swans.
Despite the support Goodes received, the saga eventually played a part in a sad end to the career of one of the AFL’s greatest players and most important indigenous ambassadors.
Aussies fail in the UK yet again – August
This one hurt.
This was meant to be the series where the green and gold would finally triumph on UK soil for the first time since the 2001 Ashes series. To send skipper Michael Clarke out on a high. It was the perfect scenario.
Unfortunately, it never eventuated, and we were beaten by the old enemy yet again.
It all came crashing down at Trent Bridge where England had a 2-1 lead. On day 1, after an over Australia were two wickets down and 111 balls later, after a spell of accurate bowling by Stuart Broad and inept batting, the Ashes were all but gone.
Australia had lost the series in the space of 94 minutes in Nottingham.
Hayne Plane takes off – August
Is Jarryd Hayne’s NFL code switch a success?
Obviously the jury is still out, but its impossible to forget that three-week stretch when he owned the NFL pre season.
However, once the season started, Hayne’s role was diminished. His mistake rate crept towards the unsustainable and he was eventually waived, returning a few days later with the practice squad.
He’s been away from matchday ever since, but the fact he was willing to make the switch at the peak of his powers and earn a contract in a completely different sport is a remarkable achievement already.
Jason Day finally get his moment – August
Jason Day went through hell to become a professional golfer and even in recent years has had just about as many heartbreaking major losses as anyone.
That’s why it was such a beautiful sight to see Day brake through to claim his maiden win at the PGA Championship.
The Queenslander held strong to finish 5-under in the final round to finish a record 20-under and secure the Wanamaker Trophy in one of the most objectively happy sport stories of the year.
Farwell to the king of the Cup – August
If Cricket lost its most recognisable presence when Richie Benaud died in April, then Australian horse racing lost its equivalent when Bart Cummings passed away at the end of August.
The 87-year old had been a fixture of the Melbourne Cup and won the race a record 12 times despite being told when he was just 16 to stay away from horses due to his chronic asthma.
Gerard Whateley summed him up perfectly; “It felt like Australian sport had lost its grandfather figure”.
You’ll be missed Bart.
Make that three in a row please – October
A premiership three-peat is one thing, but completing it in such a comprehensive manner really put this most recent dominance of Hawthorn in rare territory.
In the AFL grand final, the veteran Hawks were supposed to come up against a scintillating young Eagles team that would push their old legs to the limit. That didn’t happen.
The game was effectively over by half-time and the Hawks continued on their merry way, winning their third flag as 46 point victors over the shellshocked Eagles.
The greatest NRL grand final? – October
This year’s NRL grand final was one of those rare sporting events that was hyped up beyond belief and still actually managed to exceed expectations.
Played at a ferocious pace, the game ebbed and flowed as a good grand final should, but the Broncos had the game in hand in the dying seconds, until Jonathan Thurston arrived.
With 10 seconds left in regulation, Thurston bobbed and weaved his way out of two tackles and found running mate Michael Morgan, who powered through the line and produced a sensational back-handed offload to Kyle Feldt for the game-tying try.
Thurston’s field goal sealed the first premiership for the Cowboys and secured him the Clive Churchill Medal in an unbelievable season for the game’s greatest player.
So close, but so far – November
The Wallabies were, for the most part, brilliant at this year’s Rugby World Cup, and maybe even exceeded expectations, but they ultimately fell short in all too familiar fashion.
The Aussies were deserved finalists but in the biggest game of the tournament, old foes New Zealand were just too good for David Pocock and co.
A clutch Dan Carter drop goal five minutes later after Tevita Kuridrani’s 65th minute try followed shortly after 50-metre penalty and a Beauden Barrett try put an end to the Wallabies’ hopes for a record third title.
Payne wins hearts – November
Michelle Payne and her brother and strapper Steven won the applause of many fans heading into the Melbourne Cup.
Payne’s ground-breaking win at Flemington was bettered only by her brilliant “Get Stuffed” speech after the running that called out the inherent patriotism in Australian horse racing.
In a banner year for women’s sport, Payne’s victory and all-round class and attitude were the perfect icing on the cake.
World’s fastest growing sport rolls into Melbourne – November
Some experts claimed they saw it coming, but it was truly stunning to witness Holly Holm end Ronda Rousey’s unbeaten run in the UFC octagon.
The writing was on the wall as Rousey’s aggression saw her barrel face-first into a handful of the former boxing champ’s vicious left crosses.
By the end of the first round in front of a record crowd at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, the UFC’s biggest star was bloodied and had seen her takedown and wrestling ability negated by Holm’s powerful stand-up game.
Holm continued to rock Rousey with a host of strong punches before finishing the fight 59 seconds into the second round with a devastating left-foot that landed under Rousey’s jaw, flattening the champion and rocking the UFC.
The question isn’t a case of whether it will happen or not, but when the UFC will be back in the sporting capital of Australia.
Lights, action and a pink ball – November
The pink ball had its issues and players remain less than 100 per cent convinced, but if sport is really for the fans, then the inaugural day-night Test could only be considered a success.
About 120,000 people made their way through the gates to watch the first real bat-versus-ball battle of the series with millions more tuning in at home.
It could be the start of a revolution.
Fanning gets rocked again and powers through – December
Mick Fanning was within touching distance of his fourth world title on the eve of his round-three heat at Pipe Masters in Hawaii.
Fanning had received the news that his older brother, Peter, had died in his sleep. The second brother Fanning has lost.
He surfed a brilliant heat to remain in the hunt, and while he did fall short of the title, he once again earned worldwide respect and admiration for his strength and skill.
So it was a fantastically eventful year for Australian sport in 2015 which contained all the emotions. From glory to tragedy, we saw It all and how the sporting community rallies together to show true Australian values. We teams conquer and Women’s sport reach newfound heights with the Matildas and the Women’s cricket team clinching the Ashes.
2016 is sure to be just as good with many more sporting moments still to come. Until then, so long 2015!
Thanks for a great year.