Sport in 2013: the alternative awards
Most engaging spat
Shane Warne’s confrontation with Marlon Samuels in Australia’s Big Bash in January – Samuels reacting to being hit with the ball by tossing his bat, provoking handbags, bans and clause-packed apologies – trumped buy canada goose parka cheap this year’s long-running Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova feud, which peaked pre-Wimbledon as the pair swapped personal remarks about boyfriends. Sharapova summed up the state of play: “On the court, I have the utmost respect for her; I really do. [Off the court] it’s different.”
Cayman Islands giants Manchester United signed Japanese paint maker Kansai as their Official Paint Partner in January – putting them alongside their Official Savoury Snack Partner Mister Potato, Official Noodles Partner Mamee and Smirnoff, United’s Official Responsible Drinking Partner.
Least real girlfriend
Three days after his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukaemia, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o fought through the grief to play the game of his life in leading Notre Dame to a 20-3 victory over Michigan State. Then it emerged Lennay did not actually exist beyond a fake Twitter account, operated by a man who had fallen “deeply romantically in love with Te’o” during a two-year-long hoax. “This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about,” said Te’o in January.
Best old-fashioned chairman
Mansfield’s John Radford thanked his manager Paul Cox for their 8-1 mauling of Barrow in February by giving him his Aston Martin: “It’s my old Aston Martin, so it’s not brand new. It’s a couple of years old,” he said. Cox said: “It’s a bit surreal to be honest.”
When thieves broke into the Garmin-Sharp team truck during the Tour de Mediterranean in February, they stole 17 bikes, wheels and equipment totalling €250,000, forcing the team to pull out of the race. Team chiropractor Matt Rabin tweeted: “While everyone was sleeping, some unscrupulous local scallywags have gone & pilfered ALL THE BIKES.” David Millar observed that the time-trial bikes were still there: “Scumbags clearly don’t like TTs.”
Most awkward moment
LaTonya Norton, anchor of WDSU in New Orleans, interviewed Mo Farah after the New Orleans half-marathon in February. Her key questions included: “Haven’t you run before? This isn’t your first time?”, and “Do you have any other races coming up?” WDSU issued a statement. “We regret our unfortunate phrasing.”
John and Jim Harbaugh, head coaches of Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, met in February’s Super Bowl. In an Ed Milliband-humbling display, John, the victor, said he was “totally devastated” for his brother and that dealing with the reality of having denied him a Super Bowl ring is “a lot tougher than I thought it would be. It’s very painful”.
Best modern football moment
When the lights went out at Fulham in February, the electronic advertising hoardings stayed on.
Most forgetful driver
Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton surprised McLaren mechanics six laps into March’s Malaysian Grand Prix by pulling into his former team’s box for a pit stop. “I don’t know what happened. The teams look so similar,” he said. “Feel free to pop in and say ‘Hi’ any time @lewishamilton,” quipped mechanics on Twitter.
Best 15 minutes of fame
Swansea’s ballboy Charlie Morgan, 17: given a tap by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in January, made an entertaining meal of it. Hazard was sent off, while Morgan had 60,000 Twitter followers within an hour of the incident. In Spain, meanwhile, Loja’s third-tier game against San Fernando was held up in the 77th minute while police removed a five-inch flick knife from a 12-year-old ballboy. Local media said the boy was “trying to worry” a linesman with the knife, but “never intended to hurt anyone”.
Best Sliding Doors moment
At 4.48pm on 28 April, Marcello Trotta stood over a penalty for Brentford against Doncaster. It was the last minute of the last game of a 46-match season. In one universe he would score it and Uwe Rösler’s side would be promoted to the Championship for the first time since 1993. In a parallel universe he would miss it and Doncaster would go up while Brentford would be beaten by Yeovil in the play-off final, remain in League One and lose Rösler to Wigan seven months later. Trotta hit the crossbar.
In April, Brazilian club Ji-Paraná secretly replaced their regular lucky mascot, a rooster called Tissoka, after an anaconda ate him. Local media said the incident, at owner Marambaia’s farm, was initially kept quiet, but fans became suspicious when the replacement bird looked “shy and flappy” – “whereas Tissoka was famously relaxed and used to crow during goal celebrations”. Marambaia said: “It’s sad. But this new bird will step up, given time. He just needs to find some composure.”
“I’ll just reiterate for a lot of the buffoons tweeting me. I WILL NOT BE PLAYING IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT SEASON. Hope that clears that up,” tweeted Joey Barton in May. Last week, he played his 20th game of the season for QPR … in the Championship.
ITV’s Gabriel Clarke was on the verge of a major exclusive when interviewing a rueful, yet talkative, José Mourinho after Real Madrid’s Champions League exit at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. He was also on the verge of the News at Ten.
