“I’m late, I’m late…”
I know that I’m probably supposed to have moved on by now, the window is open, the fixtures are out and it should be gossip, gossip, gossip all the way. But anyone who has followed my style in the past will know that I’m great at staying behind the times and so, nearly two moths after everyone else, it’s time to bring you the ‘This Northern Soul’ End of Season awards for 2010/11.
The voting rules were simple. I gave the categories to our message board members, they gave me some nominations and I picked the winner. I didn’t have to go with the majority, but I was obliged to stick with the options they gave me. Not quick democracy, but hey, this is the twenty-first century, who believes in that anymore?
It was a rough season with plenty of ups and downs and loads to get hung up about, so rather than talk about it now, let’s dive straight in and get the really bad stuff out of the way first.
The Jeff Peron Worst Signing of Season Shield
There were two clear candidates for this award, costing a combined figure of around £10m and providing all of two goals between them. The “Kill all Argies” graffiti at Pagefield Mill was over the top, even at the height of the Falkland’s War but it seems that a similar sentiment was running through large swathes of the DW crowd last season.
Rather than build a complicated, but logical, debate between the two, it’s probably best to explain that I’ve got a soft spot for the lad that’s halfway between the Argentine Neil Roberts and the new Simon Haworth, so Franco Di Santo gets off the hook and the award goes to the 2010 Copa Libertadores top scorer turned Premier League flop Mauro Boselli.
Unfortunately Mauro wasn’t available to collect his award, but if he leaves a forwarding address then we’ll pop it in the post to whichever back water he ends up in come
The “Don’t Worry it Happens to Everyone” Biggest Letdown Award
Another category where Boselli and Di Santo featured highly in the nominations. In fact you could argue that it’s a better fit for Latics’ six million dollar man but that feels a little too much like bullying for my liking. In the player stakes there were also predictable nominations for Hendry Tomas and Jordi Gomez.
There were also strong arguments for Latics’ tendency to draw games as well as for the club’s failure to sign al Habsi from the outset and to obtain “enough” tickets for the season closer at Stoke. But you don’t have to be my most avid fan to know that I’m not about to lay into the club or players like that and luckily we ATL11 weighed in with another nomination.
Imagine walking down the street and deciding that you’re going to clobber the bloke in front of you on the back of the head. There’s a copper on the corner and CCTV everywhere, do you think that you’re going to get away with it? I bet the answer is no. What about if the copper just lets you carry on walking (I don’t know? On the basis that he thought it was an accident or something), do you think you could wriggle out of the CCTV?
Only in the Premier League you would and so it was when Wazza decided it was ok to clobber James McCarthy for the crime of getting in his way (in so much as getting in his way includes having to run a couple of yards to his right to do it). If you’ve ever wondered why players fall over and roll around a lot then there was your answer as McCarthy’s honesty saved Rooney a red card, which he should have got anyway.
Whether the system is biased against smaller clubs, or just broken, it’s just wrong and fairly shameful that we waste half our lives debating whether to have a debate about goal line technology when there are more obvious things need fixing about the officiating system. I’m not one for taking decisions out of the referee’s hands but giving them a hand when they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes has to be right? Right?
Draws, Boselli, Di Santo, Hendry Thomas, Jordi Gomez (x1), Not signing al habsi, Stoke tickets, Gomez, ATL11 – How the FA & Premier League dealt with Rooney elbow incident, they basically told the football world what we already know in regards to preferences.
The “it’s a rugby town” Medal for Laziest Rent-a-gob
The nominations for this one were a real mixed bag and if the nominees ever bothered to turn up at the DW rather than leaving things to cliché, we’d be getting full houses every week. Perennial favourites Lawro & Merse got a couple of mentions each, with Talksport and the ‘appy ‘arry loving West Ham mafia providing the bulk. The finger was even pointed at our own fans and their habit to shoot from the backside.
But overall the award has to be reserved for two people who pointed fingers right at us rather than giving the usual snide sideswipes, Talksport’s Moose (who must have a real name but if people like him can’t be bothered with research then why should I?) and personal friend of the site, Mick Dennis.
We’ll let you buy us a pint when Norwich come to town, hell we’ll buy you one if you’ve got the guts to turn up at the pub.
Best Journo or Pundit
Proving, I suppose, that sports writers have a pretty hard job pleasing all of the people all of the time, this was another real mixed bag. Nominations ranged from “none” to “too many to mention”, not that either of those was particularly helpful for me here. Given the local media’s reputation, reflected in Neil Barker getting featuring in both this and the previous category, it was nice to see a couple of nominations for Paul Kendrick.
