Unlevel Playing Fields- Book Review

Given the rewards for success in professional sport it is no wonder that individuals are keen to maximise their performance so much as to take the law into their own hands to win. There are some well-known champions in sport who have black marks on their CVs. Consider the great 7 time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher who twice in his career went to take out a rival in a race.

Serena Williams Foot Fault

Serena Williams is one of tennis great champions. She has an enormous game with huge power and punishing groundstrokes that few can seem to live with. If she has one area she could work on, it is her temperament. At times Serena can see a red mist and lose her temper on court. These times are few and far between but usually happen in tight matches where Serena’s opponent gives as good as she gets.  Serena was in the final against a returning Kim Clijsters, the hot footed Belgian was never intimidated by her American counterpart in any of their previous encounters and gave as good as she got. The Belgian won the first set 6-4 and Serena smashed her racket on court in frustration. The umpire gave her a code violation and as author Dave Tomlinson noted ‘all hell was about to break loose!’ Let’s say you can read the rest for yourself.


This incident has to be seen to be believed. It took place in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final 2009 with Irish Province Leinster travelling to the Stoop to face Harlequins. Although the match took place in the spring, the match was a dour encounter played on a heavy pitch. Leinster edged ahead with two penalties to lead by 6-0. Early in the second half, Quins play maker Nick Evans had to go off injured with a knee injury. Roared on by the home crowd Harlequins threw everything at Leinster and were rewarded with a try to come within a point of Leinster with the conversion to follow.

Unfortunately winger Tom Williams had to go off on a blood substitution and the only option for Quins was to bring on injured Nick Evans.There was a furore on the touchline as Leinster officials debated with referee Nigel Owens about the legitimacy of the substitution. They hadn’t noticed that the winger had a blood injury and was able to be changed for Evans. Quite a coincidence it appeared that Evans would have a 40m kick to nudge Quins ahead and potentially a semi-final berth. Owens eventually agreed, as per the rules, to allow Evans onto the field only for his kick to drift wide. Post-match, the footage of the Williams blood injury was slowed down for the TV analysts and there appeared to be some suspicion around the blood injury.  Of course you can read all about the outcome in the book. 

This book features 25 controversial stories featuring hugely questionable moments in the sporting arena. Some you may recognise and others not but all have one thing in common: an issue which helped determine the outcome of a sporting encounter. Fascinating is an understatement.

Check it out here.

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