England win the World Cup in 1966
When England won their only international tournament 50 years ago, was it all polite applause and comments of 'good show'? Quite the opposite – throughout the tournament there were spontaneous street parties across the country, and when England beat Germany in the final, witnesses recall huge roars from houses rolling up and down the streets, and people emerging with their cans of Watney's Party Sevens to dance in celebration.
Leicester City win the Premier League, 2016
Defying odds of 5000-1 are a pretty good reason to let your hair down. More than 240,000 people lined the streets of Leicester for the open top bus parade – a remarkable number when you realise the city only has a population of 330,000. It was followed by celebrations for thousands more in Victoria Park where the players took to the stage, and dedicated fans Kasabian provided the music. As if that wasn't enough, the team did the same again in Bangkok, where it is believed as many as a million turned up.
Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2004
For a baseball club as big as the Red Sox, it was incredible that they hadn't won the World Series since 1918. Their conspicuous failure was dubbed the 'Curse of the Bambino', so-called because their woes seemed to begin after they sold legendary player Babe Ruth in 1920. But in 2004, 86 years since their last triumph, they finally did it. For their victory parade, an estimated 3.2 million people packed the seven-mile route, hanging from windows, standing on rooftops and cars, and holding aloft signs that included marriage proposals. Since breaking the curse, the Red Sox have won the World Series twice more, in 2007 and 2013.
England celebrate their Ashes win, 2005
It had been 18 years since England won the Ashes, but in 2005 there was hope they might stop Australia winning their ninth series in a row. England had some great players in Kevin Pietersen, Michael Vaughan, Steve Harmison and the heir to Botham's heroic all-rounder status, Freddie Flintoff, and through a dramatic summer they eventually won the series 2-1. Cue unprecedented celebrations, including an open-top bus parade through the streets of London where thousands of fans had gathered to celebrate, a visit to meet the Queen and a stop off at Number 10 to be feted by the Prime Minister. Star of the show Flintoff was famously filmed a tad glassy-eyed and uneven on his feet.
Spain win the World Cup in 2010
They were regarded as the biggest team never to win the World Cup, but with the Euro victory in 2008, they came to South Africa in 2010 with high expectations. And when they beat the Netherland's 1-0 in the final, a nation so often fractured by different allegiances was unified in celebration. Giant screens were erected in parks and squares for the final – a quarter of a million people watched at the Paseo de Recoletos in Madrid, over 100,000 at the Plaza España in Barcelona, and millions of others in public screens across the country – and when the final whistle went, the party really started. Fireworks and flares lit up the night sky, people danced in fountains and the bars were still doing a roaring trade as the sun came up the following day.
Arsenal beat Liverpool to the championship, 1989
One of the most dramatic climaxes ever to a football season: Liverpool and Arsenal head-to-head at Anfield to decide the title, the Gunners needing to win by two clear goals. Impossible, they said, but they were wrong, Arsenal's Michael Thomas making it 2-0 in the 92nd minute of the game. Thousands descended on the streets of north London in scenes never seen before for a league game, but what's most remarkable is how the match changed English football. Eight million people tuned in to watch and, after all the troubles in the 1980s, it reminded everyone what the game was really about.
India win the cricket World Cup in 2011
Indians feel about cricket the way the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish do about football, so you can imagine the kind of national euphoria that might accompany a World Cup win on home soil. Twenty-eight years had passed since India had been victorious in the competition, so when they struck the winning runs in Mumbai, millions took to the streets. Everywhere faces were painted in the green, white and orange tricolor, and the air was thick with smoke from all the fireworks – according to statistics, more fireworks went off in one day than were normally used in a whole year.
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