How Australia Used the Beard to Get Back on Top

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“With a great beard comes great responsibility.” Although Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben didn’t quite say this, if he were living today he most likely would have. We live in a world where the pen is once again stronger than the sword and the beard is better than the clean-shaven. Instead of having to save us from the Green Goblin, Spider Man now defends against Mach Three Turbos and discontenting mothers who are begging their offspring to shave.

For those that are sceptical about the power of the beard two things: one, why are you here, and two, why are you still here? Facial here instills confidence in anyone, and if a man is confident he can just about do anything. Why do you think some of the most beautiful women in the world are with bearded men. It is not because they find the beard attractive – they do but that doesn’t matter – it is because the man now has the confidence to approach these women and woo them with his personality, all the while his beard plays a supporting role, a role that probably would have won it at the 2015 Oscars – oh wait who has a white beard.

The scepticism is still rife in the air. So let us give you a case study to showcase just how facial hair improves your performance.

It has been a pretty rocky road for the Australian cricket team up to now. The side dominated the game for most of the 2000s but once notable players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath – the bowler who is currently in trouble for his hunting pictures – Darren Lehmann and Adam Gilchrist retired the form of the Baggy Green diminished. Between the years of 2009-2013 Australia lost The Ashes on three consecutive occasions to their arch rivals England.

However, when England went down Down Under for the 2014 series they were tonked 5-0. The reason was clear, Australia were reaping the benefits of the Movember hangover – many of their players grew facial hair for charity and then realised what they had been missing. Now the side are back where they belong; they currently occupy second place in the Test rankings, first in the ODI rankings and, much to the chagrin of Betfair and the like, practically perennial favourites in the cricket betting

A quick glance at the stats for that series tells you all you need to know about the tremendous benefits of facial hair. Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson had been England’s whipping boy whenever they faced him in the past. He struggled that much against England in the past that he wasn’t even included in the Australian squad for the 2013 summer series, the two previous series had seen him take just 35 wickets combined.

Last year, armed with a handlebar moustache that would make any beard aficionado weak at the knees, he went on to take 37 scalps, which is nuts. To average more than seven wickets a game in a five match series is staggering. In fact, it is that good that you feel that Johnson must have been embarking in some satanic ritual that would instil in him this god-like bowling presence. Or perhaps, and much more logically, the facial growth gave him back his confidence, and when confident Johnson is very much the fast-bowling equivalent of Samson.

mitchell johnson 3Image by NAPARAZZI – Mitchell Johnson

Johnson was very much a player that everyone believed could make it to the top, he just never had his head screwed on properly. So is it a coincidence that his return to form coincided with his facial growth? You bet it isn’t. Both require plenty of determination, self-discipline, commitment and practice. In a similar vein to Mr Miyagi training Daniel LaRusso via the “wax on, wax off” approach, Johnson was subconsciously furthering his mental strength – a prerequisite for all bowlers – while all the while grooming.

Mitchell Johnson 2Image by NAPARAZZI – Johnson with someone in his sights

But it wasn’t just Johnson who had some facial hair on show during that Ashes series. David Warner, who had an absolutely torrid time in the UK in the summer of 2013, came back with a vengeance, and a moustache, once those Brits crossed the equator.

David WarnerImage by NAPARAZZI 

While in England in 2013, Warner was involved with an off-field fight with England cricketer Joe Root in Birmingham. Warner was rightly dropped from the playing squad for the first two matches of the series. He did eventually return during the series but as a shell of himself, the fact that he managed to notch up 138 runs in three matches should tell you all you need to know about his form.

Much like Johnson, Warner welcomed the England side to Australia in the very late stages of 2013 with some new facial hair and a new attitude. In all fairness England shouldn’t have bothered coming as Warner was every bit as ruthless as Johnson. The batter chalked up 523 runs in total – he claimed two centuries during the series – more than 200 runs more than England’s most prolific batter Kevin Pietersen.

