THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A selection of WSC contributors give their opinions on the past year

icon yaybooBest 
It may sound slightly odd but the sacking of Ian Holloway and the appointment of Neil Harris as his replacement was a highlight for many Millwall fans. Despite having on paper one of the strongest squads ever assembled at the Den, the “Clown”, as he is now affectionately known around Zampa Road, left the Lions staring in the face of relegation through sheer incompetence and a baffling rotation system that failed to produce a single home win after October (and only three before) when he was sacked. He then had the cheek to enforce a clause in his contract that saw him walk away with a reputed £1 million.

Worst 
The death of Jimmy Hill saddened me more than I thought it would but the revelation that the Football Association of Ireland accepted a “pay-off” from FIFA after their protests surrounding the infamous Thierry Henry handball left a very sour taste in the mouth. After taking the moral high ground and pontificating about fair play, not to mention demanding a replay, they milked the sympathy that was afforded to them at the time while secretly accepting around €5 million.
Neil Andrews

 

Best
Following Jürgen Klopp's private plane into Liverpool on FlightRadar.com while at work, and realising that even in my cynical 30s football still occasionally has the ability to turn me into a giddy schoolkid.

Worst
Not so much a single moment, as the entire unrelenting tedium of Steven Gerrard's six-month-long farewell tour. From the appalling timing of his initial announcement to the media's desperate obsession with the date of the FA Cup final, it kept feeling like the whole thing couldn't get any worse; until on the last day of the season at Stoke it somehow did.
Seb Patrick

 

Best 
It’s very personal, this. April 2, 2015 marked the 60th anniversary of my first game. Having been denied the possibility to celebrate my 50th in Italy by the death of Pope John Paul II, I wanted to see a game this time and, though it was a Thursday, I did. A Serie D local derby between Pontisola and Aurora Seriate. And it turned out to be easily the best game I saw all season, with Pontisola running out 3-2 winners. 

Worst
The moment when we realised that despite having uttered comments that were variously racist, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic, Carlo Tavecchio would remain in his post at the head of the Italian federation. He seems unaware of the gravity of his words given the position he holds, but the story also tells us as much about those who elected him and have not asked him to stand down as it does about him. He is a bumbling fool whom they cynically exploit.
Richard Mason 

 

Best
Portugal qualifying for Euro 2016 without the need for a calculator (albeit with performances that rarely inspire these days – 11 goals in the eight group games). And the return of the locally iconic Erwin Sánchez to coach Boavista, moving from Bolivian club Blooming and bringing his mullet with him.

Worst
Every time Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho opened his mouth or took to social media; he’s boring, boorish, aggressive, divisive, whingeing, hypocritical… I could go on. And Boavista’s dire football this season under former coach Armando Teixeira (Petit), a great servant to the club during their recent troubles but stuck in a rut. The nadir was a 2-0 defeat at the Luz against a below-par Benfica, with the Panteras’ first and only shot – which found Row Z – coming in the 85th minute. 
Phil Town

 

Best
Watching England's women beat Germany in Edmonton, Canada. Not only was it the first time that England had beaten Germany in almost my entire lifetime, but it also meant that England took home bronze medals from what had been a wonderful World Cup. I don't remember crying tears of happiness at the end of a football match before. 

Worst
The own goal that put England into the third-place play-off rather than the final. It was a totally undeserved moment of fortune for Japan, and a whole new kind of horrible to add to England's history of competition exits. The fact that it was about two o'clock in the morning and we all had work the next day didn't help, either.
Georgina Turner 

 

Best
For the vast majority of the Euro 2016 qualifiers, Ireland looked like what they pretty much are: a modest and one-paced side conspicuously lacking any real craft. Then, perhaps given added encouragement by the sight of Scotland collapsing with the finish line in sight, they suddenly dredged up a once-in-a-generation win over a German team who didn't even look half-interested on the night. It was their first win over a big opponent in 14 years, and it seems to have infused the thin-looking squad with real hope – in the decisive home leg of the play-off against Bosnia, they actually looked and played like a proper team for the first time since Martin O'Neill became manager. Who knows how it will all pan out in June, but the chances of it being as horrifying an experience as 2012 look slim.

