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DAN O'NEILL's review of the year gone by looks back at the headlines we were all reading in May and June.


Lament for Labour! Blaenau Gwent, Nye's old fiefdom, and Merthyr both lost to the party in local elections with protest vote seeing Independents moving in, among them Ron Davies with a win in Caerphilly. And protest at petrol prices bring blockages on the M4.

Meanwhile, it's down to earth for eccentric St Donats aviator Maurice Kirk. Ten days after a forced landing near George Bush's Texas ranch the 63-year-old is bunged into a psychiatric hospital while awaiting deportation. His licence is taken away, too.

Thousands of City fans flock to Wembley for the biggest day since 1927. But this time no repeat. Prermier Division side Portsmouth win 1-0 but the Bluebirds do us proud.


They're calling it the May Day Massacre, Brown's Blackest Day and yes, with Labour losing more than 300 seats, finishing third behind the Lib Dems with the Tories taking Northern seats, it's Labour's worst local elections for almost half a century.

Another huge blow when Boris Johnson, derided as a buffoon, beats Ken Livingstone to become Lord Mayor of London.

"I feel your hurt," says Gordon. And things get worse when Labour lose Crewe and Nantwich, the first Tory by-election win for 30 years.

Why the huge media fuss over the shooting of one man in London where gun killings are becoming a fact of life. Or death? Because Mark Saunders is a 30-year-old barrister earning pounds 500,000 a year, shot by police as he waved a gun from the window of his pounds 2m Chelsea flat. Reports say he was drunk after a domestic row. And 18-year-old Harry Potter actor Ronnie Knox is the 14th teenager knifed to death in the city.

A Northern Ireland couple found drunk in charge of their three children at an Algarve airport do a runner before a court hearing. Eamon and Antoinette McGuckin claim their drinks were spiked. Princess Anne's boy Peter Phillips weds Autumn Kelly and grabs pounds 500,000 from Hello! for exclusive pix.


Still so many questions over the Josef Fritzl horror in Austria. Mainly, how could his wife not know that beneath her home was a dungeon where her daughter had been imprisoned for 24 years, bearing seven children to her monster father? And why didn't it come to light until one of those children, 19, was taken to hospital? In Portugal, there are church services and prayers on the first anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

More than 100,000 die and millions are homeless or missing when a cyclone devastates Burma. But the ruling military junta refuses to allow foreign aid workers in to help. In China an earthquake kills 70,000 and makes five million homeless and there are more deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Michael Fourniret gets life for the rape and murder of seven women and it's life, too, for wife Monique. A monstrous couple we call the Fred and Rosemary West of France.


Yes, said Robbie Williams, he'd be a judge of the Comedy Awards. But now it's revealed, only if his mates Ant and Deck won something. They did - the People's Choice Award. But Catherine Tate was the real people's choice, so A & D said they'd send their trophy back. Just one of a series of telly scandals, mainly phone-in vote scams, rocking the industry.

Even Spain's dictator Franco was in on the act. We discover he ordered the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest held in his country to be rigged in favour of Spain when it should have been congratulations Cliff for, yes, Congratulations.

Britain's Got Talent winner is 14-year-old break dancer George Sampson, who collects pounds 100,000, while Jodie Prenger, 28, gets role of Nancy in Oliver after a TV vote.


More sacks than Santa sees in December. Llanelli's rugby director Phil Davies is fired - and finds out only when he reads the local paper. Despicable say fans, and scarlet faces for Scarlets' committee.

Lyn Jones loses Ospreys' job after poor Heineken Cup run, Munster beating Toulouse 16-3 in the final. Man City sack Sven and Avram Grant is booted out of Chelsea after losing the Champions League Final on penalties to Man U, Ryan Giggs making a record-breaking 759th appearance for the club.

Leeds' appeal against their 15-point deduction fails, they miss out on top place, so Swansea go up to the Championship as champions. West Brom and Stoke move into the Premier.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Monaco Grand Prix to top the drivers' table and Lawrence Dalaglio bows out in style, helping Wasps take the Premiership title, beating Leicester 26-16.

Soccer shame: Newcastle's Joey Barton gets six months for "cowardly attack" on 16-year-old Jordan Spencer in Liverpool on December 27 last year. And Glasgow Rangers fans riot in Manchester after losing UEFA Cup Final to Russia's Zenith St Petersburg, 15 police injured, 42 fans arrested. And disgraced sprinter Dwayne Chambers' hopes of a Rugby League career go when Castleford Tigers release him.


Actor Bernard Archard, 91, Country music legend Eddie Arnold, 89, artist Beryl Cook, 81.



More tragedy for a Bridgend already reeling from a spate of young apparent suicides.

A couple are found near death in woods outside the town a week after the death of their two-year-old son Dylan.

Paul Hughes, 30, and Crystal, 24, have overdosed on drugs and alcohol.

Then 26-year-old Neil Owen becomes the 21st suspected suicide in the area, found hanged six weeks after his best friend Sean Rees died in similar fashion.

