The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2017

Before the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday celebrate the best of 2017, here are our anti-heroes from the sporting world this year

Phil Taylor

The retiring Taylor’s last year on the PDC circuit has not been without incident. There has of course been sporting success, including a 16th World Matchplay title, but also controversy, much of it centred on the Grand Slam of Darts, where he lost in the semi-finals to Michael van Gerwen. During that match the players were seen in heated discussion as they left the stage for a break. Later the victor was asked what had happened, and recounted a frankly not enormously interesting conversation. “He came to me: ‘You shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that.’ I just said: ‘You’re a knob.’ That’s exactly what I said,” Van Gerwen explained.

That was as nothing compared with Taylor’s quarter-final against Daryl Gurney, which exploded into acrimony because of a refusal to let a lack of water pass under the bridge. “The first person to walk on stage normally pours the water,” Gurney explained. “He was first on and didn’t pour any water. I just assumed he didn’t want any so just poured my own.” Big mistake.

Having won 12 successive legs on his way to a 16-4 victory Taylor raged: “I wanted to teach him a lesson, of course I did. You know what he did wrong? He poured himself a glass of water, and left me out. I thought: ‘You cheeky, cheeky, cheeky young so-and-so. Without me there wouldn’t be a PDC. Have a little bit of respect, come on.’”

Gurney declared himself bemused. “I always said he was the master and said nothing bad about him, but he still says bad stuff,” he sniffed. “I just didn’t pour him water. I always said he was the greatest, the best and a legend. But as far as I’m concerned now I only have to look at him for one more tournament and then he’s retiring. I might not be the future of darts but he’s definitely the past and I’m happy about that. I think he’s just getting old and grumpy and looking to pick fights with random players.”


For the first time this year the ATP closed its season not only with the now-traditional grown-up ATP Finals but with a second competition for up-and-coming youngsters, the Next Gen ATP Finals, which was eventually won by the 21-year-old South Korean Chung Hyeon. This competition was played at Fiera Milano and the ATP decided that it would be good if, at the pre-competition draw to allocate the players to two groups, they could somehow refer to Milan’s status as a city famous for fashion. They did this by asking the players to each choose a glamorous female model and stride with them up a catwalk where their chosen companion would reveal either the letter A or the letter B hidden somewhere on their body. Cue extremely awkward young tennis players publicly squirming as a beautiful woman partially disrobed in front of them, accusations of sexism and in due course an ATP apology. “The intention was to integrate Milan’s rich heritage as one of the fashion capitals of the world,” it explained. “However, our execution of the proceedings was in poor taste and unacceptable. We deeply regret this and will ensure that there is no repeat of anything like it in future.”

Scott Baldwin

This year in rugby union has featured a Lions tour, lots of mauls, and one mauling by a lion while on tour. The latter incident forced Scott Baldwin into perhaps the most unexpected of this year’s many sporting apologies, after the Wales and Ospreys hooker had a run-in with a big cat and thus missed his club’s own mauling by Cheetahs. Steve Tandy, his coach, revealed after the game there had been “an incident with a lion” during a visit to Bloemfontein zoo which was videoed and inevitably uploaded to Twitter, by the former England player Andy Goode.

“I don’t know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it’s a kitten,” Tandy said. “It’s probably one of the silliest things I’ve been involved in.”

Baldwin needed four operations and missed three matches – though at one stage medics considered amputation – before returning to fitness. “I petted the female one with no issues, and when the male sat down I stroked him on his head,” the player recalled. “Then I turned round to give one of the boys my phone to take a picture. The lion obviously noticed that I had turned away and, being the king of the jungle, he took his bite. When you see the video it looks very quick but for me it felt like a lifetime. It felt as though I was staring into its soul.”

Carew CC
Carew Cricket Club’s controversial title winners. Photograph: Western Telegraph

Carew Cricket Club

What should have been a thrilling denouement to the Pembroke County Cricket Club Division One title turned into chaos and acrimony when a bright spark at Carew noticed that the best way of stopping their rivals, Cresselly, from earning the batting or bonus points they needed to pip them to glory when the rivals met in the final game of the season was to declare for a humiliatingly small total, guaranteeing both defeat in the season’s final game and victory – by a single point – in the overall title chase. Thus, having scored only 18 runs from 15 deliveries for the loss of one wicket, their batsmen upped willow and headed back to the pavilion. Officials examined the rules and found that no one had broken one, and the silverware thus had to remain with Carew, but they demoted them, fined them £300 and banned their captain for the 2018 season, with the final two months suspended.

Asian Autosport Action

Organisers arranged a unique race when the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship moved to Sepang, part of the undercard for the Formula 1 grand prix in September. It was unusual primarily because not a single car was able to finish it. Because of delays caused by a broken drain two races were held consecutively, using the same cars, and boffins calculated the amount of fuel each vehicle required to get to the end of both events. It turned out that their sums did not add up, and everyone’s good work went – unlike waste water over the previous few days – down the drain.

Everything was going swimmingly until Indonesia’s Perdana Minang stopped in the middle of lap five. Danial Frost, who was leading at the end of that lap, was one of four drivers whose cars ran out of fuel on the sixth circuit, and three more came to a halt on the seventh. With the safety car deployed because of the number of stationary vehicles littering the track the one driver who was still moving, Kane Shephard, drove slowly behind it in the hope of claiming an unlikely victory, but short of deploying a tow rope he had no hope.

The Asian Autosport Action chairman, Peter Thompson, explained that “we filled the cars for both races”, but “miscalculated the requirements”. They decided to accept the results at the end of lap five, giving the then 16-year-old Frost – whose career as a driver of international repute has not been held back by the fact that he will not became able to legally drive in his native Singapore until next October – victory. “It was strange but a very interesting day too,” he said.

