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Award winners list has omission so great it is almost comical

THE weans have been talking about buying me a tablet for Christmas.

Olympic champion Mo Farah is a modern-day Tough of the Track. Picture: Getty Images
Olympic champion Mo Farah is a modern-day Tough of the Track. Picture: Getty Images

I was subsequently articulating in the office the joys of having something black and shiny that was not the backside of my suit trousers when the sports editor interjected.

The dream of having a piece of hi-tech wonder was slightly dented by one of his trademark observations. "Don't let the kids get you a tablet. Ah've already got you one. It's small, white and ordered frae Dignitas in Switzerland."

He then went back to perusing his estate agents' magazine, looking for a volcanic island in the shape of his head.

And I went back to my Christmas duty which was to tell the world who should be BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The brief answer is it will probably be Bradley Wiggins who won that French bike thingy and also picked up gold in London. There are so many it could be, including Andy Murray. But I cannot press his claims as I am still under a restraining order over my support for him that has moved far from professional objectivity into some sort of obsession, bordering on mania. At least that is what the psychiatrist appointed by the High Court contended.

So I go for Mo. I believe it would be ever so nice if Mr Farah picked up the trophy tomorrow. He is a good guy, with a great back story and his gold medal exploits were memorable, even for someone like me, who is so far gone that the London Olympics are as fresh to me as my granda's semmit.

I also believe that in an Olympic year it would be good if a runner won. Athletics, frankly, needs all the help it can attract from any source. My generation watched athletics regularly on TV. This generation does not. For example, when was the last time you saw Usain Bolt's coupon on the box?

Athletics has never fully recovered from the doping scandals that gave one the impression there was a pharmacy at every finishing line. Wee Mo – from war-torn Somalia to Olympic glory – was a smashing antidote to all that, so I wish him well tomorrow.

Should he win, it would also do much to dispel one of the great scandals that has dogged the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award throughout its history. This concerns the wilful, shameful neglect of Alf Tupper, the veritable Tough of the Track.

The exploits of this distinguished miler have been chronicled in The Best of Alf Tupper. It is a stimulating and inspiring read. Mr Tupper (bafflingly he never attracted the knighthood offered to lesser talents such as Seb Coe) overcame difficult circumstances to dominate the world of miling.

It was not unusual for Alf to spend a night welding, before hitching a lift to a race meeting with a fish supper his only sustenance against the ranks of the toffs out to do him down. There cannot be anyone in the sporting world who has failed to wince at the treatment meted out to our working-class hero by those such as Guy Granger, a personality so snooty he could serve in the present Cabinet.

Granger, of course, insulted Alf incessantly. The welder once enquired of an emblem on Granger's bag: "What's that funny cow with one horn?" Granger replied: "That happens to be the badge of the Royal Unicorn Athletic Club."

Alf, though, never let such jibes defeat him. Routinely described by opponents as a "scruff", he would shake the nightshift from his limbs, lick the salt from his supper from his lips and energise arteries that contained so much saturated fat he qualified to run for Scotland.

It may be no surprise to learn that Rupert Snyke was another who had little time for Alf but, despite the nefarious tricks played on him by the aristocracy of the track, Mr Tupper limited himself to the occasional observation that an opponent was a "twerp" or a "pie face".

He exacted his revenge in the best way, by outsprinting the toffs in the race for the line, usually after being elbowed in a stomach that contained so much fish it was once mistaken in a scan as an aquarium.

Yet Alf's name does not appear on the BBC trophy. Some will protest weakly that this is because Alf is not a real person. But, then, the same will apply to me after I have ingested the sports editor's Christmas present.

n The Best of Alf Tupper: Tough of the Track is published by Prion at £12.99

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