For this week’s latest banter, Tim Gregory discusses his top five Australians sporting villains.
#5 NORMA PLUMMER (NETBALL)
For this weeks list I am going to look at the top five Australians sporting villains. Athletes from individual sports such as Anthony Mundine and Nick Kyrgios – as much as they get under our skin by repeatedly carrying like pork chops – will be exempt from the count down because of their lack of impact against New Zealanders. However, I am including one coach in former Australian netball mentor Norma Plummer. Plummer actually began her career as a player, including captaining her country throughout a successful period of the seventies. However she is more highly recognised as the outspoken Diamonds coach of the early to mid 2000’s with an aggressive style and bulldog-chewing-a-wasp demeanour. Norma ‘No Mates’ initially became offside with New Zealand fans after famously calling the Silver Ferns a “bunch of scrubbers’’ directly after the ferns won the 2003 world cup final. Maybe it was sour grapes in her mouth all along?
#3 WALLY LEWIS (RUGBY LEAGUE)
An immortal of the game of rugby league, no one can dispute the immense talent that the ‘King Wally’ possessed. Many kiwis admire him for his fearless exploits on the field for his beloved Queensland in State of Origin. But when it came to donning the green jersey with the double gold vee against the Kiwis, the man known as the emperor of Lang Park quickly became the number one target for the Kiwi hard men to smash into the turf. It wasn’t that he was a bad bloke per-sae It’s just that he irked us in a competitive sense. In much the same way that Cameron Smith does in the current era by influencing refereeing decisions as captain, given his immense standing within the code. Wally also embraced wearing the black hat on our shores. The most famous chant within Carlaw Park’s grandstands was “Wally’s a (W word rhyming with banker)” – and he lapped up every minute by delivering flawless performances. There arguably hasn’t been another Kangaroo villain with quite the same vigour. Sure there has been likes of Willie Mason and Paul Gallen in more recent times. But there is only one Wally Lewis.
#2 GEORGE GREGAN (RUGBY UNION)
Kiwi sports fans first heard the name George Gregan in 1994 when the diminutive halfback managed to make a miracle tackle on All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson during the dying minutes of a Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney. Instantly breaking the heart of a nation watching on the goggle box from across the ditch. A main stay inside Stephen Larkham at both the Wallabies and Brumbies, Gregan continued to terrorise the New Zealand rugby public for another decade. Culminating in him squawking the infamous words “Four more years” (pictured after the final siren of our 2003 world cup loss to Australia) in reference to The All Blacks having to wait at least another four years to have another crack at an elusive second world title. As some consolation, the Wallabies were then upset in the final a few days later in front of their home supporters. I guess sometimes karma works in mysterious and sweet ways.
#1 CHAPPELL BROTHERS (CRICKET)
The most famous of all trans-tasman sporting incidents occurred on this day 36 years ago at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Ensuring that New Zealand did not get the runs they needed, the Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed his bowler, and younger brother, Trevor, to deliver the last ball as an underarm delivery along the pitch. This was actually legal at the time, but nevertheless was frowned upon for being against the spirit of the game and, well, humanity. What made this situation even more bizzare was the fact that our number 10 batsmen Brian McKechnie had to hit a six from the last ball just to tie the match – a task that would seem improbable at best. The under arm tactic ignited a feud between the two teams that has continued to this very day. And we shouldn’t let the Aussies fans forget it either as they currently tour the country. As they say, it’s just not cricket!