Known as the "hard man" of competitive Mornington Crescent, Vic Stannard of England has attracted a large cult following in recent years: not so much through success (his world ranking was just 85 at the time of writing, very low for an English Grandmaster), but for his controversial style. Despite, or maybe because of, his huge band of supporters, Stannard is hated, and publically criticised by, the majority of Mornington Crescent players.
Stannard started as a team player at Brighton and Hove MCC at the age of 17. In his first three seasons, he accumulated an incredible five red cautions, as well as 66 yellow and 105 blue cautions. Using blatantly offside moves, illegal straddles and particularly horrific foul shunts, Stannard quickly became a Brighton terrace hero, often distracting opponents so much that the other Brighton players could stroll to Mornington Crescent with minimal effort. Three years later, he defied the official boycott to represent England in the World Championships - one of only two to do so (he was not technically eligible, but any competitor from Britain was a propaganda coup for the organisers. He lost in the first round.)
Brighton and Hove finally released Stannard after his fifth season, during which he missed forty of the fifty-one competitive matches due to suspension. As he pointed out after his dismissal, the eleven matches in which he played produced ten of Brighton's fifteen victories of the season. Despite this record, no other first division team would take Stannard on: but, playing from second-division clubs, he nevertheless attained enough ranking points to join the Grandmaster tour in 1991. Many Brighton supporters had followed him when he left, and the club was relegated to the second division of the Trellis National League the following season - often to play *against* whichever second-division club was employing Stannard's services at the time.
In recent years, he has enjoyed a modicum of success, winning the German Open in 1995 to take his first Grandmaster title, playing no less than 34 moves that were subsequently found to have been illegal, in the 201-move final.