David Warner 2.pngImage by NAPARAZZIShaving foam to the eye!

What is exceedingly surprising is just how long it took Warner and Johnson to embrace the facial hair. Merv Hughes was one of Australia’s greatest ever bowlers, and what he did he have? You guessed an ingenious bowling action. He also boasted one of the finest works of facial art in the history of cricket, rumours circulated that it was at one point insured for $200,000. There is no beard comparable to that of Merv’s, the thickness, shape and colouring were all spot on, and in Mitchell Johnson his bowling/facial hair legacy lives on. Hughes is currently a contestant on the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, you doubt the lack of shaving equipment to be too much of a problem for Merv. You know, he’s practically feral already.

Merv HughesImage by nic_r  – Merv Hughes

Whereas Johnson is very much the modern-day ‘Swervin Mervyn’, Warner is the embodiment of David Boon, whose moustache served as the inspiration for the current Australian batter. Boon knocked more than 7,000 test runs for the Baggy Greens, whilst Warner has just over 3,000 but has not had facial hair for anywhere near as long. Watch his runs grow in tandem with his facial hair.

David BoonImage by Nagarjun – Shrine to David Boon

Surely this is enough evidence to prove that there is very much a correlation between sporting prowess and facial hair. Johnson and Warner are evoking memories of Hughes and Boon, together they form a dynamite, and albeit hairy combination that is enough to put any team to the sword.

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The Greatest Formula One Beard – Harald Ertl

Austrian Harald Ertl is well-remembered for being one of the drivers who got Niki Lauda out of his burning car after a horrific accident in the 1976 German Grand Prix.

Harald Ertl 3Harald Ertl is also remembered for having the greatest beard and moustache in Formula One history.

Ertl worked his way up the motor racing ladder after buying himself a Formula Five car in 1969, eventually driving in Formula One from 1975-1978.

While you couldn’t exactly call his career distinguished, he barely won any races, but still climbed the ladder through Formula Three and Touring Cars. A couple of podiums in Formula Two got him enough sponsorship to drive in Formula One, which was apparently more important than actual talent back in the day.

I think we can agree that the beard helped massively. Imagine how many clean-shaven fools drove for years, winning and improving but just never got the breaks? Harald did.

Harald Ertl 2

Just look at him, I’d employ him right now.

The flamboyant moustache is the cherry on top of the big, hairy cake. In a time when driver safety wasn’t exactly a number one priority, Ertl laughed in the face of danger with all that extra protection.

Harald Ertl

Sports Beard of the Year 2014

Beard-of-the-Year-2014Here we are, the inaugural Sport Beard of the Year (#SBOTY2014). Below are the Beard of the Month winners from BeardWatch’s first 13 months, and it’s up to you to vote for the overall winner. Some beards may no longer be with us, or be at their glorious best, but your sound judgement will vote the one that had the greatest impact for the promotion of beards throughout sport.

So stroke your beard in deep thought and ponder the following Beard of the Month winners…

Voting is closed! Winner announced at 9pm GMT.

 

Tim Howard

November 2013 – American – Football

Tim HowardInspirational in goal for the USA in the World Cup.

Robert Oberst

December 2013 – American – Strongman

Robert Oberst 1Oberst can lift massive stones with his beard (and his arms). Finished 9th in the 2013 World’s Strongest Man Final.

Andy Carroll

January – English – Football

Andy CarrollSpent a long spell injured sensibly growing a beard and burst back into the Premier League in January.

Davide Moscardelli

February – Italian – Football

moscardelli-570-1Voted the greatest Italian football beard. Difficult to argue.

Will Leer

March – American – Athletics

will-lear-2The fastest beard over 800m that you’re likely to see. 6th in the IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014.

Kyle Amor

April – English – Rugby League

Kyle AmorPart of the St Helens team that won the 2014 Super League Grand Final.

