It’s 25 years ago this week that Oasis released their debut album Definitely Maybe to critical acclaim. The controversial Mancunian five-piece fronted by John Lennon wannabee Liam Gallagher became icons of the BritPop revolution that took over the world in ’94 and for the next 14 years, until their split in 2008, pretty much released a host of albums that sounded like a cross between The Beatles and Slade.
They drove millions of Japanese kids to start supporting Manchester City after Liam and his songwriter brother Noel (the brains of the outfit) declared their undying love to the Maine Road club, though the latter recently admitted he had always had a soft spot for Arsenal and Celtic and hadn’t ever set foot inside City’s former home until the band’s now legendary gig there in 1996.
The sporting world was a very different place too in 1994 as we now take a look back at who was making the news as Definitely Maybe hit the printing presses.
ROCK “n” ROLL STAR
Manchester United were the undisputed kings of English football led by charismatic Frenchman Eric Cantona, whose penalty double at Wembley in the 1994 FA Cup Final, ensured the Red Devils beat Chelsea 4-0 to secure their first ever league and cup double. Cantona, along with Welsh wing wizard Ryan Giggs, made United the most fashionable club in the world and Giggsy was adopting the Rock n Roll lifestyle by hopping into the sack with TV presenter and blonde bombshell Dani Behr.
Nine months, however, is a long time in football and by the following May, United’s Premier League dominance was ended by Blackburn Rovers after big-money signing Andy Cole missed 20 gilt-edged chances away at West Ham on the final day of the campaign.
Jimmy “The Whirlwind White” continued to be everyone’s favourite loser after once again failing to lift the World Snooker Championship following a dramatic 18-17 defeat to acne riddled Scotsman Stephen Hendry. Having read White’s autobiography about his off-table lifestyle, it’s a miracle “The Whirlwind” was capable of even standing never mind taking the world’s best player to a final-frame decider and looking back 25 years later, the match referee must have wondered if the powder on the floor by Jimmy’s seat was all actually chalk dust.
This was Hendry’s third consecutive world title (his fourth in five years) but most observers were impressed by an 18-year-old English kid called Ronnie O’Sullivan, who demolished former champ Dennis Taylor 10-6 in the opening round.
CIGARETTES & ALCOHOL
1994 was a pivotal year for darts with 16 of the world’s top players deciding to break from the British Darts Organisation to form their own World Championship under a new organisation called the Professional Darts Corporation headed up by sports promoter extraordinaire Barry Hearn.
Fed up of being made to drink piss-weak lager whilst earning just enough prize money to cover their nightly curries at the Lakeside Country Club at Frimley Green, 16 of the best players in the world including Phil Taylor, Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson and John Lowe, left to join the Hearn stable and play in the new-look event which took place at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet.
Taylor was on the verge of world dominance in the sport but “The Power” was hammered 6-1 by Dennis “The Menace” Priestly in the final before going on to win the title for the next eight years.
Track six on Definitely Maybe lasts for four minutes and 43 seconds; about the time it took Pete Sampras to demolish Goran Ivanisevic in the 1994 Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final.
The all-American boy from California brushed the moaning Croatian aside in straight sets to claim the second of his seven titles at SW19. Henmania was still 12 months away so in the summer of 94, there was still no need for the BBC to repeatedly show panoramic views of a mound of grass with about 2000 middle-class Londoners behaving as though the Bay City Rollers had just walked on stage (one for the teenagers there!)
Sampras remained the most boring sportsman of the decade, until losing his crown to a guy from Switzerland who still gets Sue Barker weak at the knees every July.
In August 1994 the UK actually had a World Heavyweight Boxing champion in the shape of Herbie Hide after the man nicknamed “The Dancing Destroyer,” knocked out defending WBO champ Michael Bentt in the seventh round of their contest at Millwall’s New Den Stadium.
It never really got much better for Hide, however, and within 12 months he’d been flattened by Riddick Bowe inside six rounds although he did regain the vacant title in 1997 by beating Tony Tucker; a man so fat they needed a cherry picker to get him into the ring. As the 90’s gave way to the noughties, Hide was keeping some questionable company and spent large parts of the decade hopping in and out of prison until receiving a two-year custodial for possession of cocaine in 2013.