Top Ten: The best dummy spits in sport

1. Jeff Tarango, 1995

The American hot-head spat the dummy in the ultimate fashion by becoming the first tennis player to walk out on a match at Wimbledon. After losing a point that had been replayed during his third-round match against Alexander Mronz, Tarango told heckling spectators to “shut up”. A subsequent warning for an audible obscenity prompted him to march to Bruno Rebeuh’s chair and demand his removal, describing the umpire as “the most corrupt official in the game”. This slur earned him a point penalty, prompting Tarango to hurl two balls onto the ground, shout, “That’s it”, and storm from the court. His French wife Benedicte later walked up behind Rebeuh, twisted his arm, slapped his face, and said: “Anyway, I will see you again.”

2. Sylvester Clarke, 1981

At least Tarango only threw tennis balls onto the ground. During a Test match between Pakistan and West Indies in Multan, Sylvester Clarke, the barrel-chested West Indian fast bowler, responded to a shower of orange peels from spectators by picking up a brick that was being used to mark the boundary and hurling it into the crowd, knocking out one of the spectators. Almost as impressive was Pakistan captain Inzamam Ul-Haq in 1997. While fielding on the boundary during a one-day match against India in Toronto, Canada, Big Inzy tired of two spectators calling him “Aloo”, the Punjabi word for potato. His response was to head into the stand and throw a few “cut lunches”, presumably with extra chips.

3. Ty Cobb, 1912

As the infamously violent and cantankerous baseball player was going through batting practice before a match in Manhattan against the New York Highlanders (later to become the Yankees), Detroit Tigers star Cobb was subjected to such a shower of abuse from one fan that he was moved to warn the Highlanders manager that the fan should be kicked out. The fan, Claude Lueker, who had no fingers on one hand and only two on the other, courtesy of an industrial accident, kept up his abuse until Cobb, known as the baddest man in baseball, cracked in the fourth inning. Cobb leapt the railings and trampled fans to get to his tormentor a dozen rows into the stand. He belted Lueker with a dozen punches before kicking him with his spikes. Fans cried out that he had no hands. Cobb replied: “I don’t care if he has no legs.” Lueker was taken to hospital.

4. John Daly, 2002

On a lighter note, the only thing to be hurt after Daly’s antics at Coolum during the 2002 Australian PGA was the man’s pride, and his wallet. Ten days after the death of his mother, Daly was four-under after nine holes in the second round of the tournament at the Sunshine Coast resort. Then his game unravelled. The last gasp was a triple bogey on the 18th, giving him a total of 78 and the inspiration to throw his putter into the lake. The putter was later retrieved by a diver and mounted in a glass case as part of Coolum’s Australian PGA collection.

5. Tony Lockett, 1988

With no lake nearby, Lockett was inspired to hurl one of his crutches at young Channel Ten reporter Eddie McGuire, having become sick of media interest in his broken ankle. Footage of Plugger hurling the crutch through a Moorabbin door while his father, Plugger senior, looked on is among the most famous images in football. It didn’t hurt Eddie’s career, either.

6. Eric Cantona, 1995

Cantona capped his controversial career in French domestic soccer with a magnificent display of petulance after being banned for one month for throwing the ball at a referee. The Nimes star went to each member of the disciplinary panel, one by one, calling them “idiot”. His serial abuse prompted the panel to extend his ban to two months, leading Cantona to announce his retirement. Of course he came out of retirement, and after a stint at Leeds United he became a central figure of Manchester United’s success. In 1995 Cantona lost his cool again, responding to the front-row taunts of a Crystal Palace fan by launching over the fence with a kung-fu kick to the sternum.

7. Jon Drummond, 2003

Not one for flying over the fence, US sprinter Drummond simply lay on the track and refused to move after being disqualified for false-starting during the early rounds of the men’s 100 metres at the World Championships in Paris. Bizarre scenes developed; the entire program was delayed while Drummond looked up at the sky as officials looked at him and scratched their heads.

8. John Hawkes, 2001

Early in the spring carnival, Hawkes lied to stewards about which of his horses had had a private gallop at Moonee Valley. For telling porky pies, he was fined $7500. Hawkes decided it was the media’s fault for posing the question about the gallop in the first place; his response was to place a media ban on himself that lasted for almost a month. The sight of him with his lips firmly closed in the centre of a media throng was intriguing, and off-putting. He again failed to endear himself to punters the next year by playing funny buggers when asked about Lonhro’s campaign.

