Here are the winners of my 2012 Scottish football end of year awards.
Manager of the Year: Terry Butcher
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Kenny Shiels will feel aggrieved at losing out, maybe with good reason, but Terry Butcher’s feats at Inverness Caledonian Thistle have been immense.
To go into the closing days of 2012 sitting second in the SPL table is some achievement by Butcher at such a small – though thoroughly admirable and likeable – club.
Summer upon summer Butcher loses players and then trawls the lesser British leagues for unknowns – and time and again he pulls it off.
The former England captain is your arch-enthusiast, a sometimes erratic character who loves life in the Highlands. Good on him, I say.
Peace Envoy of the Year: Charles Green (recipient of two awards)
The Rangers CEO, utterly down in the dumps at Ibrox in the summer, realised one day how to turn his fortunes around: offer tub-thumping and not-always-believable soundbites which sections of a put-upon Ibrox faithful would lap up.
In a few short weeks Green duly went from devil incarnate to lionised hero among the Rangers support. He has scarcely looked back.
On a whole series of issues – Rangers’ “demotion”, Rangers playing in England, rammies with the SPL, rammies with Dundee United – Green has stirred up a hornets’ nest and thoroughly enjoyed himself.
“Charles Green never plays to the gallery,” Green said with an impressive economy of truth.
Sports Pundit of the Year: Neil Patey (Ernst and Young)
Patey, the “financial expert” who talked us through Rangers’ pains, became one of Scottish football’s most recognisable figures in 2012. He popped up everywhere – on TV, on radio, in print – to air an opinion.
Fittingly, Patey ended 2012 on BBC Scotland’s irreverent Off the Ball show, offering tax advice to potential dodgers. A very worthy and hard-working winner, this.
Most Earnest Supporter of the Year: A Celtic fan.
Over the Rangers FC calamity, a section of the Celtic support has been in constant hoots. Little wonder – it would be just the same were the Old Firm tables reversed.
But there is also tedium in this. There is a certain Celtic fan who paces his floorboards every night repeating the phrase: “Sevco, Sevco, Sevco, Sevco…” Eventually his wife says: “Oh, now look dear, do come to bed…everything’s going to be alright.”
A stand-out in this category.
Scoundrel of the Year: Craig Whyte
Whyte wins this award uncontested. The contribution of this dissembling character to the destruction of Rangers will long live in infamy, and be regretted by fans, Sir David Murray and many others.
Whyte hoped to pull off an old trick – take a distressed company (in this case RFC), plunge it into administration, and then emerge from a CVA intact, with debts binned and money to be made. But fate and fall-outs overtook him, and Whyte’s initial promises about reviving Rangers were exposed.
Whyte claims to have been the fall-guy. Many others just view him as the bad guy. Either way, around Ibrox his name is mud.
Self-Aggrandiser of the Year: Kenny Shiels.
Don’t get me wrong – I really like this guy. And guiding Kilmarnock to their League Cup win in March, and four victories over the Old Firm in 2012, makes Shiels one of Scottish football’s recent success stories.
But the Kilmarnock manager is bumptious in his claims, most recently asserting that no-one can come close to touching what his own club has done in 2012. This interesting man feels no qualms in publicly acclaiming himself.
Most Po-Faced Supporter of the Year: A Rangers fan.
The fan culture in football is based on banter and “ripping the piss”, to quote the jargon. But to a certain Rangers fan – not entirely unexpectedly – this hilarity at their club’s fate has produced quite a glumness.
This is one area where humour is decidedly off-limits. Instead “agendas” and “conspiracies” abound about the vast forces arrayed against Rangers. Everyone bar the Women’s Rural, it seems, has “had it in” for this club.
Another worthy winner.
Administrator of the Year: (award suspended)
The two main contenders, Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan, were bowling along fine before the Rangers saga exploded. Whereupon their office windows were blown out and the two figures emerged distinctly bedraggled, their faces smeared, their clothes in shards.
On top of this, Doncaster is desperately trying to keep an SPL TV deal alive, while Regan is looking for yet another Scotland manager.
The judges have suspended this award.
Fall-Guy of the Year: Craig Levein
The former Scotland manager is nursing his wounds after a disastrous 2012. An early warning was a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the USA. Then came two weak Scotland performances in the openers to the World Cup 2014 campaign, followed by defeats to Wales and Belgium.
“So that’s two points out of 12 on the road to Rio,” said Chick Young, gasping. The manager was a goner.
On Levein’s gravestone it might read: “Here lies Craig Levein. He played 4-6-0.”
Lazarus of the Year: Charles Green
It is hard to believe, excluding a section of enduring sceptics, how much Charles Green has endeared himself to the Rangers support. Detested, and even threatened, by some, the Yorkshireman persuaded Ally McCoist and Walter Smith to back him, and hasn’t looked back.
Green may well make a success of his Rangers intervention. Investors in his recent listing of the club might even be up on the deal – a rarity in football. There will be a run on ‘We Love Charlie’ tee-shirts around Ibrox any time soon.