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Reviewed by John Aizlewood for the Sunday Times

2007: the sporting year


From vomit-inducing Olympic logos to footballers stealing toilet seats, and from last-day Premier League survival to Scotland’s revival in the world rankings, it’s been a year to remember in the world of sport

HEROES

Ricky Hatton He may have been beaten by the much better man in Las Vegas, he may like his chips and beer, but 20,000 souls don’t travel across the world for a wrong ’un.

Paula Radcliffe She ran her first marathon in two years – New York City, the world’s best – a mere 10 months after giving birth. And she won it. Let’s not doubt her again.

Jonny Wilkinson Not only did he manage to complete some rugby union games without collapsing, but he showed he’s still the sport’s greatest kicker.

David Healy Disgruntled Fulham fans may wonder if it’s the same person, but he became the first footballer from any country to score 13 goals in a European Championship qualification campaign. And he gave £1,000 towards the erection of a George Best statue in Belfast.

Brian Ashton He treats his players like adults and he’s no autocrat. And, having enabled England to punch way above their weight at the rugby union World Cup, he bore some truly silly sniping by media and players with dignity.

John McDermott Retired this year after spending 21 seasons as Grimsby Town’s right-back. After he was substituted at Shrewsbury in the last of his 647 league appearances, play was stopped so both teams could applaud the 38-year-old off the field.

Ivica Osim The Bosnian former manager of the Japan football team who had a stroke and fell into a coma. On awaking he asked: "What happened in the game?"

Daryl Peach He is 35, he is from Blackpool and he collected £49,000 in Manila when he became the first Brit to win the world pool championships. His start-of-tournament odds: 150-1.

Ian Williams Won sailing’s World Match Racing Tour and the Monsoon Cup, the first Brit to become the world’s finest match-racing sailor. "We’re blown away," he said, confusingly.

Beth Tweddle Another gold, this time at the Grand Prix, this time on the floor exercises. Beijing 2008 seems made for her.

VILLAINS

Michael Vick The Atlanta Falcons quarterback was sentenced to 23 months in prison on dogfighting charges.

The Royal Mail Fifteen months after the Panorama expose, they still haven’t managed to deliver Sam Allardyce’s writ to the BBC. Shame on them.

Joey Barton The perennial bad boy will welcome in the New Year from the inside of a prison cell after he was denied bail following an alleged assault on Boxing Day. It seems an earlier brush with religion where he stated: "I believe I can stand in front of my maker and say, ‘Yeah, I did this for this reason, that for this reason’," has been conveniently forgotten.

Michael Rasmussen There he was, leading the Tour de France with just four stages remaining, when the Danish Cycling Union announced he could not ride under their colours and he was sacked by his Rabobank team, all for claiming to be in Mexico at the very moment he should have been dope tested in Europe. Apparently he was in Italy. He’s sticking to his story, the court case is pending, but the damage has been done.

Wolff Olins The "brand consultants" took £400,000 of our money. They designed the London Olympics logo. According to the charity Epilepsy Action, the accompanying promotional video triggered migraines, vomiting and fits. Elsewhere, the logo triggered laughter and contempt and health secretary Alan Johnson’s suggestion that it resembled Boris Johnson’s hair.

Michael Essien Arrested – at 5am – for drink-driving. And, worse, drink-driving in Peckham. He should get out less.

Iafeta Paleaaesina The Wigan Warriors prop was arrested – at 5am – for breaking bus driver James Campbell’s jaw with a punch at Wigan railway station. He denied the charge.

The Tottenham board They may well have progressed in leaps and bounds since he’s been gone, but Martin Jol’s isolation and eventual sacking left the nastiest of tastes in everyone’s mouth.

Vincent Pericard Served five weeks in jail for claiming his stepfather was driving when the Stoke striker’s Mercedes was caught doing 105mph. Mr Jack Pericard hadn’t visited Britain in three years. "The judge who sentenced me was in a bad mood that day," muttered the less than apologetic Frenchman.

Graham Poll Even in "retirement" he is ubiquitous, whether it be providing dreary yet smug opinions in national newspapers or pontificating in a dreary yet smug manner on television.

ICC World Cup Exorbitant ticket pricing, too many matches and a final that ended in farce after first the Australians were told they had won only to be forced to put celebrations on hold to come back out to bowl the required number of overs in the dark.

Duncan Fletcher For not going quietly and for the now obligatory book about his time in charge of the England cricket team and Freddie Flintoff’s out-of-control drinking. Surely as he was in charge he could have done something about the all-rounder’s off-the-pitch antics?

