The year of the sardine

From seagulls and trawlers to 57 old farts and Neanderthal Man. Rob McLean trawls through the sports quotes of 1995
`When seagulls follow a trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea' - Eric Cantona in March, after winning his appeal at Croydon Magistrates Court against a six-week prison sentence following his conviction for assault Photographs: PA

He wants to keep people guessing because he thinks he is better than everyone else. Basically in sea terms, he is saying he is bigger than the average sardine. Raj Persaud, psychologist.

It's a red herring, if you will excuse the expression. Zebin Bojko, a leading angling writer.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen on a football ground. It does not matter how you are provoked by the crowd, whatever language is used to you, you have to be above it. It is unbelievable and inexcusable. Gary Lineker, former England captain, on Cantona's kung-fu kick.

It nearly always happens when he has decided he has been wronged and the referee is doing nothing about it. Then he resolves to exact his own justice, which is madness of course. Alex Ferguson, Cantona's manager at Manchester United.

Eric's problems can only be solved by Eric. Bobby Charlton.

The Cantona situation cost us everything. Ferguson reflects on the double that got away

I would have cut off his testicles. Brian Clough.

He has lit up my football watching and that's what it is all about. I would pay to go and watch Cantona. George Best.

I would not change anything, nothing at all. I am not always pleased with myself, but that's the way I am. Cantona.

It's my nature to react the way I do. It's an instinct and to hell with people who are not happy with it. Cantona.

Genius is about digging yourself out of this big hole which you find yourself in, or in which others have put you. That's genius. Genius is not about complaining. Cantona.

I am very worried. There is always a potential John Lennon assassin-type out there somewhere, and you fear the worst. Gordon Taylor, Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, after a Millwall hooligan ran on the pitch and threatened the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper.

It was simply a typing error. Carlisle United spokesman after the club's Information Line gave the advice: ``When giving oral sex, don't blow. It can be dangerous.''

Perhaps I shouldn't have got involved, but we have a few wild ones, and when I saw this guy running at the English supporters with something in his hand, I grabbed him and told him to piss off. Jack Charlton, then Republic of Ireland manager, on the crowd riot at the match against England in Dublin.

I went in and got hold of him, but when there's spittle running down the side of your face it's hard not to want to do something about it. Graham Taylor, then Wolves manager, who was spat at by a fan in a match against Sheffield United.

I threw the water because the linesman seemed deaf. Diego Maradona, then coach of Racing Club, sent off after throwing a water bag at an official.

The man is obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic and it caused our club a lot of anxiety. Reg Burr, Millwall chairman, on Ian Wright, after the Arsenal striker accused some Millwall fans of being racist.

What happened on Sunday was an ordinary story of hate among teenage brats. Jean-Claude Bras, president of French side Red Star, on the murder of a fan in Paris.

I want the chance to prove I'm not Neanderthal Man, just a man who wants a second chance. John Sitton, the sacked Leyton Orient manager who was portrayed as a foul-mouthed coach in a TV documentary.

Call the supervisor, please, I've got a big beef. Jeff Tarango, American tennis player, starts his tirade against umpire Bruno Rebeuh at Wimbledon.

You are the most corrupt official in the game. Tarango to Rebeuh prior to being disqualified.

I feel like a victim. That is probably the word I would use...used and abused. I go to the chiropractor three times a week. He says I am so stressed out he can't even turn my neck. Tarango.

I can't believe he did that at Wimbledon. He may be in for a big vacation. John McEnroe on the incident.

I was afraid for my life. He was wild. He was absolutely out of control. I was so frightened of this raging maniac. Eleanor Weinstein, McEnroe's neighbour in a New York apartment block, who had a row with the former Wimbledon champion about his monopolising the building's lift.

What are you going to do about it, put a knife in my back? Andre Agassi after being confronted by a fan at the Hamburg Open.

You have to go to war and in war you have to be prepared to die. That's what boxing is. Gerald McClellan, before his WBC super middleweight fight with Nigel Benn, which resulted in brain surgery for McClellan.

I felt sick. A cold shiver ran through me. I just wanted to get out of the stadium. Michael Watson, who was paralysed after a fight with Chris Eubank three years ago, on the same fight.

I can't take any more, I just can't. When I get this season over, that's it for me. I'm finished. You are not just fighting the American athletes, you have got to fight inside your own camp as well. Linford Christie.

