5 truly horrific sporting stories

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 Happy Holloween

Happy Halloween, sports nuts!  This is the holiday where people seem to get a thrill out of frightening themselves so we thought we’d get the ball rolling.

This is our pick of the five most terrifying sporting moments in recent history…

5. Arsenal brutally annihilated

MU 8-2 ARS

In August 2011, millions of us sat down with a cold beer to watch Manchester United host Arsenal in what was meant to be a tight, tactical match. It proved to be anything but. Fergie’s United side came out and absolutely humili8ed (sorry, too easy) Wenger’s injury plagued side.

Welbeck, Young and Rooney scored first half goals for the home side, while Walcott got one for the away side. 3-1 at half time, we wondered how many more goals we’d see in the second half, but never expected another 6! Rooney (2), Young, Nani and Park added 5 more for United, and Van Persie added a consolation goal. I for one, would 8-2 have been an Arsenal fan that day. It was the stuff of nightmares.

Horror rating: 7/10

4. SA cricket cursed by rain

  22 off 1

We could probably write an entire post solely dedicated to Protea horror stories, but this one stands out as a truly dark moment. In 1992, South Africa was playing in our first World Cup after being isolated from cricket. We started with a win over Australia and then beat Pakistan – a game known for the famous Jonty Rhodes diving run-out in the match.

Reaching the semi-finals, England posted 252/6 in their 45 overs. With five overs remaining, SA needed 47 runs to win when the rain came pouring down. The figure was then reduced to 22 from 13 deliveries. Whilst the players were sitting in the change room, the bizarre rain rules continued to wreak havoc for South Africa’s dream return. Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson eventually strolled out to the crease to find these abominable words scrawled across the scoreboard in blood: “Need 22 Runs off 1 Ball” (ok, not really in blood but ghastly nonetheless). The formula used during that World Cup to handle rain-affected matches was never used again.

Horror rating: 8/10

3. Springboks smashed at Suncorp

-Australie Wallabies/Afrique du Sud- 15.07.2006 - Rugby

I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 2006, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon, “The Real Slim Shady” was the number 1 song on the planet, and we had managed to convince a friend’s mom to loan us a holiday house for the weekend. All seemed right in the world.

But then the Springboks played Australia and things went tits up almost immediately. It started with a drop goal and before too long came a try, and then another, another, another, then half time and another three more before the ref finally put an end to the brutal torture. The score that day was 49 – 0.

With only a year until the 2007 Rugby World Cup, it was a gravely traumatic time to be a Springbok supporter.

Horror rating 8.5/10

2. Van de Velde’s British open dream sinks to murky depths

Jean VDV

Our top two tales both come from 1999. A doomed year. Second place must go to Jean Van De Velde. Standing on the Par 4, 18th tee-box at Carnoustie, the Frenchman was cruising to victory. He was able to walk away with a double-bogey SIX, and still be the British Open champion. What unfolded was nothing short of blood-curdling.

Jean decided to hit his driver off the tee box (first mistake), and pushed it out right into the rough but got a good lie. He then had the option of taking a five, six, seven or eight iron and hitting it safely down the fairway, but decided on a two iron (2nd mistake) to reach the green. He pushed that too, hitting the grandstand and landing in thick rough. Next he had a wedge in his hand and messed that shot up as well (3rd mistake), landing in the water.

Then he totally lost the plot and took off his shoes and socks, wondering if he should play it out the water (4th mistake). He finally got spoken out of it by his caddy and took a penalty drop. Now lying 4, he had to get up and down to win. He hit yet another poor shot (mistake number 5) and found the bunker. He managed to get six foot from the hole out the bunker and drained the putt for a play-off.

But the excruciation of nearly 30 minutes on the last hole took its toll and Van De Velde was beaten in the play-off. Asked about it afterwards, he said: “It’s not life or death – it’s simply a game of golf.”

Horror rating 9.5/10

1. Run Donald, run!!!


I still wake up in cold sweats shouting “RUN, RUN…. NOOOOO”. This is surely the most gruesome story in the collective memory of South African sports. That fateful day in 1999.

Yet again, our Proteas had made the semi-final. Australia batted first and posted 213 in their 50 overs. SA were going along steadily with Kallis getting a half century. Things took a turn and with nine wickets down, South Africa needed nine from the final over.

Damien Fleming was bowling to the player of the tournament, Lance Klusener. The first two deliveries were punished through the covers for four, Klusener single handily winning the match with 31 runs from only 14 delivers…or so everyone thought. The third ball was hit straight to a fielder for no run. The scores were still tied but three deliveries were enough to get the single we needed.

The fourth delivery was hit to mid-off, where Mark Waugh was fielding. Klusener set off for the run but Donald was watching the ball and not his partner. With both batsmen on the same side, Waugh threw the ball to Fleming, who rolled the ball under arm to the wicket keeper and Donald was run-out.

Australia went through to the final, having beating South Africa in a previous round of the cup. Poor Alan Donald will forever be remembered for not running, even though he got us to the edge of glory with superb bowling figures of four wickets for only 32 runs in his 10 overs. If this story doesn’t give you goosebumps then you’re already dead inside.

Horror rating 10/10

Which grizzly sporting memories haunt you in the dark of night? Have we somehow missed the worst one of all? Leave a comment and tell us!


One comment:

  1. Whats truly a ‘horrifying’ fact is that this paperback writer, this Bruce fella, does not write on an international stage.
    Its not often that one gets a real sick feeling to ones stomach when looking back on some horrific stories (run Donald, run) and for any writer to achieve that emotion on a reader is something special.
    So thanks writer Bruce for the memories and for bringing my breakfast back up.
    Boy, us Saffa’s…… we don’t mess around when it comes to disasters. Go big or go home i suppose. In the latter we achieved both.

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