THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

23 December ~ WSC contributors give their best and worst moments in football from the past year

Best ~ Being among the Blackpool fans at the end of the play-off final. One misty-eyed third-ager turned to me with the words “We’ve waited 30 years for this!” It was the wrong time to tell him I was there to cover the game for WSC so I simply nodded excitedly and fell into his arms. It is difficult to embrace one’s father so perhaps by embracing this elderly Blackpool fan I have done a bit of his son’s work for him. The universe was crushed in our hold. Everyone was a winner. Apart from the Cardiff fans of course.
Worst ~ Very predictable, but Rob Green’s spill was the worst moment. My heart lunged up against my front teeth and I believe I swallowed a little bit of sick. The good-mannered beating administered later by Germany was luxury compared to this shocking atrocity enacted upon a nation by Dame Fortune. Actually, it is almost as if Dame Fortune put some extra work into this one. Steven Gerrard scores within five minutes, the Americans don’t appear to have a goal threat, Frank Lampard looks like to have several well-aimed shots on goal in his system – there appeared to be no way of avoiding a win. I’d like to say part of the terrible feeling that accompanied this moment was comprised of empathy with Rob’s predicament but, in truth, my mouth was full of awful oaths. And a little bit of sick. Cameron Carter

Best ~ Having bought tickets for the World Cup quarter-final in Cape Town, I expected to see England die a slow and painful death by penalty shoot-out. When they were destroyed by Germany in the last 16, I was treated to something much better. Spain were deserving champions, but Germany put on the performance of the tournament when they ripped Argentina apart at the quarter-finals. Their young and mobile attacking team looked like the blueprint of the future.
Worst ~ The week in which Wayne Rooney negotiated himself a hefty pay rise. While he was being "awarded" his new million-pounds-a-month contract, 500,000 people were told they would be losing their jobs. There's nothing new to be said about the whole affair, but hopefully it will prove the peak of football's madness - the necessary dark before the vengeful dawn. Paul Campbell

Best ~ The football Barcelona played when beating Real Madrid 5-0. I don’t have strong feelings about either club, but in 50 years of watching football it was as good as I’ve ever seen. In a season dominated by money talk and overpaid players behaving like spoilt children for no good reason, it was a sublime reminder of why any of us continue to show interest in such a corrupted game.
Worst ~ The news over the summer that the two main investors in Oldham Athletic had decided they could no longer afford to fund the club. We are limping along off the pitch and playing well on it. But it was a reminder of the dark days of administration and the inequality in the game: OAFC’s total annual turnover is less that Manchester United pay Rio Ferdinand. Somehow it just doesn’t add up. Brian Simpson

Best ~ It says a lot about just how depressing it is to be a Liverpool fan at the moment when the most significant victory of 2010 came off the pitch, but the arrival of John W Henry and NESV (and Mrs Henry) was a welcome fillip in just about the worst calendar year the club has had in close to two decades. The removal of Randolph and Mortimer Duke from the club achieves a lot of things, but perhaps most encouragingly, it stops the ridicule-inducing practice of a select group of fans protesting against the ownership by "marching" from the pub they were going to be in anyway to the match they were going to go to anyway.
Worst ~ The Dutch side managing to throw away decades of accumulated public goodwill by turning themselves into the nasty, kung-fu-kicking, one-dimensional villains of what should have been a brilliant showpiece World Cup final between two potential first-time winners. Worst of all, having had a tenner on them to win the thing at 9-1 since the beginning, I couldn't even feel a sense of injustice over the defeat, so undeserving of anything was their performance. Seb Patrick

Best ~
Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’ decision in July 2010 to challenge the preferential role of those involved in football if a club goes into administration. At present, well-paid players and managers get paid ahead of groups like St John’s Ambulance. HRMC is challenging the Premier League. A successful outcome for the taxman would surely affect all football clubs and send tremors through the game, but also end an iniquitous and unfair system.
Worst ~ FIFA’s insistence on the eve of the World Cup vote in early December that there is nothing wrong with way international football is run. The evidence – the Sunday Times, Panorama, six officials suspended, including two members of the ruling Executive Committee – is overwhelming but FIFA see, hear and say no evil exists. Steve Menary