Worst
Louis van Gaal's one-man mission to suck the last remaining breaths of life out of Manchester United is nearing completion at the time of going to press. In the final few seasons of Alex Ferguson's time as manager, numerous complaints were aired that United weren't half as good to watch as they used to be. Little did people know what was coming next. It was inevitable that United would spend some time searching for a new identity in the wake of Ferguson leaving, but it's safe to say that this identity shouldn't really involve endless up-and-unders being thumped in the general vicinity of Marouane Fellaini.
Jonathan O’Brien

 

Best
Leicester City. Whether or not they qualify for a place in the Champions League is irrelevant. That they are top of the Premier League at Christmas with a squad of players nobody with any serious budget would have looked twice at, and managed by someone who many in the UK had pigeon-holed as a dotty old uncle, must make some Premier League chairmen question their strategies, if not sanity.

Worst 
Southampton getting walloped 6-1 at home to Liverpool in the quarter-final of the League Cup. Despite the player departures over the last few years the club’s fans had genuine designs of a decent cup run and perhaps a shot at winning a major piece of silverware to add to the 1976 FA Cup. The brutal defeat was bad enough. That it came at the hands of the side who’ve pretty much used us as a feeder club over the last few season only rubbed salt into the wound.
Mark Sanderson

 

Best
Australia’s Asian Cup win was exactly the type of game that reminds you why international football tournaments are quite so brilliant. A dramatic last-minute equaliser for South Korea followed up by an even more dramatic winner for the Socceroos. The tournament as a whole makes you wish 2022 was heading Down Under.

Worst 
The treatment of Dr Eva Carneiro by José Mourinho and the utter spinelessness of the majority of football to widely condemn Chelsea’s manager. Worse still, two members of the FA Council decided to complain about Heather Rabbatts offering Carneiro her support. We’re used to José’s ability to blame anyone and everyone, but this attack overstepped the line on somebody who was doing nothing more than the job she was employed to do.
Gary Andrews

 

Best
Staring intently at the Premier League and League One tables the week before Christmas and very briefly trying to remember whether you can get one bus from Walsall to Aston, or whether I'd need to change at Perry Barr.

Worst
Fifty-Six, Martin Fletcher's brilliant, solitary investigation into the fire at Valley Parade that killed four members of his family is a staggering achievement. Yet the overwhelming emotion when reading the book is one of anger. Anger at the lethally outdated facilities that characterised 1980s football. At the hastily convened inquiry that lasted just five days. And at a police investigation that left crucial questions unasked, never mind unanswered. 
Tom Lines

 

Best
Sheffield Wednesday’s 3-0 League Cup win over Arsenal at the end of October. Sure, it was only the fourth round, Arsenal put out a slightly weakened side and the quarter-final turned out to be an anti-climax, with a simple 2-0 victory for Stoke. But the exhilarating football played by Wednesday in front of a full and raucous Hillsborough that night brought back some very happy memories after what has been a largely woeful 15 years for the club and their supporters.

Worst
The deaths of Ron Springett and Alan Hodgkinson, on September 12 and December 8 respectively, meant that both Sheffield clubs lost some of their greatest ever players in 2015. Springett kept goal at Hillsborough between 1958 and 1967, which encompassed a runners-up place in both the League (1961) and FA Cup (1966). He played 33 times for England, including at the 1962 World Cup, until being displaced by Gordon Banks for 1966. Hodgkinson, also a goalkeeper, signed for Sheffield United in 1953 and didn’t leave until 1971, by which time he’d made 675 first-team appearances and received five England caps. Both were great servants for their clubs and their passing so close together was a reminder of a time when the Steel City had two of the best goalkeepers in the country.
Tom Hocking

Related articles

WSC 381 out now
December issue available now online and in store The new WSC is out now, available from all good newsagents or to order from the WSC shop....
WSC 380: Non League Special ~ out now!
November issue available now online The new WSC is out now, available to order from the WSC shop. InsideNewcastle fans take...
WSC 379 out now
October issue available now online and in stores The new WSC is out now, available from all good newsagents or to order from the WSC shop....

More... WSC