Paul Lewis on sport

Paul Lewis is the Herald on Sunday's Sport Editor

Sport's funny old year

By Paul Lewis

David Tua returned to the spotlight with a second round knockout of Shane Cameron in October. Photo /  Michael Craig
David Tua returned to the spotlight with a second round knockout of Shane Cameron in October. Photo / Michael Craig

It's been a funny old year for sport. Paul Lewis looks at some of the oddest, most bizarre and brightest moments of the year across all sports.

Best Newcomer

Martin Guptill's 122 on debut against the West Indies saw him become the first New Zealander to score a ton first time up in ODIs and it was the second highest debut in history. But Guppy wasn't such a happy puppy when the test season arrived and a less complimentary light fell on the New Zealand top order by year's end.

Winger Zac Guildford came close for a good first season with the All Blacks but the best newbie was cyclist Sam Webster - the best junior sprinter in world cycling and a triple gold medallist. Has a determined attitude and the smart money says he will make a successful switch to senior ranks. One to watch.

Best Comeback

Kim Clijsters, maybe, but... nah... David Tua floored Shane Cameron in short order at Mystery Creek and looked the fittest and most focused he has been for years.

The fight won a huge following and, if 'The Peek At The Creek' didn't last long, the Tua story looks like running a fair while yet.

The Now You See Him, Now You Don't Award

Isaac Ross comes close - All Black test lock one minute, unwanted gym bunny the next but the winner was Shane Bond for his "I'm back... oh dear" comeback for the Black Caps, closely followed by - you guessed it - injury and absence.

Best Partnership

Tiger Woods and Elin, er, Rachel, er, Holly, er, Mindy, er, Jaime, er, Kalika, er, Cori, er, Jaime again... oh, we give up.

Best Innovation

Daniel Vettori became captain, coach, best bowler, best batsman, export to Queensland, spokesman, pitch roller, baggage handler, bus driver and chef (scrambled eggs only). Rumours are surfacing that next year he is planning a coup for Justin Vaughan's job as New Zealand Cricket chief executive before mounting a campaign for the Beehive and making an attempt at world peace.

Best T-shirt

"Are you looking at my titles?" read the logo on Serena Williams' T-shirt after she won Wimbledon by beating sister Venus. The final was dull but at least she brightened up the press conference afterwards. Interestingly, she wore no jokey T-shirt after her threatening, racket-waving, expletive-laden tirade at a lineswoman at the US Open when she lost to Clijsters. A shame, as she could have worn another one saying : "Are you looking at my rack-et?"

Best Silly Old Man

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has an honourable mention for his ludicrous insistence that there is no place for technology in football (so it's okay for France to get to the World Cup ahead of Ireland after an obvious and deliberate hand ball). Sir Bob Jones came close for falling asleep at the dinner table in the gala dinner for boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. But the winner is: F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for his unthinking statement that Hitler "got things done". Like killing six million people in the holocaust. Nice one, Bernie. Here, lie down in front of this train. Hitler got them to run on time, you know...

Groundsman's Trophy

Whoever the bloke was who prepared the pitch for the second test between England and the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The test was suspended after just 10 balls and then abandoned as the outfield came up in big chunks when anyone ran on it.

Own Goal Of The Year

This one is shared by Thierry Henry - how to ruin your own reputation - for that disgusting hand ball against Ireland; and FIFA for its abominable handling of a situation which overrode fair play with convenience.

Best Haircut

David Beckham at the World Cup draw. It looked like Rebecca Loos had cut his hair. While she was masturbating that pig.

Interview Of The Year

After qualification against Bahrain, Ricki Herbert was so overcome by World Cup joy that he looked almost as though he'd had a night out on the tequila slammers and reinforced that impression by beaming live across the nation with a couple of f-words on TV. Mothers clamped hands over young ears up and down the country and/or pretended that Herbert had been talking about a truck.

Cool Cat Of The Year

Forever famous for saying to a boring Lord's administrator "so, maaan, do you get much pussy?" Chris Gayle is too cool for school most of the time, even if he does seem to be wearing Jane Fonda's sunglasses. But he earned some biting criticism during the tour of England when he seemed reluctant to play tests and saying he "wouldn't be sad" if test cricket died. That upset the establishment but he made a return to favour when he scored class test centuries against Australia to finish the year as man of the series.

Blocked Dunny Of The Year

Steve Hansen's immortal quote: "Just flush the dunny and move on" came back to haunt him when the All Black forwards started the season so poorly that the forwards coach also seemed headed down the drain and round the U-bend. Was saved by the coaching re-shuffle and made enough of a comeback that he was allowed to talk to the media again on the end of year tour. He opted against further toilet references.

Drinker Of The Year

Jesse Ryder comes nowhere compared to Australia's Andrew Symonds, sent home from the World Twenty20 championship for one drinking bout too many and, seemingly bitten by the beer again, infamously called Brendon McCullum "a lump of shit" for daring to play for New South Wales in Twenty20. Wonder what he thinks of Daniel Vettori?

