From McEnroe To Mourinho: The Most Explosive Encounters In Sport

There have been plenty of fireworks in the sporting world over the years
15:06, 05 Nov 2019

Remember, remember the 5th of November...but forget Guy Fawkes night if want to see spectacular fireworks, and look no further than the wonderful world of sport. 

It's parky outside, so stay in, get cosy, and come with The Sportsman as we take a look back at some of the more explosive sporting encounters...

John McEnroe v The Umpire

No better place to start really is there? The tennis Hall of Famer, possessor of a record 155 ATP titles, seven-time Grand Slam singles winner. And yet, the fiery John McEnroe has to trot the globe hearing ‘You cannot be serious?!’ rang into his eardrums at every turn. In 1981 the then-22-year-old, all hair and headbands and tiny tiny shorts, sent shockwaves around Wimbledon after an umpire’s refusal to backtrack on an out-call from a serve with the now iconic appeal. McEnroe won the Championships that year.

The volatile Nick Kyrgios has firmly grasped the mantle of a modern-day Macca but, unfortunately for the Australian, not due to his prolificacy for Grand Slam titles.


Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger

A usual highlight of the Premier League calendar, a 2014 encounter between Chelsea and Arsenal produced some extra spice on the touchline. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger went in two-handed on perennial rival, and usually innocent party, Jose Mourinho as the Blues went on to snatch all three points in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge. It was the natural eruption following years of battles between the pair which had seen Mourinho call Wenger everything from a ‘voyeur’ to a ‘specialist in failure’.

The Malice At The Palace

Forget the Houses of Parliament plot nearly half a millenia ago - an NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons exploded back in 2004. Pistons center Ben Wallace didn’t respond well to a dubious foul by the Pacers’ Ron Artest. Both players refused to calm down, eventually triggering a mass brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills involving the bench and a hefty portion of the crowd. Artest, ‘the face of the operation’ if you will, later changed his name to Metta World Peace... seriously!


James Hunt v that poor poor marshal

James Hunt, the 70s cad and playboy of the F1 circuit, became known as Hunt the Shunt during his time in F3 for his bombastic, do-or-die, typically cavalier attitude to motor racing. At the 1977 Grand Prix in Canada, a year after winning his first and only World Championship, Hunt turned on an unsuspecting marshal assisting him after a collision. A clock to the jaw sent the poor man flying. Hunt was fined $2750.


Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira

You knew this was going to be included at some point, didn’t you? Manchester United captain Roy Keane going up against the imposing Patrick Vieira, skipper of Arsenal, was always a mouthwatering event at the beginning of the 2000s. The most explosive meeting came at Highbury in February 2005, with Keane confronting the Frenchman after purported intimidation of his Red Devil teammates, prompting the ominous declaration: “I’ll see you out there…” 

United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, standing behind Keane in the tunnel that day, told The Sportsman of the midfielder’s behaviour: “It’s not anger. It's preparing for the game the right way. Vieira was trying to bully our players and Roy Keane stood up for them and that's what it's all about. That's what you need in a captain. Roy Keane won the game that day because what happens in the tunnel you take out onto the pitch and we won the game.” 

Hmmm, it looked a lot like anger to us!