Formula One race at the weekend saw Jenson Button take the greatest victory of
his career after an extraordinary, weather-delayed epic in which the Englishman
stopped an astonishing six times.
No race in
motorsport's premier series has ever gone on longer, prompting us to look at
the top 10 epic encounters in the history of sport - starting off with the
astonishing race in Montreal.
Remember, we're looking at length rather than the subjective meaure of epic greatness - but if you feel we've left out your favourite drawn-out battle, please let us know in the comments box down below.
Formula One: Jenson Button wins the weather-hit
Canadian Grand Prix in 2011
As soon as Jenson
Button overtook Sebastian Vettel on the final lap to clinch an astonishing victory
in Montreal, people were referring to the race as one of the greatest in the
history of Formula One.
And though debate
will continue to rage as to whether the epic encounter was the greatest or not,
there's no doubt that it was the longest: the chequered flag finally came down
four hours, four minutes 39.537 seconds after the race began.
are actually limited to two hours, but red flag delays don't count towards the
tally - thus allowing the epic race to run its complete distance on Sunday. The
previous longest-ever race in F1 was the Indy 500 in 1951, which took three
hours 57 minutes 38.05 seconds.
Tennis: The Mahut-Isner match at Wimbledon in
many general sports fans with a passing interest in tennis who couldn't tell
you off the top of their heads who won Wimbledon last year. But every single
one of them remembers the names of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, whose epic
first round match in the men's singles in 2010 finished 6-4 3-6 6-7 7-6 70-68
began at just after six o'clock on Tuesday evening, with play continuing for
almost three hours before being suspended due to bad light. The players resumed
at 2pm the next day, and played right through until ten past nine in the
evening when it was suspended once again at 59 games all in the fifth set, with
the conclusion taking place on the Thursday with a final one hour and five
minutes of play before the American won thanks to a forehand right on the line
followed by a backhand passing shot.
broke every endurance record in the sport: the longest match (eight hours 11
minutes), the greatest number of games (183), the greatest number of aces in a
match (216) and the longest set ever played (eight hours 11 minutes). That fifth set alone would have been the longest match in
tennis history all on its own.
Golf: The 1931 US Open that went on for 144
golfer Charles von Elm hammered in a birdie putt to force a play-off with Billy
Burke for the 1931 US Open at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, he had no idea
what he was letting himself - and the crowd - in for.
already played the final two rounds of regulation play on Sunday alongside Burke,
the two returned on Monday morning for the play-off - which, at the time, meant
a 36-hole stroke play match between the tied players.
looked set to finish things up on the Monday night, but for the second
consecutive day Von Elm canned a birdie on the final green - thereby triggering
another 36-hole play-off on the Tuesday.
players exhausted and staggering around the course like a pair of punch-drunk
brawlers, Von Elm finally looked to have
blown it when he missed a two-foot tap-in on the 16th hole of the afternoon
round to go two shots behind.
dropped a shot to see his lead cut to one, and then Von Elm's approach to the
last gave him a decent chance at a birdie to force another yet 36 holes. To the
immense relief of all - probably including Von Elm himself - the ball came up just
short, and Burke was the winner with a score of 589 to 590 over the 144 holes.
the USGA changed the rules on play-offs just a few months later to the current
format: 18 holes followed by sudden death.
Cricket: The longest Test match, South Africa v
England in 1939
the influence of TV demanded the limiting of sporting uncertainty, it was not
uncommon for Test (and even occasionally first class) cricket matches to be played
on an unlimited time basis.
match against the South Africans in Durban was just such a match. The last game
of the series started badly for the tourists as their first innings reply to
South Africa's 530 left them 214 runs behind, with the hosts setting them an
improbable 695 to win.
England seemed equal to the task, despite the early loss of star player Len Hutton (pictured): they kept plugging away, eventually reaching
654-5 at the end of the 10th day of scheduled play.
day was March 14 - and the English team's boat back home left on the 15th. England
needed just 42 more runs to win, but with no hope of another boat home for some
time the two sides agreed to a draw that still left the tourists as 1-0 series
Baseball: The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester
Red Wings play for 33 innings in 1981
ninth and final inning of the Minor League clash in Pawtuckt, Rhode Island came
to an end it seemed that the Red Wings were about to win - that is until Russ
Laribee drove in a run for Chico Walker at the bottom of the ninth to force extra
quite work out that way. Nothing could separate the teams right up until 4:07am
the next day - Easter Sunday - when somebody got the league commissioner on the
phone to get permission to halt the match in the 32nd inning.
