Not-so-happy Halloween: Sport's five biggest howlers

This Halloween we celebrate some of the best howlers in sport
This Halloween we celebrate some of the best howlers in sport

By Thomas Godfrey

We all have our off days.

Some of us dread a bad day at the office but footballers have a whole horde of different issues.

Miscue a kick? Cost your team a goal. Make a poor decision? Turn that victory into defeat.

Needless to say, no-one wants to be in the headlines for the wrong reasons, but this Halloween we look back at five individuals who absolutely deserved it.

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Tony Fleet’s horror match

Not a big enough target for Tony Fleet.
Not a big enough target for Tony Fleet.


A sport commonly associated with beer, pies and more beer.

Perhaps Australian Tony “The Feet” Fleet had been taking in too much of the above when he came out onto the stage of the BDO World Championship in 2010.

Fleet, who was facing three-time BDO Champion Martin Adams, began the first leg of his match with a score of 26.

Fleet followed this with scores of 41, 60, 60 and, stunningly, 5. He also racked up scores of 22, 80 and 11, in what has been generously described by some as a ‘car crash’ and ‘the worst leg in darts history’.

After this cataclysmic first leg, Fleet lost the next eight consecutively in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat. He retired in 2015 and hates the word schadenfreude.

Jonathan Woodgate’s debut from hell

Jonathan Woodgate of Real Madrid reacts after deflecting the ball into the net for an own goal (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Jonathan Woodgate of Real Madrid reacts after deflecting the ball into the net for an own goal (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Where would the world be without Jonathan Woodgate? Most likely, it would be completely identical, but we wouldn’t have the satisfaction of being able to laugh mercilessly at the Middlesborough native’s shockingly bad debut for Real Madrid in 2005.

Having become a Galactico in 2004, Woodgate was sidelined for a year with injury issues and eventually came to make his debut in 2005.

As Woodgate came to make his Real Madrid debut, expectations were high of their new £13.4million centre-back, who had waited for 516 days just to make his debut.

Woodgate’s first serious assignment was to defend an ambitious long range shot from Joseba Etxeberria. His effort to head the ball away only succeeded in directing the ball into Iker Casillas’ net.

Woodgate said later of his horror start: “It was not the best start in the world. I couldn’t believe it. I went to try to block the ball and it just skimmed off my head. Obviously, I did not want to get an own goal.”

Incredibly, worse was to come for Woodgate. The England defender picked up a booking for a mistimed challenge from behind on Carlos Gurpegi.

Watching substitute centre-back Alvaro Mejia warm up on the sidelines soon after the restart suggested that he was treading on thin ice, but Woodgate would not be substituted, because he was sent off instead.

Woodgate saw his second yellow card for a block on his tormentor Etxeberria. With 66 minutes gone, Woodgate departed. Fans cheered for his dismissal.

Woodgate’s curse continued; he played only nine league games for Real and never fully regained his fitness.

He attempted to get his career back on track by joining his local club Middlesbrough on a season long loan in 2006-07, which ultimately turned into a permanent deal. More injury concerns followed him, though, after joining Tottenham where he won the only major honour of his career: the League Cup in 2008.

Woodgate was still voted the worst buy of the *century* by readers of leading sports daily Marca (receiving 37.11% of the votes cast) and Real have not turned to another Englishman since.

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#3: Inzamam falls over his stumps

Inzamam ul-Haq.
Inzamam ul-Haq.

Inzamam Ul-Haq, the king of stupid dismissals. From run outs, to obstructing field with his bat, ‘Inzi’ was king of going out with a bang.

In this case, that bang is literal, as the Pakistan captain comes hurtling down to the ground after failing to sweep a Monty Panesar delivery.

Inzamam leads the way in run outs in ODI’s with a record 38, joint with Wasim Akram.

Mastercard Lola F1 fail to get racing

The Mastercard Lola Formula 1 team.
The Mastercard Lola Formula 1 team.

The entire Mastercard Lola F1 team deserves a mention.

Bringing a team’s plans one year forward was never going to succeed, but they arrived at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix with the garish-liveried, Ford V8-powered car despite the fact they had a shoestring budget and no idea how to run a team.

With terrible aerodynamics, Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset were 11 and 13 seconds off the pace in qualifying and unsurprisingly failed to make the grid. Lola withdrew its entry a short while later with £6million debt and never reappeared.

Gone in 102 seconds, the time it took for the car to get round the track.

The $1million bet

Logan Paul at Young Hollywood Studio on February 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Logan Paul at Young Hollywood Studio on February 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Before the farce that was the KSI vs Logan Paul ‘boxing’ match (which essentially consisted of two men throwing their hands around, for a pricey £7.99 watch), Paul announced he had placed a bet on himself for the sum of $1Million USD.

If Paul had won the fight, (spoiler alert: it was a draw) he would have been set to earn a return of around $1.5Million Dollars.

In an interview on Radio 1 (which was never released), the occasional actor told now-fired DJ Charlie Sloth that he had put down a ‘cool million’ to not just beat KSI but to knock him out in the third round. He didn’t, and the million was lost.