■ Clarke: Many commiserations tonight. Maybe next season with Real?
■ Mourinho: Maybe not.
■ Clarke: Where?
■ Mourinho: You know … I want to be where … I love to be where people love me to be …
■ Clarke: We’ll take that as England, I’ve got to go.
■ Adrian Chiles: José Mourinho with the last word. That’s it from us in Madrid. Good evening.
Worst mind games
Efforts to unsettle Crystal Palace ahead of their Championship play-offs semi-final second leg at Brighton in May – from the cardboard clappers handed to fans by the hosts’ marketing department (“silly and annoying”, said Gus Poyet) and the Palace buy canada goose jacket edmonton coach driver being sent the wrong way, to the year’s defining dressing-room faecal atrocity. Poyet said in a subsequent letter to staff: “Someone did something terrible … all outside the toilets, over and around the toilets. Did they imagine that this would affect the Crystal Palace players? Well, possibly it did. It may just have fired them up.” Palace won; Poyet left days later.
2 June: The Premier League apologises to Chelsea after its official website publishes a story headlined: “José Mourinho makes Chelsea return. Portuguese coach is back at Stamford Bridge after signing a xx-year contract.” – “We have no prior knowledge of any movement or any announcement.”
3 June: Chelsea announce Mourinho is back at Stamford Bridge after signing a four-year contract.
With his appointment as Newcastle’s director of football yet to be rubber-stamped, Joe “JFK” Kinnear appeared on TalkSport in June to defend his record. He claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul (recruited by Graeme Souness) and James Perch (bought by Chris Hughton); said “Derek Llambezee” (Derek Llambias, Newcastle’s managing director) had resigned as director of football (a position he had never held); and discussed Shola Amenobee, Hatem Ben Afre and Yohan Kebab. His keynote claim – that he had been manager of the year three times – was undercut by the fact he had won the award once. Newcastle confirmed his appointment the following day.
Best sign of the times
1950s fans greet their side on to the pitch with the clatter of a classic wooden football rattle.
Modern-day Stoke fans welcome their team with the gentle hum of the 21st-century alternative.
Toughest first day
As the peloton surged towards Bastia on the first day of the Tour de France in June, Garikoitz Atxa was driving the Orica-GreenEdge team bus across the finishing line – where it got stuck. A few minutes later, Tour organisers frantically switched the finish to the three-kilometre line up the road. Then, with air let out of its tyres, the bus started reversing – and the finish was switched back to its original spot near Bastia beach. As the riders kept adjusting to changing information about the race climax there was a mass crash. “This was my first day driving the bus so it’s not a good start,” said Atxa . “But I hope they have faith in me.”
When an Edgbaston gust blew a bail off during June’s Champions Trophy match between England and Australia, the third umpire, Billy Bowden, dutifully checked that batsman Ravi Bopara had not dislodged it. But Bowden accidentally pressed the wrong button, pronouncing him on the giant screen “Out”. It had to be hastily reversed, to huge cheers.
Lions squad member Christian Wade used his appearance on the big screen as a chance to comb his hair during the pivotal third Test.
James Alexander Gordon retired because of ill health in July after four decades of reading the BBC’s classified results: his sing-song inflexion will never be bettered. He described his style in 2008. “I play the clarinet and the piano, and I thought, ‘How can I make this like a song?’ I just gave it a bit of a lilt.” In better news, Charlotte Green was an inspired choice as replacement.
While Joe Root was compiling 180 against Australia at Lord’s in July, brother Billy was on duty as England 12th man. “I was shaking, more nervous than he was,” Billy said. “He’s chilled out. I don’t know how he’s so calm. I took him his drink and he was cracking jokes.”
A month into his contract, Gavin Henson joined his Bath team-mates at the city’s Pig and Fiddle pub in July for a bonding session. CCTV footage soon appeared, apparently showing him floored by a punch from No8 Carl Fearns. “I like to think the squad grew closer together after that,” Henson said.
Best photo moments
■ Wallabies Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor posed at a Hungry Jacks fast-food joint at 3.50am, four days before June’s second Test against the Lions. ■ Manu Tuilagi made bunny ears behind David Cameron during a Downing Street photo opportunity in September. ■ And £170k-a-week John Terry posed with a fan while doing some shopping … in Poundland.
Least surprising highlights
The BBC cheerily announced during its Wimbledon coverage that Lewis Hamilton had taken pole at July’s German Grand Prix. Then it broadcast its F1 highlights programme. Seven hundred viewers, who had planned to watch the highlights “as live”, complained. “We apologise for this error and that it affected some viewers’ enjoyment of our qualifying highlights programme.”
