Sportsmen are a superstitious bunch. This statement surely comes as no surprise. In any team there's always someone who insists on being last out of the changing room, another who always puts his right boot on first.
But today's revelation about Sierra Leone international Malvin Kamara has made me re-visit those obsessive compulsive disorders that players somehow think has a bearing on their performance.
Kamara is currently playing in the lower reaches of English professional football at Huddersfield Town but his odd habit is to ensure that he watches Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory before every game.
With a running time of 100 minutes, Kamara spends more time watching this Gene Wilder classic from 1971 than he does on the pitch because it "calms my nerves and gives me luck". It has to be the Wilder version, though. Johnny Depp's 2005 re-make doesn't cut it. "The Depp on just offends me."
You could fill an entire book with the superstitious behaviour of sportsmen, let alone the fans who watch them, but here are a few examples.
Like many players, Kolo Toure of Arsenal insists on being last out of the changing room, but this caused complications during his side's Champions League game against Roma. Teammate William Gallas was receiving treatment and was late back out, so Toure felt he had to wait as well. The result was a yellow card from an impatient referee.
All-time football great Pelé gave a shirt to a fan and immediately suffered a loss of form. He sent a friend to track down this fan and retrieve the "lucky" shirt. A week later the friend returned with the shirt and Pelé's form returned. The friend decided not to tell the Brazilian legend that the search had come to nothing and he had simply handed him back the same shirt he'd worn in his previous, lacklusture performance.
Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea had an unpleasant ritual that brought him some success. The 1990 World Cup quarter final against Yugoslavia went to penalties and the keeper was desperate to leave the field to relieve himself but, under the rules, could go nowhere. Discreetly, he urinated on the pitch and, because the Argentines won he did it during the semi final with Italy with the same result.
Aussie rugby winger David Campese's quirk was to sit next to the driver on the way to matches. He was also another who needed to be the last out onto the pitch.
According to Dr Tony Westbury of Napier University in Edinburgh, these superstitions hark back to one of the oldest theories in psychology, that "if you execute a certain behaviour and get a pleasurable outcome then that strengthens the link between the behaviour and the result.
"You get into the habit of doing something because it is associated with winning, and once you get the momentum going it becomes part of something I would call the 'pre-performance routine'. That then becomes very hard to break."
Another all-time great of football, Johan Cryuff, would slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach when at Ajax and then spit his chewing gum into the opposition's half before kick-off. When he forgot this gum in the 1969 European Cup Final, Ajax lost 4-1 to Milan.
But time has made Cryuff wiser and he advised coaches to make sure players are not affected by superstition. "If it does influence them" he warned, "you can't play them in the next match."
Whether you put your shirt on first or last, right sock before left, you can get a team kit from Blue Moon Sport www.bluemoonsport.co.uk.