Geraint Walsh

May – Welsh – Rugby Union

Geraint Walsh 3Won the Welsh Premiership player of the year with Pontypridd before moving to Cardiff Blues in the summer.

Andrea Pirlo

June – Italian – Football

PirloThe epitome of bearded cool, proving bigger isn’t always better.

Kane Richardson

July – Australian – Cricket

Kane RichardsonSporting a fine example of a beard at only 23 years, Richardson is Australia’s finest hirsute cricketer.

Stuart Sinclair

August – English – Football

Stuart Sinclair 3Sinclair plays for the appropriately nicknamed ‘Pirates’ of Bristol Rovers, swashbuckling his way through England’s Football League.

James Tomlinson

September – English – CricketJames Tomlinson 3

A superb end of season for Tomlinson led to Hampshire to win the County Championship Division Two.

Fetu’u Vainikolo

October – Tongan – Rugby UnionFetu'u Vainokolo

Tonga’s happiest man made history when the Exeter Chiefs won their first Anglo-Welsh Silver Cup

Geoff Cross

November – Scottish – Rugby Union
Geoff Cross 5Arguably Rugby Union’s best current beard. A qualified doctor and expecting father, Cross is full taking advantage of this bearded opportunity while he can.

 

If you want to look as good as these fine gentlemen, take a look at Beard Trimmer Reviews for top brands and top tips.

Greatest Moustaches in Sport

Ah, Movember. The one month of the year when moustaches are socially (and quite rightly) acceptable in public. There is of course a rich history of sporting moustaches, and BeardWatch profiles the best.

Let’s start with Formula 1, where no moustachioed gentleman has been world champion in over 20 years. The last, in 1992, was Nigel Mansell.

Nigel MansellThe travesty of Formula 1 is that you have to go all the way back to 1968 to find another Mo, and it is perhaps one of the most iconic in sport beard history, Graham Hill.

Graham HillA manicured masterpiece worthy of the big screen. The long flowing hair and bushy sideburns really make this an awe-inspiring moustache. Graham Hill was the first champion to have a top lip warmer in 1962, which he followed up in 1968.

Onto athletics where, like motor racing, iconic moustaches are a bit thin on the ground. However, there is the man who promised to win the 1976 10,000m (and didn’t) and whose image was ripped off (allegedly) for the 118 188 adverts, Dave Bedford.

Dave BedfordThe trademark handlebar stays with him to this day. Another man who has sensibly kept the ‘tache is double Decathlon champion Daley Thompson.

Daley ThompsonWinning 10 events in 2 days in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics have made him a legend and widely regarded as one of the best decathletes of all time, and those guys are pretty hardcore. The moustache kept an even keel on a whirlwind career, helping him to break the world record four times.

Staying on a “greatest ever Olympian” theme, Mark Spitz surely deserves a mention.

Mark SpitzThis moustache has its own Wikipedia section, that’s what a big deal it is. Mark the Shark grew it because his coach said he couldn’t, which is probably the best reason to do anything. It obviously didn’t cause much drag in the water as he won 9 Olympic golds, 7 of them in Munich 1972 where he also set World Records in every event, something no one else has done.

The United States has a decent tradition of moustaches, and now is the time to celebrate the best of the best. Sorry to use the word iconic again, but it must apply to probably the largest owner of a moustache on this page, Hulk Hogan.

Hulk hoganIt’s just always been there, always a part of the look every time he’s reinvented himself. The man’s been wrestling since 1977 for goodness sake, and even in his 60s still pops up with his moustache to kick some ass.

In the world of Baseball, one name has stood out in my research. This is partly because the name is bizarre, but also because he’s a legend of the game – Rollie Fingers.

Rollie FingersAnd that really is his name! Well, it’s Roland, but with those twirly ‘tache tips, Rollie seems far more appropriate. Originally grown to win $300, he eventually turned down the chance to play for the Cincinnati Reds because of their ‘clean-shaven’ policy. Top man.