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee made the Open cut at Muirfield in July – a fact he learned while he was in Terminal 3 at Heathrow trying to fly back to Bangkok, having decided his eight-over score of 150 would not be enough. “At about 8.45pm I was told that I had a seat in business class and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m lucky’. Then my manager told me I made the cut.” Jaidee scrambled a flight north and teed off at 9.10am. He carded an impressive par 71.
As Andy Murray was winning through to the Wimbledon final, a Murray made of Lego was proudly displayed in a Dunblane shop . They really nailed the trademark beard, hat and glasses.
Most selfless toilers
Putting nurses in their place this year: agent Jonathan Barnett on negotiating an £86m, £300k-a-week deal for Gareth Bale in August: “It was an intense, stressful and tiring process.” Bale’s verdict: “It was very stressful to say the least. It was a hard time, stressful and I had to focus.”
Worst set of priorities
In August, the new US Premier League broadcaster NBC interrupted live coverage of Palace versus Sunderland for Barack Obama’s address to the nation on the prospect of bombing Syria. US viewers missed Steven Fletcher’s equaliser.
17 August: “Highest paid manager, highest ticket prices – no signings, no hope. Enough. #WENGEROUT”, reckoned @piersmorgan.
Least likely voicemail
“I like that Katy Perry. Firework – that was a good record, that.” Geoff Boycott said to Henry Blofeld on TMS during the home Ashes in August. Days later, the BBC played a phone message. “Hey Geoffrey, it’s Katy Perry. I personally think you’re beautiful and you’re style is … stunning. When I’m next in the UK you’ll have to show me around the Yorkshire countryside. Lots of love.”
Sky Sports’ Nick Collins was broadcasting live outside Wembley on Sky Sports News before England’s August friendly against Scotland. Discussing Michael Carrick, he said: “He was man of the match here at the Community Shield game …” then fell off his ladder. An instant YouTube sensation.
Luca De Pra, a youth-team coach for Genoa, was caught in full camouflage gear hiding in a bush to spy canada goose coat – kensington on local rivals Sampdoria before their derby match in September. Genoa said he was “acting entirely alone” and suspended him, while Sampdoria’s statement was more colourful, comparing him to “Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill”. It concluded: “You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more.”
Meme of the year
Ashley Young as Tom Daley kept Twitter’s Photoshoppers busy. Young’s rash of yellow cards for increasingly creative and complex diving followed 2012’s much-requoted-back-at-him pledge: “I’m not a cheat, I’m not a diver. I play football fairly.”
Whyteleafe manager John Fowler “bombed it” to the shops in Margate to buy his side a new strip when they turned up for their Southern Counties East League game at Canterbury in October with only their badly clashing home kit. Given a 30-minute deadline, he made it back at 3.29pm. “The players were on the pitch in their underpants and shinpads, so we threw the kit at them.” But the referee called the game off due to the players not being warmed up. A week later in Colombia, Independiente Santa Fe solved the same problem in their match against Boyacá Chicó by buying a set of counterfeit tops from a street vendor and drawing numbers on the back in red marker pen.
Most embarrassing mother
Cristiano Ronaldo’s mother, Dolores Aveiro, told a new book in October just how much he has changed over the years: “As a boy he would get angry and cry easily if other boys didn’t pass him the ball, or because they did not play as he wanted. They called him cry baby.”
Best hospital-based puns
Leytonstone’s Whipps Cross – a name destined to produce top wingers – made (bad) headlines in October when it emerged that England’s new cross-whipping ace Andros Townsend was born there, 16 years after David Beckham.
Adnan Januzaj’s Roy of the Rovers impact in October had David Moyes feeling better about life. Briefly. Januzaj was, Moyes revealed, a “top, top player” – a Harry Redknapp-coined phrase that finally jumped the shark in 2013 when Brendan Rodgers and Sir Alex Ferguson disagreed over Steven Gerrard’s qualities. Sir Alex said he wasn’t “top, top”; Rodgers said he was “top, top more canadagoosecanadaoutlet, top, top, top”. Earlier in the year, Bayern’s Pep Guardiola had taken the theme on a level while road-testing his command of German – calling Arjen Robben “ein top-top-top spieler”.
Worst try attempt
In their Rugby League World Cup opener at Warrington in October, Kiwi Sonny Bill Williams split the Samoan defence and raced over the line. There were no Samoans near him and he casually strode deep into the in-goal area – before slipping over and putting a foot into touch before best canada goose coat for skiing he could ground the ball. No try.