Best ~ Watching Ryan Harley's shot fly into the bottom of the net in Exeter's final home game of the season against Huddersfield, preserving the Grecians’ League One status by the skin of our teeth and setting us up for what is so far providing to be a decent season. It also showed that Paul Tisdale could do relegation battles as well as promotion, not that any of us Exeter fans doubted this for a minute.
Worst ~ The long, drawn-out death of Chester City, along with the demise of several other non-League clubs, such as Ilkeston. Chester's situation was all the more depressing given that most people saw this coming a mile off. There's no way that a club in their state should have been allowed to start the season, but the Conference chiefs seemed to do their best to try to recreate the Spennymoor United farce from 2005. Gary Andrews

Best ~ In what was actually a rather mediocre season for Luton, despite finishing second in the Blue Square Premier, two very different on-field moments stood out: 1-0 down at home to promotion rivals Oxford, we equalised on 93 minutes and then won it with a goal direct from a Keith Keane corner on 95. Cue pandemonium. Being seven up against Hayes & Yeading after 35 minutes was surreal, as was the disappointment that we didn't get into double figures (we stopped at 8-0). Off the field, I started taking my six-year-old daughter to football, and the wonder and excitement on her face during England v Bulgaria was priceless. She'll learn, but hopefully not too soon.
Worst ~ My first ever World Cup finals game, in Cape Town, bubbling over with excitement. Luton have knocked around in the lower leagues long enough for me to know rubbish football when I see it, but England v Algeria was arguably the worst game I have ever witnessed given the supposed quality of the players on show, made worse by having a teenager blowing a vuvuzela in my ear non-stop for 90 minutes. And by the cost of going to South Africa to be let down so horribly. Just about tops being at the Germany game surrounded by chuckling Australians. Neil Rose

Best ~
Carles Puyol's thumping header that put Germany out of the World Cup. Although they winnowed out the mad and nasty bastards a long time ago and have been playing entertaining football for a good few years, I still didn't want them to win: the interviews with Jogi Löw and his teeth-sucking holier-than-thouness, with Capt'n Lahm and his squeaky-voiced ingratiation and with assorted politicians with scarves draped around their shoulders rather than tied in a sturdy knot would have been shown round the clock until Euro 2012.
Worst ~ The fear that seized my inner organs when I heard that Steve McClaren was coming to VfL Wolfsburg. The thought of him repeating his linguistic gymnastics in the Netherlands and coming out with the sort of German accent last heard when Freddie Starr was molesting studio audiences in his swastika-clad Wellingtons was just too much to bear. Gratifyingly, he's stuck to conducting post-match interviews in English, explaining his tactics primarily with the phrases "keep battling" and "keep believing". Matt Nation

Best ~ Snow-bound pitches, allowing the demonstration of the bulldog spirit of the "big freezes" of 1946 and 1963. Sadly, Thatcher saw to it that there are no miners left to dig out grounds, but there's always Keano, who single-handedly defrosted Portman Road thanks to the amount of hot air he directed at the referee whenever the prospect of abandonment loomed.
Worst ~ Stepford Rooney – disappeared to the US for two weeks and returned half his usual size with preternaturally clear, waxy skin, but also half the talent and costing four times as much. The only hope is that an intensive Christmas regime of brasses, Bensons and burgers can deprogramme "Our Wayne" and restore his lost mojo. Joyce Woolridge

Best ~ The football may not have been as entertaining as we hoped, but the atmosphere in South Africa and welcoming nature of the people dispelled all the negativity, scaremongering and security concerns aired in the UK press before the World Cup began. Theoretically validated FIFA's practice of taking the tournament to new territories.
Worst ~ The apparent infallibility of referees. From the SPL cover-up fiasco to Howard Webb condoning kung-fu football to Mark Clattenburg allowing Nani's goal against Tottenham Hotspur, the men in black have always to be seen to be correct “within the letter of the law”. They are only human, we expect mistakes. Let's have a little humility from them and their employers in future. Steve Wilson

