Andrew McQuillan reviews this year’s sporting world
To quote lifestyle guru, Daily Mail reader and eminent sportscaster Alan Partridge, “what a year it’s been for sport”. Although thoroughly disagreeable generally, one cannot disagree with the king of early morning radio in this instance. Casting our beverage-ridden minds back through the sands of 2012, one would agree that it has been an excellent year for enthusiastic athletic endeavours across the world.
In football we managed to recover from that dark night in Munich when the evil Roman Empire triumphed after Spain performed the most comprehensive rout in Kiev since the Mongols paid a visit in the bygone days of yore. The round ball served up some truly exceptional moments this year; the duel between Messi and Ronaldo, the drama at the Etihad when Manchester City showed once again that cash is king and who could possibly forget, discovering via the medium of a Channel 5 documentary that Brendan Rodgers isn’t actually the messiah but David Brent in a costume. Amid the drama and the banter the seedy underbelly of football has been flashing itself with all too much regularity this year.
The damning Hillsborough report reminded supporters of the game in Britain that there is still a stigma attached to you in some quarters simply because you wear a scarf and sing the occasional bawdy anthem. The trouble surrounding a proud club like Portsmouth reminded supporters that the must always be vigilant, while the saga which unfolded at Rangers showed quite patently that “the best wee country in the world” is riddled with incompetence and agenda, with the innocent being pronounced as guilty before the facts had been considered. People in press rooms, boardrooms and tax offices across the land should hang their heads in shame at what they helped to perpetrate on a true titan of the world game.
However, we have much cause to celebrate, particularly in this bunting clad sceptered isle. (And what a year it was for the bunting industry; the double whammy of Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games would have given even the most wizened party shop owner palpitations.) The Games were a triumph, a majestic triumph. Britannia seemed to rule the waves, tennis courts, velodrome and tracks. Anyone who was fortunate enough to be in London when the Games were on will cherish those memories for years to come.
In tennis a man after my own heart, the dour, awkward, gnarling and similarly named Mr Murray was the toast of all Andrews across the globe. After having washed Centre Court with enough tears to merit the roof being closed, Murray rallied to Olympic and US glory. Great things await our Roy of the Rovers as he seeks to cement his growing reputation as a player of true class.
Bradley Wiggins did what the English love best, aggravate the French by doing it on their patch. His Tour De France win was a British first and will hopefully spark an interest in a pretty dormant sport.
Amidst all the exciting stuff that was going on, the usual happened. Cricket continued at its glacial and boring pace, exciting soft southerners and bemusing those north of Carlisle. Rugby’s Six Nations saw Wales do alright, England enter another transitional phase and Scotland, well, they were Scotland and you can’t be fairer than that. Some things it would seem are constant. Motor racing passed me by, literally as well as metaphorically once again. Golf however, that was genuinely exciting with the Ryder Cup drawing in even the most dispassionate neutral. The good walk spoiled stirred briefly.
So, as the sportingly aware of us gather around log fires, gorge on mince pies and roar with renewed approval as Colin Firth gets the girl in Love Actually despite having seen it every year since 2004, we can be content that it was a good show that was put on this year. Yet, as sure as exams will cause us undue pain and my tartan troos will inevitably be splattered with mud and mulled wine at Christmas Ball, there will be more sport next year, unless the Mayans carry out their pledge.
The ups and downs of the title race, the Six Nations, Formula One, Wimbledon and the West of Scotland Bowling Club Mixed Championship Over 65’s Section will all keep us enthralled or plunge us into a slumber depending on your point of view. Yet, for all the fun that awaits, it will take some amount of stupendous circumstances to come together to better 2012, a year that was truly vintage in so many ways.