Ah, Coventry City circa 2013.
In most respects this has been the worst year in our proud history. I may have only been around for 29 of them, but the amount of upheaval, disagreements and anger that has accompanied the last 12 months at CCFC really has been unprecedented.
And while the temptation is there to just give up caring, there have been some important moments and people who will forever colour our memory of the year. Let’s recognise these as we wave goodbye to 2013 – be they happy thoughts, or rage-inducing.
The Mo Konjic award for outstanding lunacy: Carl Baker
2012 winner: Richard Wood
Over the years we’ve always had a madman to chuckle at. That special someone who you’d regularly find launching himself around the football pitch, acting barmy and going beyond what is necessary behaviour for a footballer.
2012 was the year of Richard Wood, with his continuous nose breaking and unusual defending. Unfortunately 2013 saw us lose Mr Wood, but in his place it has also seen us treated to a new type of lunacy. The current bunch aren’t chucking themselves into tackles with their head as much as we’ve known in previous years, but we are witnessing another type of footballing madness. Our players are nowadays doing the inexplicable so often, in an odd way, it’s almost become the norm.
Top of the bunch I have chosen captain Carl Baker. He’s had a right old time of it throughout 2013. Whether it’s red cards for stupidity, last minute wonder free-kicks, or this new-found acrobatic ability, Carl is your man for subverting the logical opinion of what he can achieve.
You don’t know what you’re going to get. His legs will wiggle, often tangling him and everyone else up in knots and creating the appearance that he’s having a bad game. That may create frustration amongst fans, but you can never rule out a moment of genius from our man Carl. The outrageous dipstick.
The Michael Doyle award for making it look like you try really hard: Cyrus Christie
2012 winner: Carl Baker
In previous years it’s been easy to pick out an individual who displays more effort than most of his team mates. The slant of this award has always been focused on individuals who provide the façade of hard work, but often with very little impact.
This year I’d like to go for someone slightly different, and pick out young man Cyrus Christie for a very specific aspect of his game; I present to you The Cyrus Christie Recovery Sprint.
Let me paint the scene. Cyrus has picked up the ball on the right wing, and as is obligatory, the crowd is baying for him to take on his man. Cyrus obliges.
But hang on – he loses the ball to the opposing team’s nippy left winger, and is now in trouble. The right back spot is vulnerable.
Engage Recovery Mode.
Cyrus springs into life. Usually at this point I find it entertaining to replay Steve Cram’s booming commentary in my mind, like Cyrus is our very own Mo Farah steaming for a second Olympic gold.
Gritting his teeth now. The arms have got to pump, the knees have got to come up high. He’s got to find something extra.
And he bloody well does, with that exaggerated jolting stride of his.
It’s always good to see Cyrus pegging it back into position in wildly dramatic fashion. Everyone loves someone trying really, really hard. It’s just a shame he’s going to be off soon – enjoy these moments while you can.
The Clarrie Bourton award for goalscoring: Leon Clarke
2012 winner: David McGoldrick
He started the year becoming an immediate hero with a winning JPT goal against Preston, and has finished it in the history books. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen scoring like Leon Clarke’s. With 27 goals during the calendar year, Clarke sees himself surpassed only by a handful of names in a prestigious list which includes such luminaries as George Hudson (31) and Clarrie Bourton (43). He’s certainly the stand-out candidate in the modern-era.
Thanks to CCFCTV who also did the sums and worked out that Clarke has scored 24% of all our 111 goals this calendar year. Now I don’t know how that century of goals stands in our all time record, but it’s feels to me as though it’s been a stunning year of goalscoring in general, spearheaded by this consistency of Leon Clarke (who let’s not forget missed the end of last season with injury), and aided by his partners in crime – Wilson, Baker and Moussa.
The Chris Coleman award for being fancied by men: Steven Pressley
2012 winner: James Bailey
Ooh, that waistcoat.
Since his arrival in March, Pressley has brought composure, compassion and cleanliness.