Best ~ It feels strange to highlight the Champions League in a World Cup year but such was the gulf in quality between the two it is unavoidable. From Barcelona’s sensational half hour at the Emirates where they dismantled Arsenal, to the drama of the semi-final in which José Mourinho’s Inter stifled the Catalan passing machine, the Champions League provided the footballing high points of the year.
Worst ~ I wasn’t one of those who jumped on the anti-Uruguay bandwagon after Luis Suarez’s dramatic handball against Ghana. It was nice to see the two-time winners have a successful tournament. However, it is hard not to feel regret at what was a huge missed opportunity for football. Ghana could well have edged past Holland and given the world a seminal moment – Africa’s first World Cup finalist in the first African World Cup. Adam Bate

Best ~ David Cameron's happy knack of influencing voters continues as England's World Cup 2018 bid fails – less falling at the first hurdle and more refusing to leave the traps at all. So now we'll be spared Parliament bending over to pass the laws that FIFA and their sponsors dictate, and waiving taxes on the income they receive. If you thought the whining at the results of the vote were embarrassing, imagine what it would have been like when we got knocked out early again.
Worst ~ Thousands of Geordies collectively do their best impression of Edvard Munch's best-known work, not because they felt that the newly sacked Chris Hughton was the man to lead them to glory, but because Mike Ashley had just confirmed their biggest fears. He really didn't care what they thought, and his version of using the club as his plaything involved indulging his most pointless whims at every opportunity. If they didn't know better, anyone would think he was deliberately trying to upset his customers. Remember, at St James', no one is listening to you scream. Mark Brophy

Best ~ Late Kick Off on BBC Monday nights. The first half of the season just hasn’t been the same without it. The Midlands version involved a ginger woman with a big nose from Radio Derby bothering Nigel Clough for no identifiable reason, before Robbie Savage and Manish Bhasin discussed it in the studio. Thank goodness it’s back in January; we can only dream that it will feature the same “high quality sports journalism” (as their press release claimed) that it did last time around.
Worst  ~ Manager blaming referee whenever their teams don’t win games. As a Stoke fan I have seen plenty of bad decisions but please, Tony, keep quiet. Andy Thorley

Best ~ Watching Barcelona scything through the Real Madrid defence on the way to their 5-0 win at the Nou Camp in November. In a year when the standard of football at home appears to have declined, I have never seen such a frightening display of pure football from a team who must surely be considered one of the best of all time.
Worst ~ Seeing Wayne Rooney welcomed back as a returning hero by Old Trafford fans after signing a new, improved contract. He had held a gun to the club's head, insulted his team-mates and his manager yet was still applauded by the majority of fans. There's little point in we, as supporters, critcising players and owners if they get this kind of reception no matter what they do. Mark Segal

Comments (5)
Comment by Adam Wilson 2010-12-23 17:14:39

I don't know why all these people were watching Barca-Real when Leicester-Forest was on at the same time. Did I miss something?

Comment by Tony C 2010-12-23 17:19:55

"The fear that seized my inner organs when I heard that Steve McClaren was coming to VfL Wolfsburg".

Your organs will be returned to relax mode before you know it.

Comment by pebblethefish 2010-12-24 00:04:19

I do worry somewhat about Steve Menary. If his favourite football moment of the entire year was a tax ruling, maybe you should try another hobby?

Comment by MoeTheBarman 2010-12-25 18:50:35

I watched the Leicester/Forest game...

Still, if Mourinho is finding the going tough at Real they can always call upon Sam Allardyce who guarantees them sucess apparently.

Comment by Efficient Baxter 2010-12-28 13:01:12

That's nothing - I was watching Droylsden v Leyton orient instead of 'El Classico' and it was the 1-1 version not the 2-8 version as well.

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