Before I was even born, there was a member of my tennis club called Fanny Eldridge. She has a special plaque on the wall along with a picture, not because she was a good player, but because she was one of the worst. No, seriously; the plaque reads: Most tennis nets destroyed, most balls smacked into unreachable locations, longest losing streak.
Ask some of the older members and they’ll tell you so much more: about how they had to have spare tennis netting on hand because she kept going for net shots and tumbling right over it, ripping it all up (I think they make sports netting out of sturdier stuff nowadays). She would frequently lose control of her racket, loosening her grip and sending it spinning into the crowd. A few people lost teeth that way. And then there were her serves…well, people used to take bets on where they’d end up. And yet through all of this, Fanny never stopped playing tennis. She had a passion, and even though she was never getting better at it, she kept on doing it anyway because it was what she loved. She stood atop a pile of broken rackets and torn netting, unperturbed.
So, why not a coffee table book on the worst sportsmen in Australia’s history? Ever since then, I’ve started to hear more stories like that. A football player who kicked more of his own team than he did the ball. A cricket player who held a country-wide record for how many times he swing his bat so far back he knocked both the wickets off. Not only would this give people a laugh, I feel like it’s a bit of inspiration. People who are truly terrible at various things can take comfort in the fact that there are those worse off than them. How about it?
Ed: I love the idea, actually. We’ve all had our useless soccer netting experiences, so it’s relatable AND fun! Send a proper pitch along and I’ll have a look.