9. Eric Heiden, 2002

The speed skater from Wisconsin impressed the cold countries of the world when he won five gold medals in the 1980 Winter Olympics. But when he was asked to carry the torch into the stadium for the opening of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he offered a cold shoulder. He believed he should have been given the honour of lighting the cauldron, rather than the 1980 Miracle on Ice ice-hockey team, and he would accept nothing less.

10. Quinten Hann, 2003

Having lost to England’s Andy Hicks during their world snooker championship match in Sheffield, the Australian firebrand told Hicks he was “short and bald and always would be” and challenged him to a fight outside. Another English player, two-time world champion Mark King, later accepted the challenge on Hicks’ behalf, taking on Hann in a six-minute boxing bout dubbed “Pot Whack”.

This article first ran in The Sunday Age in 2004.


  1. He’s not in the list above but John McEnroe would qualify for life-membership of the dummy-spit club. And he was brilliantly parodied by Griff Rhys Jones on Not the Nine O’Clock News in the 80s. Check it out here:

  2. I reckon Mike Tyson biting off Holyfield’s ear constitutes a dummy spit of a very high order.

  3. Great list Daff,

    R Muir going bonkers at K Smith was a classic dummy (mouthguard?) spit.

    Tommy Bolt was a serial club thrower. No specific incident comes to mind.

    At the 1979 US Open the dream match up of Nastase v McEnroe occurred. How good is Nasty as a nickname?
    I reckon Nastase disputed a call, held up play for an eternity arguing and was then disqualified. I reckon the umpire then got the Tijuana brass by the referee and Nastase was reinstated.
    Can anybody recall this famous match?

    Finally, believe that Tim Henman was once defaulted at Wimbledon for smashing an agate at a ballgirl. It collected her flush on the noggin.

  4. Peter,

    Tim Henman? I can’t imagine him using force to open a chip packet.

    Nasty is a brilliant nickname. Might have to google some deeds from the great Rumanian. (Is that an oxymoron?)

  5. I’ve never seen this written anywhere, but in my childhood I remember seeing gun key forward prospect Peter Cloke, a much better mark and more agile player than his brother David, take umbrage at something on the field and then jog off the MCG and up the race, never to be seen again.

    The fact that I’ve never seen anything since then suggests that my memory is flawed. You’d think it’d be a famous incident if he did sook to the extent that he just cut out on a game.

  6. John Bourke, mid eighties.

    Barry Hall, to many to mention.

    A Lynch, 2004 GF.

  7. Dennis Lillee throwing his aluminum bat was a beauty, as was his (almost) stand up bout with Javed Miandad.

    Also what about Mal Brown standing in the middle of the WACA (I think) and belting all the big V players who came near him.

    Lastly my little brother lost a tennis match at the local Catholic Church Sunday morning competition, did his block, and threw his racket over the fence and through the tennis club window. This greatly disturbed the ladies making the sandwiches and earned him 6 of the best when he got home.

  8. Daff,
    At Wimbledon, Mac and Tim frequently commentate together on BBC TV.
    Mac often ribs Tim that he was defaulted at SW19 while he never was.

  9. Dips,
    What about Mal Brown as a WAFL coach destroying the microphone as he was walking to the boundary line?

    Finally Done Lane telling James Randi to POQ after James Randi suggested that Doris Stokes was a charlatan!

  10. Oops Don Lane from comment 9.
    Reckon it was Mal Brown (East Perth) v Carlton at Adelaide Oval in the 1972 Australian Football Championships.

  11. more specifically, Mal taking on many and taking out Trevor Keogh

  12. Damian Watson says

    What about Tonia Harding on Nancy Kerrigan in 1994, hiring her ex boyfriend to use the baseball bat just before the Winter Olympics.

    St Kilda coach Darrel Baldock at Tony Jones after a loss in 1987/88, his veins were bulging.

  13. Speaking of bulging veins, I remember a Stan Alves presser when he was coaching St Kilda. They’d lost their third game in a row and were due to face one of the top sides (say Carlton), who had lost unexpectedly that week. To an already steaming Alves, a journo said something along the lines of “you must be concerned about facing Carlton next week, because they’re coming off a loss.” Without missing a beat, Alves snapped back, “well they must be scared witless, ‘cos they’re coming up against a side that’s had three losses in a row!”

