From Adam Scott to ASADA, it was a year of high drama in Australian sport. But which story do you believe was the biggest of 2013? Cast your vote and tune in on Christmas Day to find out the winner.
IT’S that time of the year when Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland take a look into the good, the bad and the ugly moments of an eventful 2013.
Sportsman of the year
Adam Scott winning the Masters after years of Australian pain with Greg Norman. We rode every stroke, cheered every birdie. And Scott even looks good in green. It was an Aussie tee party.
Sportswoman of the year
Last year it was Black Caviar – and it’s back to the turf again. How can you go past Gai Waterhouse and her Melbourne Cup victory with Fiorente? A true champion.
Greatest form reversal
The Aussie cricketers came back from a three-nil flogging in England to regain the Ashes in straight sets a couple of months later.
Giving Pup a bad name
Michael Clarke copped it chapter and verse from teammates Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting in their memoirs. Even his ex Lara Bingle served up a bouncer, saying: “The best thing I ever did was leave.” Talk about throwing the book at someone. Ouch.
The Candy man
Forget the Ashes, the biggest story of the summer – splashed across the sports, social and news pages – has been the blossoming romance between Dave Warner and Candice Falzon. The new Warnie and Liz Hurley? We hope not.
The growing old disgracefully award
Yes, Warnie, it’s you. From pinching the derriere of Liz in public, smooching in front of cameras or his declarations of love on Twitter, it’s all a bit much. Please, put your googlies back where they belong.
Steve Dank became the public face of the doping saga in the NRL and AFL. He has spent a year in ASADA’s crosshairs but denies giving footballers illegal drugs.
Sandor Earl’s interview on The Footy Show, detailing his relationship with Dank and use of the drug CJC-1295, showed the harrowing pressure young NRL players are under. It also left you feeling that sport has lost its way big time.
Our darkest day
The year Aussie sport lost its innocence. It all started in February, with the Australian Crime Commission report into “widespread” drug use. Most fans thought a peptide was something you found at the beach, now it’s an unfortunate part of our sporting vocabulary.
Raging Bill award
Kangaroo fullback Billy Slater’s nightclub punch during the World Cup in England – and coach Tim Sheens’ claim that real men don’t walk away – was mind-boggling. Silly Billy should have been sent straight home.
Molotov cocktail award for blowing yourself up
What’s a bigger sin: A) Skipping training; B) Flipping your coach the bird on social media; C) Drinking breezers? D) All of the above. The answer is D . . . . as in Dugan.
Andrew Joey Johns was caught pashing former Knights teammate Billy Peden. Joey insists they’re just good friends. Strange mob, those Knights.
The biggest unanswered question
The photo of Ainslie Currie with a split lip, and what involvement, if any, that her partner Ben Barba had in it, has left an unsavoury mark against one of the most exciting players in the NRL. It remains one of the most disturbing stories of the year.
Maddest Monday award
What’s the world coming to when the biggest drama at the NRL’s end-of-season drinks came from the referees? Here’s 10 in the bin (no not schooners).
Weapon of maths destruction
Referees Matt Cecchin and Henry Perenara were clearly at sixes and sevens in Cronulla’s semi-final win against the Cowboys. How they could end up with a seven-tackle try despite all the technology is still a mystery. Let’s help them – One, two, three . . .
Proof Boomerangs really do come back
Going bush to watch the legendary Moree Boomerangs win the Group 4 grand final was one of my best moments this year. It’s good to get out and experience what footy should be about.
Angry (r)ant award
No one puts more into a blow-up than Manly coach Geoff Toovey. His effort after a loss to Souths was world class, up there with his mentor Bob Bozo Fulton. It was eight minutes of pure gold.
No club can execute coaches quite like Parramatta. Poor Brad Arthur is in the hottest of hot seats in 2014. Good luck, Brad. We wish you well.
So the Swans have signed Lance Buddy Franklin, and he’s being celebrated as the greatest thing to hit Sydney since the Olympics. This is already Star City with Alessandro Del Piero (soccer), Sonny Bill (NRL) and Izzy Folau (rugby).
Tackle of the year
Souths rookie George Burgess was front and centre in some rather interesting photos doing the rounds on social media mid-season. Enough said. It’s a family newspaper after all.
