Hmmm... I had assumed it was the starter, but this wiring/earth issue is something I found more than once when searching the forum, to be honest.
I assume it's the starter because it started 'missing' altogether - so when you turn the key it just makes an electrical sound without any physical change to the engine - sort of goes "whiiirrr". After a few goes it would start.
Over the last couple of weeks, this has been an intermittent fault, with it sometimes trying to catch without firing. So it goes "chug, chug, chug.." and then nothing. It would usually fire on the third time. I started to leave the car in gear and rock it back and forth a few times before trying again - that seemed to help a bit, but even that wouldn't start it the other night. I had literally just driven ten minutes from a 6-a-side match (where it started after about eight attempts, much to the amusement of my team-mates!) - then I decided to stop at the local supermarket on the way home. Got back in and spent at least ten minutes trying it, rocking it, etc. Before I gave up for fear or burning the motor out or flattening my battery!
Just for clarity - on the occassions it would 'almost' start, it would turn over twice usually, and a maximum of three times before the power to the starter died. I couldn't just hold the key and turn it over indefinitely.
It kept going to go, if you know what I mean? Would turn over a couple of times but just not fire. Eventually got my Dad to pop down and bump it, while I pushed it. Started straight away.
Thanks mate, I appreciate the reply. I'll take the battery out and see if I can have a look (it's under there, isn't it?) before ordering a new one. I'd just assumed the ring gear on the starter was worn (hence it sometimes missing, and me rocking the car) - does any of that sound like it might be wiring related? I'm relatively clueless when it comes to starter motors.
Further Edit - I see you mention a cluster of wires near the bulkhead - interesting - different engine, but I think I know the lot you mean. I had a battery drain and a wiring loom expert (builds them for racing cars) fitted a diode (one-way electric valve, basically), to one of the wires and that solved it. I wonder if the two issues are related?
It does feel like the starter is running out of juice when it does catch, but would that explain the times when all it does it make a brief, high-pitched whirring noise?