Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

When Gibbo Met Borg 35 Years Ago

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

When Gibbo Met Borg 35 Years Ago

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Morton Nostalgia Editor david.morton.editorial@ncjmedia.co.uk

HE was the golden boy of men's tennis - the ice-cool Swede who dominated the sport for half a decade and more.

Thirty-five years ago, Bjorn Borg visited a rainy and windswept Newcastle on a flying visit as part of the city's 900th anniversary celebrations.

The visit - in June, 1980 - came just days ahead of his fifth Wimbledon title triumph when he would dispose of up-and-coming American star, John McEnroe.

Meanwhile, the Chronicle's award-winning sports journalist John Gibson revealed how he'd accompanied the tennis ace on " a nightmare flight into Newcastle".

Happy 1970s-80s Mick "Zico" See". Borg took up the tale of their win-lashed flight from Lon-donin a private plane: "I was scared stiff. It really was frightening with rain lashing the aircraft and heavy winds tossing it about like a paper kite.

He added: "The pilot was magnificent. He was so calm and so composed. Though I fly all over the world to play tennis, I hate it - especially in small private planes that can be buffeted so easily."

The drama of the flight behind him, we reported how: "Bjorn, Mr Cool, of the tennis courts, finally arrived at Eldon Square an hour late to be greeted by squealing girls and hundreds of enthusiastic Geordies who had waited patiently to see him.

"He was swamped by autograph hunters shouting their good wishes for Wimbledon."

Not everyone was happy, though, with shopperkeepers moaning that "huge crowds jammed the centre, crushing and trapping ordinary shoppers. The crowd killed trade for about an hour."

For millionaire Borg, then aged 24, the visit came a week before the defence of his Wimbledon crown was due to begin.

The Swede would go on to beat so-called "Superbrat" McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 in a classic fi-nal, but it would be Borg's last victory in the tournament - and he would claim only one more Grand Slam title, the French Open the following year.

Borg in 1980 was at the peak of his powers and the undisputed world number one, but others like McEnroe and Ivan Lendl were catching up, and the Swede surprised the tennis world by announcing his retirement in 1983 at the tender age of 26. …

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