BUFFOONS

The British Horseracing Authority For costing taxpayers £10m by bringing the Kieren Fallon race-fixing trial to court; for suggesting races were fixed when, in fact, Fallon’s record was above average in them; for hiring a star witness who admitted that he knew nothing about British horseracing.

Brian Barwick Steve McClaren, plus being seduced by Jose Mourinho like some drunken elderly businessman when approached by an attractive "student" in a Moscow hotel bar.

Steve Staunton His Ireland side beat San Marino, but only with a 94th-minute winner. They took one point from two games with Cyprus.

Ian "I’m not going to Leicester. It’s total poppycock" Holloway He was in love with Plymouth. Until a club below them in the Championship offered him a job.

The Olympic Delivery Authority They’re already suggesting the £2.7 billion set aside for overspend may not be enough. According to chairman John Armitt, there may be overruns. "If you say to me do I guarantee absolutely that this is going to happen, no I couldn’t do that," he blustered. Doubtless, the good people of Hartlepool will be delighted to support London with a tax hike.

Joey Gudjonsson The Burnley midfielder’s appeal against a sending-off against Preston was considered so ludicrously frivolous by the FA that they upped his ban from three to four games.

Andrew Johns The former Australia rugby league scrum-half, once regarded as the world’s finest, visited Wembley for the first time to watch the Challenge Cup final. His trip was marked by his arrest in King’s Cross Underground station for possession of ecstasy; the drug, not the state of mind.

Milan Mandaric For sacking Martin Allen at Leicester after four games. And then replacing him with ever-loyal Gary Megson.

MOMENTS TO CHERISH

Nikolay Davydenko Fined $2,000 for "lack of effort" in sustaining a heavy defeat to Marin Cilic in the St Petersburg Open.

Lewis Hamilton’s first grand prix victory in Montreal As if we hadn’t suspected it before, he was the real thing.

Christine Ohuruogu left friendless Just 0.71% of votes were cast in favour of the sprinter in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. It’s as if the great British public are not wholly convinced by her explanation for the missed drugs tests.

The champion jockey award With unbounded and genuine mutual, gladiatorial respect after a thrilling flat season climax at Doncaster, Jamie Spencer and Seb Sanders shared the champion jockey award. As 190-all draws go, the whole season was a thriller.

The Tour de France in London It looked so fantastic that for a moment we didn’t have to think about what percentage of the peloton were doping.

Wembley Stadium opening and functioning And it’s a stadium as good as any in the world, if you eat and drink before you go. One day, we might just be ready to forgive the delays and overspend.

The Finland v Belgium Euro 2008 qualifier The match was halted for 10 minutes while officials attempted to remove a giant eagle owl perched on the goalposts. Said owl, christened Bubi, was later voted Helsinki’s resident of the year. They’re crazy, these Finns.

Tyson Gay wins three gold medals at the world athletics championships And he did not looking like he has been breakfasting on steroids. Fingers crossed.

GB gold in rowing Britain winning two golds in one day at the world rowing championships in Munich.

Goodbye to the Special One A stone-faced Roman Abramovich shaking Doug Ellis’s hand as he fled Villa Park early after Chelsea were beaten. In that very moment, Jose Mourinho’s fate was sealed.

Murali breaks record Muttiah Muralitharan taking Paul Collingwood’s wicket in his home town, Kandy, to break the record for most Test dismissals. And he’s stopped throwing.

James McFadden stuns football The Scotland striker let rip on 64 minutes with a shot that bamboozles Mickael Landreau, in the French goal and stokes Scottish hopes of qualification.

ON THE UP

Justin Rose Won the European Order of Merit and is now in the world’s top 10. Since Britain pretends this South African is British, we might see another European winning a major.

Aaron Hadlow Won the kitesurfing world championships for the fourth successive year and he’s still not yet 20.

Rory McIlroy On turning professional in September, he made enough money in just two events to secure his place on the 2008 European Tour.

William Whitaker Just 18, but already the winner of the Puissance at the Olympia Show Jumping International. A familiar surname? He’s the nephew of John and Michael Whitaker, showjumpers supreme.

Chris "Bomber" Harris The Cornishman won the British Speedway Grand Prix, overtaking Greg Hancock on the last bend.

Ruaridh Cunningham The 18-year-old from Stow won the world downhill mountain bike junior men’s title at Fort William.

Darius Knight The 17-year-old table tennis prodigy and former gang member from South London who is already looking towards 2012.

Marissa King A 16-year-old gymnast who won gold on the vault at the Glasgow Grand Prix.

Chris Gunter The youngest Cardiff player to get a full Wales cap, now 18 he is on his way to Spurs.