There are assassins in the world. People who hide behind buses when you jump out into the snow. Then there are character killers. Mike Tyson.

Tyson has no real choice but to box for me. I'm the man who made him $16m in the last two fights when he wasn't even champion. How else is he going to pay for more Lamborghinis and Cadillacs? By going to college? Don King.

If I wasn't bound by a code of conduct, I could name so many players in the present Pakistan team who have been bribed to lose matches. Aamir Sohail, Pakistan Test batsman.

This is the first time a referee has brought me to tears. He is incompetent and negligent. I asked him to move from the line of sight and he wouldn't. Alex Higgins, after losing 10-5 in the qualifying stages for snooker's Embassy World Championship.

Don King: `I'm God's child. He put me here to help others'

Mike Tyson to King: `Be quiet while I'm talking'

`Lomu is a freak'


Everyone seems to do very well out of rugby except the players. It has become more than a fun game. You do not have a World Cup for fun. If the game is run properly as a professional game, you do not need 57 old farts running rugby. Will Carling on the Rugby Football Union, remarks which resulted in his temporary sacking as captain of England.

Personally I took no objection to being called an old fart, but as England captain he should know how to behave. Denis Easby, RFU president, who sacked Carling.

I'm disgusted, I can't quite take it in. What Will said was simply what an awful lot of people think about the guys running the game. Dick Best, former England coach.

The decision has been made, I stand by it - and there is no chance whatsover that it will be reversed. Easby.

It is feasible that he could be given back his captaincy. Easby, on reinstating Carling three days later.

He's on a big ego trip with no consideration for English rugby at all. Brian Hanlon, coaching director of Bristol, on Sir John Hall, chairman of Newcastle United FC, who took over the city's rugby union club.

Playing against the French is like facing 15 Eric Cantonas. Brian Moore, former England hooker.

I used to hate watching rugby league on television. It was violent, slow and just dreadful. We all thought it was a joke sport. Martin Offiah, Great Britain's winger who used to play rugby union.

I'm 49, I've had a brain haemorrhage and a triple bypass and I could still go out and play a reasonable game of rugby uniion...but I wouldn't last 30 seconds in rugby league. Graham Lowe, former Wigan coach.

Someone from rugby league should have bought him before the World Cup started. Jack Rowell, England manager, on Jonah Lomu, the New Zealand player who ended England's World Cup hopes.

He's a freak - and the sooner he goes away the better. Carling on Lomu.

`The nightmare will never fade'


The nightmare will never fade. My scream is what stayed with me a long time. It was eating me alive. I'd go out on the court, I could be playing great tennis and it would all start coming back. I'd say `I can't do this'. Monica Seles, a few days before her return to tennis after 27 months in an exhibition match against Martina Navratilova.

I still can't believe I'm actually doing this and I'm actually here. It's like a dream. It's so exciting. It's what I love to do, it's all I've ever asked for. Seles on her return.

Getting old sucks. You set up the point just right, you have the open- court volley you would make with your eyes closed 10 years ago, and I'm concentrating like hell and I still miss it. Navratilova in retirement.

Women shouldn't keep blaming the men for the state of women's sport. Men aren't trying to hold us back, the fact is sportswomen need more more support from women viewers. Sharron Davies, TV gladiator and former Olympic swimmer.

I am and always will be a staunch supporter of doping controls in sport. Diane Modahl, after her successful appeal against a positive doping test.

I said to the owners, the Johnsons, they'd be mad to run this horse in the National. He's been a nightmare to train. If any horse in the yard has problems, nine times out of 10 it's Alfie, as Royal Athlete is known. Jenny Pitman, after Royal Athlete's victory in the Grand National.

I'm not fat. I know that I'm not fat. If I look at any Joe Bloggs walking down the street, I know I'm not fat compared to them. But in terms of the skin and bone athlete, the distance runners, I'm not in that mould. Liz McColgan, the British athlete, is not fat - it's official.

Literally, she died in the last 50 metres. Sally Gunnell gets carried away with Australian Cathy Freeman's poor finish in the 400m final at the World Championships in Gothenburg.

`I'm an alcoholic. My life was going nowhere


Yes, I was stupid - yes, I was greedy. If it was offered me again I would definitely say `no, no, no'. George Graham, former Arsenal manager, on the John Jensen transfer bung scandal.

Graham accepted the money then repaid it. It's just a question of determining intent: what he took it for. Steve Coppell, of the Premier League's commission investigating corruption in football.

