The fan - Hunter Davies gives out his booby prizes

The award for letting in goals our tortoise could have stopped goes to . . .

Halfway through the season, so time to take socks, which is a fascinating topic in itself. And gets me straight to number one.

Most Interesting Socks of the Season: Vertically striped socks have been worn recently by Man United and Newcastle, sort of broad up-and-down stripes so that from one angle they appear to be all the same colour, then the player turns and the sock changes colour. I thought at first, heh up, he's got odd socks on. Most unusual.

I've been spending a lot of time recently looking at old photographs of footballers, back to the 1880s, so I am well used to players wearing caps with tassels on, floppy hats that look like nightcaps, big belts round their middle, shin guards worn over the socks, white knickerbockers down to the calf. Yes, you've guessed, I'm doing a book about the history of football. I can now date an old photo to within ten years, depending on what the players are wearing.

Most Improved Player: John O'Shea of Man Utd. I thought he was a lump in odd sightings last year, and my main interest was waiting for him to take a shot at the Newcastle goalie Shay Given so I could shout "Oh Shay". But he's come on so well this season, making the most of Ferdinand and Blanc being out.

Least Improved Players: Compared with last season, Riise of Liverpool has either gone backwards in his development or has been found out. Ditto Steve Gerrard. I screamed all last season every time a pundit said: "Gerrard's got everything", when he so patently hadn't. Not yet. I fear Wayne Rooney could follow the same pattern, arriving with a bang, now beginning to fade. Simon Davies of Spurs, so exciting early doors, also seems to have lost something. Titus Bramble, poor sod, has disappeared.

Even Less Improved Players (ie, Those Who Have Had Shite Games): Those goalies, Jerzy Dudek, Peter Enckelman and David Seaman, letting in goals our tortoise could have stopped, and he's asleep at the moment, but gawd, it was funny, har har har.

They're always saying it's unfair to rubbish goalies. That they make one mistake and it costs a game, while outfield players can get away with their mistakes. But the point about the ridiculing of Dudek, etc, is that these days, you rarely get silly mistakes, by anyone, like taking a swing at a ball and missing it. The quality of the Premiership is so high that such things don't happen. The mistakes outfield players make are of a different order - not being where they should be, not marking the right man. They get a bollocking afterwards, and are often dropped, but at the time, most spectators are not aware. With Dudek and co, they were mistakes of an obvious, public, old-fashioned, clumsy, playground variety, which we all enjoyed, har har har.

Phrase to Watch: I'm keeping a list of how often a shot or a pass or a cross has been "overcooked". Will report back soon.

Haircuts of the Season: Very poor so far. Beckham has had that floppy, streaky, straggly girls' haircut for, oh, must be hours now. Freddie Ljungberg seems to have stopped dyeing his hair those silly colours, which means we can now see how poor, thin, weedy his actual hair is. Could be all gone by the age of 35.

Annoyance of the Year: Watching Spanish TV when the stupid adverts round the ground start moving, especially the car.

Surprise of the Year: Seeing a shot of Spurs fans chatting in a pub - in Melvyn Bragg's TV series The Adventures of English.

Silliest Prediction: Arsene Wenger suggesting Arsenal might not lose a game. I bet every night in the dark he regrets it.

Good Things: Been some v. exciting games, with lots of goals, and the year is ending with the Premiership open, no one running away with it.

Even Better Thing: Waiting to go to Cobblers Cove, Barbados, for our summer hols in the West Indies. Back in February - when Man Utd, I fear, will be top sox.

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