He is followed by Carwyn Jones, 28, another hanging. Then, two months after breaking his neck playing for Neath against Cardiff, 28-year-old Gareth Jones dies.

Ex-cop Geoffrey Harris, 49, due in court on child porn charges, is stabbed to death in the driveway of his Trimsaran home. And holiday horror when Adam Thomas, of Maesteg, falls to his death from a Turkish hotel balcony.

The 22-year-old was abroad for the first time with girl friend Leah Powell.

When Tory AM Alan Cairns is asked what Italy means, forget the renaissance and the glories of Rome. He replies, simply: "Greasy Wops."

He quits as shadow education minister and is temporarily suspended as Westminster candidate for the Vale.


Rocketing fuel prices and tanker drivers' strike bring empty petrol stations and huge queues - and outrage when one garage boss charges pounds 1.99 a litre.

No first anniversary party for Gordon Brown when Tories win Henley by-election, Labour fifth behind the BNP. But problems for Tories as well when Giles Chichester, leader of the party's MEPs, resigns after pounds 445,000 expenses scam.

Yesho Girma, wife of London suicide bomber Hussein Osman, gets 15 years for aiding his escape, other family members jailed for 10 years.

Pat Regan, who founded Mothers Against Violence after her son was shot dead in Liverpool in 2002, is herself killed, victim of a frenzied knife attack.

And 16-year-old Ben Kinsella, brother of former EastEnders' Brook Kinsella, is London's 12th teenage knife death of the year.

Then Navarajah Navaneethan returns from work to find five-year-old son and four-year-old daughter stabbed to death, his six-month-old daughter lying injured, her throat slit. His wife Sasikala, 35, is arrested.

And Father's Day horror when Brian Philcox, 53, is found dead in his car in North Wales with the bodies of children Amy, seven and Owen, three, hours after he collected them from ex-wife Lyn in Runcorn.


Two tragic milestones: the 100th British soldier dies in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber kills Paras Daniel Gamble, 22, and 19-year-olds Nathan Cuthbertson and David Murray. And Sarah Bryant, 26, is the first woman killed. Then Taliban suicide bombers blow up jail freeing 400 jihadists.

Robert Mugabe's supporters threaten to burn US diplomats in their car after rigged presidential election sees the opposition pulling out "to avoid further bloodshed."

A ferry sinks in the Phillipines, 800 die, hundreds more deaths on land as typhoon strikes.

But three British divers are rescued after being swept away off the Indonesian coast, surviving attacks by giant lizards. Floods in America's mid-west kill dozens. While Australia suffers the worst drought in its history.

And Barack Obama becomes the first black presidential candidate 143 years after the Civil War that ended slavery. He defeats Hillary Clinton in a race to the wire and faces Senator John McCain in November.


X Factor harpie Sharon Osbourne is now an ex-judge, bounced off following "excessive" pay demands. In steps Girls Aloud warbler Cheryl Cole, wife of Ashley. And a WAG wedding for Coleen, who ties the knot with Wayne Rooney in Italy as Little Britain's Matt Lucas and Kevin McGee untie their knot after 18 months together.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell pleads guilty to assaulting police officers at Heathrow following loss of luggage. Result: 200 hours community service and hefty fine. An OBE for Cardiff-based Dr Who mastermind Russell T Davies in Queen's Birthday Honours list, a CBE for Joe Calzaghe.


Management musical chairs: Mark Hughes succeeds Sven at Manchester City, Sven takes over as Mexico coach, Paul Ince follows Sparky at Blackburn and "Big Phil" Scolari moves into Chelsea, while City's home-grown prodigy, 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey is snapped up by Arsenal for pounds 5m.

On the dark side of soccer, Gazza's torment continues, as he is sectioned again following bizarre drunken antics.

After losing 43-17 to South Africa, Wales regain respect in second test though losing 37-21. But England smashed in New Zealand 37-20 and 44-12, problems made worse when four players feature in sex assault claims. American billionaire Alan Stanford offers EUR20m for series of one-off matches between West Indies All Stars and England, record cash on offer in India, as well. Nadal wins French Open for fourth time and Tiger takes US Open before a knee operation ending his season.


City greats Derek Tapscott, 75, and Ron Stitfall, 82, fashion king Yves Saint Laurent, 71, rock star Bo Diddley, 79, TV prankster Jonathan Routh, 80, Hollywood dancing legend Cyd Charise, 86.


WHAT A DAY: Thousands of Cardiff City fans flocked to Wembley Stadium to see their heroes take on Portsmouth in the FA Cup. Right, Boris Johnson, Ant and Dec, Lewis Hamilton and George Sampson; WELSH WONDER: Flowers in the red and white of Arsenal on top of the coffin of international footballer Derek Tapscott, inset; IN THE NEWS: Sarah Bryant, Cheryl Cole, Russell T Davies and Gazza
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 29, 2008
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