There may be a fair bit of pain to go through yet and I don't know why I feel like the man who shot Bambi. Rick Parry, chief executive of the Premier League, puts Graham on the spot.

I've never met the agent. The only time I spoke to him on the telephone he was chuntering on about a problem with a work permit. Brian Clough denies any involvement with Rune Hauge, the Danish agent involved in the Jensen affair.

The second he's brave enough, big enough and gets a bloody shave and doesn't walk like a spiv, then I'll sue him if he repeats it. Clough, talking about Alan Sugar's High Court allegations that he took a "bung'' during the Teddy Sheringham transfer deal.

If an employee of a football club commits a financial irregularity then they should be sacked and that club should be punished, as we were in 1990 when we were relegated. But it is clear there is one rule for the bigger, richer clubs and a different one for the smaller ones. Ray Hardman, Swindon Town chairman.

He refused to let the players go to bed if he was losing money during a late-night gambling session. One time he owed me around pounds 400 or so. He desperately wanted to play one-card turnovers for pounds 230 a shot. I began stacking winning hands to reduce the debt to sensible levels. Malcolm Macdonald, former England striker, remembers Peter Shilton's gambling problems.

I've started to grow up now. I've got the choice of going back to the booze and gambling or to go the other way. It's up to me now. I am an alcoholic. My life was going nowhere. Paul Merson, the Arsenal footballer faces up to the future after six weeks in a rehabilitation clinic for treatment for alcohol and gambling addiction.

I'll guarantee you now that if the Rugby League went and tested 10 players from each team playing at the moment, they would find it very hard to get full sides out in the field. Blind eyes have been turned everywhere. Jamie Bloem, Doncaster full-back who was tested positive for anabolic steroids and banned for two years.

I've heard that there are two-well known footballers - nothing to do with West Ham or Everton - who have not been caught and are heavily into `social drugs'. Tony Cottee, West Ham striker.

It must have been a misunderstanding; or if not a genuine misunderstanding, a trap. Diego Maradona reaffirms his innocence of deliberately taking drugs at the 1994 World Cup.

The mistake I made was not getting the hell out of the hotel bar about two hours earlier than I did and going straight to bed. Vinnie Jones, in trouble after biting the nose of a journalist.

Monster, monster shocked. Eric Hall, Dennis Wise's agent, reacting to the news of the Chelsea footballer's three-month jail sentence for assaulting a taxi driver.

Leave my hero alone. Eric Hall to photographers as Wise left court after being sentenced.

I have spoken to many taxi drivers and the majority are saying they will not pick him up. Bob Oddy, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.

I could have been a bank robber if it hadn't been for football. Wise.

`I think he made a bit of a prat of himself'


He is a product rather than a person. Damon Hill on Michael Schumacher.

It was dangerous and unsporting. I think he did it deliberately and if he does it again I know what to do. Schumacher attacks Hill for dangerous driving at the French Grand Prix.

It's total hypocrisy. There is one rule for him and another for the rest of us. Hill on Schumacher after the Pacific Grand Prix.

It is difficult because he is too moody and I have problems with moody people. But it would be a great gesture for the German fans to be fair to Hill and applaud him. Schumacher on Hill before the German Grand Prix.

I think he made a bit of a prat of himself. Frank Williams, Williams- Renault team boss, on Hill's collision with Schumacher at the British Grand Prix.

Two top drivers in the same team rarely pays off. They get into fights on and off the track. They hide information from each other and this hinders the progress of a team. Schumacher, then Benetton No 1, on the prospect of teaming up with Nigel Mansell.

He is wet behind the ears. He is not a businessman in the accepted sense of the word. I once thought we were the dream ticket. I saw him as my successor but not anymore. Ken Bates, Chelsea chairman, on his rival for control of the club, director Matthew Harding.

I don't give a damn about being chairman. All I know is at the moment we have the wrong chairman. Harding.

I can forgive one lapse, but not the kind of behaviour he has demonstrated over the two years he has been here. Put it this way - Matthew Harding has no redeeming features. Bates

I've been watching Chelsea from outside the director's box for 31 of the last 33 years, so it's hardly going to kill me. I have 12 season tickets in the front row of the upper tier. Harding, banned from the directors' box by chairman Ken Bates.

After what has gone on, what has been said, I cannot see how we can continue to work together. He has been nice to my face but said unpleasant things about me behind my back. Bates.