The game had
almost finished in the 21st inning until Pawtucket's Wade Boggs drove in a run
to tie the match once again, prompting the player to admit that, "I didn't
know if the guys on the team wanted to hug me or slug me."
eventually returned over two months later - the next time the Red Wings were in
town - when the game was finished off in the space of a single innings as Dave
Koza drove in a winning run after just 18 minutes.
Boxing: Andy Bowen and Jack Burke go 111 rounds
in New Orleans in 1893
bareknuckle era boxing matches always continued to a knockout - but on April 6,
1993, even that brutal rule and seven hours 19 minutes of fighting could not
separate Jack Burke and Andy Bower.
Burke (pictured) had
broken every single bone in both of his hands but still refused to give up,
with the encounter only being stopped and declared a no-contest by referee John Duffy when both boxers
were too dazed and exhausted even to come out of their corners for the 112th
Football: 44 penalties taken in Argentine penalty
shoot-out in 1989
Back in the
late 1980s the Argentine league instituted a rule that came into force at the
end of any drawn match, whereby the two teams would hold a penalty shootout to
be allocated one extra point.
But when Racing
Club drew 2-2 at Argentinos Juniors in November 1989 nobody had any idea what
was about to happen: the resulting penalty shoot-out saw 44 spot kicks taken
before Argentinos finally won 20-19.
Rugby: Leicester beat Cardiff Blues in a
shoot-outs in football are one thing, since every professional footballer knows
how to kick a ball. But the decision to introduce penalty shoot-outs into
Heineken Cup rugby only slipped through the net due to the relative rarity of
draws in top-level rugby.
came to an end in spectacularly embarrassing fashion in May 2009 when Leicester
drew 26-26 with Cardiff Blues after extra-time in their Heineken Cup
brought the spectre of a shoot-out, with each player expected to land a place
kick from the 22m line in front of the posts. The first few kicks passed
without incident until Johnny Murphy pulled Leicester's fourth kick to the left,
but Tom James then missed for Cardiff to the right.
Welsh star Martyn Williams missed the eighth kick for the Blues to allow
Leicester's Jordan Crane (a decent footballer as a youngster) to pop the ball
through the posts and put the Tigers into European rugby's showcase final.
Crane's successful kick also robbed expectant neutrals of the chance to see
ungainly props attempting place kicks. You can't have it all.
Football: Arsenal and Liverpool play 12 extra minutes
in their Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium 2011
appeared to have kept their faltering title challenge alive on April 17 after Robin
Van Persie slotted home from 12 yards in the eighth minute of injury time following
a foul on Cesc Fabregas by Jay Spearing.
Yet the Gunners'
fans cheers quickly changed to whistles as referee Andre Marriner resolutely
refused to blow the final whistle after the restart - yet even as he was
brining the whistle to his lips a brainless push by Emmanuel Eboue on Lucas
Leiva gifted the Reds a chance to level. Dirk Kuyt slammed the ball in with the
final kick of the match to end the title dreams of Arsene Wenger's men.
this is not the longest injury time on record: that came at the end of the
first half of a match between Brentford and Bristol City in 2001 when a succession
of injuries (including a broken leg, a concussion and a dislocated shoulder
that demanded an ambulance be driven onto the pitch) compelled the ref to add
on an extra 23 minutes.
Snooker: Cliff Thorburn v Terry Griffiths at
the World Championship in 1983
finish ever seen at the Crucible came in the second-round match between the
Canadian and the Welshman.
previous match having run on, Thorburn and 1979 champion Griffiths didn't even
get onto the table until 8:55pm, with play continuing for almost seven hours
until Thorburn ran out a 13-12 winner at 3:51am.
It was one
of the most momentous matches in snooker's history: in the fourth frame
Thorburn, who went on to win the title, recorded the first ever maximum break in
the World Championships.