In October, Turf Moor’s mascot Bertie Bee offered a linesman his glasses after a tight call and was sent off by the referee. A leaked photo showed Mr Bee cooling benefits of canada goose jacket off in the stadium’s secure holding area: a rough day for anthropomorphic marketing tools everywhere.
Finest PR moment
The surest sign of winter’s arrival came in October: the Premier League’s winter ball making its seasonal debut. Nike said this year’s Incyte ball features “Nike RaDaR (Rapid Decision and Response) technology to maximise visibility.” Translation: it’s yellow.
Most heartwarming moment
Tahiti FA director Charles Ariiotima, telling ESPN Brasil in October why their league system awards four points for a win, two for a draw average price for a canada goose jacket and one for every defeat. “We just don’t want anyone to be sad.”
■ Runner-up After Fiji beat Samoa 22-4 in Warrington in November, the teams came together, put their arms around each other – and prayed.
Derby’s Andre Wisdom had to abandon his £100,000 Porsche in a mud-filled hollow six miles from Pride Park in November after his satnav led him astray on his way to play against Sheffield Wednesday. Passerby Pete Irons said: “We are miles from any main road and the track doesn’t go anywhere. It’s mind-boggling how he ended up there.”
England’s Sam Burgess gave his shorts to a smitten female fan after the Rugby League World Cup win over France in November. While being interviewed in the tunnel in his underpants, he was shown footage of what happened next. “She looks quite happy! I hope she doesn’t smell them … Oh … she smells them doesn’t she. Oh dear … What was she thinking?”
FAI Cup winners Sligo Rovers became Silgo Rovers on all of the medals awarded after they beat Drogheda United in November’s final. “The matter will be subject to a full review and the medals will be replaced,” said a spokesman.
New sports minister and Maidstone MP Helen Grant was tossed some questions by a Meridian TV crew in November. Who is the Wimbledon women’s champion? “Oooh, err. It’s not one of ours. But I know Andy Murray did it for us, which was absolutely fantastic. That’s the most important thing.” Who are the FA Cup holders? “Come on, help. Manchester United – because it’s my favourite club.” Who is the England rugby union captain? “Yeah, what about hockey?” Which year did Maidstone United leave the football league? “Last year.” Which Paralympian won most medals at London 2012? “Dave Weir.” (Marion Bartoli, Wigan, Chris Robshaw, 1992, Jacqueline Freney)
Most generous offer
After the referee in Altrincham’s Skrill North game at Colwyn Bay was injured with no reserve ref available, an appeal was made over the PA for a replacement. One volunteer was rejected because he “smelt of alcohol”. The game was authentic canada goose outlet online abandoned.
England’s cricket team sent an 82-page list of catering demands to Australian Test grounds before flying in for the Ashes. The 194 types of meal and beverage included quinoa with roasted butternut squash, apricot and parsley, piri-piri breaded tofu with tomato salsa and mungbean curry with spinach. Australia won the first three Tests by 381, 218 and 150 runs.
Before the World Cup draw: ■ Roy Hodgson: “Manaus is the place ideally to avoid … a difficult venue for everyone.” ■ Mayor Arthur Virgilio: “We would also prefer that England doesn’t come. We hope to get a better team and a coach who is more sensible and polite.” After the draw: ■ Hodgson: “I have always actually wanted to go to Manaus. To suggest that we don’t want to go there or show a lack of respect is complete nonsense.” ■ Leonardo Novellino of the mayor’s office: “We will welcome them with warmth, good food and parties.”
Best pre-match fun
Before Gloucester v Worcester fans vied to propel 10ft rugby balls over one of the crossbars. The bar fell off and a bracket broke, meaning the teams had to warm up again while a tractor was brought on to lift the bar back into place. The match, televised by BT Sport, kicked off half an best canada goose jacket style hour late. “Pre-match entertainment seems to have taken a different strand since I was here,” said Worcester’s (ex-Gloucester) coach Dean Ryan. “It used to be the Salvation Army choir.”
Luis Suárez, August: “I have made my desire to move known in private various times and now is the time for me to make it public. I have to put my career first.” December: “I am delighted to have agreed a new deal. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool.”
So how long is “the foreseeable future”? In Cardiff, five days. 22 Dec, chairman Mehmet Salman: “Malky [Mackay] is in charge for the foreseeable future and will be until something else happens.”
27 Dec: Something else happens.
And most welcome return
Life had been quiet for the QPR squirrel since 2012’s pitch invasion – a televised cameo that spawned a rash of “official” QPR squirrel Twitter accounts. But a long overdue reappearance in December during the game against Leicester thrust the scamp back into the spotlight. @QPRsquirrel told fans: “For a fee I am available for interviews. #justsaying.”