This journal’s gongs are, rightly, recognised the world over, and justly so of course. Sadly, however, this column’s Sporting Awards, which would normally be presented around this time of year, have had to be cancelled because they were all going to Laura Trott.
The problem with 2012 was that you could either enjoy the greatest sporting year in the history of mankind, or you could have a job, but you couldn’t possibly do both. But if you were considering full-time employment next year, forget it.
For a start, it will be the ultimate anti-Pom year Down Under, with a Lions tour and back to back Ashes. Bring them on. It’s one of the great rivalries: we only play the Germans at football, we play the convicts at everything. So looking on the brightest of sides, here’s a taste of what’s coming.
January: It’s the Australian Open and now Murray is more than just a danger man, can he win back-to-back Majors? The era of Muzza–Novak rivalry begins: er, Roger who? February: Brace yourself Scotland, as Manu Tuilagi and the All Black crushing machine prepare to give England the perfect Six Nations start. March: A new Formula One season begins with a new team for Lewis Hamilton, but can a move to Mercedes make the difference or will Red Bull roar again? Whatever happens he’ll always have Nicole Scherzinger to, er, chat to.
Now it’s spring and in April Rory is back at the Masters. Will it be the turn of an Englishman at last — Donald, Westwood, Poulter or Rose? The first female members of Augusta National get to wear the green jacket, though many might think this is taking progress just a bit far. Plus, the 150th Wisden is published, reminding us of all the good things in life. In May, the Champions League final is at Wembley, and Manchester United vs Arsenal would be just dandy. We’ll probably have to make do with Real Madrid vs Barca, part 96, but there are worse ways to spend time. June brings the first Test of the Lions tour of Australia. The Wallabies look wounded, and I’m backing Warren Gatland to sweep all before him. The autumn internationals showed a lot of promise and, well, Gatland’s Gatland. It’s the start of the 100th Tour de France too. Wiggo has said he wants to win it again, but his fellow Sky rider, Chris Froome, might have something to say about that.
High summer in July and besides the usual feast of Wimbledon and Ashes cricket, Tom Daley will be at the World Aquatics championships in Barcelona trying to get the better of Qiu Bo to win diving gold. In August prepare for Olympic flashbacks at the World Athletic Championships in Moscow. Can we relive Super Saturday and see Jess, Mo and the rest become world champions? Or will the dazzling youngsters of London 2012 like Robbie Grabarz step up to the podium? Can Bolt go below 9.5 and will Britain ever get a relay handover right? In September there will be more cycling — the world road championships, this time in Tuscany.
It’s October and the nights are drawing in. England have two big World Cup qualifiers at Wembley, against Montenegro and Poland in the space of four days. They may need to win both to get to Rio. A chance to give the southern hemisphere another stuffing in November at the Rugby League World Cup, before the real business of winter gets under way at the Ashes in Australia. Get set for the Boxing Day Test in December as Alastair Cook wins his 100th Test cap at the MCG and leads England to victory with a Test to spare by hitting his 30th Test century.
Told you: it’s going to be a hell of a year. So give up the day job: you can’t do both.
Roger Alton is an executive editor at the Times.