    Angry and funny at the same time. It’s a great skill.

  14. Damian Watson says

    Hahaha I like that one.
    That reminds me of another St Kilda coach Kenny Sheldon. He grabbed Craig Devenport by the throat or jumper in front of the TV cameras on a muddy day against the Pies at the MCG.
    He ended up kicking the winning goal.
    I think the year was 1992 but I might be wrong.

  15. Yeah it was 92. I’m not 100% sure but that might have been the game that was moved from Moorabbin to the MCG. Or that might have been another game.

    I saw some footage of Norm Dare giving the Bears a spray in their rooms in 1990.

  16. John Devine coaching Geelong at K Park for gratis (no wonder he was snaky).
    The greatest display of passion and almost uncontrolled gesticulation I can recall.

  17. Damian Watson says

    Teddy Whitten dropped the F bomb on Sandy Roberts on live TV back in 1990 while the Big V were going through a rough patch.
    That was followed by the famous ‘Stuck it right up em’ performance after the Vics beat WA.

  18. Yeah, that was when Sandy asked why the Vics weren’t playing South Australia. Some dummy spits came from Allan Jackson. Too many to count.

  19. One day while commentating for K Rock at Windy Hill, Teddy went berserk at somebody who kept obscuring his view.
    A tirade of invective ensued and no dump man to stop it from going to air.
    Great theatre from a man who appreciated our love of great theatre.

  20. Damian Watson says

    Yeah Teddy was a real character.
    Speaking of on-air dust ups Sam Newman labelled a caller as a “f—wit” a few years ago on Triple M and as a result he was banned from radio.

    Steve, judging by your comments I’m guessing you have seen the show ’90’s Decade That Delivered’. That DVD is one of my favourites.

  21. Hahaha I knew someone would eventually point that out. It’s a great DVD. Although it stuffs up in about 1994-1995. So I usually just watch 90-93, some of 94 and then the end of 95 to 99. It is all jerky when Ablett takes the mark over Pert and when Brownless kicks the goal.

    I also have the 80’s, but not the 70’s.

  22. Clarko was prety good after the Essendon game (Round 22)

    Not really a dummy spit – the opporsite really. John Couglan captained NW Tasmania in an intra state clash in Hobart some years ago. He was wrestling John Devine (Southern Captain) so some one threw an apple at him and hit him. He picked up the apple and with rage in his eyes walked to the boundary infront of the southern strong hold, ate the apple and asked some one to please put the core in a bin.

  23. i bet that if i was an AFL coach i would have topped the dummy spit list!

  24. Damian Watson says

    Thats funny I happen to have the 70’s one but not the 80’s.
    Mine is a bit jerky too, it starts to stuff up around 94 and then picks up when Craig Willis talks about the death of Trevor Barker.

    Another dummy spit: The ox David Schwarz on the Footy Show after a pie was shoved in his face, I think he damaged one of Sam’s vertabraes.

    I’ve also seen footage of McEnroe losing by default at the Australian Open in 1990 after cracking his racket and then swore at officials.

  25. That brings back memories Damian,

    I was actually fuming at Sam Newman after that incident. David Schwarz was my hero when I was little, and I remember watching that episode and almost crying because of how badly he was treated. It’s always sad to see your favorite player get a pie shoved in their face.

  26. Great topic and article Paul and great contributions from others.

    A few cricketing favourites of mine :

    Colin Croft deliberately running into the umpire on his run-up when the Windies lost a series in NZ

    The great DK Lillee hurling the aluminium bat when he was refused permission to continue with it

    Curtly Ambrose trying to kill Warnie by deliberately overstepping by a metre or so in a Perth Test match (despite the fact that the Windies were on top in that test as they usually were in Perth).

    A couple in other sports :
    Zidane’s headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final

    Roy Keane wrecking that bloke’s knee (can’t remember his name) who had upset him in a past incident and then standing above him screaming abuse as he lay there maimed

  27. Steve,

    It was Alf Inge-Haland.

    Take a look at this clip. It only takes 14 seconds.

    It’s the most brutal, calculated tackle you could imagine. Then he stood over the top of him!

