Best ~ Watching the best footballing club side in the world take apart another great side with some sublime football. Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 0, Monday December 6, 2010. Probably the best display of football artistry I can remember.
Worst ~ The minutes encapsulating Luis Suarez handling the ball on the line in the last minute of the World Cup quarter-final, Asamoah Gyan's inevitable penalty miss and the TV shot of Suarez celebrating on the touchline. The fact he was going to miss one of the biggest matches of his career meant nothing, as he had elected to “take one for the team”. It summed up all I don’t like about football and some of those who play it. Ian Rands
Best ~ Watching the US comeback against Slovenia in a jumping, jam-packed bar on a weekday morning, in a country where no one can still seriously claim that football (soccer) is a minority sport. Followed closely by Landon Donovan's last-minute winner against Algeria.
Worst ~ Interrupting a family holiday in Germany to fly from Dresden to Manchester via Düsseldorf to watch Lincoln lose 4-0 at Leeds in the first round of the League Cup. The precise worst moment was after seven minutes, with the score already 2-0, and Lincoln having barely touched the ball. Ian Plenderleith
Best ~ Meeting Steve Hodge at a book fair and finding him to be a thoroughly decent chap who was happy to chat to a mere mortal; he's got an impressive knowledge of contemporary players (he gave me the low-down on Leicester City's young prospects), though he did predict England v Germany – on the following day – would be close...
Worst ~ The sinking feeling when I heard Leicester City were being taken over by Thai duty free magnates. The owner of the club is now a 25-year-old who calls himself “Top”; the stadium is to be renamed the King Power Stadium; Sven-Göran Eriksson is manager and thinks it's worth us signing David Beckham. Apparently the owner is willing to pay “top” dollar (pun copyright the Leicester Mercury) to get us into the Premier League, and so far things haven’t gone too badly but surely it can all only end in tears? Saul Pope
Best ~ Rochdale’s promotion from League Two. Keith Hill has transformed the club from Conference dodgers to conquerors of Southampton and Huddersfield on a diet of adventurous football, astute loan signings and Madchester-era indie rock. Hill is almost as well known for his love of Inspiral Carpets tunes as he is for his tactical and motivational acumen, but he has worked miracles on a minuscule budget. Public address announcer Dave Sweetmore has worked with the Carpets as a DJ, and so the sounds of the Stone Roses, the Smiths and the Happy Mondays always fill the Spotland air in the hour before kick-off. That alone is reason enough to wish them well.
Worst ~ Keith Alexander’s death. I met Keith a few times when he was manager of Macclesfield. He was funny, engaging, philosophical about the pitfalls of lower-division management and – most importantly of all – very good at his job. He pretty much saved Macc from the Conference when he took over in early 2008, and kept them away from serious trouble thereafter. The first black full-time manager of an English professional club when he took over at Lincoln 1993, Alexander was a tireless campaigner against racism in football. His death in the early hours of March 3, shortly after a Macc defeat at Notts County, came as a huge shock. Mike Whalley
Best ~ Bit of a lean 12 months for Grimsby Town fans, really. Beating Shrewsbury in March was our first win in 25 games. In retrospect, though, that was a false dawn, so the real high point was overcoming Winterton Rangers in a pre-season friendly.
Worst ~ How do you beat the end of nearly 120 years of Football League heritage? Oh, wait. Your local cavemen go on to smash up Burton-on-Trent and terrorise loads of innocent, friendly locals. Yeah, that's it. The decent majority would like to say sorry to everyone. Pete Green
Best ~ When Sporting Braga’s Matheus galloped through against Arsenal in the penultimate Champions League Group H game, turned three defenders inside out and scored a last-minute cracker, his second. Braga, with a total budget for the season of €17 million (£14.5m), had seen off an (admittedly under-strength) English giant with the organisation and fight that has become something of a trademark of theirs. Despite a rocky start that saw them thumped 6-0 at the Emirates, Braga would finish on an admirable nine points, but it was not enough to see them through.
Worst ~ When Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz perched himself on a stool in a studio and told us, in an ad for the bank BES prior to the World Cup, that he had “a feeling”. His performance in the ad, and Portugal’s in South Africa, were far from inspiring, to put it kindly. Queiroz was subsequently ousted from the coaching job and suspended from football for allegedly disrupting an official doping test at the Selecção’s hotel; few believed that was the real reason. Phil Town
Best ~ Spain’s World Cup final victory over the Holland was the highlight of the year, not just because Spain were rightful winners, but because the Dutch really deserved to lose. Their miserable, win-at-all-costs attitude got its just rewards: no trophy and no admirers. If Johann Cruyff were dead, he would be turning in his grave. As it is, he’s just annoyed.
Worst ~ Fabio Capello compounded the misery of England’s World Cup embarrassment at the hands of Germany by insisting that the team had played well, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Why did he not have the decency to provide a detailed, humiliating and totally unprofessional critique of the players as footballers and people, live on television? It was what the nation needed. Presumably only a lack of English held him back. Ed Wilson
Best ~ As a Charlton supporter the best moment of 2010 was David Mooney putting us 2-0 up in the play-off semi-final against Swindon – although we lost the penalty shoot-out.