Sam Burgess’s squirrel grip on Melbourne’s Will Chambers cost him a two-game suspension and left the Storm centre weak at the knees. What is it with those Burgess boys . . .
The last punch
Paul Gallen’s one-two on the chin of Nate Myles has changed Origin forever, with a zero-tolerance ruling for throwing punches. The NRL won this fight hands down.
Best first serve
Tennis divas Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams clearly don’t like each other. Sharapova’s first serve: “She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’ – it’s so boring. She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.”
And best second serve
Sharapova wasn’t finished with Williams and her romance with French coach Patrick Mouratoglou. “If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.”
Steph Gilmore caused a stir with her provocative ad for Roxy. Some called it sexploitation. What it did highlight was how difficult it is for great female athletes to get exposure just on their ability alone
The Tom waterhouse gamble responsibly award
Eels halfback Chris Sandow is in danger of seeing his career going down the pokies. It’s sad to see such a rich talent being squandered.
Blake Ferguson is a superstar on the field and a dunderhead off it. He played Origin for the first time and yet finished the year without a club. What a waste.
The award for best decision goes to Roosters boss Nick Politis for punting an old fogie in Brian Smith and bringing in a rookie coach with fresh ideas in Trent Robinson. The result: a premiership.
Former NSW coach Graham Murray passed away after a heart attack. He was one of the great rugby league men and will be sorely missed.
Worst Blue movie
Benji Marshall’s starring role as an X-rated Tiger. The fans’ response to Benji jumping on YouTube to proudly declare he had signed with the Auckland Blues’ Super 15 team should have told him it was poor form.
Sonny days are here again
SBW returned to the NRL and conquered by winning a premiership with the Roosters. What’s next? A second rugby World Cup, heavyweight boxing title, Olympic gold medal. Is anything beyond him?
Best new talent
It won’t be long before Tigers fans forget about Benji Marshall and are celebrating teenage halfback Luke Brooks. In one game against the Dragons at the SCG, he showed he’s going to be a special player. My early tip for 2014 rookie of the year.
Twit or tweet
It’s been a big year for Davey Warner. His foul-mouthed Twitter exchange with experienced journalists and colleagues Malcolm Conn and Robert Craddock was out of line – the first sign he had taken his eye off the ball in the UK.
Root of all evil award
Warner again. This time for punching England opener Joe Root at a nightclub before the Ashes series. Keep him in line, Candice. His country needs him.
The hall of flame
This is why you never let footballers play with matches. St Kilda’s Clinton Jones tried to set fire to a dwarf during their Mad Monday. Poor old Andrew Demetriou thought it was a joke . . . Jones should have a new nickname. Dopey.
Living legend award
Kevin Sheedy, who retired from coaching after a 32-year career. He gave the GWS Giants and the AFL an identity in western Sydney. He’s a national treasure.
Essendon’s season was ruined by the peptide scandal . . . the biggest to hit an AFL club. They were kicked out of the finals, coach James Hird was banned for a year, the club was fined $2 million, draft picks were stripped and others lost their jobs.
The dog ate my homework award
Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson were all sent to naughty boys corner for failing to write a report during the Test series in India. Coach Mickey Arthur was later expelled by Cricket Australia.
Tiffs and butts
John Tomic’s alleged assault of his son Bernard’s French practice partner Thomas Drouet. It exposed the crazy world of tennis stars and their parents. Damir Dokic, anyone?
Now we can all get some sleep
The Stilnox controversy in Australian swimming was finally put to bed with the six relay swimmers given a wake-up call by the AOC. Hopefully, the boys have now grown up.
Comeback of the year
James Magnussen showed his class to step up and retain his 100m world championship. The Missile remains our best hope of individual gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Izzy does it
He slipped the net at Parramatta to join rugby, and Israel Folau proved to be about the only shining light for a code badly in need of excitement. The one that got away for sure.
Annual sack race
A triple dead heat between Robbie Deans, Mickey Arthur and Holger Osieck. It’s not every year three national coaches are fired. And what did all three have in common, they were all imported from another country. Have you heard the one about the Kiwi, South African and German . . .
