It’s time for the traditional, much-coveted Spectator Sports Awards, and this year your judges have been busier than Mitchell Johnson’s tattooist as we look back over a memorable 12 months.
It’s time for the traditional, much-coveted Spectator Sports Awards, and this year your judges have been busier than Mitchell Johnson’s tattooist as we look back over a memorable 12 months. This has been a year of real achievement: the resurgence of English rugby and, spectacularly, the English cricket team; the continual brilliance of sports stars such as the All Blacks’ Danny Carter and India’s Sachin Tendulkar; the calm courage of Gareth Thomas in deciding to come out; Blackpool living the tangerine dream and gaining promotion (for how long is another matter); and the man who must surely be the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, Tony McCoy, winning the Grand National for the very first time.
But our awards look elsewhere, away from the great and the good towards the bad and the ugly. A notable year of World Cup achievement for England both on and off the field perhaps; or some recognition for John Terry, for disproving the view that the only way is up.
No, our first award in this new age of austerity is the Sheikh Mansour Every Little Helps Award (the prize is a Baby Bentley and £250,000 a week petrol money). Our winner showed dedication to easing Britain’s woes by limiting the inflation of his own salary to just 78 per cent, and making regular contributions of £1,000 a night to those in Manchester less well off than himself, as well as tipping hotel staff £200 for the odd packet of Marlboros while he was at it, or just after he’d been at it according to the reports. Please welcome Wayne Rooney.
Foresight has always been a mark of sporting greatness, and this sixth sense is celebrated in the What Happened Next award, a monogrammed cagoule made by Sun Mountain, the golfwear company that supplied the US Ryder Cup team with waterproofs. Before tee-off Sun Mountain tweeted, ‘May the team with the best outerwear win.’ After the first downpour the Americans legged it to the clubhouse and spent £4,000 on new kit.
Special mention goes to Mitchell Johnson, who said he couldn’t wait to test the English top order with some quick stuff Down Under, but with figures of 170–1 was invited to relax with a few VBs when Adelaide called.
But this exciting new prize goes to an old friend, Paul Peschisolido, a former footballer who besides managing Burton Albion also has the job of being Mr Karren Brady. One chilly morning in Knowle last month, Paul went out to his Mercedes E Class to warm it up, turned on the heater and left the engine running, before going back in for a coffee. When he popped out again the car wasn’t there. He later added: ‘I thought I might be able to catch them, because the fob you need to open the gates wasn’t in the car, but they smashed through them.’
On to the Sunderland Beach Ball award for inappropriate use of inflatables in a footballing context. Only two nominations here, both for Danielle Lineker, after an outstanding performance on the occasion of her husband’s 50th birthday party. ‘Gary likes the dress but I hadn’t realised it was so booby,’ she observed afterwards. Mirrors are really expensive these days.
The charming Tzofit Grant, another footballing wife, wins the Stand By Your Man award, presented by Abbey Clancy. When Mrs G’s husband Avram was photographed leaving a massage parlour, FuFu’s, on a Pompey trading estate, she responded: ‘He’s the Portsmouth manager. He needs a massage not from one woman but two. Morning and night.’
Next up, excuse of the year. The trophy — a gold-plated Adidas Jabulani World Cup football, guaranteed to give the opposition an advantage even though it’s used by both teams — goes to Graeme Swann. The chipper spinner wins for his no doubt true explanation behind a drink-driving charge. When pulled over in his Porsche Cayenne at 3 a.m., Swann revealed that he had arrived home from his birthday celebrations to the noise of his cat Max, trapped beneath his floorboards. Unable to find a screwdriver, the only thing was to head off for the 24-hour Asda to buy one. We’ve all been there.
Which brings us to the Team Player of the Year, presented by the charming Vanessa Perroncel and chosen unanimously by the Chelsea dressing room. Kevin Pietersen merits mention for a tweet much appreciated by Swann and his legal team as they prepare their case for the big day in the drink driving courts next year: ‘2 hours with @Swannyg66 this am and I’m still not having this “cat” story!! Haha.’ Swann saw the funny side, tweeting back: ‘Such a shame my teammates are so remedial in their “banter”. Must be because they’re all South African.’ That’s the spirit.
But the award goes to the talented Andy Carroll, who proved that a problem shared is a problem multiplied exponentially. After an alleged assault on his ex-girlfriend, Carroll was bailed on condition that he should share a house with Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan. Nolan’s wife must have been delighted with her new lodger, especially when the striker’s unassuming chrome-plated Range Rover was torched on their driveway and the family’s homestead covered in graffiti best not read aloud to the junior Nolans. Popular chap, Mr Carroll.
And now for one of our most coveted awards, the Steve Kirby trophy for shooting yourself in the foot. This handsome leather-look pistol-shaped cigarette lighter is named after the Yorkshire fast bowler who once sledged Steve Waugh and was then belted all over Old Trafford. This year’s field was strong, with the board of Newcastle FC an early favourite after axeing the able Chris Hughton. But there could be only one winner: Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid defender who chose to shake the referee’s hand after getting himself sent off in a Champions’ League tie against Ajax, in the course of a ruse by Real’s vulpine manager Jose Mourinho to keep his best players for the business end of the tournament.
A night out with Matthew Etherington, plus £1.5 million spending money, is the prize for bet of the year. The award is presented by the Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, whose performance at Lord’s left his name on the boards in the pavilion and at Marylebone police station, and goes to the anonymous punter who, seeing his beloved Wigan 2-0 down to Arsenal with 79 minutes on the clock, spotted the odds on a home win slip to 799-1. The Latics sent three past Lukasz Flappyhandski in the last 10 minutes, and £3 became £2,397.
Finally, we would love to bring you the Colin Montgomerie Superinjunction of the Year award, presented by Mr Justice Tugendhat. But sadly we can’t reveal who won, or why, or confirm that the award itself exists.