Good evening, boys and girls. How are you all getting on with the quiz? I’ve got no idea how difficult it is because I know all the answers, but I hope it’s given you all something to think about. Continuing my series of ripping off whatever everybody else in the media does at this time of year, it’s time to dust down my tuxedo and revolving bow tie, and dish out The First Annual 200percent Football Awards. Like all end of year football awards, it all feels a bit incongruous to be doing this in the middle of the domestic season, but until the FA and FIFA give way to the will of the G14 (what on earth are they up to with lobbying for football to be played in the summer? Something nefarious, I’ll wager), it’ll have to be like that.
I’ve spent a good half an hour thinking up the categories for this. The winners will not receive a prize, of course – indeed, it’s highly unlikely that any of them will ever know, still less care, about this – but it’s the recognition that counts. They are all sportsmen, after all. Next year, with a bit more planning, I’ll send out certificates or something. But anyway, the curtain’s raised, the crowd has fallen silent, so on with the show!
The Mariah Carey Award For Most The Unnecessary Hissy Fit: So many contenders, and so little time! Honorary mentions here to Wayne Rooney for his reaction to being substituted during the England – Sweden match at the World Cup, and to Sam Allardyce for banning all BBC interviews after Panorama exposed allegedly murky goings on regarding transfers at The Reebok Stadium, but these weren’t quite enough. The winner is Thierry Henry, for flouncing out after Arsenal’s much anticipated defeat at the hands of Barcelona in last season’s Champions’ League final. “We can be more than proud but I’m sorry, some of the refereeing was horrendous”, said Henry after the match, whilst adding that referee Terje Hauge was correct to send Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann off in the first half. Way to construct a convincing argument, Terry.
The Mods vs Rockers Award For The Best Group Brawl: If I’m completely honest, I love a good brawl during a football match, but they seem to have gone out of fashion somewhat of late. The only real contenders for this award are Argentina, for their magnificently ill-disciplined display at the end of their World Cup quarter-final match against Germany. Old habits die hard. Sterling work, gentlemen.
The Hollwood Re-make Award For Trying To Fix Something That Wasn’t Broken: Now, we were all fooled into thinking that West Ham United’s signing of Carlos Tevez and Juan Mascherano at the end of August was A Good Bit Of Business. Too good to be true, some of us suspected. Over the next few months, of course, it would all collapse. Tevez and Mascherano didn’t (perhaps unsurprisingly) want to be in East London, Dean Ashton broke his ankle, West Ham plummeted and Alan Pardew paid the price for getting them back into the Premiership and to an FA Cup final. A considerably better soap opera than “Eastenders”.
The Armada Award For Unwanted Interventions From Foreigners: I would hope that you would have noticed by now that this blog doesn’t go out of its way to be xenophobic. Well, not unless it’s very necessary, anyway. However, the suggestion from the joint winners of this award, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez, that Premiership clubs should allowed to field reserve teams in the Football League is, frankly, a step too far. Destabilise the very culture and fabric of the domestic English game because you’ve got frankly too much money and too many world-class players? No way, Jose. And you too, Rafa.
The Mohammed Al-Fayed “Oh DO Shut Up It’s Getting Boring Now” Award: For the twenty-seventh year in a row, this is a team award for Everybody That Rarks On About The Need To Introduce Video Evidence Into Football. I’m not going to get too deeply involved in a debate over the culture of the game. I’ve said my piece in that subject before. I will merely add that anyone that saw FIFA’s experiment with chips in the balls at the World U17 Championships, which resulted in goals being announced every few minutes or so will agree that the idea is nonsense. It is a stupid idea, and one that benefits the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. Now, shut up about it.
The Escape To Victory Predictable Plot Line Award: There can only be one contender for this award, so well done to The England Football Team, for falsely raising everyone’s hopes by bringing through the best group of players in a generation, and following that up by playing incredibly averagely for the whole of the World Cup, before going out in the quarter finals. On penalties. If it had been written as a script, it would have been rejected as too obvious.
The 200percent Team Of The Year Award: There have been many fine team displays this season, but the performance of Lyon in this year’s Champions’ League really has taken some beating. For a French club team to emerge as one of the favourites for Europe’s biggest football competition is a massive achievement, and demonstrates that Liverpool may have been a little hasty in giving Gerard Houllier the boot. Time will tell as to whether they have peaked too early, but they have been fantastic to watch so far. I’m also giving an honorable mention here to Germany, for their devil-may-care performance in getting to the semi-finals of the World Cup, and their good grace after losing to a last minute of extra time goal in the semi-final.
The 200percent Player Of The Year Award: I’m steering clear of the obvious choice, Ronaldinho, because he simply failed to turn up at the World Cup finals. Instead, I’m giving the final award of the evening to Deco. Not only is he massively under-rated in his performance in a Barcelona team that has riches beyond embarrassment, but he also played magnificently for Portugal in the World Cup, even though he contrived to get himself banned for the match against England, and was also superb in the recent World Club Cup.
There we go. Categories for next year’s awards will be most gratefully received, providing that I’m still still around this time next year. Tomorrow… a whole afternoon of live football. Live, as it were. Kicking off at five to three, I’ll bringing you all the action as it happens. Providing I’m awake, that is. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.