Oddballs #1

Sport is a funny old thing. Often, it is literally a funny old thing. Not everyone is a sports fan, but the majority could count themselves as a fan of laughter. You see, you’d be surprised to hear about some of the stories I come across in the world of sport. It’s not all one nils and football hooligans. There are some genuinely funny sporting stories. My job and aim is to tell you about the best ones I can find over the week. Don’t let ‘sport’ put you off, just hold onto your pants, because you might just laugh them off.

We’ll start in God’s favourite country, the US of A. Sport is a religion to most over there, and sometimes, as this story teaches us, sport trumps religion. Literally.

Pastor Tim Christensen, a representative of the Gold Hill Lutheran Church in Montana, cut short his service on Sunday, as he had a pew reserved in front of the TV, as his beloved American Football team – the San Francisco 49ers – took on the Carolina Panthers in the NFL play-offs. How short, you ask? Try 60 seconds.

“Would you all like to be forgiven for your sins? OK, that’s great, you are.”

He followed this understated yet important message by informing the congregation that there was bread and wine available on the table beside him, which all were welcome to share. That was that for Pastor Tim, who pegged it home in time to watch his beloved 49ers triumph 23-10, to advance to the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Apparently Pastor Tim returned shortly after the game, and conducted a fit and proper service, no doubt buoyed by his team’s accomplishments. The only question that remains; what’s he gonna do this weekend?

Now, we’ve all been known to pull a sicky at one time or another. And if you’re sitting there thinking: “I’ve never done that, I have a 100% attendance record at work.” Dude, get a life. But to the rest of us that have, take solace in the fact you don’t have to work a menial, monotonous job to be forced into doing so. Even the best paid like a freebee.

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes was on the receiving end of it on Sunday morning, when striker Kenwyne Jones TEXTED him hours before their big game against Liverpool saying that he couldn’t play. Initially, the club brushed the message off as a joke, but were left red-faced when Jones failed to turn up with his teammates for the pre-match meal.

Jones was gifted a £80,000 fine for his misdemeanor – something us normal folk don’t have to take into account – and the Trinidad and Tobago star looks set to leave the club in this month’s transfer window. He should have practiced his sick phone voice (We all have one).

Over to the tennis court, and the first grand slam of the season kicks off this week in Melbourne as the world’s best contest the Australian Open. Obviously, it’s hot in Australia, and competing in a physically exhausting sport is going to be difficult. Enough of the blatantly obvious. Temperatures of 42 degrees centigrade were recorded on day one, and they played havoc. A ball boy fainted. But something even weirder happened.

The heat proved too much for young, Frank.
The heat proved too much for young, Frank.

Frank Dancevic is a 29-year-old Canadian tennis player. He’s ranked 122 in the world, so you know he’s not that good. Regardless, the intense heat had him struggling on Monday, and he, like the ball boy before him, fainted on court. But not before he saw something you wouldn’t exactly expect to see on a tennis court.

‘I was dizzy from the middle of the first set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, “Wow Snoopy, that’s weird”,’ Dancevic said.
Snoopy. The cartoon character. On an Australian tennis court. A long way from home.

Dancevic eventually re-joined the real world, and went on to lose 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Frenchman Benoit Paire.

This isn’t the first occasion of the heat causing havoc in Oz though. Former World number one Caroline Wozniacki’s water bottle melted on court two years ago; Jo Wilfred Tsonga’s shoes softened in the sun and Serbian beauty Jelena Jankovic burnt her precious backside on an uncovered seat. This is, however, the first sighting of a cartoon character on court in recent history.

See, I told you sport could be fun. I bet you never thought you’d be reading about unreliable vicars and burnt backsides in the same article (unless it was in reference the Catholic faith). Go back to your daily lives, and remember; sport can be more than a game. It can be bloody funny too.