So between Thursday and Friday, and most of today, I was staying at my Nan & my late Da’s unit in Lindfield, and among Da’s old book collection in the study was a relatively newer piece of work from 2005, written by Stephen Weir, about some of history’s great arse-ups, like Ismay not putting enough lifeboats on the Titanic, Sir Douglas Haig planning the Somme, ‘Pig Iron Bob’ Menzies allowing the British to test nuclear weapons at Maralinga, Grunenthal not testing the effects of Thalidomide before they rushed it on the market, Robert McNamara unleashing Agent Orange on Vietnam, and many other delightful decisions that had horrendous consequences:
It got me thinking about some examples for an Australian SPORTING version of History’s Worst Decisions and the People Who Made Them, if such a thing does not already exist.
I can think of a few examples from over the years and decades:
David Davis sending Phar Lap to race in North America in 1932, which led to Big Red’s untimely death at the age of 5 from an arsenic overdose, robbing Australia of a national hero on a par with Bradman during the darkest years of the Depression.
The Melbourne Football Club committee sacking coach Norm Smith in the middle of 1965, despite being the defending premiers and having won 6 premierships in the last decade, causing a catastrophic chain of events that led to the Demons’ then-record 11 year finals run ending despite a shell-shocked Smith being reinstated, the Demons being absent from the VFL finals until 1987, and as of 2021, the Red & Blue still haven’t won another premiership.
Johnny Warren and a bunch of Socceroos players not paying £1000 to a witch doctor in Mozambique to curse Rhodesia in a World Cup qualifier in November of 1969…. She did the deed and the Aussies smacked the Rhodesians, but the boys didn’t pay up, so the babe with the power of voodoo made sure Australia didn’t reach the 1970 FIFA World Cup, didn’t score at all at West Germany 1974, and didn’t appear at another World Cup until 2006.
Peter Brock sticking the pseudoscientific Energy Polariser in the HDT Director, which he claimed improved efficiency in the car, even though any sane person knew it was a box of bullshit crystals, leaving Brock’s reputation in tatters as Holden/General Motors severed business relations with HDT Special Vehicles, which also marked the end of the Holden Dealer Team, and ultimately led to Holden pairing with Tom Walkinshaw to create Holden Special Vehicles in 1987.
Christopher Skase spending $29,000,000 on the Brisbane Bears over 3 years before Quintex collapsed, he fled to Mallorca, and the Chase For Skase began.
Shane Dye going 12-wide on Veandercross on a heavy track in the 1992 Caulfield Cup on what he thought was the best part of the bog, leading to the tiring favourite being beaten right on the line by a fast-finishing Mannerism.
Every decision made by The Shark in the final round of the 1996 Masters.
Steve Waugh enforcing the follow-on in Kolkata when Australia had won 16 consecutive Test matches, and were on the verge of winning their first Test series in India in 31 years…. You know the rest.
Carlton trading Picks 16 and 46 to Fremantle for Stephen O’Reilly in 1999, who only played 12 games for the Blues before he retired due to back injuries, and later blew the whistle on the club’s under the table payments, causing the AFL to fine the Blues $930,000, kicking them out of the early rounds of the 2002 & 2003 Drafts after they’d finished last in ’02, creating a perfect storm of a punishment that helped set the club back for a generation.
Kym from the Crawshaw Crisis Committee bowling the last shot of the tiebreak against the Trevor Chappells at Manning Jack Attack in October 2020, costing his team the win when he managed to hit up a Trevor Chappells bowl into holding on the final end.
As Crowded House would say, now we’re getting somewhere!