Stars who put the strop in sport

LET'S be honest we all enjoy watching someone have a good strop, especially our sporting heroes.Those at the pinnacle of their game chucking their toys out of their pram makes priceless viewing.

LET'S be honest we all enjoy watching someone have a good strop, especially our sporting heroes.

Those at the pinnacle of their game chucking their toys out of their pram makes priceless viewing.

MIKE BACON takes a look at some of the biggest offenders.

WHEN it comes to have a strop on the field of play, John McEnroe is surely the daddy of them all.


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Incredibly, here we are more than 30 years after the brash American first burst into our front rooms, still enjoying television adverts booming out that immortal McEnroe line; “You cannot be serious”.

Back in the 80s, the young American with the red headband was priceless.

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You simply had to watch him play especially during Wimbledon fortnight. You knew he was a gasket about to burst, but when that temper would explode no-one could tell.

It only needed that one bad line call, that one poor double fault.

He was the father-figure of temperamental sportsman, moody, appearing miserable, with the ability to make your three-year-old kid look like a loving intelligent adult.

For the Wimbledon organisers, he must have been a perpetual nightmare. If they could have made sure every game he played went on after the watershed, I'm convinced they would have done so.

Romanian Ilea Nastase had his moments on court too, and currently Andy Murray, although not in the same vocal department as McEnroe, certainly keeps up the Kevin Teenager, “Do I really have to be here and do this look”, so prominent in pubescent adolescences.

Football of course is full of bad losers and short tempers.

Eric Cantona famously kicked out at a Crystal Palace fan who said something derogatory during a game at Selhurst Park.

He had surely heard it all before, but Cantona, for all his quality, was a confusing character.

“The seagulls and the boat and the fish . . .” What was that all about?

I couldn't work out if he was clever or mad. Indeed it was difficult to work out at all if he actually enjoyed being a Premiership footballer - his early retirement from the game certainly suggesting he wasn't bothered.

Two players who can't be cited for not being bothered are William Gallas and Pascal Chimbonda. However their recent stroppy behaviour on the football field over the weekend made avid viewing.

I mean when was Gallas ever going to get off the St Andrew's turf?

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Arsenal captain Gallas decided at the end of the game against Birmingham on Saturday to sit down and refuse to move, still angered by the Blues' last-minute penalty equaliser.

He was there for what seemed like ages. One wondered if he was ever going to get up - forget the game, or poor Eduardo's injury, this was great television.

Team-mates, opponents, stewards, programme sellers, the groundsman - even the big ginger-haired Brummie guy selling burgers at the Tilton Road End had a go.

But no, until nature called, Gallas was prepared to sit it out. Only the intervention of Arsene Wenger eventually made him see sense.

Chimbonda on the other hand couldn't get off the Wembley pitch quick enough on Sunday, looking far from satisfied when he was substituted in the Carling Cup Final. Bearing in mind this was the same Chimbonda who only three weeks ago was pictured on the back of the national papers apparently saying he wasn't interested in Cups, only money.

He has since apologised to his Spurs team-mates.

Rugby Union has produced many tantrums over the years.

The amount of players banned for punching each other is too numerous to mention, but in 1996 Neil Back went one step further and was banned for six months after shoving the referee Steve Lander at the end of Leicester's cup final defeat by Bath at Twickenham.

England's victory over France at the Stade de France on Saturday night was great value for English fans, more so as one watched French hooker Dmitri Szarzewski lose his temper, and his side a penalty, from which they could have got three important points by shoving over England hooker Mark Regan.

Regan, nicknamed 'Ronnie' (as in the late President apparently, not one of the Krays - although the home fans would argue different), was a constant menace to the French, getting under their skin.

But while France stropped, Regan loved it: “To get booed off like that is a massive compliment,” he said afterwards.

“I can't go to France on holiday now. Come to think of it I can't go to Australia either.”

YOU never really associate cricket with childish behaviour and strops.

But look more closely and you will find the game littered with the type of outbursts you would clip your teenage boy around the ear about.

Just recently India's cricketing best refused to continue the series in Australia after Harbijan Singh was banned for supposedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey.

Singh claimed it wasn't 'monkey' he said, but some other Punjabi phrase it sounded like.

Anil Kumble and buddies however threw their googlies right out of their rickshaws and it was beginning to look as though the Cuban Missile Crisis would have nothing on the fall-out of this little spat.

The Aussies, so usually expert at handing it out, were suddenly finding it hard to take.

But it ended with handshakes all round with the International Cricket Council clearing Singh of making any racist comment to Symonds - in English anyhow!

Pakistan and England's fourth Test at the Oval in 2006 became the first Test match in history to be forfeited after the tourists failed to take the field at the end of the tea interval on the fourth day. Pakistan were in a right strop, protesting at umpire Darrell Hair's decision they had tampered with the ball.

They refused to back down.

The only blessing from this one was that the result meant England won the series 3-0 -those good old days of England Test victories?

IF you want a real manly strop, then surely Ronnie O'Sullivan is your man.

Like McEnroe, Essex boy and top snooker star Ronnie is as natural a talent as you would wish to find on the green baize.

But when it comes to tipping over the edge, he's in a class of his own.

Back in December 2006, O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry (were they separated at birth or what?), were playing in the UK Championship in a best-of-17 match.

O'Sullivan went 4-0 down before taking a frame back.

At the start of the sixth frame O'Sullivan opened with a break of 24, before leaving himself a difficult shot from black to red, ultimately missing his next red.

After the miss, O'Sullivan calmly shook the hand of both Hendry (saying to him that he "had enough of it, mate") and the match referee, Jan Verhaas and walked out of the arena.

O'Sullivan was later fined £20,000 and docked 900 ranking points.

But one suspects like all top temperamental, sulky sports stars, he couldn't have given an in-off.

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