  28. Paul,
    I’ve been told that as a baby I used to spit the dummy a lot.
    Mum had to resort to putting honey on it so that I would keep it in my mouth.
    I also went through a phase of throwing every single teddy bear out of my cot until it was empty then I’d cry until mum put them all back in so that I could start throwing them out all over again. The proof is on video!

  29. Danielle,

    Did you wreck anyone’s knee?

  30. Paul,
    ……not that i know of LOL
    I might have today though.
    we had a small carnival thing at school and my friends begged me to do the 3 legged race with them so it would have been 6 legged race. my constant ‘NO!’
    “NO WAY!” and shacking of my head still kept them going until i said:
    “Look if i fall and we all break out ankles or something what will you do then?”
    Luckily that was enough to get me out of it! :)
    i did however end up an easy target b/c i wore my jersey to school!
    Even Mr.Starkie had a go at me! LOL
    Leaving for Sydney early Friday morning, i cant believe im going to miss the game! :(

  31. Daff, I’m pretty sure that you are wrong about Peter Cloke. I met Peter Cloke when we were both working as mail sorters at the Mail Exchange (Best Vacation job for students in the late sixties) Peter was already playing for Richmond and was studying Science at Monash. Peter and David’s father, Reg, was in charge of all the student mail sorters.

    My memory of Peter was that he was less skilled than his younger brother, but more level headed and probably smarter. He went to West Adelaide from Richmond around 1973. I always understood that he left Richmond because he couldn’t get a regular game. By 1973, he would have finished his B Sc and his Dip Ed so Adelaide was probably a career move.

  32. Darren Dawson says

    An excellent topic…one of my personal favourites is Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick at Crystal Palace in the mid-90’s.
    My favourite non-sporting dummy spit is Alan Bond; chased by a reporter (was it Paul Barry?), Bondy takes his card and stamps on it, then grabs his mic and hurls it. The theatrics were magical!

  33. The above posts are a good reminder of how coaching St Kilda can be very bad for the blood pressure.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Ross Lyon escapes the curse in the next fortnight.

    The John Bourke incident certainly made for the best ever Army Reserve Cup telecast (except maybe when Perce Jones kicked the post). Slug Jordan’s “you’ve gotta take the boy off” stands as one of the more apt pieces of commentary.

    On the footy field, I don’t think anyone matches Robbie Muir for an ability to completely lose the plot (more than once).

    On a more passive-aggressive note, Fev’s regular dummy spits have more resembled sulks on the field, but have reduced many Blues supporters in the stands to near speechless rage.

  34. It’s hard to beat ice hockey and baseball (american style) as two sports where the collective dummy-spit is ingrained in the game’s culture.

  35. John, Korean Parliament deserves an honourable mention!

  36. Wouldn’t the Korean Parliament effort go beyond a dummy spit and qualify as a mellee

  37. Good distiction Phantom.
    I’ve sometimes wondered if it is a regular occurrence or just old footage available as a “filler”.

  38. Dave,

    You must be right about Peter Cloke. I just remember a game when he kicked a lot of goals and I thought he must be the business.

    Then when he went off in that match at the MCG and my grandmother (a harsh marker) called him a sook and told him to get back on the ground.

    He might have been injured and unable to continue. There will be no more slander of Peter Cloke.

    Now on to your mail-sorting days …

  39. Actually, Dave, your mail-sorting leads me in a roundabout way to an email I received last week from an old Tungamah supporter, Jack Sheridan (Tungamah beat Shepp East in the Picola league grand final at Dookie last Saturday).

    After being recruited to Melbourne by Collingwood in the early ’50s, Jack worked at the Melbourne Fire Brigade for 35 years. He listed his MFB workmates who played league footy:

    “The M.F.B. had the greatest collection of V.F.L. players of all time, e.g.,Jack Graham (South) Gordon Lane, Wally Buttsworth, Hugh Torney (Essendon) Stan Lloyd, Clarrie Curyer (St.Kilda), Jim Bohan, Colin Campbell , Jack Barker (Hawthorn), Jack Broadstock, Tich Edwards (Richmond), Ken Hopper (Carlton), Jim Adamson (North), Bob Spargo Snr, Ron Groves (Footscray), Doc Steele (Melbourne). Among those of my vintage were Jack McGregor, Colin Davey, Ern Trickey, Arnie Bench, Ken Jones, Gerry McCarthy (Fitzroy), Kevin Clarke, Tich Renwood (Collingwood), Len Crane (Hawthorn), Mick Gaudion (North), Kevin Hilet, Fred Goldsmith (South), George Hancock, Peter Webster (Carlton), Alby Yeo (Essendon-Melbourne.)”