OK, so he doesn’t shave much, but he always has time to do his hair, and whether it’s a suit or slimline training gear, he always looks the part and has the Sky Blue world swooning.
Basically, he avoids the politics, looks funky, and as a result we all want to be his best friend. Nice work, boss.
The Cobi Jones award for best haircut: Jordan Willis
2012 winner: Adam Barton
Bigi will always been the people’s champ, but since his departure there’s been very little to shout about in the barnet department.
Pressley’s pretty swoopy, Thomas is certainly definitive, while Fleck has the most regular haircut in history. The stand out for 2013 however has to be young Jordan Willis, who has had some rotten luck with injuries, but hasn’t let that effect his creativity on top of his head.
A supremely designed structure sets him apart from the rest of his comrades. A worthy winner.
The Darren Huckerby award for best goal: Franck Moussa v Leyton Orient
2012 winner: Franck Moussa v MK Dons
There have been an insane amount of great goals to trawl through in order to come up with a winner for this, but there has been one man who has consistently delivered goals of sublime quality during his time with City. Franck Moussa
Franck is the man for the spectacular. Last season he scored one of the best individual goals you’ll ever see from a Sky Blues player, claiming the same award for his MK Dons strike. This year he slammed in another stunner against Port Vale, but that’s not the goal I’m going for.
I’m going for that feathered chip/clip against Leyton Orient which had us all panting with delight. It wasn’t your standard blockbuster from range you’d ordinarily expect to draw the eye, or a steam-rolling individual run through an entire defence. This was all about his feel and touch. It was ingenuity of the highest order.
Honourable mention goes to Carl Baker who has also whacked in a range of decent strikes over the course of the year, but my personal taste is very much towards Moussa’s style of play, so I’ve had to go for him again.
The Roland Nilsson award for being a class act: John Fleck
2012 winner: William Edjenguele
For a long time Pressley was bang on for this award, not only for his general demeanour but for his continued focus during the whole sorry saga we’re having to deal with.
However, there is one man who oozes class in his every performance for our team. John Fleck has come into his own this season, in a very Paul Scholes kind of way.
We were scared stiff of him marshalling the midfield last season, but that was before we knew just how well we could control the game if our players put their collective minds to it.
Clearly our defensive unit remains ropey, which Fleck has to be included in, but when it comes to ability on the ball, there’s very little better than him in the league. He’s accurate, he’s creative, and he’s effortless. All the attributes which make him our classiest player of 2013.
Who cares if the rest of the league doesn’t seem to realise he exists? The more silent he goes about his sterling work, the better.
And finally… The Craig Bellamy award for being a git: Tim Fisher
2012 winner: Stuart Linnell
Always a controversial award (which I imagine will come with the risk of censor or unnecessary legal action), there’s only one man in my mind who has earned it this year. No matter what side of the argument you find yourself on (or whether you find the image above evil or hilarious), there is one person who finds himself as the focal point of the fans’ anger. Yep, it’s Tim Fisher.
Obviously because he’s Sisu he’d get the flak regardless, but you’d think he’d want to show some concern for appeasing that anger of fans? I’m racking my brains for an example..
Many of us are past debating whether the actions of Sisu are for good or for bad. We’ve each made our minds up. But as far as working to at least mitigate the dismay felt by fans this year, I do wonder if anyone can honestly say they’ve felt a sense of this when Mr Fisher has spoken to us at forums, submitted his press releases and responsed to our concerns? I certainly haven’t.
Some will say he’s just doing his job, and being hardline is part of it. I certainly appreciate that. But if his job at the moment is to persuade people that what he’s doing is the way forward for the club, I’m pretty sure he’d have made a better fist of explaining Sisu’s side of the argument if he’d just acted somewhat decently towards the people he was impacting on. It is always going to rub people up the wrong way when you are perceived to be ignoring them, not showing their opinion the necessary levels of respect, and calling members of the leading fans group “Donkeys”.
Does this make him a git? While I don’t know if there is an official definition for the word, his ruthless and dismissive approach and tone towards fans places him firmly in the ball park.