One of the all time great AFL/NFL moustaches belonged to Ben Davidson.

Ben DavidsonThis fine figure of a man came to American Football late in his teens as, at 6’8″, he preferred basketball. He was an AFL all-star three times, and it’s poignant to point out that he died on 2012 from Prostate Cancer, and Movember is carried out for people like Ben and his family to change the face of men’s health.

In Ice Hockey, one of the great moustache mavericks is George Parros.

George ParrosHe may look mean, but that moustache and hair cover his warm and cuddly side. ‘George Parros Mustaches’ are sold by his former team the Anaheim Ducks, with proceeds going to charity. Parros also had a line of apparel called “Stache Gear” that benefited the ‘Garth Brooks Teammates For Kids’ Foundation. If that weren’t enough, he cuts his hair once a year and donates it to a charity that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair due to a medical condition. Badass, but in a totally different and amazing way.

Back in Europe, football is still a pretty big deal. In England, the golden moustache age was the 80s and 90s with many great examples such as Graeme Souness and Brian Kilcline typical of the shaggy haired, hirsute, halcyon days.Soccer - Football League Division One - Tottenham Hotspur v MiddlesbroughWhile Souness continues a living legend in Liverpool, Kilcine’s career never quite reached the same heights. He’s pictured above in an England tracksuit, but only played twice for the Under 21s. Meaning he must have been under 21 in that photo. Good lord…

If there are ever mavericks in a football team, you can be sure it’ll probably be the goalkeeper, and as such, there’s a fine tradition of ‘stached stoppers.

Bruce GrobbelaarTwo of the finest examples are David Seaman and Bruce Grobelaar. Seaman was the Arsenal and England number one for over a decade and the trademark tache and flowing locks were ever present, but often played second fiddle to some horrendous 90s kits. Bruce ‘Spaghetti Legs’ Grobelaar had a long career spanning Liverpool’s 80s dominance and the Zimbabwean always sported his moustache proudly.

Possibly the greatest ever football moustache belonged to the little known Dutch captain Ronald Spelbos.Soccer - World Cup Qualifier - Group Two - Ireland v HollandFor sheer commitment to the moustache, this has to be up there with the greatest ever.

Football’s been getting on board with Movember in recent years, and whilst Joey Barton often gets the attention, I believe the greatest one month moustache belonged to Grant Holt.

Grant HoltThe Norwich City legend grew this in the season they returned to Premier League football in 2011. A true captain’s effort.

In terms of girth and manliness, we finish with cricket. Don’t believe me? Check these out:

Graham GoochSome classic Graham Gooch, England captain, their all time record run scorer and one of the greatest cricketers in history. His incredible career was accompanied by this mighty mo.

David BoonBut it’s to Australia we finish our top lip tickling tour. David Boon batted for Australia for 11 years, and has become something of an Aussie cult figure, no doubt in part to this magnificent droopy little number.

Merv HughesIn the same Australian side that the ingeniously nicknamed ‘Boony’ played in, another even greater moustache featured. Merv Hughes was always a big man, despite his lengthy and somewhat ‘mincing’ bowling run ups. Regardless, his humongous handlebar made ‘Merv the Swerve’ unmissable. His other nickname, incidentally, was ‘Fruitfly’ which was eventually explained as a reference to “Australia’s greatest national pest”, due to his colourful language addressing the opposition on the field.

 

And there we have the greatest moustaches in world sport. If you know of a greater moustache that deserves a mention, leave a comment or tweet @SportBeardWatch

Beard World Cup Final

Groups A & B
Groups C & D
Groups E & F
Groups G & H
Second Round
Quarter Finals
Semi Final

Cameroon 1 – 3 Greece

Greece are the World Beard Champions!

One of the big favourites didn’t disappoint against surprise opponents Cameroon who have done magnificently to get this far.

