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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 10:30 GMT
It wasn't my fault!
Manchester United losing to Southampton in 1996
Neil Shipperley scoring, in case you didn't see him

Sport just would not be the same without excuses.

Million-dollar salary or not, sportsmen are human - they bleed, they sweat, they curse and they like to have a very big whinge.

In the wake of Mervyn King's claim that the air conditioning blew his darts off course in the Embassy World Championship, here is a choice selection of the very best excuses from the world of sport.


Darts
Mervyn King - 2003, Frimley Green

Mervyn King believes his chances of making the final of the Embassy World Darts were hampered by the air conditioning being used at the Lakeside arena.

King contends that it throws his darts off course and was ultimately the reason he lost his semi-final with Raymond Barneveld.

Plausibility of excuse: Low - no one else had ever used it.
Score: 8/10 - it is darts, after all.


Football
Sir Alex Ferguson - 1996, The Dell

In a career laden with trophies, Sir Alex has provided fans with their fair share of entertainment, both on and off the pitch.

Top of a commanding list of excuses is the one that followed a Premiership defeat against Southampton.

With United trailing 3-0 at half time, Fergie insisted his players take off their grey shirts, which he was convinced had made them invisible to each other.

The tactic worked. Wearing white shirts, his team pulled a goal back but still lost 3-1.

Plausibility of excuse: Utterly ridiculous.
Score: 9/10 - better than any other Fergie excuse.


Boxing
Roberto Duran - 1980, New Orleans

Roberto Duran, former world champion
I really should not have eaten before my fight!
In a re-match against Sugar Ray Leonard - Duran won the first clash - the Panamanian quit in the eighth round, uttering the famous words "No mas, no mas" ("No more, no more").

He would go on to use stomach cramps as the reason he quit/performed terribly/short-changed those in attendance or who bought the fight on pay-per-view.

Plausibility of excuse: Pathetic for a man who once floored a horse.
Score: 7/10 - Duran may be over 50, but he could still hurt me.


Snooker
Ronnie O'Sullivan - 1997, London

It is the final of the Benson and Hedges tournament, featuring young tyro Ronnie O'Sullivan and grizzled veteran Steve Davis.

Showing the form that marked him down as a future world champion, O'Sullivan took an 8-3 lead in the best-of-17 final.

But just when he was poised for a landmark victory, he was knocked out of his stride when a streaker entered the field of play.

O'Sullivan promptly lost the next seven frames and the match, later claiming the shock interruption had broken his concentration.

Plausibility of excuse: - Hard to feel sorry for a man like O'Sullivan, who must have seen naked women before.
Score: 9/10 - impressive, given Ronnie's lifestyle.

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