Grey kits to tight jockstraps: Nine of sport’s greatest excuses

Deontay Wilder blamed loss to Tyson Fury on his ring-walk costume being too heavy

Manchester United blamed their defeat to Southampton in 1996 on not being able to see each other’s grey jerseys. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester United blamed their defeat to Southampton in 1996 on not being able to see each other’s grey jerseys. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

 

Deontay Wilder blamed his loss to Tyson Fury on an elaborate pre-fight costume.

Wilder, who suffered a seventh-round TKO loss, said the 40-pound costume, worn as a tribute to Black History Month, was too heavy and left his legs “shot” before the fight had even begun.

Here we look at other sporting excuses, some more plausible than others.

Manchester United’s grey kit

Losing 3-0 at half-time to Southampton at the Dell in 1996, Sir Alex Ferguson ordered his players to change out of their grey strip because they could not see each other properly. United came out for the second half wearing blue and white and did improve, although they still lost 3-1. The grey kit was swiftly discarded.

Shane Warne’s diet pill

Sent home ahead of the 2003 World Cup after testing positive for a banned diuretic, the Australia leg-spinner put the result down to a diet pill given to him by his mother, who wanted him to look slimmer on television. He was given a one-year ban.

Lighton Ndefwayl’s tight jockstrap

Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl was in no mood to be graceful in defeat after losing to compatriot Musumba Bwayla in a local tournament in 1992. “Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia,” he said.

David James’ Playstation addiction

The former England goalkeeper earned the nickname ‘Calamity James’ during his time at Liverpool after a series of gaffes. The problem was easily identified by the keeper, who said he had spent too much time playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider on his Playstation.

New Zealand poisoned

South Africa claimed an historic Rugby World Cup final victory over the All Blacks on home soil in 1995, with the image of Nelson Mandela, in a Springbok shirt, handing the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar a memorable moment in sport. New Zealand, though, revealed many of their players had suffered food poisoning ahead of the game and put the blame on a — possibly fictitious — waitress called ‘Suzie’.

New Zealand said many of their players had suffered food poisoning ahead of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand said many of their players had suffered food poisoning ahead of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Getty Images

Ukraine croak

When Ukraine were hammered 4-0 by Spain in their opening game of the 2006 World Cup, it was not their inability to contain Fernando Torres and David Villa which was responsible, but the noise of the frogs outside the team’s hotel in Potsdam. “Because of the frogs’ croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep,” defender Vladislav Vashchuk reasoned.

O’Sullivan and the streaker

O’Sullivan was 8-3 in front in his Masters final against Steve Davis at Wembley in 1997 when a female streaker disrupted proceedings. O’Sullivan lost the next seven frames, the match and the title, blaming the interruption for him losing his concentration. Davis, apparently, had no such problem.

Smith’s dropped catch

Australia captain Steve Smith blamed an overhead camera for distracting him as he dropped a catch against India in 2015. Smith claimed Spidercam — a manoeuvrable camera suspended above the pitch by wires — was directly in his eye line as he dropped Lokesh Rahul during the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Rahul was on 46 and went on to make 110. Darren Lehmann, Australia’s coach at the time, defended Spidercam, saying: “I think it’s good for the game. It’s not ideal, where it was positioned for that particular ball. I actually like watching it.”

Genetically modified Scots

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan said it was a question of genetics after his team’s World Cup hopes were killed off by Slovenia in 2017. Strachan, who was in charge of the Scots between 2013 and 2017, suggested his team had paid the price for being smaller than their rivals. The Scots drew 2-2 with Slovenia in a qualifying game they needed to win, and afterwards Strachan said: “Genetically we have to work at things, maybe we get big women and men together and see what we can do.”

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