Sledging will forever be part of sport

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert


19 Have your say

    Sledging isn’t racist or homophobic. It will always be an integral part of sport.

    Anyone who has played sport has copped a sledge or two or more.

    My first taste was my first-grade debut for Mosman against Northern Districts at Mosman Oval.

    I was so nervous the wicket seemed in the next suburb as I walked out to face former Test opening batsman Jimmy Burke and his offies.

    Jim Mathers was the keeper, the father of Wallaby-to-be Mick Mathers.

    Mathers started the chirp as I took guard, saying “You won’t be ’round for long, son”.

    And he kept saying it as Jim Burke ran into bowl – I played forward and was beaten all ends up.

    Burke walked all the way down the wicket, put his hand on my shoulder and said. “Boy, you are going to be a great player”, with Mathers still chirping I won’t be around for long.

    Second ball exactly the same sequence. Third ball I crashed into the covers where Lynn Marks fielded brilliantly stopping a certain four. Damn.

    Burke again walked down the wicket, and with his face about six inches away, bellowed “Who the f—–g hell do you think you are?”.

    Ball four and I was on my way for an inglorious duck on debut.

    Jim Mathers said “I told you so”, while Jim Burke met me at square leg saying “You are going to be a great player son, now f–k off”, pointing to the shed.

    Ian Craig was the Mosman skipper and he was leaning on the dressing room door with “Cop a bit out there Lordy?”.

    It was an eye-opener, it had never happened to me before. Craig said get used to it – I told Ian then and there I wouldn’t start a sledge, but I’ll sure finish a few.

    And that’s exactly what I did, walking towards the sledger with a big smile. Saying nothing, very quickly sledgers backed off when there was no retaliation.

    I only ever started one sledge in a one-off father and son batting together in first grade for Petersham – Noel Hughes and son Graeme.

    Noel always scored runs against us, and that day was no different, he was in the 40s.

    He was a very good batsman, but he ran his son Graeme out on debut without facing a ball.

    Graeme was filthy, and I couldn’t help walking past Noel and suggesting it would be pretty interesting over the WeetBix in the morning.

    Noel exploded and was out next ball – the only time I sledged.

    Adelaide Oval in the early 70s and Australian captain Ian Chappell had been blasted in the press for sledging. How unusual.

    Leg-spin legend Bill O’Reilly of Sydney Morning Herald fame was in the press box saying sledging was disgraceful, it never happened in his day.

    Alan McGilvray, Keith Miller, Lindsay Hassett, and Norman May were also in the press box as I said – “Ace it up Bill, you didn’t earn the nicknames of Tiger and Snarler because you were a choir boy”.

    McGilvray, Miller, Hassett, and May did a hasty retreat; they could tell Bill was about to burst a valve.

    His retort: “You whippersnapper, what the hell would you know?”

    Bill burst a valve alright, and continued to chip me right through the day.

    But when he arrived the next day Bill was his usual self, as though nothing had happened.

    Merv Hughes was a constant sledger, singling out Graham Gooch who was having trouble laying bat on ball.

    “How about I bowl you a piano to see if you can play that?’

    South African Daryll Cullinan was Shane Warne’s bunny.

    Warne greeted him with: “I’ve been waiting for two years to get you again.”

    Cullinan replied with – “Looks like you spent it eating”.

    And Mark Waugh greeted batsman James Ormond to the crease with “You aren’t good enough to play for England”.

    Ormond replied – “Maybe so, but at least I’m the best player in my family”.

    Long may sledging be alive and well.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2017 @ 10:24am
      JamesH said | May 18th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

      David, no one is saying that sledging in general is racist or homophobic. Just that sledging shouldn’t cross the line into racist or homophobic (or sexist) territory.

      All the examples you gave are fine.

      • May 18th 2017 @ 11:57am
        Duncan Smith said | May 18th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Saying something about family / wife / girlfriend is just as bad as racism or homophobia.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2017 @ 12:25pm
          JamesH said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          That’s why I added ‘sexist’. It’s probably a bit broader than that tho, you’re right.

    • May 18th 2017 @ 11:54am
      Duncan Smith said | May 18th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

      Talk is cheap

    • May 18th 2017 @ 12:25pm
      DLKN said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

      Your ‘favourite’ example has a bloke referring to other people, indeed children, as “retarded”.


    • May 18th 2017 @ 12:50pm
      Peebo said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

      Your ‘favorite’ bit involves a sledge where the kids are retarded, eh?

      David, just stop writing will you.

      • May 18th 2017 @ 6:48pm
        twodogs said | May 18th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

        Get over yourself peebo. It’s called in context and for its time, hilarious. Still hilarious today.

      • May 18th 2017 @ 10:34pm
        davSA said | May 18th 2017 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

        Peebo , Ian Botham’s personal charity is a Leukemia foundation specifically supporting young adults and teens suffering from cancer . He has organized numerous charity walks and raised over 8 million pounds doing so.

        He walks the talk for sure.

        At one level I guess I can understand your sensitivity but ther is another level and it is called jest with no harm intended at all.

    • May 18th 2017 @ 1:07pm
      Pope Paul VII said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

      And sport writing Lordy.

    • May 18th 2017 @ 1:46pm
      Steve said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

      FFS look at all the heroes here lining up to have a go at Lordy. I love the Ian Botham response to being sledged, one of the all time greats.

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