Whilst we dash into town and pick up the last bits and pieces for the Christmas period (generally anything in Boots on the superb 3 for 2 deal!!) I look back on what has been a pretty lousy year for football in many respects, yet as ever, football still somehow produced more memories which I can happily say I won’t forget in a hurry.
I suppose we might as well kick the white elephant out of the room – RACISM. It was everywhere. From our players, fans, and even a very questionable piece from the Mail’s Martin Samuel.
Luis Suarez was charged with using language of a racist nature, yet they deemed him ‘not racist’. John Terry was brought to court where it was dropped then subsequently the FA decided to charge him, again with using language of a racist nature. The ambiguity within the cases left both cases never really shut and sealed. It was just damn annoying. Neither supporters really accepted the charges. Both cases were not the only racism this year, there were minor incidents, but incidents nonetheless in Euro 2012 this summer in Ukraine & Poland regarding fans. But the worst was yet to occur, following a England vs Serbia U21 game mass brawls ensued following monkey chants directed at Danny Rose. It was really unsavoury scenes to put it lightly.
So That Was Racism In A Nutshell For 2012, But What Else Was A Bit Crap?
There was the title race. Forget the last 5 minutes and it was one of the worst title races in recent memory. It just never possessed the same ‘pizazz’ of seasons gone by. For one, the quality of football in general wasn’t champions quality. It seemed laboured, missing that something. United never impressed yet lost on goal difference, while for all of City’s brilliant players they lacked an unwavering consistent dominance you expect from league champions.
Below the title race it wasn’t great either, with Chelsea’s poorest league season since Roman arrived, and an unlucky Spurs side losing out of Champions League because of Chelsea’s dispiriting win (maybe I’m harsh, but it wasn’t easy to watch) in Munich. Arsenal were pretty bad again, yet somehow got themselves together and made Champions League. So yeah, Martin Tyler is wrong, right now, the Premier League, isn’t ‘‘The best league in the world!!!’’
And finally another downside to football in 2012, albeit a trivial one. Lawro, and MOTD. Seriously, the show is an abomination. Luckily, I don’t have to contribute to it by living in Ireland, but it’s getting consistently worse every year. The level of punditry is very, very bad. Lawro gets unfair flak, he’s no worse than Shearer, but I guess it’s them dodgy shirts. Either way, I’d much prefer BBC changed the game, and brought in some expert analysts – some journalists. ESPN bring in Gab Marcotti for Italian football coverage and Raphael Honigstein for Bundesliga. Do it BBC, just please avoid that slob Martin Samuel! Okay, I know I’ve been a depressing sod thus far, but frankly it was warranted. There’s no getting away from the plethora of lows that has kept football down this year. And don’t start me with comparisons of football and Olympians – Rory Smith shut that debate down quite quickly here. Anyway, here’s what I enjoyed this year.
Again, ‘Agueeerrroooooooooooo’. The highlight of Martin Tyler’s commentary career. Shouting down the name of some little Argentinian dude’s name into a mic. The finish was reminiscent to a sunny day in Anfield 1989, when Michael Thomas scored late on to win the title for Arsenal, leaving Liverpool in despair. A literally last-minute winner of the premier league. On goal difference. What the hell? I’d love to tell you all where and what I done when the goal went in, but sadly, my stream had given up by then, refusing to settle down and show me the final minute or two. In truth I had all but given up by then (and so did the stream – must have supported LFC too). But the scenes that ensued were surreal. After such a long gap of no title, the noisy neighbours had eclipsed United to win the title. Considering the money they spent it could never be a fairytale to the outsider, but even the most stringent ‘AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL/MONEY’ fan couldn’t help force a wry smile for City. We’ll never see a finish to the title like it.
I thought Messi was a bit good in 2012. 90 goals, not bad. There’s no point trying to think of new superlatives to describe the lad, so I’ll just say this. Lionel Messi, it has been an honour.
The Euro’s were decent too, after 15+ years the masses decided Pirlo was special, while Spain defied everyone and won a tournament without any striker, playing some sensational football along the way. Though somehow, without any strikers, Torres ended joint top scorer. Okay…
One tactical observation was the amount of little Spanish blokes being brilliant. Mata, Silva, Cazorla (CATHORLA…), whether the premier league is shifting to implement more technical trequartistas type players remains to be seen, but one can always live in hope.
And finally, my favourite moment in football, isn’t real about football. It transcends football. It’s bigger than bigger. It transcends rivalry and stupid chants. This Autumn saw the release of the Hillsborough independent report. The fans were finally exonerated. The families given a new lease of life in the fight for justice. The vast majority of clubs around the country paid their respects. The truth was finally known to all. No further questions. The Hillsborough disaster now The Hillsborough cover-up.
Everton’s first home game following the release of the report saw them play Newcastle, on a Monday night. There was talk they would play You’ll Never Walk Alone, but Bill Kenwright thought of something a bit different, which truly sent shivers down the spine. ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ was played through the pa while two young supporters, a red and a blue, stood in unison with 9 & 6 on their jerseys. A charity single ensued of the same song which included Paul Mc’Cartney and Robbie Williams. Right now thousands of reds and blues alike (and everyone else hopefully) are pushing for the single to be top fo the charts for Christmas with all proceeds going to the various Hillsborough charities.
While 2012 saw football’s name ran through the muck and back again, it rose up once again, and the truth was laid bare. Not bad at all.