As the lethargy brought about by days of over-eating, over-drinking and under-thinking slowly ebbs away and as Christmas adverts finally fade from the television, no doubt to return in March, the end of the year has finally passed. Yesterday, as the scrupulously observant of you may know, was the first day of 2011. But why look forward to the exciting unknown, when we can reminisce about 2010? A year that saw new World Champions crowned, a first double for Chelsea, Blackpool’s remarkable rise and Roy Hodgson’s zenith and fall to his probable nadir. As my stomach struggles to contend with the remnants of seasonal over-indulgence, it is also time to digest what went on in the world of football in 2010. But rather than a sober, grey account of the major talking points of the year, I will instead be treating you to two, yes two, installments of the much-anticipated, hugely respected and utterly essential: Football Diaries Awards 2010.
Just to put your mind at rest, dear reader, the categories for the Awards are clearly defined, thoroughly researched and assiduously compiled; they are not, as some might have you believe, a disparate collection of classifications, arbitrarily flung together for the sake of a convenient end-of-year blog post.
Goal of the Year - Matty Burrows for Glentoran vs. Portadown – 05/10/10 – 92nd minute
The average match in the IFA Carling Premiership is not, let’s be fair, widely commented on outside Northern Ireland. With most teams having an average attendance of under a thousand and the league currently ranked by UEFA as 49th of 53 in all Europe, Northern Ireland’s top flight could be described as a footballing backwater. Luckily for the IFA Premiership, one Matty Burrows of Glentoran FC, decided that the league’s time on the outskirts of global football had to end and that the fifth of October was just about the perfect time to focus the gaze of the world on The Oval in Belfast.
Matty Burrows – Goal of the Year 2010
With a relatively dull game seemingly set to end in a snore-draw of 0-0, a hopeful ball is pumped to the edge of the Portadown penalty area. In a moment of grace, technique, vision and skill, Matty Burrows, facing away from goal, leaps towards the ball. As he travels through the air, Burrows twists his body, lifts his heels to meet the ball and sends a beautiful, unreachable backheel volley over the head of the stunned Portadown keeper. A truly awesome strike that deserved its many plaudits and will live long in the memory for all that have seen it.
The Media Relations Award (sponsored by Sky Sports) – Harry Redknapp
One of the older generation of football managers, Harry Redknapp has built a reputation for himself in the English game as a colourful individual with excellent man-management skills. Having spent most of his managerial career in charge of clubs struggling to afford big players or to offer huge wages, Redknapp became famous as a man who could work the transfer market to his club’s advantage; receiving more for players and paying less for players than other managers seemed able. This fact combined with Redknapp’s background as a Londoner helped create an image of the Spurs boss as a ‘crafty Cockney’, the ‘barrow-boy done good’, with the nouse of a wheeler-deale…. I’d better stop there, for Mr. Redknapp sees such descriptions as facile media pigeonholing and, much to the genuine surprise and hurt feelings of Sky Sports’ Rob Palmer, he doesn’t mind letting people know.
‘Arry ain’t ‘appy
The post-match interview as we see it begins, and soon ends, with Palmer stating that, ‘You’ve made your name as a wheeler and dealer, but there’s not been much wheeling and dealing…’ The reporter then tails off, as the offended Redknapp goes on the offensive, in both meanings of the word. What follows is compelling stuff from a bristling, touchy Redknapp, who manages to say ‘F***ing’ three times in around five seconds as he puts Sky’s finest in his place. The seemingly innocuous comment by the hapless Rob Palmer is followed by a semi-nervous chuckle and an apologetic wimper that sounds rather like a scolded schoolboy.
And ‘ere is ‘Arry giving Palmer both barrels.
The Ronny Rosenthal Award for Worst Miss – Fahad Khalfan for Qatar vs. Uzbekistan – 15/11/10 – 92nd minute
Football powerhouse and fully-deserving 2018 World Cup hosts, Qatar have provided interntional football with roughly nothing of any interest in their history; it seems appropriate therefore that, apart from the ludicrous decision to hand them the World Cup, the incident that drew most attention to the Qatari national football team in 2010 was a striker’s miss that many have called the worst ever. The Asian Games took place in China in November and featured a hotly-contested football tournament. Having topped their group, Qatar came up against Uzbekistan in a mouth-watering, round of 16 clash between the 114th and 109th ranked teams in the world. In an inexplicably uneventful game that had lurched into extra time, a glorious chance suddenly arose. Following a mildly risky backpass, the rather casual Uzbekistani goalkeeper came to the edge of the box to clear; he did not expect the lightning reactions of 18 year-old striker Khalfan however, whose pace and proximity caused the keeper to miss the ball altogether. Inside the box and running towards a completely open goal, Khalfan struck what was surely to be the winning shot from around two yards out, roughly in the very centre of the box. He hit the post. This unbelievable miss not only cost Qatar a place in the quarter-finals, they went on to lose 1-0 after extra time, but announced the future hosts of the World Cup on the global stage with a singularly wonderful example of staggering ineptitude. Let’s hope their hosting is better than their finishing.
Here is the wondrous moment.
Most Extraordinary Rant - Ian Holloway
It had to be. His performance as manager of Blackpool in 2010 has undoubtedly been outstanding, but Holloway has also maintained his reputation on the madcap/tedious bizarro front. Scarcely a week goes by without ‘Olly’ uttering some memorable nugget of idiosyncratic, indecipherable oddness; and so it is that the Bristolian baldy wins the much-coveted, most extraordinary rant award for his surprisingly passionate diatribe against, well, a lot of things. The monologue, brought about by Wayne Rooney’s (since forgotten) desire to leave Manchester United, railed against UEFA, FIFA, agents, the Bosman ruling and ‘whoever’s in charge’. Choice extracts included:
“You buy a house you own the deeds, it’s paid for. If you’re lucky enough to do that, it’s yours. What if it’s 24 years you had it for and then it can just toddle off and do what it likes? It’s not right is it?”
“FIFA, UEFA, whoever you are, you’re WRONG!”
“Some complete…person…who isn’t in the real world, in our realm, said, ‘ If you’re 24, oh yeah 24, you can go and be what you like and do what you like’. WHO IS THIS PERSON?”
To watch the full rant in all its glory, click here.
Look out for Part 2 in the very near future, oh loyal and noble reader.
A happy new year to all, from the Football Diaries.