On-field celebrations: The good, the bad and the ugly

GayleAfter the Windies smashed Australia over the fence and out of T20 World Cup contention, serial slogger Chris Gayle took to the field and danced the jig he reserves for special occasions.

As his teammates joined him in a fairly aggressive rendition of Gangnam Style, some asked whether it was the done thing to carry on this way.

The Aussies did an unconvincing job of saying they were OK with it. Captain George Bailey went all Yoda on us, saying: “The art of winning is almost as hard as the art of losing, isn’t it?”

Coach Boof Lehmann, while admitting the Windies have a talent for shaking their groove thing, said their style of on-field festivities was “certainly not what we do”. Which even I have to admit is a bit rich coming from the Australian cricket team.

Sure, Gangnam Style is a bit 2012. Yes, it was an in-your-face demonstration of what is basically a happy dance. Yes, Gayle got so excited he fell over. Yes, it was in response to some bad blood between the two sides coming into the game. And yes, Gayle is so far up himself he tweets his followers when he’s trending anywhere on the planet. But to suggest a little dance was over the top — when did we become such wowsers?

But it does give us the opportunity to look at the various styles of on-field celebrations and revisit some of the more noteworthy.

Gayle’s performance falls into the Payback category, revenge in this instance for James Faulkner’s comments that he didn’t like the West Indies.

There are numerous examples of the Payback. At the 2000 Olympics, Michael Klim and the boys played air guitar after winning the men’s 4×100-metres relay, in response to Gary Hall Jr’s claim that the US would smash the Aussies like guitars.

In the recent Third Test against South Africa, the Australian cricket team came under fire for barking at departing batsman Faf du Plessis. But he had earlier accused us of acting like a pack of dogs. So woof, Faf.

A couple of weeks ago, we told you how the Arizona Diamondbacks, hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers for last year’s National League West title game, asked the opposing team not to celebrate on the field if they won. Two problems with this — that the Diamondbacks were even thinking about losing and that they made such a stupid request. The Dodgers won. And partied in the Diamondbacks’ pool.

The Joy of the Moment is the most spontaneous of the victory celebrations. In this category, it’s hard to go past Sally Pearson’s multiple kangaroo hops and excited “Did you see me?” after winning silver at the Beijing Olympics.

Back in 1987, Pat Cash turned Wimbledon protocol on its head, climbing into the stands, at one point hoisted on the shoulders of a priest, to be with his family and team after winning the title.

Jim Courier threw himself into the Yarra River when he won the 1992 Australian Open. The only problem I have with this is that he resurfaced.

The team version of the Joy of the Moment is the All In. Expect to see a lot of this in the upcoming football World Cup.

With so many bodies coming together in a state of excitement, sometimes the All In becomes the D’oh. One of the best examples of this was the two Scottish rugby players who cracked heads celebrating a win over the Wallabies. Serves them right, really.

Next we come to the Strip Tease, the appeal of which really depends on the body doing the disrobing. Rafa Nadal takes his shirt off on court after every match, win or lose. This is a service to tennis. It is not OK, Novak Djokovic, when you have the body of a plucked chicken. Please don’t do that again.

My favourite Strip Tease was the one performed by John Aloisi after kicking the penalty goal against Uruguay that sent us to the 2006 World Cup after a 32-year absence. This celebration could also be classified as a Joy of the Moment and, when his teammates caught up with him, an All In. Fortunately, it did not develop into a D’oh.

When a player becomes known for a particular victory celebration, we call this the Trademark. Tim Cahill has made the boxing kangaroo part of his personal brand, picking a fight with the corner flag every time he scores a goal. Hasn’t lost a round yet.

For an old-fashioned Trademark, check out John Newcombe jumping over the tennis net after each tournament victory. Today’s players don’t do this, partly because of injury concerns and partly because of the dag factor. I’d like to see someone bring it back. Maybe Lleyton Hewitt, whose ‘come on’ has become a Trademark not just for him but a number of copycats.

The King of the World, named after James Cameron’s Oscars acceptance speech, is practised by those who are their own biggest fans. Tina Arena winning an ARIA award springs to mind.

The only person who ever pulled off a King of the World without looking like a tool was Muhammad Ali. He was indeed the greatest.

For mine, the most audacious King of the World was Lance Armstrong holding up seven fingers after ‘winning’ his seventh Tour de France and then lecturing those who doubted his achievements with: “I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles.” Yeah, we’re sorry too, Lance.

The Smartypants employs a different skill set, usually acrobatic, in the execution of the on-field celebration. In a 1999 rugby league club game, Anthony Mundine and Nathan Blacklock performed a Duelling Banjos version of the Smartypants, with matching tries and flips.

Finally, we have the Just Yuk, currently held by the English cricket team for peeing on the Oval wicket after winning last year’s Ashes series. Fortunately, we don’t have a picture of that.

This is, of course, just a small selection of notable victory celebrations. If you have your own favourites, I’d love to hear about them.

 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    There’s been some excellent racing ones too.

    The Premature Ejoculation has had plenty of candidates but none better than Greg Hall’s triumphant whip wave when crossing the line on Doriemus in the 1997 Melbourne Cup. A bit of a boo-boo in front of 100,000 on course punters and millions of office party viewers as Might and Power had actually held on to win. You can actually see the awful doubt dawning on him as he slowly deflates his erect whip arm.

    The of course there’s the was Damien Oliver’s look to the heavens after winning the Cup on Media Puzzle in 2003, three day’s after his brother’s death in a race incident. Not a dry eye on the course.

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    1. kazblah says:

      Ah yes, I remember Damien Oliver’s win. Such a brave ride. Hadn’t seen Greg Hall’s effort though. Most enjoyable!

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      1. Anonymous says:

        I was there right on the winning post and a mate and I had bet large on M&P. We were certain we had won but were cast into 30 secs of doubt and pain by Gee’s antics. My other big mate had his bollocks on Doriemus and being a good judge of a photo finish had thought he’d lost too. The bewildered look of hope on his face thanks to Gee was something to behold, following the crushing crash back to reality when the photo came up on the screen. But that’s racing for you. In 2 and a half minutes you can go through more human emotions than some people go through in a lifetime!

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      2. kazblah says:

        I bet once a year, on the Melbourne Cup. And I have to say I’ve done OK for someone who knows nothing about horse flesh!

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