Helena Costa takes Hunter's "Top Girl" award. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

At the end of this “incredibly exciting, best ever, world-class” season . . . it’s time for gongs

A good season for facial hair, a bad one for puns.

Beards Excellent season for facial hair, compared to head hair – which, frankly, has been boring, neat and tidy with a parting, as if their mums had done it for them. Pirlo of Juventus is still the World Master but Ashley Cole emerged as English chump, I mean champ, with the full Player’s packet. Now we know what he was doing all those months Mourinho kept him on the bench.

Big Sam v Steve Bruce This has gone to the wire. Steve did try to hide his enormous girth in a tracksuit that’s really a bell tent, while Big Sam has been bursting out of his suit. Every game, they seemed to put on a stone. Did they have a bet? The winner gets all the pies.

Thin Manager . . . and manager of the season – Tony Pulis, for keeping Palace up and turning them into a positive, attacking force, unlike the dour defender he appeared at Stoke.

Most Improved Players I had Gary Cahill down as a lump for years but blow me, this season he has looked positively cultured. Also Demichelis of Man City, a total liability, early doors, but came good when it mattered. And Jordan Henderson, with his funny, lumpy walk; but he, too, has improved. Which leaves Phil Jones of Man United still to demonstrate that he might not be as lumpish as he looks.

Top Girl Has to be Helena Costa of France’s second-league side Clermont, the first woman in the top two divisions in any of the leading European leagues to be appointed club manager. Takes over next season. Will she be La Gaffer?

Top Name Casper Sloth, who plays midfield for Denmark. What a mover. I bet he comes to Spurs next season – can’t be worse than the seven funny-sounding foreigners they acquired last year.

Fans Having Fun Well done to all the Norwich City supporters who voted for Carlo Nash as their Player of the Year – their reserve goalie, who never played all season. Also the Newcastle fans who walked out in the 69th minute because, er, I’m not quite sure why. Something to do with 69 years since they last won a home game?

Home Games An interesting aspect of this incredibly exciting, best ever, world-class, brought to you only on Sky/BT/BBC/ITV blah blah is not that the top teams were often surprised by bottom teams, but how often the top teams got beaten at home, such as Liverpool by Chelsea, Bayern Munich by Real Madrid, Chelsea by Atlético Madrid. Is home advantage a myth?

Nice Visual Joke I did like it when Samuel Eto’o of Chelsea staggered to the corner flag after he’d scored and held on to it like an old man. It was a pointed reference to Manager Mourinho saying he didn’t know Eto’o’s age.

Nice Banner “Brendan – the carefully chosen one”, held up by the Liverpool crowd. In a year or so the meaning will be lost, but it was to do with the Man United banner that announced David Moyes as “the chosen one”. David Moyes? Come on, you can’t have forgotten him.

Best Crowds Palace fans shouted even when there was nothing to shout about. Will they take over from Newcastle, the old leaders in chanting and baring their beer bellies?

Awful Pun “Kane shows he is able . . .” Sky commentator, speaking when Harry Kane came on for Spurs.

Awful Image “Van Persie should have shot himself”: another Sky commentator, suggesting van Persie shouldn’t have passed to Rooney.

Awful New Trend Players shaking hands with everyone on the bench when taken off. Takes ages: most benches have 100 tracksuits sitting there.

Fans Having No Fun At the beginning of the season I decided to sponsor one of the players for Carlisle United, my home-town team. I chose Mark Beck, recently picked for Scotland’s under-21s. It cost me £400 plus VAT. I got my name in the home programme and was promised Beck’s home and away shirts at the end of the season. He hardly got a game and in January went out on loan to Falkirk. Now Carlisle are relegated. Oh well, when I do get my CUFC shirts they should be sweat-free . . .

Right, that’s this season over. But back in four weeks for the World Cup.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Why empires fall

Getty
Show Hide image

This is no time for a coup against a successful Labour leader

Don't blame Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party's crisis.

"The people who are sovereign in our party are the members," said John McDonnell this morning. As the coup against Jeremy Corbyn gains pace, the Shadow Chancellor has been talking a lot of sense. "It is time for people to come together to work in the interest of the country," he told Peston on Sunday, while emphasising that people will quickly lose trust in politics altogether if this internal squabbling continues. 

The Tory party is in complete disarray. Just days ago, the first Tory leader in 23 years to win a majority for his party was forced to resign from Government after just over a year in charge. We have some form of caretaker Government. Those who led the Brexit campaign now have no idea what to do. 

It is disappointing that a handful of Labour parliamentarians have decided to join in with the disintegration of British politics.

The Labour Party had the opportunity to keep its head while all about it lost theirs. It could have positioned itself as a credible alternative to a broken Government and a Tory party in chaos. Instead we have been left with a pathetic attempt to overturn the democratic will of the membership. 

But this has been coming for some time. In my opinion it has very little to do with the ramifications of the referendum result. Jeremy Corbyn was asked to do two things throughout the campaign: first, get Labour voters to side with Remain, and second, get young people to do the same.

Nearly seven in ten Labour supporters backed Remain. Young voters supported Remain by a 4:1 margin. This is about much more than an allegedly half-hearted referendum performance.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has failed to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn’s emphatic victory. In September of last year he was elected with 59.5 per cent of the vote, some 170,000 ahead of his closest rival. It is a fact worth repeating. If another Labour leadership election were to be called I would expect Jeremy Corbyn to win by a similar margin.

In the recent local elections Jeremy managed to increase Labour’s share of the national vote on the 2015 general election. They said he would lose every by-election. He has won them emphatically. Time and time again Jeremy has exceeded expectation while also having to deal with an embittered wing within his own party.

This is no time for a leadership coup. I am dumbfounded by the attempt to remove Jeremy. The only thing that will come out of this attempted coup is another leadership election that Jeremy will win. Those opposed to him will then find themselves back at square one. Such moves only hurt Labour’s electoral chances. Labour could be offering an ambitious plan to the country concerning our current relationship with Europe, if opponents of Jeremy Corbyn hadn't decided to drop a nuke on the party.

This is a crisis Jeremy should take no responsibility for. The "bitterites" will try and they will fail. Corbyn may face a crisis of confidence. But it's the handful of rebel Labour MPs that have forced the party into a crisis of existence.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.