We’ve seen some weird, wacky and wonderful debuts in sport over the years.
Sometimes they’re microcosms of stellar careers, but in other instances they don’t go so well.
Debuts, though, have produced some of the great sporting stories.
And in the Professor and Barney’s first ever podcast – their debut – there was no better time to run through some of the best and worst firsts ever witnessed in sport.
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Tune into the podcast above for a much more thorough – and hopefully comedic – assessment, but here are some of the best.
There were four obvious categories to bunch some of the standout examples:
-Favourite debut stories
-Shocking debut, super career
-Great debut, great career
-Bad debut and it ended there
FAVOURITE DEBUT STORIES
WINNER: Edwin Flack
Flack was Australia’s first Olympic athlete and after arriving in Athens in 1896 with sea sickness from the boat ride over, won the 1500 and 800 metre races in his first week on foreign soil, before competing in the marathon (which he led until 10km’s to go!) and, oh… also finished third in the doubles tennis, as you do.
Other nominees: Peter Taylor (cricket), ‘Tip’ Foster (cricket and football), Eddie Merckx (cycling)
SHOCKING DEBUT, BUT SUPER CAREER
WINNER: Jonathan Brown
It could’ve been one of two Fox Sports favourites winning this category, but at least Shane Warne picked up a wicket on debut at the SCG! Brown finished his first AFL game, aged 18 against the Crows, with just one lonesome tackle – no handballs, no kicks.
We know what happened after that, though. Brown went on to claim three flags with the Brisbane Lions, two All-Australians and even a Coleman Medal. He played 256 AFL matches and kicked nearly 600 goals.
Other nominees: Shane Warne (cricket), Don Bradman (cricket), Kingston Town (horseracing)
GREAT DEBUT AND WENT ON WITH IT
WINNER: Andrew Johns & Wilt Chamberlain (tied)
Johns was incredible as a Newcastle ‘joey,’ scoring two tries, seven goals and a field goal in his debut match against the Rabbitohs in Round 1 of 1994. The Knights won 43-14 in that game and of course ‘Joey’ went on to win premierships, Origin shields, World Cups and become the 8th immortal.
Chamberlain’s debut was equally impressive, scoring 43 points and pulling down 28 rebounds for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in 1959. He finished the season averaging 37.6 points and 27 rebounds, going on to be considered one of the best NBA players of all time.
Other nominees: John Coleman (AFL)
TERRIBLE DEBUT AND NEVER HEARD OF AGAIN
WINNER: Ali Dia
There was suspicion from the get-go with ‘the Southhampton fraud’. The Senegalese striker convinced the football club’s manager Graeme Souness he was the nephew of African footballing legend George George Weah and had been on the fringes at PSG. Against Leeds in 1996, he got his chance, with the side depleted by injuries, and turned the ball over 13 times from 16 touches. That was it, promptly subbed off.
Southhampton legend Matt Le Tissier described Dia’s efforts as ‘embarrassing’.
“He ran around the pitch like Bambi on skates.
“Graeme put him on and he was f***ing hopeless, so he took him off again.”
Other nominees: Greg Smith (Rugby League)
The Professor and Barney Podcast will have a new episode with a new topic weekly.
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