There was a magical era, beginning in the mid nighties, where Grandstand and Match of the Day were glistening Giants of the sporting televisual landscape. Not only did they pay due deference to the sports, not the celebrity, but they they were hosted by the great mensch scholar journalist broadcaster and wearer of the most distinguished moustache since David Niven; the incomparable Des Lynam.
For me Lynam’s career apogee was the ’98 World Cup – Lynam producing the deep timbre in duet with Faure’s imperious Pavane – only Zidane and Djoryev proving a finer combination that graceful summer. Indeed I bade respect to Lynam’s career high like all soccer fans but for this red trousered man, the peaks came every year and on many occasions.
Given that Lynam received much praise for his handling of the Grand National, especially the ill fated bomb-threat ruined race in 1997, he would be eagerly eying the Life Time Award that will be bestowed upon the great jockey AP Mccoy. The true champ on show this evening
The Sports Personality of the Year, no dear reader not SPOTY, was Lynam’s vehicle. He combined sporting theatre, poetry (thankfully not read by Eddie Butler), and very light BBC-riven high jinx. Lynam was often found atop a mock horse riding a faux Grand National or involved in a tense penalty shoot out with David “‘sad hands’ Seaman, before earnestly turning to the camera and musing on England’s woeful sporting endeavours or Steve Redgrave’s (not a Sir in DL’s day!) proficiency at rowing and battling diabetes.
Sadly Lynam is retired and we have to watch an amped-up G.Lineker do the tango with Clare Balding and Bruno Tongoli! The result of the Sports Personality of the Year (not SPOTY!) is measured down to a saccharine biased public vote – not discussed by a panel, over a lunch of Scotch and Marlboroughs in a dingy back room, chaired by the distinguished Lynam.
I shall boycott the ‘event’ on Sunday, instead watch endless reruns of Lynam on YouTube – well perhaps not!!!
Here are my assessments on the, mainly wishy washy politically correct, ten on the long list
Tyson Fury – pro – genuine personality and sporting excellence. Beat the best.
– con – homophobic, misogamist, ignorant, bully, narrow minded.
Max Whitlock – pro – he’s a gold medal winning gymnast
– con – he’s a gold medal winning gymnast!
Andy Murray – pro – inspiration, brave, leader of men. Single handedly won the Davis Cup.
– con – Not a stellar ATP season. Davis Cup is a team event – so team of the year must be a hoe in.
Kevin Sinfield – pro – epic curtain daw to a fine rugby league career.
– con – perhaps only on the shortlist because as recognition to his whole career – probably only there as the BBC covers rugby league.
Adam Peaty – pro – world record holder and class swimmer
– con – head under the water so we never hear him speak!
Mo Farrah – pro – Double at the World Championships. Inspiringly good and a character to boot.
– con – previous winner for Olympic double, which is a greater feat.
Jessica Ennis-Hill – pro – unexpected return to glory. Golden Girl – role model.
– con – it not being Olympic year.
Chris Froome – pro – second TDF. Epic bike rider. Inner steel and winds up the French.
– con – Rather boring. Kenyan. Won without any real danger.
Lewis Hamilton – pro – Wold leader. Feisty. Camp. Champion. Legend. Upsets the German!
– con – previous winner. Works for the Germans! Lack of rival dilutes his brilliance (Schumacher effect)
Lizzie Armestad – pro – female world championship cyclist
– con- female World champion cyclist!
In summation; this is an extraordinarily strong ten with major international champions (Sinfield aside) but no stand of candidate. There is also with no major world event ie.World Cup or Olympics for which a nation unites. So one must look closely at personality.
My top three would be as;
I have backed England’s favourite Scot because he won three rubbers out of five in all the rounds – a Herculean feat. Murray also showed the world a piece of ultimate sporting grace. After the winning point he was mobbed by his gleeful teammates. He had the self-awareness to ask for their restraint for a moment, Murray rose to his feet of clay and bounded after his disconsolate opponent. In a sporting landscape full of narcissistic footballers it was a joy to see a true sportsman win properly and respect his opponent.