Rugby union’s Richard and Will Greenwood reveal to David Edwards their greatest, most dramatic finishes in sport, whether as a player, coach or fan
This sounds the most arrogant thing anyone will ever hear,” Will Greenwood says. We are talking about the greatest sporting finishes, the most dramatic conclusions to major matches, tournaments and contests, and surely he will nominate Sydney, 22 November 2003? But no. “I never ever believed we’d lose that World Cup final,” he says.
“And you jolly well shouldn’t have,” says his father Richard, himself a former England captain and coach, who has joined us for the discussion ahead of Father’s Day next weekend. “You should never have let them back in the game at 14-5 up.”
England’s Rugby World Cup triumph 13 years ago, when Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal 30 seconds from the end of extra time won that see-saw battle with Australia, would be many people’s pick for greatest sporting finish – but not the Greenwoods.
Will goes back even further for his own greatest finish. “I’ve just had a 25-year reunion of the Sedbergh School first XV, 1990-91, and all we could remember was probably the only drop goal I ever kicked, late on, from 40 yards, to beat Durham School 10-9.”
Richard, ever the supportive father, was there to see it. “The ball came to Will and he dropped the goal as cool as you like. He never planned it, just did it.”
Richard says his greatest finish was the 1969 County Championship final when he captained Lancashire away to Cornwall at a passionate, packed Redruth.
“We played down the hill towards Hellfire Corner in the first half and found ourselves 9-0 down. We came back with two absolutely top-drawer tries (then worth three points apiece) and a couple of kicks and we won 11-9.
“The ground held 12,000 and 22,000 were there. The roof of the stand was covered in spectators. There was a big JCB at one end with its bucket in the air – there were 20 guys in the bucket.”
Both choose football for their greatest finishes in other sports. For Will it was the Etihad Stadium in 2012 and Manchester City’s first league title in 44 years – pipping United on the season’s final day.
“That was a real father-son moment. Me and my boy Archie, then eight, were behind the goal when [Sergio] Agüero scored the winner [in the fifth minute of added time against QPR]. Ricky Hatton was there with his son. The four of us jumped up and down like crazy loons.”
Richard has run a corporate hospitality business for many years and he mixed business with pleasure one night in 1999.
He says: “Manchester United in Barcelona,” nominating when United, 1-0 down in added time, somehow beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League and the treble. “I had a planeload of punters out there and I thought, I’m going to have a miserable bunch... and suddenly I didn’t.”
Will says: “That was the year of the greatest finishes. It had United beating Bayern, Sheringham and Solskjaer; it had Man City 2-0 down against Gillingham in the Division Two play-off final but winning on penalties; and Jean van de Velde miles clear in the Open, getting the most ridiculous piece of bad luck ever to ping off the stands into the water.”
What my father taught me
Will: “Incredible patience on a golf course. I watched Dad look after me and now I look after Archie. I was down the driving range recently with Archie and the old me would be, ‘Just bloody whack it’. But actually I just cajoled
and encouraged him.”
Richard: “My father gave me my motto. He said, ‘Son, it’s all a matter of timing.’ It doesn’t matter if it’s a cover drive, a mid-iron or when you’re moving from job to job. Everything you do depends on timing.”
Will: “But I differ slightly from the old man in that I will let my two boys win a game of cards now and again.”
Richard: “He’ll say that I never gave him the slightest chance. But I got my comeuppance when Will was 11 and he won his first series of kitchen cricket. I knew then my number was up.”
Treat your dad this Father’s Day to a personalised bottle of ‘Glenmorangie – The Spirit Of The Open’ ahead of Royal Troon. Go to glenmorangie.com/shop
Vote for your greatest finishes to The Open
From Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’s final-round “Duel in the Sun” to Jean van de Velde’s final-hole meltdown at Carnoustie, the list of Greatest Finishes to the Open is long and distinguished. Vote for your favourite from the full shortlist at glenmorangie.com/golf
Jean van de Velde, 1999
“I’ve seen [him] around. I want to hug him but he’s remarkably serene about the whole thing.”
The Duel in the Sun, 1977
“It was unbelievably gripping. I used to play Turnberry every year so I could visualise it. I knew where every shot was played from, like when Watson played that approach up the 17th that effectively won it.”
Vote for your favourite #GreatestFinishes at glenmorangie.com/golf