It’s been an interesting year. We lost the 2018 bid but got the coalition government we voted for apparently; played totally crap at the World Cup but were brilliant in the Ryder Cup; seen flights from UK airports completely grounded by hot volcanic ash and also by freezing weather conditions; witnessed the return of the prodigal Robbie Williams and the internment of bongable George Michael and endured £7B of swingeing Government cuts which was promptly handed over to the Taoiseach to rescue the ailing Irish euro economy. Oh yes it’s been an eventful 2010.
But here are my particular heroes and villains of 2010:
. unquestionably the 33 Chilean miners rescued after 10 weeks buried underground. Watching them on live tv stepping out of that capsule one by one and being re-united with their families and loved ones was simply the most moving thing I’ve seen in a long time. I especially liked the moment that the mistress of one of the miners stepped up a little more quickly than his wife, to welcome him back to the surface and to Chilean womanhood. The look of relief, lust and guilt that cut across his face was just magic.
. this is a little self-indulgent but it is my blog so no apologies. Around 15 months ago my home town team Blackpool FC were favourites to be relegated from the Championship. But the lads done good in 2010 alright, winning the play off final at Wembley (which I saw) and, against all the odds and predictions, becoming the surprise package of the Premiership with a team costing less than £3m (or about the same as Carlos Tevez earns in around 11 weeks). They end the year in 8th place in the Premiership on 25 points with 2 or 3 games in hand on the teams immediately above them. I forecast before the start of the season that they’d become everyone’s second favourite team by crazily attempting to play open attack-minded football. I also said it would probably end in tears, which it might still do, but they have been a true breath of fresh air aided in no small part by their eccentric manager Ian Holloway, who’s as barmy as the team’s half-finished stadium. Thanks to the lack of undersoil heating they’ve lost several home matches in the recent cold spell – but rather than spend money on an expensive new system, the club’s got a cunning alternative plan. Love those Seasiders!
. I’ve had many an interesting nights at the Celtic Manor during my many visits to Cardiff but nothing compared with the Ryder Cup victory which was a real roller coaster affair again. How Graeme Mc Dowell wasn’t SPOTY I’ll never know. I have to confess that I can’t warm to Monty; for a fat lad he sure has a very thin skin. But he is a bloody hero at the Ryder Cup and, whilst he was always a short fuse away from being a human tinder box, I’ll concede that he played the role of Captain 20 times better than Faldo ever did.
. Continuing the successful sporting theme, it would be wrong not to highlight the fantastic performances and achievement of the England cricket team in retaining the Ashes on the Aussies’ home soil. But I reckon highest praise should go to captain Andrew Strauss, coach Andy Flowers and his backroom staff for ensuring that the team was thoroughly prepared in terms of advance planning, squad and team selection, game tactics, form, confidence and readiness for the battle. It’s been like watching Clive Woodward all over again and shows that when we get it right as a sporting nation we can be world beaters. And then we have the England football team (see below).
. Early in the year Joanna Lumley single-handedly took on the Labour government in championing the cause of the Gurkhas who were fighting for the right to live in Britain after having served for the British Army for a minimum of 4 years. It was a cause that the public readily identified with, particularly in a year which saw the death toll in serving members of the Armed Forces pass the 300 mark in the Afghan war. The ailing Labour Government had long since lost its moral compass and to watch la Lumley put timid MoD Ministers to the sword was just very satisfying. Good on yer Lummers.
. Perhaps the year’s oddest moment, that lightenned a particularly difficult situation, was the night that Paul Gascoigne turned up at Rothbury police station to offer his help in the Raoul Moat siege. Incredibly, Gazza turned up with a number of items that he thought would help his old mate Moaty. Speaking later, and largely incoherently, to a local radio station Gazza said
“… The police know I want to go in there. I’ve got a jacket, I’ve got a dressing gown, I’ve got some chicken, I’ve got some bread, I’ve got a can of lager, I’ve got a fishing rod, um, I’ve got my fishing rod, I’m willing to sit down, to shout, ‘Moaty, it’s Gazza!’ All I want to shout is ‘Moaty, it’s Gazza, where are you?’ and I guarantee he will shout his name out, ‘I’m here!’ and me and him could sit and chat, have a little bit of fishing and all I’ll tell him, ‘Moaty, listen…’”
Quite how he thought the fishing rod would help heaven only knows. Bless him. Sadly the police resisted his offer to play a conciliatory role and decided to shoot dead real life villain Moat instead.
Next up a list of other villains:
. Sepp Blatter and his band of merry FIFA ExCo members for not just not awarding the 2018 World Cup to England when it was clearly the best bid but also for simultaneously awarding the next event to Qatar, a place with no footballing tradition and where mid-summer temperatures are so high they’ll need to figure out away to air-condition whole stadia including the pitches. Two questions; how much carbon offsetting is that going to require and whatever happened to FIFA’s substainability criteria? Blatter & Co should resign in shame at having organised a shameless rigged result but he and they won’t of course. Anyway I’ve written about his particular subject enough already.
. I cannot recall any senior English sporting team playing quite as abjectly as did the England football team in the South Africa World Cup. It was painful from start to finish. If the performances and overall management of the cricket team have been thrilling and exemplary then the England football team’s efforts and oversight can only be described as a frigging debacle.
. And of all the sorry characters from South Africa the least glorious must be Wayne Rooney who has continued to act and play with total irresponsibility ever since. I’ll not catalogue his many problems and flaws yet again, but when he’s earning a £1m per month as a striker, you might expect a goal occasionally. I never thought I’d say it but if he were to transferred out in the summer I wouldn’t be surprised nor upset.
. Another sporting star (well he still claims to be) who’s really got on my thre’pennies this year is the Diva of the Vallies, Gavin Henson. I haven’t actually seen him perform any sport in 2010 apart from in the last week but I have seen him almost endlessly flaunting his waxed torso, jedwoodesque hair styles, shaven legs and sun tan from a can on various game and reality tv shows, from Strictly CD to 71 degrees North. And in all those shows he comes across as a preening, self-absorbed knobhead with the personality of a clump of seaweed. Watching Paul Daniels, Bruce Forsyth and Gavin Henson hoofing around on a single show was as close to torture for me as it gets.
. I’ve got to mention the Tiger. I’m not going to get all preachy about his serial shagging. That’s really between him and his, now, ex-wife. But I did fall off my chair watching him perform the most toe-curling, contrite and incredibly wooden public apology for this actions in front of an assembled audience of his many (remaining) sponsors and his mum. No sign of his wife. Funny that.
. 2010 saw the departure of two soap favourites but to me they are villains a) Bill Tarmey aka Jack Duckworth for crimes against comic acting. I’m sorry Corrie fans but he’s such a ham and b) Barbara Windsor aka Peggy Mitchell for crimes against acting generally. I cannot stand the woman (and especially that insane giggle) nor her Eastenders character. I’m only saddened that her character wasn’t consumed in the fire thus leaving open the possibility that Queen Babs may return. Shudder.
. Finally another villainess. This year’s I’m a Celebrity GMOOH featured some uninspiring sleb characters but the real horror star was the ‘doctor’ and bogus nutritionist Gillian Mc Keith. I know some people have phobias about things like creepie crawlies but her screaming and shouting and mock fainting at the mearest sight of an insect, water hazard, or high-level task was just scary. And she was just so unsociable. How mild-mannered Sean Ryder didn’t throttle her I’ll never know. I’m not sure I could have kept my hands off that cute neck.
Anyway folks I’d be delighted to hear from you if anyone else has impressed or shocked you with their antics this year. And if I don’t hear well have a fantastic New Years eve.