Novak Djokovic eating grass at Wimbledon, a pistol-packing referee in Brazil or a Scottish goalkeeper travelling to the wrong ground for a game. It’s been a bumper year for world sports’ light-hearted moments.
Here AFP Sports picks out 20 of the best:
Whistle? Check; Cards? Check; Pistol? Check
– When things started to go wrong during a Brazilian amateur football game, the referee took drastic action. Reach for a card? No. He went for his gun! Players and staff of the Amantes da Bola and Brumahdinho teams brawled with referee Gabriel Murta getting kicked and slapped during the melee. So instead of reaching into his shirt for the card, he went back to the changing room for his firearm.
Video footage emerged of the referee brandishing a handgun at players before being led away by other match officials. No arrests were made, but according to Globo newspaper the referee was to be given a psychological evaluation.
Keeper drops major clanger
– Brechin goalkeeper Graeme Smith dropped the biggest clanger of his career after arriving for his Scottish club’s game against Stenhousemuir to discover he had gone to the wrong ground. Smith had turned up at Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview stadium for the League One clash when the fixtures was actually taking place 83 miles away at his team’s Glebe Park ground.
Smith faced a journey of over 90 minutes to make it for kick-off, but he managed to race to Angus in time to take his place in the starting line-up.
For the love of the game
– Spanish football side Getafe launched a smartphone application to help fans hook up at matches, hoping supporters would couple and boost the club’s fanbase by making Getafe-loving babies. The club said its “Getafinder” worked like the popular app Tinder in helping users meet potential mates nearby, but it will only work near the side’s Alfonso Perez stadium in the Madrid suburbs.
“Getafe is historically one of the football clubs with the fewest fans and the most empty stands in the first division,” the club said in a statement. “With this app you can seek out the Getafe fan you like best in complete anonymity. And if someone you like likes you too, make a match and procreate!”
Jets on a roll
– The New York Jets were so determined to experience all the comforts of home during their trip to face the Miami Dolphins in London that they packed 350 rolls of their own toilet paper. The NFL franchise’s senior manager of team operations told the New York Times that the Jets were bringing their own thick toilet paper to the English capital rather than relying on the thinner version Britons are used to.
“Some may say that’s a little over the top, but it didn’t really cost that much, so why not?” Aaron Degerness told the newspaper.
Azarenka fights to ‘pinish’ at US Open
– Victoria Azarenka added a new word to the tennis lexicon after her US Open third round win against Angelique Kerber — ‘pinish.’ During changeovers, the Belarusian was spotted consulting a series of motivational, self-help tips.
When asked to reveal one, she said, ‘pinish.’ “It was my coach’s idea — it’s a combination of ‘punish’ and ‘finish’,” said former Australian Open champion Azarenka.
Czech footballers punished with hard labour
– Banik Ostrava coach Radomir Korytar hit on a novel way of penalising his players for a run of poor performances — sentencing them to a spell of hard labour. Equipped with hoes, rakes, spades and saws, the players gathered at 0645 every morning to work on improving the look of their training centre.
Korytar said the players would at least know “what they are in for if they don’t do their jobs properly”. “There are some who have accepted it with good humour, but others grumble, for instance (Brazilian midfielder) Dyjan Carlos de Azevedo has complained that his arms hurt,” he told the Czech Sport daily.
Taylor’s car antics leave owner stumped
– Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor was discovered asleep in someone else’s car after Nottinghamshire’s victory over Durham in English county cricket’s One-Day Cup. Michael Whitaker was leaving for work when he found someone lying in his unlocked Chevrolet Matiz. It turned out to be the 29-year-old Taylor.
“Neither myself, the police or Brendan knew what to do,” Whitaker told the Nottingham Post.
“I don’t think he knew where he was but he was very apologetic and it quickly became clear that it was very innocent.” Whitaker added: “Realising who it was made it even funnier because how often do you find an international cricket star asleep in your car?”
Putt the question! Player proposes to girlfriend on course
– Danish golfer Andreas Harto missed the cut at the Made in Denmark tournament, but was still celebrating after proposing to his girlfriend on the 16th green.
The 27-year-old made a birdie, then gestured to his stunned girlfriend, Louise, who was watching from the sidelines and got down on one knee before plucking a jewellery box from his pocket. “I couldn’t say any words and I didn’t hear her say ‘yes’, so I had to ask her afterwards and luckily she did want to marry me so I’m a lucky man.”
Sting when you’re winning — bees stop play
A swarm of bees attacked an English pre-season football friendly, with a bee-keeper having to be called to clear the hive. The incident happened at Oldham’s ground in north-west England where the home side were to face Blackburn Rovers with photographs showing the bees had built a hive around the goalposts at one end.
“You cannot BEE serious? Hope everyone is swarming down today…,” tweeted Oldham FC. Wimbledon champion Djokovic munches a bunch
– Novak Djokovic celebrated his third Wimbledon title with a nibble of the famed Centre Court grass.
“It tasted very, very good this year. I don’t know what the grounds people have done but they have done a great job,” said Djokovic after beating Roger Federer 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (10/12), 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
Leg to differ! Djokovic autographs fan’s prosthetic
When Djokovic breezed into the Wimbledon fourth round, he was asked by a wheelchair-bound fan to autograph his prosthetic leg as he left Centre Court. “The gentleman gave me his artificial leg…I want to be politically correct about it,” smiled Djokovic. “I gave him my signature. I hope it will make him feel better.”
