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Today but then. 9th July.

A busy day today in history.

Firstly, a Happy Independence Day, or Feliz día de la independencia to Argentina. Today in 1816, the independence of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata was declared (which included modern-day Argentina, Uruguay, and part of Bolivia) in a meeting of Congress. A war of independence had been waged since 1810, and continued on for a further 2 years after independence from Spain was declared, until 1818. This flag is the one from 1816, before the Sun of May was introduced in 1818.

In 1984, a lightening bolt hit the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, known as York Minster. The resulting fire destroyed the roof of the south transept, and cost £2.5million to repair. The cathedral is the second largest gothic style cathedral in Europe, the largest being in Seville. There has been a church on the site of York Minster since 627AD, and the current structure was built between 1230 and 1472. By the time it was complete, the project had taken over 300 years. How cathedrals were built around this time is a fascinating and while Ken Follett's novel, The Pillars of the Earth is not based in York, it does detail the building of a cathedral around the same time. it is well worth a read and you can buy a copy here.

In 1990, after negotiations had commenced to see the end to apartheid in South Africa, the country had its Olympic ban, which had been in place since 1962, lifted. This paved the way for South Africa to compete in Barcelona in 1992, and they were formally invited to participate there on the 25th July, 1991.

On a more light-hearted note, 2001was the year, and this was the day, that The Office premiered on British television. Even as I'm writing this, I'm playing the tune of the famous dance scene in my head, and chuckling at "Winersh...Taplow...Burfield." The first British comedy to be nominated for (and to win) a Golden Globe, it only captured the attention of viewers on its second outing. Two series and a 2-part Christmas special created what is widely acknowledged as a classic British comedy, and like many, it went to the US. It was remade there for the American audience and ran for 9 series, winning a Golden Globe as well. It's probably the best US remake of a UK comedy show, along with maybe Veep (being a US version of The Thick of It) or Sanford and Son, being a US remake of Steptoe and Son.

Zinadine Zidane got his head in the game for the last time today (but then), as he was sent off for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final today in 2006. Zidane had opened the scoring on 7 minutes, scoring from the penalty spot, and Matterazzi equalised 12 minutes later. The scores remained unchanged at 90 minutes, so extra-time was played. Five minutes into the second period, with just 10 minutes left to play, Zidanne head-butted Materazzi after some disputed 'trash' talk, resulting in the 14th red card of Zidanne's career. Italy went on to win 5-4 on penalties, and lift the cup for the forth time.

Keeping on the football theme, happy birthday to Ashley Young, English footballer, who is 33 today. From starting out at Watford, to joining Aston Villa for a club record £8 million in 2006, to his current team, Manchester United, Young has made 405 senior club appearances and scored 62 goals. Currently enjoying a great World Cup in Russia, he's also known for having gone to school in Stevenage with Lewis Hamilton, and playing alongside him in the school football team.

Talking about Aston Villa, and finally today, happy birthday to a double Oscar winner. With 87 acting and 55 producing credits to his name, famed Aston Villa fan Tom Hanks, turns 62 today. He is quoted as saying he likes the olde world sounding of Aston Villa, that it sounds nice, and could be a 'spa' type of place. Hmmm. Any way, happy birthday Tom, and perhaps I'll watch Philadelphia and Forest Gump tonight, recognising your back-to-back Oscar wins from 1994 and 1995.

Thanks for reading!