It was also good to see BarStaff throwing your humble correspondent into the mi… what? He meant the real Neill Rimmer, damn!
From a Latics basis, the award goes to a man who’s bucking the BBC trend of bland, top four plaudits, who’s pretty much always honest, likes to fight the corner for the less obvious teams on MoTD2 and, if we’re honest, comes across as a bit of a closet Latics mon, Lee Dixon.
Away from Latics an honourable mention has to go to Jimmy’s nomination, Iain McIntosh for his wit and his nice good turn of phrase, he’s definitely worth a follow on Twitter if you’re about.
The One Thing You’d Change Can of Worms
Get a group of northern blokes together and we’ll find something to moan about, even more so a group of Latics fans who could probably find something wrong with winning the League and Champions League in the same season that Uncle Dave gave us tickets to every game free a
nd laid on coaches to every away game for nowt. So it’s no surprise that we got another wide range of nominations here as well.
Refs, music, marketing, boots, scouting, the Caldwell brother, the midfield line up, kids pricing and the warriors all featured but we like to keep it simple around here, and we like to keep banging the same drums, so the official TNS thing we’d like to change is the shirts on our backs, or given as they change every season anyway, we’ll be specific and say “can we have our stripes back please”?
The Alex Cribley, if it aint broke… don’t fix it magic sponge
We have never hidden our support for the manager at This Northern Soul, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t dissenters in the ranks so it was a great surprise how little variation there was when people were asked what they most wanted to stick with. Jimmy wasn’t letting the stripe thing go, Bar Staff was all about the boozers and Wildheart was worried about losing the East Stand courtesy of our friends at GMP but overwhelmingly the vote fell with the squad, the tactics and the manager. In short we’re for sticking with Plan B(obby) and running with it.
All apart from Martin, who took the traditional “glass half empty Wiganer” view by pointing out that there is still plenty to be fixed yet.
The TNS Best Signing Award
Brought to you by ‘Appy ‘Arry, who’d be delighted to wind his window down to let you know that this bloke is a “top, top signing for them guys”.
Personally my vote would have gone to Antolin Alcarez for this one, especially as Latics pulled the same trick they did with Roy Carroll all those years ago and stiking whilst the window was closed. If we’d have waited then the interest generated after the world cup would have left us with no chance and a big hole at the back.
But I can’t have him, as no-one picked him as their nomination, leaving me with a choice between Connor Sammon and the winner. I’m sorry, Sammon seems a good lad with decent potential but, I just can’t get as excited as some do about him. I’m not saying he’s a bad player, but he’s still more fingers crossed than nailed on top goalscorer.
The winner had to feature in these awards somewhere. After seeing the team concede ten goals in their first two games, any keeper who could catch the ball, and that, was going to go down great guns and the way that Kirkland’s replacement took the club and fans to his heart made it even better, almost to the point where you could ignore the fact that he was still contracted to the neighbours. And then there was that song…
But still, why ‘best signing’? I suppose because this was a lad who’d been kicking his heals at Bolton for a long while without seriously worrying Juska… juski… jusc… their first choice keeper, a gamble that paid off with top saves, some match winning perfomances and a big goofy smile so Ali al Habsi it is then.
The Roy Race Moment of the Season Trophy
We did have a “game of the season” award too but whilst the nominations for this one did pull in some more varied choices, they basically both boiled down to the same thing. You’re 2-0 down at half time in a “save your season” fixture. You’ve no chance, then you score, bang, maybe you do have a chance. Then you score again, boom, you might not have saved yourselves just yet, but you’re sending the opposition down, their rivals fly a plane overhead to remind them of the fact. And then time is running out, you might have another day to fight, but it will be hard. But you’re still pushing and then… whallop, it’s in, charlie’s scored and it’s all back on again.
I suppose that’s 45 moments though, rather than the one, so for the engraver’s sake we’ll give it to Charlie boys 93rd minute winner against West Ham.
Goal of the season
So, it’s a cinch then? If a goal gets the moment of the season then it should also get the goal of the season, right? Well not for me. N’Zogbia’s goal was a good one by itself, but it will live long more for the emotion than for the technique. Rodallega’s goal at stoke was an important one, but fairly standard and old money. We’ve had lots of good goals tis season though, Ronnie Stam’s team effort at Bolton, Manyor Figueroa at Birmingham and a couple of Diame efforts stand out.