First of all a mention to Cameroon, who qualified top of their group ahead of the hosts and went on the run of their lives to reach the final. Their star player was goalkeeper Itandje. A fine, strong beard accentuated by short hair that saved the Indomitable Lions on many occasions.
Itandje 2Cameroon's goalkeeper Charles Itandje at

But Greece had a strength in depth that no one else could match. Whilst there were better individual stand out beards elsewhere in the tournament, as a team, Greece simply couldn’t be beaten, with plenty of beards on the bench to back them up.
Greece 2 Greece's football squad

Greece often started games with 5 or 6 beards on the pitch, something no other team could match.

Led well from the front by captain Georgios Samaras, he recieved plenty of support from the likes of bad-boy Panagiotis Kone, the streamlined Dimitrios Salpingidis, the tidy Ioannis Maniatis, the sexy Orestis Karnezis, the fuzzy Konstantinos Mitroglou, the short Konstantinos Katsouranis and the vaguely frightening Georgios Tzavelas.
Samaras 2
Panagiotis Kone 2SalpingidisIoannis ManiatisFBL-WC-2014-GRE-PRESSERKonstantinos Mitroglou 2Konstantinos KatsouranisGeorgios Tzavelas

Beard World Cup Semi Finals

Groups A & B
Groups C & D
Groups E & F
Groups G & H
Second Round
Quarter Finals
Semi Finals
Final

Cameroon 1 – 0 Italy

Most pundits thought Cameroon had done fantastically well to get this far, but to beat one of the favourites have made people sit up and take notice. This Cameroon team is the real deal, and who could have predicted that before the tournament? The Italians are one of the all time great beardy teams, still a long way to go to beat their rugby counterparts, but very entertaining led of course by the big man Andrea Pirlo and his stylish sexy beard.

Pirlo 2

Spain 1 – 2 Greece (aet)

Huge game in the Beard World Cup semi-finals as two more hirsute heavyweights go head to head. Spain are of course famous for their classy beard game, keeping it short and simple and not letting the opponent get a look in. Contrast that with the brash, aggressive Greek beards and you’ve got a great game. After going behind early, the Greeks dug in, got a late equaliser which destroyed the Spanish self beard belief and went on to score the winner in injury time. Xabi Alonso will not be happy to retire without one last trophy.

Xabi Alonso 3The final:

Cameroon vs Greece

Beard World Cup Quarter Finals

Groups A & B
Groups C & D
Groups E & F
Groups G & H
Second Round
Quarter Finals
Semi Finals
Final

USA 0 – 1 Greece

USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World CupPanagiotis KoneThe biggest match of the tournament so far. Huge support from the USA flocked to wherever it is that this theoretical Beard World Cup is taking place. Tim Howard led the team from the back, with Jones and Beckerman providing fantastic support. However, it wasn’t enough to break down the Greeks who ground out a narrow victory. USA have plenty to be proud of, and will be aiming for the semis in four years time.

Italy 3 – 2 Bosnia

Andrea BarzagliNigeria v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilNo-one expected Bosnia, led by Medunjanin, to get this far, with most pundits unable to name a single bearded Bosnian before the tournament. Unfortunately, against the pedigree of Italy they just couldn’t get ahead. The plucky Balkan squad counter attacked brilliantly to equalise twice but Italy always looked in control.

Cameroon 2 – 0 Iran

Alexandre SongdejagahThese teams had very different second round matches, and the extra time and penalties against Switzerland really took its toll on Iran. Cameroon, barely out of second gear breezed past the likes of Dejagah to reach the semi finals. The Indomitable Lions are starting to be tipped as potential winners…

Portugal 1 – 4 Spain

MeirelesPiqueThe Iberian Derby that everyone was looking forward to ended up being a bit of a whitewash for the Spanish. Other than a stunning solo goal from many people’s Beard of the Tournament Raul Meireles, the Spanish never looked troubled and scored for fun.