Ilie Nastase

Whether he was offending Serena Williams, creeping out Anne Keothavong, abusing journalists or driving Johanna Konta to mid-match tears during Great Britain’s Fed Cup tie against Romania in April, Nastase could do no right. When the Romania team captain was introduced to his opposite number, the married, pregnant Keothavong, he asked for her room number and told her that “we keep being attracted”, also saying things that, according to the Briton, “I am not going to repeat because it’s language that is not appropriate for anyone to speak to any other human”. Nastase then speculated to the media about the colour of Williams’s as-then unborn child.

The following day he approached a British journalist, Eleanor Crooks, who said he “repeatedly called me stupid” and “said the English were out to get him” in an encounter that “was unpleasant rather than threatening”, before taking his place courtside for Konta’s match against Sorana Cirstea.

Konta was a set ahead when, amid complaints about crowd noise, Nastase asked the umpire “what’s your fucking problem?”, called both Keothavong and Konta “fucking bitches” and was eventually escorted off the premises and banned from all tennis for two years.

In an unusual twist, the Czech Republic decided that Nastase appeared to have the perfect skillset for a second career in diplomacy and duly appointed him the country’s honorary consul in Romania. “I trust Mr Nastase,” said the Czech foreign minister, Lubomir Zaoralek. “I am sure his transfer from sports to diplomacy will be successful because he realises the responsibility he has in the new function.”


As Johnny Bairstow and Cameron Bancroft among many others have proven, it can be unwise to put two sportsmen together in the same bar. What set this incident apart was not only that it shook the normally mannered world of sumo wrestling, but that the assailant chose to beat up his foe with, of all things, a karaoke machine remote control.

Harumafuji, one of only four reigning grand champions, was forced to quit the sport after setting about a fellow wrestler, Takanoiwa, for the crime of looking at his mobile phone while being administered with a dressing-down about his already disappointing behaviour.

There were, to be fair, a large number of weapons mentioned by eyewitnesses, including a beer bottle, a microphone and rather scarily an ice pick, while others said Harumafuji had used nothing but his bare hands. “I had heard he was lacking in manners and civility and thought it was my duty as a senior wrestler to correct and teach him,” Harumafuji said. “But I went too far.” Quite a lot too far: the victim ended up with a fractured skull.

Wayne Shaw
Wayne Shaw tucks in as Sutton take on Arsenal. Photograph: BBC

Wayne Shaw

The 46-year-old Sutton United reserve goalkeeper, nicknamed the roly-poly goalie for his corpulent appearance, caused an enormous rumpus after being pictured tucking into a pie on the bench during his team’s FA Cup tie against Arsenal in February. What he may have considered a joke became something of a sporting tragedy when he resigned the following day, while the Gambling Commission and the Football Association both launched investigations.

The problem was that a bookmaker – coincidentally the very same bookie that had arranged to sponsor Sutton’s shirt for that evening’s game – had offered odds on that very occurrence, and Shaw had admitted that some people he knew had put money on it happening.

“We are told we are not allowed to gamble as it is full-time professional football,” he explained. “This is not the case here. This is just a bit of fun, and me being hungry.”

The Gambling Commission sniffed that “integrity in sport is not a joke”, while the FA took seven months to come to a conclusion, in which time it ended its own lucrative sponsorship deal with a major bookmaker, and then banned Shaw for two months. By then the now ex-player had moved on to his next project, with AFC Totton, announcing in May “that local, national and international celebrity Wayne Shaw has joined as our new commercial manager”.


Simon Burnton

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2019 | Simon Burnton
While the more deserving await the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award verdict on Sunday night, here is our list of sporting anti-heroes from 2019

Simon Burnton

12, Dec, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
BBC Sports Personality of the Year recognises lesser known faces
Tony McCoy and Phil Taylor among the contenders for main prize, while David Beckham set for lifetime achievement award

Owen Gibson, sports news editor

18, Dec, 2010 @12:08 AM

Article image
The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2021
It is not just skill and excitement that keep us entertained, tantrums and tanking play their part in sport’s rich pageant

Andy Bull

16, Dec, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2018 | Simon Burnton
While the more deserving await the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award verdict on Sunday night, here is our list of sporting anti-heroes from 2018

Simon Burnton

13, Dec, 2018 @10:29 AM

Article image
Who will win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year team award?
From England’s victorious youth football squads to cricket’s county championship underdogs, there are strong claims aplenty this year

Jacob Steinberg

17, Dec, 2017 @10:00 AM

Article image
England cricketer Ben Stokes wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award
Ben Stokes has become the first cricketer since Andrew Flintoff in 2005 to be named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year after helping England to World Cup victory at Lord’s

Paul MacInnes

15, Dec, 2019 @9:04 PM

Article image
The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2016 | Simon Burnton
Before the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday celebrate the best of 2016, here are our anti-heroes from the sporting world this year

Simon Burnton

15, Dec, 2016 @11:00 AM

Article image
BBC Sports Personality of the Year: who should win five top awards? | Observer writers
Our writers offer their choices for the highest honours at the Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, from Ronnie O’Sullivan to Tracey Neville

Andy Bull, Ali Martin, Sean Ingle, Paul MacInnes and Anna Kessel

15, Dec, 2018 @12:00 PM

Article image
The shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year

A look at the 10 British sports stars who've been named on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year

30, Nov, 2009 @7:30 PM

Article image
Andy Murray’s Sports Personality treble shows how he has won over the nation | Kevin Mitchell
Britons are slow to embrace genius but winning the BBC award for a third time underscores the Scot’s right to be considered our greatest athlete

Kevin Mitchell

19, Dec, 2016 @9:15 AM