For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re reminiscing about the quickest send-offs and red cards in history, featuring players that left their teams a man short for the vast majority of crucial matches courtesy of rash, clumsy or violent play in the opening moments.
Quickest rugby league premiership send-off – Peter Kelly (Canterbury) v South Sydney, 1986
In one of the most memorable and infamous incidents of the 1980s, revered Canterbury enforcer Peter Kelly was marched after the first tackle of the Bulldogs’ Anzac Day clash with Souths in 1986. Kelly, man-of-the-match in the Bulldogs 1984-85 grand final triumphs, floored Rabbitohs winger Ross Harrington with a good, old-fashioned coat-hanger tackle. Referee Mick Stone had no hesitation in pointing to the sheds, while legend has it Kelly made it off the field before the bugler who played the Last Post. The 12-man Bulldogs nevertheless carved out a 26-0 victory.
Quickest rugby league Test send-off – Adrian Morley (Great Britain) v Australia, 2003
The Sydney Roosters’ British hard-man Adrian Morley was all fired up for the 2003 Ashes series on home soil, but his notoriously aggressive approach back-fired terribly when he was sent off for a high tackle on Kangaroos forward Robbie Kearns just 12 seconds into the series opener at Wigan. Kearns took the first hit-up from the kick-off but was pole-axed by Morley, who was promptly despatched. Great Britain battled on gallantly with 12 men, but a Darren Lockyer try in the dying minutes stole a dramatic 22-18 victory for the tourists.
Quickest Rugby World Cup send-off – David Codey (Australia) v Wales, 1987
The Wallabies were forced to play 75 minutes of their third-place playoff against Wales at the inaugural World Cup a man short after flanker David Codey was marched. Codey was cautioned after just one minute, before being sent off for his overvigorous use of the feet in a ruck on a Welsh rival. Wales won a thriller in Rotorua, 22-21.
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Quickest FIFA World Cup red card – José Batista (Uruguay) v Scotland, 1986
Uruguayan defender José Batista claimed his place in football World Cup folklore at the 1986 tournament, shown a red card just 56 seconds into his nation’s vital final pool match for a reckless challenge on Scotland’s Gordon Strachan. The match finished in a 0-all draw, which was enough to put Uruguay through to the Round of 16 and send Scotland packing from the World Cup.