It's hardly surprising that many officials and fans choked on their scones when Griff Sanders rolled onto the scene nine years ago, wearing shoulder-length hair, postpubescent peach fuzz and a don't-mess-with-me McEnroeian demeanor. But the lad had enough talent to make England's under-25 team, and until recently his worst crimes were feigning drunkenness and wearing neither a tie nor white socks during play.
Then, at a tournament last month in Devon, Sanders, 25, outdid himself by verbally abusing judges and calling John Smerdon, a county lawn bowling association official, a "tosser," which means someone who finds too much gratification in his own company. Sanders's antics led the Devon County Bowling Association to ban him for 10 years, a prohibition that will likely be honored by all of England's 34 other lawn bowling associations.
Sanders can take solace in the fact that should he attempt a grand return in 2008, he'll still be at an age when most lawn bowlers are reaching their prime. But it's doubtful Sanders was thinking about that after he learned of the ban. "I should have shot him," he said of Smerdon. "I'd have probably been out of prison before 10 years was up."