    And later:

    “A few more come to mind: Percy Bushby and Duffy Plummer (Essendon) and Cyril Collard (Hawthorn). Cyril was also a Stawell Gift Finallist.”

    I didn’t know until reading the above that Richmond’s current Tich Edwards (who I now think will be a good player) inherited his nickname from a previous Richmond player.

    Who besides Peter Cloke did you sort mail with?

  40. No-one of sporting importance. Half the reason it was so much fun was that they segregated the students from the real postal workers. In the seven weeks between the end of the exams and Christmas Eve, the PMG, as it was then called, would employ an enormous number of students and effectively more than double its workforce at the Mail Exchange, which was situated at the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets.

    The best shift to work was from 11.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. For the first couple of weeks you would be trained in the postal subdivisions of Metropolitan and Rural Victoria. You would have to pass sorting tests for each region before you were allowed to go to the letter (sorting) machines on the next floor. Once you got up to the main floor you worked hard but you also talked and mucked around a lot and you were not closely supervised as you had been in the training room.

    Reg Cloke was boss of the training room. The first summer I worked there he was very hard on the students (which was not unreasonable, 100+ students, who had just finished their exams didn’t tend to have their mind solely on the job) The second summer, Reg was much more relaxed and I after I met Peter I guessed I knew why.

    I met people who became fringe writers, academics and business people after they graduated, and a girl named Christine whom I went out with a couple of times, but Peter Cloke was the only sportsperson.

    There probably were footballers working in the permanent staff, probably on the day or afternoon shifts but the night shift was full of students.

  41. Mark Schwerdt says

    Pedantry time – Peter Cloke played for North Adelaide

  42. Mark Schwerdt says
  43. Excellent. I remember him being a good player at North Adelaide but never realised he was runner-up in a Magarey Medal.

  44. Thanks Mark.

    It’s funny where threads go.

  45. Dave,

    Sounds like a great place to work over summer.

    Much better than mowing lawns for Scatters around the Essendon area.

  46. When reading the MFB list (comment 35), the name Jack Broadstock rang a bell. I remember my Dad raving about him as a player in SA. I Googled him and got the following from “Legends of West Adelaide”:

    Audaciously talented, and well ahead of his time in terms of tactical acumen and nouse, Jack Broadstock almost certainly failed to achieve anything like as much as he ought to have done in the game he loved. Part of this failure was attributable to the war, which coincided with the peak years of his career, but Broadstock’s temperament also played a part. In 1947, for example, “West (Adelaide) was the first SA team to develop handball as an attacking weapon – and Broadstock was the king-pin”, but a needless altercation with Port Adelaide ruckman Bob McLean in the preliminary final led to his missing the club’s first grand final victory in twenty years.

    Broadstock actually had three separate stints with West, playing a total of 65 games over seven seasons, the first of which was in 1938, and the last, as captain-coach, in 1950. From 1943 to 1946 he played for Richmond, and was centreman in the club’s 1943 grand final defeat of Essendon. Although he only played 33 VFL games for the Tigers, he did enough to persuade Jack Dyer that he “was the most talented footballer I have ever seen.”

  47. and a shadowy figure at Angle Park when it opened. Broady fit that “flawed genius” category ( and the bottle sometimes also I suspect).

  48. Just read Mark Schwerdt’s link to the interview with Peter Cloke. My memory must be slipping with age. Not only did I (wrongly) remember Peter as going to West Adelaide. I also was sure that he went there straight from Richmond and I should have remembered that he had a couple of return seasons at Oakliegh before he crossed the border.

    On the other hand, the interview does confirm my forty year old memory of Cloke as nice and intelligent bloke.

  49. Im the great nephew of Jack Broadstock. If anyone has any stories or anything related to him I would love to hear about it. My grandpa was Bruce Broadstock (jacks brother), unfortuntaely He died when I was only 13 so I never really got to talk to him about footy back at Westies. My email adress is [email protected]

Leave a Comment