“The old fogey almost did it,” said Tom Watson famously after coming so close to winning the 2009 Open at Turnberry. Watson was 59 when he had an eight-foot putt at the last to win in Ayrshire, 26 years after his last major triumph. Unfortunately, it didn’t go in and he lost in the play-off to fellow American Stewart Cink. It was, however, a performance for the ages.
An eight-time World Snooker Championship winner between 1948 and 1956, Davis remained on the professional tour until 1993, aged 80, when he stopped playing due to arthritis in his left knee. When the world rankings were introduced in 1976 Davis was ranked fourth at the age of 63.
The Czech-born great capped off her trophy-laden tennis career by winning the mixed doubles at the 2006 US Open with Bob Bryan. Navratilova was only about a month shy of her 50th birthday and broke her own record as the oldest ever major champion.
An English cricketer whose Test career spanned 58 matches between 1899 and 1930. He was the first Englishman to complete the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in Test matches. He is the oldest player to have played in a Test match, his final appearance coming at the age of 52 years and 165 days.
The great Welsh full-back played in the Grand Slam-winning teams of 1971, 1976 and 1978, and helped the Lions to series wins over New Zealand and South Africa. He retired from international rugby in 1981 but continued to play club rugby for Bridgend and for Tondu Thirds into his fifties before hanging up his boots in 2003
Sir Stanley Matthews
The Wizard of the Dribble played in England’s top flight for Stoke City at the age of 50 years and five days. In a career interrupted by the war, he represented England when he was 42 and inspired Blackpool to their 1953 FA Cup final triumph at 38 in what was the “game of his life”. It was dubbed the Matthews Final despite team-mate Stan Mortensen scoring a hat-trick in the 4-3 comeback win over Bolton Wanderers.
Other notable oldies
David Weir captained Rangers to the 2011 league title on the week of his 41st birthday. Bobby Geddes became the oldest goalkeeper in the UK when he came off the bench for Dundee against Raith Rovers in 2010 at 49 years, eight months and nine days. And Clyde manager Danny Lennon was 50 when he brought himself on as a sub in a Glasgow Cup victory over Celtic two years ago.