Tent stops play in Australia tour opener
– There was a bizarre incident in the final session of play during Australia’s cricket tour opener against Kent in Canterbury when a spectator pitched a tent on the outfield and went inside it before emerging in a pair of shorts and flying helmet. He returned to his tent again, with security staff first trying to bundle him off the outfield while he was still in it. He re-emerged, bowed to spectators and was then escorted off the outfield.
A man calling himself #Discoboy @Leeplumberdj, who had those words displayed on his chest, later claimed credit for the stunt. “I just wanted a better view,” he tweeted, before adding: “Apparently camping is forbidden. I thought I had the right season.”
Pavlov in dog house after 17 on first hole
– Russian golfer Andrey Pavlov carded a record score at the Austrian Open but not the kind he’ll remember fondly after shooting an embarrassing 17 on the par-five first hole. He found the water six times on his way to a 17, tying the unwanted record for most strokes at one hole in a European Tour event which was set by Chris Gane at Gleneagles in 2003.
The all-time worst score for one hole is 20 carded by Philippe Porquier at the 1978 French Open. Pavlov finished on 90 and a two-round total 161.
Pearson’s ostrich moment
– Former Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson accused a journalist of being “an ostrich” during a peculiar tirade following his side’s 3-1 loss at home to Chelsea. Ian Baker, who was covering the match for AFP, asked Pearson to elaborate after he told his post-match press conference that his players had had to deal with “criticism and negativity”.
“Have you been on holiday for six months? Have you been away for six months?” responded Pearson. “Your question is absolutely unbelievable, the fact you do not understand where I am coming from. If you don’t know the answer to that question then I think you are an ostrich. Your head must be in the sand.”
Pearson, who later left his job at the club, also mocked Baker’s voice and described him as “very stupid”, but later apologised.
Ajax happy to be mummy’s boys
– The players of Dutch champions Ajax walked onto the pitch for their final home game of the season hand in hand with their mothers to mark Mother’s Day. With the title already wrapped up, the Dutch giants took the opportunity to put a new twist on the traditional pre-match ritual where local children usually act as mascots for the players.
“#MothersDay! If they can’t visit us on #matchday, let’s visit them!,” @AFCAjax_EN wrote on the club Twitter feed.
Pregnant pause for Andy and Andy
– Andy Murray saw the funny side when a US celebrity magazine accidentally captioned the British tennis star as a proud new father instead of former world number one Andy Roddick. Roddick and his wife, actress and model Brooklyn Decker announced that they were expecting their first baby.
However, when People CelebWatch tweeted a picture of the couple, it was headlined: “Andy Murray and Brooklyn Decker Expecting First Child”. “Not sure my wife and @andyroddick will be best pleased to find these out via Twitter! #error,” tweeted Murray. Roddick, a former US Open winner and a three-time Wimbledon runner-up, also saw the lighter side.
“@andy_murray @BrooklynDecker …… Murray …… Hide,” tweeted the 32-year-old American. Davis Cup winner Murray and his wife Kim are expecting their first child in February.
Sanitary towel fix for sweaty Rosberg
– Heat and humidity are a perennial problem at the Malaysian Grand Prix but Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg had a unique solution — wearing a sanitary towel inside his helmet. “Actually I do have sort of a headband in my helmet, it is my trick, but I can tell you. I put a woman’s… erm… what do you call them? The thing you put in your underwear.”
When the interviewer suggested “Tights?”, Rosberg replies, “No, inside the underwear”, before the term “sanitary towel” was volunteered. “Sanitary towel — I put that on my forehead in my helmet to take up the sweat,” confirmed the driver.
Captivated — Indian jail installs cable for World Cup
– Authorities at a prison in cricket-mad India installed cable television after a judge said they had to ensure inmates could watch the World Cup. “Prisoners need recreation for a healthy mind,” Judge A. K. Goswami said as he ordered bosses at the central prison in the city of Guwahati to install cable TV.
Taking the pizza? Couple’s 1,400-mile Super Bowl delivery
– A Canadian couple went to extreme lengths as they prepared to watch the Super Bowl by placing a pizza delivery order from their favorite restaurant — more than 1,400 miles away. Lee and Carol Brown, who recently moved to Regina, Saskatchewan from Windsor, Ontario, told Canadian media they placed the order after failing to find a local pizza parlor to their liking.
So as the Browns hunkered down for the American football showpiece they’ll be tucking into an extra-large pie courtesy of Windsor’s Arcata Pizza, weighing in at CAN$140 (US$110). Most of the cost was absorbed by the delivery fee charged by UPS.
Pakistan player hit for six by ghost sighting
– A Pakistani cricketer on tour in New Zealand was hit for six when he saw what he believed was a ghost haunting him in his hotel room. Haris Sohail was convinced a “supernatural” presence was haunting him when he awoke to find his bed moving, team manager Naveed Akram Cheema said.
Cheema said that Sohail called a member of the coaching staff who arrived to find the 26-year-old all-rounder “visibly shaken”.
Sohail, a left-arm spinner and middle-order batsman, spent the rest of the night in the coach’s room at the Rydges Latimer hotel in Christchurch before being moved to another room. A fan tweeted: “You’ve faced down Shaitaan (the devil), the Kiwis should be easy. Best wishes.”