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By Matthew Handley
With the curtain falling on a spectacular season of football, James Restall, Matt Handley, Sownak Bose, Charles Walmsley and Tom Ough hand out a set of alternative gongs. And no, John Terry, you don’t have to get changed into a pristine kit to pick up a trophy…
The Winston Bogarde Plate for Worst Signing
This award was fiercely contested, the work of Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli ensuring that we had a smorgasbord of new recruits from which to choose. Fernando Torres and Andy ‘Seabiscuit’ Carroll blazed a trail for Liverpool’s latest signings, but Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson were not to be bettered. Despite a princely fee of £16m, Henderson, in trying to fill the shoes of Xabi Alonso, made Jay Spearing look like an acceptable stand-in for the injured Steven Gerrard. But stand aside, Mr Henderson, for this year’s winner of the Winston Bogarde Plate is Stewart Downing: after 36 league appearances, 72 shots, no assists, and no goals, Anfield’s £20m man can enjoy his award as, after an inexplicable England call-up, he warms the bench in Eastern Europe.
The Ryan Babel Trophy for Twatterer of the Year
Joey Barton impressed with his faux Nihilism, but the ability to say something interesting ensured he finished in second place behind Piers ‘twat-bag’ Morgan, purveyor of such cuntery as “Wenger signing ANOTHER kid for big money? When will he realize we need experienced defence, not more young strikers #Arsenal #Chamberlain”, and to Gary Neville, “I’d invite you out to Hollywood, but they’d only arrest you for possession of an offensive face in a built-up glamorous area.” Stick to buying Viglen shares Piers.
The Steve Claridge Award for Atrocious Pundity
Manish Bhasin at the Football League Show is up there after a season of bumbling through the lower league goals. Lawro is the runner up after claiming that Alex Ferguson would field a side to win against Sunderland day of the season, when they needed to, erm, win to have a chance at a 20th title. But the undisputed winner is Gary Neville, whose bizarre celebration-cum-orgasm (apologies) at Torres’s goal against Barca was hilarious but nonetheless childish and immature. While Andy Gray would have said something like “Take a bow son”, Neville made a noise suitable only for Mrs Neville’s ears. At least there won’t be a repeat performance from the touchlines at Euro 2012 – it’s unlikely England will play any football good enough to warrant arousing their new coach.
The Madeleine Grant Jug For Ill-Advised PR
Without question, Kenny Dalglish wins this for his show of solidarity with ‘banter’-loving racist Luis Suarez by wearing a t-shirt with his striker’s stupid face emblazoned on it and refusing to condemn Suarez’s petulant shunning of Patrice Evra’s handshake. At least he didn’t try to cover up Stewart Downing’s awful season…
The Harry Houdini Hubcap for Escaping Relegation
Wigan deserve an honourable mention here for smashing United, Arsenal, Liverpool and unjustly losing to Chelsea. However, Martinez has done it before, and no doubt he’ll do it again. The winners are Mark Hughes and QPR, who equalled Wigan’s feat of beating Liverpool and Arsenal and managed to stay up while losing, and handing Hughes’s old club a Premiership title. This also meant that for the first time in ages all three promoted sides stayed up. Impressive? Second season syndrome beckons…
The Highbury Squirrel Shield for Animal of the Season
A tough call between the Anfield Cat… and Joey Barton. Meanwhile, Gary Neville gets an honourable mention on account of his Chewbacca-esque goalgasm celebration when commentating on Barcelona-Chelsea. But the Shield cannot go to any other than the chicken that stormed onto the Ewood Park pitch surely deserves the Shield, not least for its daring escape from the clutches of Yakubu, a perfect metaphor for the Venky’s fowl play behind he scenes at Blackburn.
PHOTO// Stuart Grout