Ah, 2015. The tremendous highs. The despairing lows. Wondering if it was ever going to get better. What a ride.
But that’s enough about me and my eczema. Let’s football.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “you stupid idiot, why are you doing awards at the end of a calendar year when football seasons are best measured over the course of a trans-calendar year duration”.
And I understand your rage. But it’s Christmas and this is happening. So just get on board, man. The year has been such a mix, I assure you each and every award is warranted.
So, here it is. 2015 – the year of The Tone. Let’s celebrate it.
The Mo Konjic award for outstanding lunacy: Jim O’Brien
Jim lives in his own world. For a while I used to think he needed to settle down and stop looking to exterminate Chris Stokes whenever he misplaced a pass. But after further evaluation, there’s actually a lot more impact behind his game than meets the eye.
He’s one of those players who makes plenty of mistakes himself, but that’s never stopped him from giving the closest person to him a bollocking if something goes wrong. He lives by the highest of the high standards and even though he fails to live up to his own quality benchmark some of the time, he refuses to adjust his expectations, and this is actually crucial.
Jim O’Brien has one pace setting: absolute maniac. He maintains this intensity throughout an entire match, and you’ll notice how strongly that rubs off on the others around him. His influence to drag us to victory from 2-0 down against Peterbrough in particular showcased the very best of his abilities.
But he’s not just about the intensity. Right now if you want anyone in our team to pick out a perfectly weighted ball for one of our nippy attackers, JOB is your man. Some of his passes this season have been positively outrageous.
You da Jim, Jim. Keep on Jimming.
The Michael Doyle award for making it look like you try really hard: Simeon Jackson
A blast from the past here, but I looked through this season’s team, and on reflection they all seem to be giving it a bloody good go. And if they’re not, it’s obvious.
In the past players like Aron Gunnarsson have caught my eye because you know they know exactly how to play the crowd and do exactly what the crowd wants, without actually doing anything. So in order to find a winner here I ask you to cast your mind back to last season’s shameful collective.
A bugbear of mine is when players fanny about celebrating if you grab a late equaliser at home. I’m all about messages you see, and your reaction to equalising with five minutes left at home can tell the opposition a lot about your mindset and set you up for a rampaging final portion. In short – get the bloody ball, you fools.
Enter Simeon Jackson.
Let’s get it out the way first – Simeon Jackson was terrible. The man barely had any impact over first team events at all. But when it came to looking like he cared about getting the win, Simeon wooed me with his un-erring desire to grab the ball from the net and get us started again. When the stadium exploded into lunacy, I knew I would always have an ally on the pitch ushering the team back to their own half.
There’s a lesson here. When you can’t do anything of value on the pitch, at least be the one to grab the ball out of the net. Brownie points are assured.
The Clarrie Bourton award for goalscoring: Adam Armstrong
For years this was an aspirational award, with blokes like Clinton Morrison winning with 7 goals or something useless like that. Since the drop to League One, we’ve done very well at presenting the opposition with a striker who’s likely to cause them grief. McGoldrick, Wilson and Clarke all blitzed the league in their own distinct ways.
This season has seen the latest in that line of devastating forwards. The risk is that we won’t have him for much longer, but in the opening five months or so Adam Armstrong has been an absolute revelation.
He’s so emphatic when presented with a chance, the tone he set with that first opportunity against Wigan has been continued throughout the year.
Mind you, if I could change one thing, it’d probably be to get him to ease up on the shots from the half-way line. I know it’s phenomenal, but there’s a time and a place. Remember Adam, this might only be League One to you, but it’s bloody important to us. Relentlessly clinical is the name of our game.
The Chris Coleman award for being fancied by men: Romain Vincelot
Ooh, the sheer filth of the man. Romain is so good. So cool. So bleeding metronomic. Nothing gets me more hot and flustered than an ability to replicate high standards.
People keep saying he’s underrated, but I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t think he’s an absolute stunner. I mean that in the footballing sense of course, but even so – I still wouldn’t mind giving him a pinch.
The Cobi Jones award for best haircut: James Maddison
“Best” is a strong word. I think the evolution of this award has seen it move into the realms of “most noticeable”.
Fashion dictates that slick is the way to go, with young James Maddison taking that message to extremes with a slickness which falls somewhere between Jack Grealish and Gordon Gecko.
Not content with this off-the-pitch slickness, he’s taken to sporting a truly intriguing hairband on matchdays. I’m sure it performs a genuine function in keeping those locks in check, although I sense the idea of being noticeable is the real driver behind it.
Either way, noteworthy hair game James. Noteworthy everything, to be fair.
The Darren Huckerby award for best goal: Adam Armstrong v Millwall
Always a toughy choosing this without getting a slagging off. This depends on what you’re looking for, I guess. Some of you love the intricacies of passing moves, while I’m mad keen on rockets into the top corner.
After some deliberation I’ve gone for Armstrong’s chip against Millwall because it was so inexplicable. That time David Bell did it against Doncaster there was no keeper, and a crowd was baying for him to have a pop. It was great, but it was expected.
Quite what Adam was playing at shooting from that range in the second league game of the season is beyond me. But good lord, he delivered.
Since that point we’ve come to realise that he has a taste for the extravagant. I’ve questioned this slightly, but secretly I’d bloody love a few more of these before he leaves.
The Roland Nilsson award for being a class act: James Maddison
Another tricky decision here, but the storming evolution of James Maddison into the silkiest Coventry City player since Robbie Keane has me leaning towards him. There are clearly some other options, with John Fleck continuing to show his dominance at this level, and people like Romain rarely putting a foot wrong. But for sheer ability and mesmerising value for money, Maddison takes it again, even though he’s barely played.
The boy’s a gem, plain and simple.
And finally… The Craig Bellamy award for being a git: Bumblebees
That’s right, I’m talking to you, you insectoid egg-philandering swines.
Think you’re hard do you? Lurking around, robbing stadiums from fans that have spent 18 months desperately trying to win their rightful home back? Feel tough imposing yourself on a city that’s already got a very proud and distinguished rugby club?
I know plenty of people have turned, but there will be no forgiveness from me. You’re nothing more than an opportunistic shower of strong-arming gits, and one day I’m going to take to your precious bumblebee paraphernalia and Sharpie-marker the living shit out of all the yellow bits. That’s going to look brilliant isn’t it?
Then the day you buy new ones or get someone to clean it off, I’m going to be there again, this time with an almighty army of wax-crayon laden warriors who’ll mess your logos right up, all over again.
Maybe then you’ll realise that your actions are beyond the pale and will not be tolerated. Especially by this frustrated fan with access to bountiful supplies of colouring materials.
Sorry to end on a rant.
Merry Christmas, babes. Keep it ambitious.