But for me there is only one candidate here. A goal that sort of got lost in the midst of a seven goal thriller against Blackburn but one that if it had been scored by a Rooney or Torres would have lead to a severe erection warning in the Soccer Saturday Studio and could have lead to the national sports pages spontaeneously combusting.
Ok, so I exaggerate, but little James McCarthy’s flick, flick boom effort that put Latics two up was at the very least Bergkamp-esque and that’s not something you can say very often round these parts.
The “it’s not who you think it is” Player of the Season Award
I’ve done well in terms of playing ball so far, I’ve mainly gone with majority or been fair when there has been a selection to pick from, but not any more. We’ve come to the end, I’m tired and I’m rebelling. I’m still sticking to the rules mind, but there was an overwhelming winner as far as the voting went for the big award and you can probably guess that it was Ali al Habsi, yet again, but I’m just giving him the silver medal this time.
Emerson Boyce flocked in with an honourable mention or two as did our favourite sulking Frenchman and I’m happy that their efforts give them a joint bronze.
My winner wasn’t a clear one for me, we the club voting came around I sat down and thought for a while and didn’t come up with anyone. After the voting closed I sat down again and thought some more and where I got was that this years’ achievements were genuinely a team effort, take away any one of the constiuent elements that made the final third of the season so successful and we might not have made it over the finishing line.
Giving it to the whole team is a cop-out though and giving it to the manager or his tactics isn’t possible so the next step was to take a look at the team and work out who most personified Plan B(obby). The notion of possession football, of young players growing and taking responsbility, the Sin Miedo spirit? And my eyes fell on a lad who two years ago had seemed furthest away from it, who come across very English and very distrusting and disinterested in the wave that was washing over Wigan Athletic.
So much so that he nearly got knocked overboard, but thankfully West Brom took Paul Scharner instead leaving us with our pie-eating Xavi. The man who now makes our midfield tick. It’s no co-incidence that Latics, as a whole, got better as the season went on and he grew into the role he’d been given. I’ve been banging on about him all year in one way or another and thankfully Buckshaw weighed in with his nomination early on.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you the This Northern Soul Benign Dictator’s Player of the Season, Mr Ben Watson
The Closing Credits
And now we close with our equivalent of that bit at the end of proper award cermonies where they go through the awards that no one really cares about. We asked our members to come up with the awards that they thought we’d missed and their winners for them, and here they are:
Martin – Worst refereeing performance of the season goes this time to Lee Probert home V Birmingham
ATL – The 4 minute MOTD award – Mark Saggers who probably only believes Wigan only ever play like he sees on MOTD @ 11:55pm. He had us going down on 32 points picking up only 2 points from the last 8 matches.
Bernard – Carry out your promise – Stan Collymore who said he would walk naked around the pitch at a Latics game if we stayed up!
Buckshaw – Best dressed manager – Mr Martinez and worst goes to Mr Moyes and his cardigans
Vat69 – Squarest header of a ball = Alcaraz.
WezXL – Outstanding Contribution – Alex Cribley. to spend so long at latics in a variety or roles
Nelly – The category we should have had (and who would have won it) – Invisible man award – Daniel De Ridder
Livesey – The category we should have had (and who would have won it) – Worst miss of the season – Hendry Thomas v Stoke
Clarkywigan – Stupid comment of the season (repeatedly) – “It’s the performances that matter” Roberto Martinez (best occurance being with only a few games of the season remaining)
ChorleyLat – Best celebration – Ali hugging and kissing stripey when the Charlie scored the winner against west ham / mike pollitt running into the centre of the pitch to hug Watson
Wildheart – The Lord Lucan award for missing whereabouts unknown…De Ridder, other contenders, Boselli, Kirkland and Caldwell S
drogerson – The Hugo Rodallega ‘Don’t Shoot From There You Plonker’ award – G. Caldwell’s bullet against West Ham.
BarStaff – Best Latics Fanzine – Mudhutter !
The_Pon – Steve McQueen Award for a Great escape – Charles N’Zogbia who came within a whisker of signing for Birmingham City.
MauricE – The ‘It’s not over til the fat lady sings award’. This would go jointly to all those who had us down as being relegated before the season ended. Step forward SKY, BBC, the gutter press, the Chubsters and those moaning buggers who sit near me in the West Stand
Jimmy – TWEET OF THE YEAR – goes to Franco di Santo for telling a poster on here to go and shag his sister
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