In Their Own Words: Referee Rants, Djokovic’s Dollar and Pelé’s Predictions

Finn Ranson 17 January 2018

The most weird and wonderful quotes from another madcap week in sport.


Least Minced Words

Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Ferguson on the standard of refereeing in League One following their draw with Plymouth: “Their part-time, the standard’s appalling, their fitness levels are a disgrace. It’s disgusting the standard of referees at this level.” When asked what he would like to see the FA do the former Manchester United player channelled his inner Clarkson: “Shoot them. It’d be a good idea. I can put up with it and have to shut my mouth and I have to make sure I’m respectful, but when they’re laughing at the end of the game …”

24 hours later: “I’m sorry and regret the wording. I do not advocate violence against officials.”


Toughest Pill to Swallow

June 2016: Tennis star Novak Djokovic becomes the first tennis player in history to earn more than $100 million in prize money. May 2017: Announces a clothing deal with Lacoste estimated to be worth around $33 million from his home in tax haven Monte Carlo. Last week: Reportedly proposes a breakaway union at an ATP players’ meeting, demanding a significant rise in prizemoney.


Most unfortunate turn of phrase

The Metro on last month’s revelations in the north east: “A football supporter whose team have not won at home for almost a year was arrested after pulling his pants down during a match. Fellow Sunderland fans said the teenager had defecated on his seat during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Reading at the Stadium of Light. A club spokesman said the matter was in the hands of Northumbria Police.”


Dyche’s Delicacies

On a recent Danish football podcast, ex-Denmark international Søren Andersen revealed that his Bristol City teammate Sean Dyche used to pick up earthworms on the training pitch and eat them. The secret behind Burnley’s new-found success?


In other dietary news

WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, due to fight Anthony Joshua on 31 March, commenting on a recent boat trip: “I bit a fish's head off and killed it. I caught the snapper, picked it up, took the hook off and it was shaking. They [fellow passengers] looked at me like I was a weirdo. F****** good. Those boxers better be careful, man!” After eating one raw fish in Samoa against his team’s advice, the fighter was left paralysed for three days. 


Home Truths

Billie Jean King calls out the Australian Open for not renaming the Margaret Court Arena in a press conference with tournament director Craig Tiley on Friday: “It’s really important if you’re going to have a name on anything that you’re hospitable, you’re inclusive, that you open your arms to everyone who comes to a public facility. I personally don’t think she should have [her name on it] anymore. I think if you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want somebody [such as Court] to have her name on something like that.”

In an interview with Vision Christian Radio back in May, 24-time grand slam champion Court said: “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties. We’re there to help them overcome. We’re not against the people. [I’ve got] nothing against homosexuals – as individuals, they can do what they want to do – but my belief as a Christian is marriage the Bible way and I think it’s sad that these people are using that to try to hit below the belt.” Court claimed that a “gay lobby” was trying to “get [into] the minds of children” through Australia’s Safe Schools anti-bullying program, adding that transgender children were the work of “the devil”. 


From the Union

Wasps, England and recently-capped Lion James Haskell’s pre-match Netflix recommendations: “A bit of Alan Partridge, maybe some Blackadder, Dad’s Army, some Shooter.” Also revealed an unhealthy fascination with David Brent.


Looking Ahead

Former Brazil forward and three-time World Cup winner Pelé comes to the Union 22 January, 7pm. Here’s what to expect:

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

Dark existentialism: “Everything on earth is a game. A passing thing. We all end up dead. We all end up the same, don’t we?”

Bizarre predictions: “Nicky Barmby is up there with Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini and Ronaldo.” He received 23 England caps and spent eight years of his career at Hull City.

And: “The level of football in England is the top. English football is the leader in the world.”


Enter Joey Barton, coming to the Union 6 February, 7pm.

Erudite pundit: “Neymar is like the Justin Bieber of football. Brilliant on the old YouTube. Cat piss in reality…”

Self-aware: “Honestly, I think I’m the best [English midfielder]. Luka Modric and Samir Nasri are very good, but in terms of English players, well, Jack Wilshere isn’t bad, but Frank Lampard’s on the way down and Steven Gerrard’s been injured a lot.” The Liverpool-born midfielder has received one senior international cap.

On politics: “If I’m somewhere and there was four really ugly girls, I’m thinking she’s not the worst – that’s all UKIP are.”