From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy


Well, you would have to say that colours have dominated this column these past few weeks. For a month there it was all about Gold, Silver and Bronze while the Olympics were on. Then last week it was all about the Greens and the impact of climate change on our sporting calendar and venues.

This week it is all about the colour Red and its importance in sporting folklore. Most readers would know that red has been the most successful colour throughout sports history. There is good reason to believe in it as well. It’s not just superstition either but that can be a factor given so many sporting champions are superstitious and have routines they must adhere to.

A quick glance at the many art books that are within these walls (not covered by sporting photos that is) reveal that red is a very dynamic colour. It is what they call a daring colour, quite intense and reflecting confidence and courage. So be it.

So, what is the history of this successful colour. Can we go back as far as the Crusades for instance and the large red cross that featured. I prefer the later ones. Steve Waugh for instance always insisted on having a red rag in his pocket whenever he went out to bat for Australia. Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt on the final day of a tournament he is playing, and that tip came from his mum who thought red was determined and powerful.

Think too of some of the most successful sporting teams from the past. We have the Chicago Bulls led by the great Michael Jordan. Also in the US were the Boston Red Socks that great baseball team of the past.

In England three of the most successful soccer teams have featured red. I speak of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Can I remind you of something while on soccer? Earlier this year the English side went down in the final of the European championships. They were wearing an all-white outfit. So what you ask? Think back to when England defeated Germany to win the World Cup in 1966 (for the only time) and they were wearing RED.

Likewise, when the most powerful Rugby team from Europe take the field and I speak of the British Lions they always play in red as well. In Australia we had that world record run of eleven consecutive premierships by St. George while they had the famous big red V on their jumper.

Is this all hoo haa? Well no. It’s been proven that red is more successful. In the Olympics of 2004, there were four contested sports including boxing and wrestling where contestants wore either red or blue and in all four sports, red came out on top more often. Want more evidence? Try this. Some years later a video was made of a Taekwondo tournament where once again the red corner was more successful. With precise photoshopping the same footage was shown to judges but with the opposite colours on the contestants and again the reds won. You cannot dispute that.

So next time you gaze at the red Ferrari keep an eye out for that big red fire engine and ask yourself why.