SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: The heroes and villains of 2016

Maria Sharapova is a villain of 2016.
Maria Sharapova is a villain of 2016.
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All good columnists use their last page of the year to remember the best and worst from the previous 12 months.

And so do I so here goes with my sporting heroes and villains of 2016...

Jimmy Dean is a hero of 2016.

Jimmy Dean is a hero of 2016.

FOOTBALL

Heroes: I told everyone N’Golo Kante was the real star of Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title win, but no, the fools at the BBC and elsewhere decided Jamie Vardy was the main man. How delicious he was sent off for a two-footed lunge the day before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme. Kante meanwhile is heading for back-to-back Premier League titles.

Honourable mentions to Peterborough Sports manager Jimmy Dean (the boss of a team of United Counties League bosses), Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri (nice guys do win sometimes), Jack Duggan of Stourbridge FC (look it up, it’s worth it) and Darragh MacAnthony (for the 10th successive year), not least replacing an unpopular and untalented manager with a popular boss who may well prove to be very talented.

Villains: You can bet on Joey Barton being in this list every year, Dan Ashworth and his no-mark (and no professional appearances between them) FA technical team and Sam Allardyce for blowing his chance at the big time so spectacularly, although this is also a good thing.

A hero and a villain. Eddie Jones (right) and Dylan Hartley.

A hero and a villain. Eddie Jones (right) and Dylan Hartley.

CRICKET

Heroes: Faf du Plessis for making the Australians whinge, Michael Atherton for continued brilliance on TV and in print journalism, Haseeb Hameed, Indian Test team.

Villains: Eoin Morgan for not singing the national anthem, for bottling Bangladesh and for clinging onto his place in England’s one-day team when his ability doesn’t warrant it, Ben Stokes for choking in the World T20 Final, useful idiot Piers Morgan for trying to keep obnoxious, and past-it, Kevin Pietersen’s career alive, English cricket selectors and the clowns who agreed to play seven back-to-back Test matches in Asia, those responsible for preparing wickets to suit a dreadful Pakistan team, those involved in a horribly contrived finish to the County Championship thus denying Somerset of the trophy they deserved.

RUGBY UNION:

Dave Brailsford is a villain.

Dave Brailsford is a villain.

Heroes: Eddie Jones for making England great again, Ireland for showing the All Blacks can be beaten, as long as they take their eye off the ball for long enough.

Villains: England captain Dylan Hartley for tarnishing his position, all the referees who make sure the All Blacks rarely lose.

TENNIS

Heroes: Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and whomever caused Novak Djokovic to become distracted.

Amy Tinkler is a heroine of 2016.

Amy Tinkler is a heroine of 2016.

Villains: Nick Kyrgios whose antics are embarrassing as well as ugly, banned drug user Maria Sharapova and those who will let her play again in 2017.

GOLF

Heroes: Danny Willett in April.

Villains: Danny Willett from May onwards and those who turned the Ryder Cup into a putting competition.

GENERAL SPORT

Heroes: Usain Bolt, Alistair Brownlee, cycling’s Mr & Mrs Kenny, Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail for dogged pursuit of dodgy dealings, gymnast Amy Tinkler.

Villains: Cycling’s Bradley Wiggins and Dave Brailsford, unrepentent sprinter Tyson Gay, lying swimmer Ryan Lochte, lying country Russia.