Entertainer Of The Year

Tiger Woods. A fire hydrant. A tree. A wife with a golf club. Lies. Ten mistresses. Reports of prescription drug-fuelled sex. You can't make up this stuff...

Defender Of The Year

Mark Paston - The Corker At The Cake Tin; saved the penalty that meant the All Whites were going to the World Cup in the single best, most emotional, all-consuming and fired-up evening in New Zealand sport in 2009. And maybe in many other years.

The Divine Brown Award For Best Outfit

At Wimbledon, Roger Federer arrived in a Bee Gees costume on opening day Or maybe he'd pinched some surviving numbers from Liberace's old wardrobe. His handbag was gold and matched his shoes. Lovely. His ensemble was all white - a jacket with a high collar and long white trousers, opening to show off a waistcoat and the whole effect was quite disturbing. What, no cape? The Fed was obviously well pleased with the gold-edged monogrammed get-up Nike had designed for him. Many of the rest of us thought he looked like a cross between Liberace, Captain Kirk of the Enterprise and a cabin steward off the Queen Mary II who'd nicked Liz Taylor's handbag.

The Richie McCaw And Dan Carter Most Indispensable Person Award

Er, it goes to Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

Cheeky Sods Of The Year

Maori TV rattled the cages of the broadcast establishment by trying to make off with the free-to-air coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and sewing up David Tua's broadcast rights. If it had been a Pakeha outfit that tried to pull the World Cup stunt, they would have been applauded for "good business sense". Somehow the critics rounded on the fact that it was taxpayer money at stake - even though TVNZ has been bringing us mind-numbing gems with their public-funded loot for many years.

The Trust Me, I Know The Rules Award

Graham Henry brought in All Black legend Brian Lochore, who gently pointed out to the All Blacks that they came prepared for a battle the previous week (when they lost to the French) but not the war. Then Henry prepared his troops - well, it must be said - to take on and beat the French up front. But he didn't tell them they needed to win the match by five points or more to retain the Dave Gallaher Trophy. So when Piri Weepu unknowingly kicked the ball out to end the match instead of seeking more points, the All Blacks won the test but lost the series. French coach Marc Lievremont pointed that maybe it was France that won the war (there's a new twist). Questioned about his logic, Henry said the coaches hadn't wanted to burden the young side with such details.

"We didn't pass that info on. We felt they didn't need that extra pressure, they are relatively young," said Henry. Young or old, knowing how to win the series seems rather essential. The All Blacks won the trophy back in Marseille last month.

How To Disenfranchise Your Own Sport

World swimming came close with the ludicrous suits that saw a host of dubious world records set with FINA powerless to do anything about it. The IRB and NZRU get an honourable mention for their custodianship of rugby (muffled laughter...) but the winner is the America's Cup.

Yes, folks, the Ernie and Larry Award is won by the two billionaires - Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison - who have combined to keep the America's Cup off the water since 2007 and in danger of boring everyone rigid with ongoing court action. Even if the February regatta occurs, the Cup has been dealt a damaging blow and there may yet be legal action afterwards. It will be back but they have irritated, bored and, at times, insulted the intelligence of their fans.

Biggest Boofhead

Can't separate the individuals (see League review, pages 84-85) so biggest boofhead award goes to the NRL. Great game, great competition, shame about some of the players.

Best Celebration

Julian Simon - Spanish motorcycle ace famously celebrated winning the Catalunya Moto GP a lap early and congratulated himself so hard, he allowed himself to be overtaken. He finished fourth.

Worst Confession Of The Year

No, not Tiger Woods, for once. Andre Agassi told all about his terrible, terrible life and his terrible, terrible father in his new book Open. Funnily enough, Andre chose the launch of the book to tell us all that he had cheated by taking P, had been caught but wrote a lying letter to the tennis authorities and got off.

Gee, wonder why Andre chose then to make his heartfelt confession? It couldn't be anything to do with pumping up the sales of his new book. Could it?

Worst Cover Up

Aaron Redmond and Neil Broom took drink. Motivated by that and apparently some of the poverty they witnessed, they broke curfew, ended up passing out banknotes to passers-by and sparking a riot when on tour with New Zealand A in the Indian city of Chennai earlier this year.

There were no arrests and no charges but New Zealand Cricket chose to bury this one deep - even though, with a bit of spin, the naive philanthropy of the two batsmen (if that's what it was...) might even have made a good positive yarn before it was exposed in this newspaper.

Quote Of The Year

Colin Wilson: "At least my bum's all right". The Australian journeyman heavyweight was delighted to have knocked out - and severely retarded the career of - former NRL bad boy-turned-boxer John Hopoate on the undercard of the David Tua-Shane Cameron showdown earlier this year.

"Hoppo" was infamous for plunging a finger into the anuses of opponents while he tackled them in league - which was what Wilson was referring to.

- Herald on Sunday

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