Weirdest, fattest, rudest awards of the year (so far)
Half a season, half a season onward, into the valley of the World Cup come the round-up and awards and the story so far.
Best dressed: The England team. I do like retro things, but going back to clean little white Aertex shirts with neat little collars is a definite improvement on all that cluttered, flashy, plastic stuff. I keep thinking I see Billy Wright. Those were the days. Yes, they married showbiz bints, but ones who knew their place. Bound to help England in South Africa. At least we'll look clean and wholesome.
Newcomer of the year: Hello to Gabriel Obertan. Not many new faces or new stars this season so far, but Obertan is beginning to get a few outings, as they say in football, as if the Prem were a picnic or trip to the seaside. Heh up, where has this mad, baldy professor come from,
with his funny straight back? That was my first thought. Is it Jacques Tati's love child by Alain de Botton? The answer is: possibly. Man United signed him in the summer from Bordeaux after he was the star of the France under-21 team.
Slimmer of the year: Andy Reid of Sunderland. Is it ten or 15 stones he's shed? I didn't recognise him from that little fat feller who used to play for Spurs. But I fear it's coming back on. Keep off the choccies, Andy.
Top haircuts: After a gap of two years when there was no award, two mentions this time. Becks first of all - and boo, hiss, it's horrible, what made you think a half-baked Mohican could ever come back into fashion? But good one, Berbatov. It did annoy me when he was constantly fiddling with his Alice hairband and flicking back his lovely dark locks. Now he's had a crop, nothing severe, just a prep-schoolboy restrained cut, but it means his hairband has gone and he looks much younger. One prob - we can see he is receding at the temples. I suspect Alice will return.
Funniest scene so far: Jimmy Bullard, after scoring a penalty for Hull against Manchester City, sat the rest of the team on the ground and lectured them with his finger - while they all pissed themselves. The most unusual goal celebration ever seen, and mystifying, if you didn't know the meaning. It was a reprise of exactly the same scene in the same fixture the previous season when the Hull manager, Phil Brown, forced them to sit down on the pitch in the rain during half-time as he bollocked them for playing shite.
Saddest scene: The same Bullard, one of my fave players, getting another horrible injury just a couple of games later.
Funniest chant: Also concerning Hull. Back on the first day of the season, they were 1-0 up against Chelsea and I heard the Hull fans shouting, "WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE," which was technically true. The game had kicked off at 12.45, before any other game.
Biggest yawn: Thierry Henry's handball. Rotten for Ireland, but cheating is a vital, long-established part of football - as long as you can get away with it, which he did.
Longest-running story: Are we seeing the collapse of Liverpool and the eclipse of Arsenal? The clever clogs are predicting they won't make the top four for the first time since, oh, Billy Wright was a lad. I bet they will. What we are seeing is a levelling out in the Prem, with our so-called fab
clubs - Man United and Chelsea - suddenly vulnerable, losing points all over the shop, while the lower classes are likely to upset the toffs.
Rudest quote: Chis Waddle being not very kind to Kieran Richardson of Sunderland: “He has the brains of a rocking horse."
Worst cliché: There's been a hell of a lot of eating this season, as if players were dogs or cats. Why else would TV experts keep telling us that "someone is surely going to step up to the plate"?
Best rehab job: Paul Robinson, Blackburn's goalie. After several seasons of awful humiliation and appalling mistakes, he is coming back to form. Could he step up to the plate and be on the way to South Africa?
Weirdest affectation: Gone for ever, we hope, is the nose band. It was spotting that Robbie Fowler has moved to North Queensland Fury in the Australian A-League that made me realise where he was, presumably still alive. Then I thought: I wonder if he's still wearing a nose band? Wasn't that a strange one? Luckily it only lasted about ten minutes. Which is nine minutes more than this season's weird passing passion - slapping horse's placenta on your poorly thigh.
Shortest-lived fashion: Which certainly won't be lasting very long - headbutting managers. Can't wait till someone tries it on Fergie.
Biggest passion to come: Watching our three brave English clubs in Europe. Not as many as last season, but come on, the Prem is only minor league compared with the wealth and quality of Spain's La Liga. Then the biggie, the World Cup. Bring it on, 2010 . . .