The Christchurch 1974 British Commonwealth Games - We Are England
The Christchurch 1974 British Commonwealth Games

The Christchurch 1974 British Commonwealth Games

Ian Thompson (above) and Brian Brinkley provided the highlights as England missed out on top spot by a single gold medal.

Time was short when it came to planning England's venture into New Zealand with the Games taking place at the very start of 1974, and there was the small matter of the 1972 Olympic Games before it. Funding as per usual was a worry and only thanks to a 75% travel grant from the Sports Council (Sport England) did England make it to New Zealand shores. It was an improvement on Auckland 24 years earlier however, with no five week boat journeys to contend with.

There were ten gold medals for England in athletics where big names put in some big performances. Ian Thompson's marathon title, still a Commonwealth Games record with a time of 2:09:12, was the biggest highlight. Alan Pascoe won gold and silver in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay, and European indoor champion Geoff Capes won the first of two shot put gold medals. He would later be twice crowned the world's strongest man.

In the pool England found a new hero in Brian Brinkley who won an astonishing six medals. Gold came from the 200m butterfly, three silver from the 200m and 400m individual medley plus the 4×200 m freestyle relay, and two bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay.

As with 1966 and 1970 before it, badminton was a gold mine for England producing three titles. There was an all-English final on an incredible four occasions. Gillian Gilks won three gold medals, confirming her place in the Commonwealth Games' history books. Margaret Beck (above) finished runner-up to Gilks in the women's singles final, but went on to win the women's doubles title with her by beating Margaret Boxall and Sue Whetnall.

England's cyclists broke the Australian dominance of the Games with four titles, beating their rivals three times along the way. Ian Hallam took individual pursuit gold before teaming up with Mick Bennett, Richard Evans and Will Moore for team pursuit glory.

There were also three gold medals for England in boxing with Patrick Cowdell, Billy Wright and Neville Meade winning their respective bantamweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight bouts.

Next up was a return to Canada as Edmonton hosted the nation's third Games - this time under the simpler name of the 'Commonwealth Games'.