I was a fan for 20 years before Ken Bates, and I'll still be a fan 20 years after he has gone. Harding.

I can't tell you what's going on in the man's mind, it's a very funny mind. Bates.

I know this is a personal question, but are you aware that your shorts are slightly transparent? Reporter to Andre Agassi.

No, but apparently you are. Agassi.

Manchester United not only have the best players, they have the best referees as well. Sam Hammam, Wimbledon chairman, after his club were beaten by United.

I almost wanted Howard Wilkinson's team relegated because of their fans. I don't think Leeds deserve to be in the Premier League. You can feel the hatred, their fans were awful. Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager.

If you want to lose your life that's up to you. Chris Eubank warns Steve Collins before their world title fight.

If The Poms Bat First, Tell The Taxi To Wait. Bannerat the third Test in Sydney.

It was a complete accident but I'm responsible for my actions. Tim Henman, after being disqualified for hitting a ball girl with a ball.

If I'd done that at Wimbledon I would have been jailed. John McEnroe on the Henman incident.

He's supposed to be one of our best, and he should be there for players to talk to, not to be a little Hitler. Ian Wright, the Arsenal striker, on referee David Elleray.

`He sent me off in his usual Hitler fashion. He's a dreadful referee who is typical of the standard we have faced all season.' Joe Kinnear, the Wimbledon manager, sent off by Robbie Hart against Manchester United.

`How much money do you need to be happy?'


I watched the ball go over in disbelief. Rob Andrew on the kick that beat Australia in the World Cup quarter-final.

I had to come up with something. I owed the lads one after putting South Africa into bat and seeing that move not work out. Michael Atherton, after his innings of nearly 11 hours which saved the second Test against South Africa.

I'll remember it for a long, long time. and I'm going to get pissed. Tomorrow we're visiting a vineyard, so I'll probably get pissed again. Atherton, after England's first Test victory in Australia for eight years.

If any of my opponents had done what I did today I would have thought they were on drugs. Jonathan Edwards after breaking the world triple jump record twice at the World Championships.

I don't know if I was all that good. I never saw myself play, so how do I know? Sir Stanley Matthews, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year.

I won't be a pawn in the hands of business or government; I'm vaccinated and immune to corruption. Pele, the newly sworn-in Minister of Sports, who remembered that in 1972 the military government wanted to use his image in a football tournament to gain popular support for the regime.

People will say I have a screw loose, that I've lost it, but perhaps it's just that I am in the 0.1 per cent of footballers who doesn't give a toss about unlimited money. Matthew Le Tissier, explains why he stays at Southampton.

It doesn't look like I try very hard to get the ball back. Le Tissier speculates on why he is being left out of the England squad.

I simply wasn't prepared to commit myself for seven days a week. In any walk of life people want more leisure time. Kenny Dalglish, who stepped down as Blackburn Rovers manager.

I'm as patriotic as the next man but I fear they could be embarrassed. Sir Bobby Charlton worries about England's chances in Euro 96.

I can't even imagine now being a footballer. It's ridiculous. It's as far removed as me being a concert pianist. Jimmy Greaves.

It brings to an end the most remarkable era in horse racing. Ginger McCain, horse trainer, on the death of Red Rum, three times winner of the Grand National who died this year.

If anyone could be Michael Jordan for a day, they'd see it's not all it is cracked up to be. I can never be a normal person. Michael Jordan, basketball player and probably the most famous sporting figure in the the United States.

I had 13,000 people supporting me today. That's what won me the match. Britain's Greg Rusedski after his four-set victory over the No 16 seed Guy Forget, of France.

Those who knock darts think it's easy. Try throwing for double top when your mortgage depends on it. Rod Harrington, at the WDC Championship.

I learned about the risks early on. My dad was always going to funerals. Damon Hill, Formula One driver.

The longest three minutes I've ever known. Frank Bruno on the final round of his World Boxing Council heavyweight title win over Oliver McCall.

My head looks like ET gone wrong. Bruno after the fight.

I had four doughnuts on eight and a chocolate chip muffin on 10. I've got more addictions now than when I was drinking. John Daly, the Open champion who is suffering migraines since he gaveup drinking more than two years ago.

I'm tired of the struggle to maintain my riding weight. I will miss riding but you simply can't go on forever. Lester Piggott rides into the sunset.

`Some people think Botham is just a talented thug. I want him working for England.' Denis Silk, the Test and County Cricket Board chairman, backing the former England Test all-rounder.