Ding Junhui The poker-faced snooker player (not to be confused with a snooker-faced poker player) is "the chosen one", according to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

LUCKY SOULS

Leeds United Docked just 15 points for not complying with the Football League’s insolvency policy, breaches that would have seen other clubs cast out of English football.

Gary Megson Having talked himself out of a job at West Bromwich Albion and having made a mess of Nottingham Forest, he somehow found employment at Leicester City. Nine matches later, to the delight of the City fans who had chanted “Megson for Bolton”, he was off to the Premier League club.

Andy Murray Still the great British tennis hope. Helped immeasurably by the lack of competition; undermined by that silly baseball hat and a behaviour pattern Harry Enfield’s teenager Kevin would find immature.

West Ham United The goal at Blackburn that didn’t go in. The fact that Tevez and Mascherano were allowed to play at all. Manchester United falling asleep on the last day of the season. And the FA being too lily-livered to administer condign punishment for all the chicanery.

Fernando Alonso All that whining, all that bad grace, all that jealousy and he’s still got a ride in 2008.

FOOTBALL AWARDS

Surprised prisoner of the year Stoke City’s Vincent Pericard: "Prison was a society of criminals with its own way of thinking, where all the laws and rules are different."

Shoplifters of the year Glen Johnson and Ben May, the Portsmouth full-back and Millwall striker, arrested by a 74-year-old security guard for stealing a toilet seat and taps from B&Q in Dartford. Bless.

Victim of the year Harry Redknapp on being arrested: "Why I could not have just had a phone call and gone down to the police station in the afternoon is beyond me. The whole thing is nothing to do with me." Because that’s not what the police do when they arrest somebody, outside of Midsomer Murders. b) Harry Redknapp on being abused by the Aston Villa crowd: “You’ve got people saying stuff behind you with little kids shouting filth. I didn’t bring my kids up to talk like that. It didn’t happen when I went with my dad to watch Arsenal play every Saturday.” It proved a distraction from that arrest nonsense didn’t it?

Investor of the year Shaun Wright-Phillips’s £20,000 stake in porn channel Babe Central. He may get his money back, he may not care either way.

Honest manager of the year Norwich City’s Peter Grant after their performance at Wolverhampton: "That was an absolute disgrace and simply an embarrassment to be associated with." He left soon afterwards.

Philosopher footballer of the year "I’ve never met the fella, but when he returns to earth, Jesus will come armed with a modicum of taste. If he comes to the United States of America, would he choose Jackson County, Missouri? A resounding no." Crystal Palace’s Matt Lawrence holds forth.

Television critic of the year "I felt like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, eyes prised open watching scenes of degradation that make your stomach churn." Crystal Palace’s Matt Lawrence (again) on watching Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Self-aware footballer of the year "I am a nice fella and anyone that has met me would probably say the same." West Ham United’s Lee Bowyer. Of course they would.

You can try too hard award West Ham’s Freddie Ljungberg, who had an authentic samurai costume made and flown over from Japan, to wear at the club’s Christmas party.

RIP

Jane Tomlinson Despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000, she went on to raise £1.75m for charity through her sporting endeavours, until she passed away in September, aged 43.

Alan Ball The youngest member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad won the league with Everton in 1970 and had managerial spells at Southampton and Manchester City. He died in April, aged 61.

Colin McRae In 1995, the Scot became the first Briton to be crowned world rally champion. He died with his five-year old son and two friends in a helicopter accident in Scotland in September. He was 39.

Bob Woolmer An England Test cricketer who became one of the game’s most respected coaches. He enjoyed success first with South Africa and had helped turn around Pakistan’s form before his death at the World Cup in March. He was 58.

Ian Porterfield Scored the winner in Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup final victory over Leeds and managed Chelsea. The Scot was 61 when he died of cancer in March.

Ray Gravell The burly Llanelli and British Lions centre became a larger than life broadcaster and actor. The 51-year-old’s death in October caused national mourning in Wales.

Arthur Milton Was the last man to represent England at football (one cap in 1951) and cricket (six Tests in 1958-59). He was 79 when he died in April.

Tom Cartwright The Somerset cricketer who converted Ian Botham into an all-rounder. He was also a staunch opponent of apartheid South Africa. The 71-year-old died in April.

Mike Gregory Will be remembered for his try against Australia in 1988 for Britain’s first win over the Kangaroos in a decade. Captained his country and coached Wigan before dying of motor neurone disease in November.

Derek Dougan The Wolves striker scored 123 goals in 323 appearances for the club and also represented Northern Ireland. He died, aged 69, in June.

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