Worst ~ The worst moment for me – lasting several days – was the FA's pathetic attempt to get the World Cup in 2018. Tom Green
Best ~ April 17, about 2.35pm. After Paul Scholes steers home a Patrice Evra cross, Gary Neville plants the wettest kiss of the season on the Ginger Prince’s head. We will never see his like again (Scholes, not Neville).
Worst ~ Mario Balotelli this week. In a year of poseurs, posturing and failing to begin to live up to the hype, “Super” Mario managed to diss promising teen Jack Wilshere, label himself No 2 footballer on the planet and don the world's first Foghorn Leghorn-inspired accessory, a hat in the shape of a giant glove. Meanwhile his sole footballing contributions were to cry because it was too cold/the opposition played too rough, and to slip to his arse when put clean through. Ashley Shaw
Best ~ Celtic beating Aberdeen 9-0 was a bit special, but it didn't make me smile as much as Spain winning the World Cup (and not just because they won me £60). Spain may not have played with quite the same panache as they did at Euro 2008, but seeing their multi-millionaire tax-exempt players celebrate like little boys who've just been told their school’s burnt down gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe footie’s not just about money. There are still one or two trophies worth winning for their own sake.
Worst ~ Celtic losing 4-0 to St Mirren was a phenomenal embarrassment compared to everything else in the world, except for Sepp Blatter and his FIFA chums awarding a World Cup to a tiny country with virtually no footballing heritage, a climate that’s dangerous to athletes, and laws that a Daily Mail-reading grandad from Alabama would consider a bit harsh. Hopefully Israel will qualify with a gay centre-forward who likes to drink plenty of booze while snogging his partner in public. Mark Poole
Best ~ Being in Montevideo to watch Uruguay’s first World Cup semi-final in 40 years on a big screen in Plaza Independencia with a few thousand locals going absolutely bonkers. Uruguay might have lost the match but the street parties carried on until gone midnight, five hours after the final whistle. Having only previously experienced anger and bitterness in an eliminated country (a lifetime in England, and Argentina’s own elimination from the same World Cup days earlier), it was an eye-opener to see the reaction of a nation that, however glorious their footballing past, just felt lucky to be at the party.
Worst ~ Seeing the Argentine press once again turn on Lionel Messi when what was actually a personally impressive – if unspectacular – World Cup campaign ended without him having scored. Having lauded his performance in the opening two matches to the rafters, they grew steadily less patient as the tournament wore on. They seem to have come back round lately though, and impressive performances – and brilliant goals – against Spain and Brazil in friendlies seem to have turned the tide. Sam Kelly
Best ~ At 10.30pm on Saturday August 14 I didn't watch Match of the Day. This is the highlight of my footballing year because it marked the start of a conscious decision to kick my Premier League habit. As a fan of a lower-league team, watching top-flight football in recent years has felt like being a liberal but secretly enjoying the stirring oratory of General Pinochet. Like Simon Cowell or Chicken Pox, it’s difficult to avoid entirely but by at least making an effort to disengage with the whole gaudy circus I genuinely feel like a Baby Bentley-sized weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
Worst ~ Wayne Rooney isn’t noted for his articulacy but few incidents have encapsulated the disconnect between modern players and the fans who pay to watch them better than Rooney’s address to the nation following England's abject World Cup stalemate with Algeria. “That's what loyal support is,” opined the striker, sarcastically. Four months later Rooney loyally handed in a transfer request at Manchester United. Tom Lines
Best ~ Saturday March 13. There are a lot of Raith Rovers fans trying to get into Dens Park for the Scottish Cup quarter-final against Dundee, and the three of us end up passing through the turnstile a few minutes after kick-off. I offer to get the teas, and as I join the queue a roar erupts in the away end. Surely we haven’t scored? Oh yes we have – and my mates, at least, have seen the goal with a few seconds to spare. Ninety minutes or so later, Rovers are through to the semi-finals for the first time since 1963.
Worst ~ I’m in no rush to watch another World Cup final. For sheer mean-spiritedness in a showcase event, Holland's performance against Spain takes some beating. David Wangerin
Best ~ Steve McClaren’s Dutch title win with FC Twente. Deserved recompense for someone who only an idiot would ever suggested isn’t a good coach. His problems at Wolfsburg since shouldn’t detract from the fact he made a brave decision to go abroad, and made a great job of it, showing he’s a genuinely humble and hard-working man even if he’s easy to lampoon.
Worst ~ France’s strop through World Cup 2010. You don’t like your coach or each other – we get it. Neither did Zinedine Zidane and co four years before. But it’s the World Cup. Disrespectful to the tournament, to football, to the fans and to themselves. Classless. Andy Brassell
Best ~ Ghana’s performances at South Africa 2010. Along with Egypt, they’ve been Africa’s biggest under-achievers in World Cup qualification – they should have played in far more than two finals – so it was good to see them making a major impact.
Worst ~ The monumentally cack-handed England 2018 World Cup bid – a waste of £15m. It was ineptly run from the start, culminating with Prince William flashing his immense teeth around FIFA headquarters for the final couple of days. As odious as Jack Warner and co are they can’t be expected to join their UK counterparts in genuflecting to royalty. Andy Lyons