Worst Soap Oprah
Lance Armstrong’s stage-managed admission to Oprah Winfrey that he took steroids and EPO when he was winning Tour de France titles for fun. Now that was a shock.
Tale of two Bulls
Mark Webber won’t be sending Sebastian Vettel a thank you note when he leaves Red Bull if this comment is anything to go by. “My dad always says you shouldn’t hit boys,” was Webber’s response when asked if he ever wanted to punch the world champion.
Sucker punch I
The Sonny Bill Williams fight against Francois Botha, and whether Khoder Nasser cut it from 12 rounds to 10 to save SBW, remains a hot topic. It was a black eye for boxing. (Yes, another one.)
Sucker punch II
The original Anthony Mundine and Sugar Shane Mosley no contest after promoter Vlad Warton couldn’t stump up the $1 million for the American to fight. When they did meet a month later, Mundine won to keep his US dream alive.
Anthony Mundine memorial running on old legs award
To our Socceroos. If some of the players had their way, we’d see them coming out on the field in Zimmer frames. Give the young blokes a go in Brazil.
Captain selfish award
Lucas Neill for throwing the youngsters under the bus for the Socceroos’ 6-0 losses to Brazil and France. Clearly, there are no mirrors where Neill lives.
Riding off into the sunset award
Little Miss perfect, Black Caviar, retired after 25 wins to round off an unbeaten career. What a horse, what a champion, what a great ride.
James O’Connor, another member of the rugby brat pack, was sacked by the Rebels and Wallabies after a series of off-field issues, culminating in an incident at Perth airport. You would think these blokes would be more worried about winning a game.
Short and Kurtleys award
Kurtley Beale punching Rebels teammate Cooper Vuna during a trip to South Africa exposed discipline issues and ended up with Beale suspended for alcohol-related issues.
Fighting spirit award
Here’s hoping the Sharkies players show the same passion for the club as their suspended coach Shane Flanagan following a year from hell. They can put the peptide drama behind them and a finals spot in 2014 is certainly not beyond them.
New Wallaby Matt Toomua and cricket and soccer superstar Elysse Perry are quite the striking couple. Both are headed for big things.
Girl power award
We can’t split our three world champion golden girls Cate Campbell in swimming, rower Kim Crow and Penrith’s Jessica Fox in canoe. Sponsors should get behind them.
Iron maiden award
Miranda Carfrae’s second win in the Hawaiian Ironman is amazing. I can’t even fathom how someone can swim 3.8km, ride a bike for 180km and then run 42.2km. Miranda’s effort deserves more praise and recognition than they get.
The flannelled fools award
The sledging, finger pointing and threats to punch people and break arms during the first Test at the Gabba. Talk about handbags at 22 yards.
John Singleton in the blue corner and Gai and Tom Waterhouse in the red. Touch gloves and come out swinging. The stoush over More Joyous (and whether Tom divulged information about Singo’s champion mare) ended a 37-year friendship between the owner and Gai. “Done and dusted, all over red rover,” Singo said of the partnership.
Riding high award
What sportsman, other than champion jockey Jim Cassidy, is still at the top of his game at 50 years of age? The Pumper rode his 100th Group I winner during the Melbourne Spring Carnival and is now rated by Kenny Callander in the top five hoops he’s seen, alongside the likes of George Moore, Roy Higgins, Darren Beadman and Mick Dittman.
NOT EXCHANGING XMAS CARDS
Ray Hadley X Ben Fordham
Shane Flanagan X Trent Elkin
Peter Peters X Darrell Williams
Ricky Ponting X Michael Clarke
Gus Gould X your columnist
James Hird X Andrew Demetriou
Paul Gallen X Nate Myles
Ben Barba X Des Hasler
Shane Mosley X Vlad Warton
Steve Sharp X Denis Fitzgerald
Mick Potter X Benji Marshall
Gai Waterhouse X John Singleton
Jeff Fenech X Anthony Mundine
Mark Webber X Sebastian Vettel
Stephen Dank X ASADA
Sandor Earl X Phil Gould
Josh Dugan X Dave Furner
Mickey Arthur X Shane Watson
Gavin Badger X Jason Robinson
Dave Warner X Joe Root
Darren Lehmann X Chris Broad
Holger Osieck X David Gallop
Lucas Neill X Robbie Slater