Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday January 1 2007
What New Years Day is complete without one of those contrived reviews of the year past? So with token hangover in place let me beging with my 2006 Little Dutch Awards sponsored by some heartless corporation or other.
The 2006 LD Award for Services To Idiocy...
Sam Allardyce- Having blamed everyone, from David Dein to the pixies that live in his bum for not landing the England job, Fat Sam has continued his erudite rantings. After sticking up for Allardyce in the much maligned bung investigations, Allardyce rewarded Wenger with another false rant befitting of the slob he is. 'Nobody has complained about Bolton as much as Arsene Wenger.' Errrr, care to furnish us with a quote Sam?
Steven Gerrard- Prior to the World Cup, Stevie was insistent that England would win the World Cup. All they have to do is turn up right? So how did Stevie react to having his and his teammates mediocrity exposed before millions? By dumping the blame on the shoulders of a 17 year old boy who did not play. Don't give me the crap about the so called 'Gerrard Cup Final.' He scored an outstanding equaliser befitting of the occasion, but Nigel Reo Coker was awarded man of the match.
Ashley Cole- No need to explain really.
Match of 2006.....
2006 was a seminal year in Arsenal's history, so this is a tough category. Our first ever Champions League Final and the wins that proceeded it. We waved a teary goodbye to Highbury by dumping (get it?) the cocky Spuds out of the Champions League places. Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial opened the doors to Ashburton Grove and ushered out the era of an absolute legend. But I have to go for Real Madrid back in February and March. Arsenal went into the tie with no confidence and threadbare personnel, but took Madrid apart in the Bernebeu and won by a solitary wonder goal (it should have been more)from TH. A night particularly memorable for a Lancastrian barman in the Irish bar opposite my hotel for giving us about half a dozen free glasses of Jamesons. As the Kaiser Chiefs song 'Oh My God' blared out over the speakers at chucking out time, around 200 Gooners took to the Madrid streets chanting, 'Oh My God I can't believe it, we've never been this good away from home.' The second leg was quite simply the best game of football I have ever seen. Two great teams full of players who have defined a generation going all out in a no holds barred show of tension and quality. Jens pulled off the save of the season and the game was played in a terrific spirit. In short, it made our season.
Moment of 2006......
Again, the sides walking out in Paris was a tear jerker, as was the closing ceremony at Highbury, when your writer who prides himself on never letting sentiment attack his better judgement stood dorment in Highbury's doors until 7.30pm, unable to tear himself away from his childhood home. The memeber's day at the Grove and the first match two days later, the kick off of which I very nearly missed due to a train that took an hour to get from Croydon to London. But for me it has to be Mad Jens' last minute penalty save against Villarreal. Even from my poor position I could see it was no penalty, but I could not muster the energy to complain, I stood stunned, the thought the penalty could be missed never entered my mind. So when Jens beat away Riquelme's tame effort I celebrated with such ferocity that I knocked a guy of 6 feet plus to the ground. The final whistle was one of the greatest moments ever, as my battle hardened Gooner chum Kenny dropped to his knees and sobbed like a little girl. I also vividly remember literally dancing through the streets chanting, 'We're On Our Waaaaaaaay.'
Low Point of 2006......
I refuse to chart the Champions League Final, it was a performance of such heroism that, gutting as the result was, pride is the only sufficient adjective. Watching Thierry lead the boys out in Paris was an epiphinous moment. For me, the nadir of the year arrived in late November. After an abject display at Fulham a huge section of idiots decided the best way to inspire the team was to jeer young Alex Song. An act of vile ignorance from people who just parrot what they read in newspapers. My faith in Goonerdom has still not fully recovered.
Chant of 2006.........
I love the 'We're On Our Waaaay' ditty, but terrace wit is one of my favourite things about live football. You may remember in January a whale was dominating the news having become trapped in the Thames. The response of travelling Gooners at Goodison Park, 'We saw Lampard, we saw Lampard, we saw Lampard in the Thames.' Brilliant.
The 'Get In There My Son' award for overcoming adversity...........
Hats off to Lauren for his recovery from injury and for the quiet dignity he has maintanied in doing so, but the rising stock of Emmanuel Adebayor has been very satsifying. Particularly, as this site has been such a champion of his talents back when other blogs and most Gooners were positively on his back, now he is fast becoming undroppable. As well as an industrious individual earning plaudits through hard work, his form has entitled myself and my esteemed editor to lead soem very satisfying trumpet blowing.
The Jeffrey Archer 'Whopper of the Year' Award....
Martin Jol's assertion back in April that he had not seen Eboue on the ground requiring treatment was exposed as a great big porker when Sky cameras caught him screaming 'play, play, play.'
Goal of the Year.........
Henry's in the Bernebeu was special, especially given its iportance. But Robin van Persie's 'ripsnorter', as Mr. Mustchin dubbed it, at the Valley was one of the few times in a football ground that I have been literally stunned by a piece of improvised quality.
The George Bush Award for Ignorance....
Alan Pardew's assertion that Arsenal's victory over Real Madrid was not a victory for England (bovvered!!) was an ill advised statement. Belittling a great achievement based on the patriation of somebody elses squad is an appallingly regressive attitude. Wenger exposed it as such. Pardew then decided to celebrate a late winner at Upton Park by screaming in Wenger's face (though its true AW did not cover himself in glory). These incidents are even more unfortunate when one realises that when Pardew took over at Raeding, Wenger took his own time to advise and counsel Pardew on the ways of management. Of course Pardew has promoted his Engerland policy at Charlton, having failed to sign the Scottish international skipper, he has signed the Chinese international skipper.
Funniest Moment of the Year.....
7th May, 2006, Arsenal Tavern. Your writer is enjoying a sentimental pint of Guiness when a legend appears on the bottom of the pub television. 'Tottenham demand postponement as food poisoning wrecks squad.' The Premier League's response, 'JOG ON YOU MUPPETS!' Tottenham quite literally sh*t themselves and Arsenal had their fourth place, the living proof of karma following their distasteful actions at Highbury three weeks previous. Tottenham tried to blame the Marriot Hotel for dishing up a dodgy lasagne, but facts came to light that the cheeky Spuds had issued a tissue of fabrication. Only two players went down with the 'winter vomiting disease' not the ten that they had reported, and tests showed that the virus originated from poor hygiene within the squad. The Marriot Hotel are still awaiting an apology.
The 'Graham Poll' Ricket of the Year Award....
Well the entire World Cup was nothing more than a hyped up snoozefest. England's prima donnas were once again eliminated and once again found a scapegoat rather than identifying any sort of deficiencies with the squad. Sven may not have covered himself in glory, but Michael Schumacher would not win the Grand Prix with a Nissan Micra. Paul Robinson's 'now you see it, now you don't' impression in Croatia was rather amusing. The year was bookended with an entirely unamusing volley from Cashley which hit Essien on the arse and went in. But we thought Billy wanted to score the own goals?
The 'And Finally' Award for miscellaneous hilarity......
The Scouse dude at Goodison Park in January (must have been something in the air that day), who was on the recieving end of some good natured banter from the travelling Gooners. He responded to the chant of 'Fat Boy Give Us A Song' by clambering to his feet, hushing everybody around him before delivering an operatic barotone, 'aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrhhhhhhhh' worthy of the Three Tenors. Top man. LD.
Date:Monday January 1 2007
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