Best sport stories of 2014
17 December 2014, 14:36
Paris - AFP's best offbeat sports stories of 2014:
Bat's not cricket
- New Zealander cricketer Jimmy Neesham had a shock travelling through America when his bat was drilled full of holes by customs officials.
The 23-year-old, who was in transit between matches for his Caribbean Premier League team, the Guyana Amazon Warriors, tweeted a picture of his bat after its going-over.
"Imagine if your cricket gear went through America and they drilled holes in your bat to look for drugs," he wrote on his Twitter account, @JimmyNeesh.
The photo showed three holes drilled into the side of Neesham's bat.
Beak problem as seagull photo-bombs photo-finish
- A seagull ran two horses close in a British race when he flew in front of the finish line camera judging a photo-finish.
The incident happened at the English south coast venue of Brighton when the photo-finish print showed the bird swooping across Jewelled, who was declared the winner, and Sagesse in second.
"We are about a mile and a half from the sea, and there are a lot of seagulls around, but this has never happened before as far as we are aware," racecourse spokesman George Hill told the BBC.
"The bird just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Three all out
- Wirral, from north-west England, were dismissed for just three at Haslington in an amateur cricket match -- with extras the top-scorer courtesy of two leg-byes.
There were 10 ducks in the Wirral innings, with No 11 Connor Hodson, supposedly their worst batsman, the only member of the visitors' side to score a run off the bat.
Haslington won the match by 105 runs after making only 108 themselves before, as the Stoke Sentinel newspaper reported, "the real drama unfolded after the tea interval".
To Quinn or not to Quinn, that was the question
American Winter Olympics bobsledder Johnny Quinn became a verb after pictures of smashing through a locked Sochi bathroom door became an Internet hit.
The Twitter hashtag #Quinning trended alongside similar frustrated tales of breaking out and through various barriers and objects.
Fans tweeted pictures of wine bottles being broken open and food cartons ripped apart in the act of "Quinning".
Quinn's Internet fame was boosted two days after his bathroom episode when he posted pictures of himself trapped in an elevator.
Sochi's four ring circus
- Russia's glitzy ceremony to open the Sochi Winter Olympic got off to a rocky start when one of the Olympic rings that was supposed to appear failed to emerge.
Just four of the five rings could be seen after one of the five giant snowflakes suspended above the stadium that were supposed to morph into rings failed to do so.
As a result there were four Olympic rings and a snowflake in the top right side where the fifth ring should have been.
Corinthians till I die -- and beyond
- Fans of Brazilian giants Corinthians were able to show their allegiance for eternity after the club confirmed plans to open a dedicated cemetery for their supporters.
Up to 70,000 plots were to be made available for fans in the "Corinthians Forever" graveyard due to open in 2015, the club announced.
Plots cost between 4,500 and 7,800 reais (between $1,870 and $3,240) depending on the area of the complex selected and proximity to club idols who will also be laid to rest at the site.
Greek ref says no pay, no play
- A Greek Cup tie between Super League club Niki Volos and second division Zakynthos was cancelled after the home team could not raise enough money to pay the referees.
Referee Michalis Voskakis waited 30 minutes from the start of the match for Niki officials to provide the 3,600 euros to pay the four match officials but when they failed to do so, they called off the game.
On his Ed, son
- Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg was temporarily sidelined for breaking protocol in order to attend an Ed Sheeran pop concert.
The Sun newspaper claimed that Clattenburg contravened regulations by driving home alone after refereeing West Bromwich Albion's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday so he could watch British singer Sheeran perform in Newcastle.
The rules of the Premier League's refereeing body state that officials must travel to and from matches together in the interests of their integrity and security.
Sabatini thieves in backhand compliment
- Perhaps it was meant as a backhanded compliment when vandals made off with the racket that was clasped in the hands of a statue of Argentine tennis star Gabriela Sabatini in Buenos Aires.
The miscreants left the artwork looking rather empty-handed just a few weeks after it was made public on the Rio de la Plata waterfront.
They severed the bronze-coloured racket that was formerly clasped tightly in the statue's hands, leaving Sabatini sans racket as she lines up for a backhand smash.
During her 11 years as a pro, Sabatini, now 44, won 27 titles including the US Open, when she beat Steffi Graf in 1990. She is the only Argentine woman to have won a Grand Slam singles victory.
Leicester boss fails to get measure of goals
- Leicester manager Nigel Pearson got the goal posts at Swansea's Liberty Stadium measured and admitted he wished they were smaller after his team lost 2-0.
Pearson said his goalkeepers had raised concerns over the size of the goals at the Welsh venue in the pre-match warm-up and a tape measure was even summoned to ensure they were within the rules.
"The goalkeepers felt they were a bit high," Pearson said. "I thought it was in everyone's best interest to get it checked and it was quite light-hearted.
"The officials were slightly surprised, but everything was fine. I could have done with it being a bit smaller."
India marathon leaders miss turn, take the bus
- A marathon ended in farce in India after the pilot car overshot a turn, forcing the top three runners to take a long detour before abandoning the race -- and taking a bus to the finish line.
The leaders, who missed the U-turn at the 16 kilometre-mark (10 mile), ran four extra kilometres before officials finally stopped them and told them they had taken the wrong route.
Realising they had no chance of recovering ground, the three abandoned the 42-kilometre race in Bangalore and borrowed money from spectators to take a bus to the finishing line.
Sorry for headbutt, mate
- Cambridge City striker Andrew Phillips apologised for headbutting team-mate Josh Beech following a row over a missed chance in a non-league English game.
The pair exchanged angry words when Phillips opted to shoot rather than pass to his Cambridge colleague and the forward responded with the butt that earned him a red card in a 2-0 loss to Banbury United.
"It's disgraceful," manager Gary Roberts fumed to the BBC.
Magnussen suffers burn out in Singapore hot-seat
- Danish driver Kevin Magnussen needed medical attention for burns to his backside following the Singapore Grand Prix in which he finished 10th for McLaren.
In hot and humid conditions under floodlights at the south east Asian street circuit, he was one of many drivers to suffer from fatigue and dehydration -- and in his case a burnt backside.
"I don't know if something was wrong, but my seat was very hot, so we have to check what's going on. I couldn't even drink the water it was so hot.
"It's the hardest-earned point I've ever had, but it's better than nothing."
North Korean reporters face the fax
- North Korea's reporters at the Asian Games in Incheon had to file stories using fax because their web access is restricted in South Korea.
Seoul's Ministry of Unification told the Korea Times that North Korean media would not get special access to their country's websites, which are blocked in South Korea.
This meant that fax machines were dusted off and whirred into action as the Games got underway.
Japan baseball game lasts 4 days and 50 innings
- In a scenario more usually associated with its cousin, cricket, a baseball game in Japan dragged on for four days with two high school teams slogging it out over a record 50 innings.
Chukyo and Sotoku began their slug-fest on a Thursday in the semi-final of Japan's high school rubber-ball baseball championship in Akashi, western Japan.
But after the usual nine innings in which both teams' pitchers outfoxed all batters for a scoreless draw, the game went into extra time.
At the bottom of the fifteenth the umpire called it a day and ordered the teams to come back to the field after a night's rest.
For two solid days, batters repeatedly stepped up to the plate only to be dismissed without a single run being scored.
It wasn't until Sunday morning that Chukyo's captain broke the deadlock, walloping a double in the record-breaking 50th inning. That inspired a team-mate, who scored one more later in the inning, giving Chukyo a hard-earned 3-0 victory.
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