Apart from brilliant Billy, SPOTY was nauseating and cringeworthy

Gareth Southgate receives the coach of the year prize from two clapped out comics.
Gareth Southgate receives the coach of the year prize from two clapped out comics.
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On behalf of all England football fans I would like to apologise for the nauseating rendition of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ by tuneless Frank Skinner and David Baddiel during Sunday’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year cringe-fest.

England finished fourth in the 2018 World Cup. They lost more games than every other country bar Panama and Saudi Arabia and yet more programme time was devoted to that ‘achievement’ than sporting folk who actually won something important, the legend that is Ronnie O’Sullivan and Open golf champion Georgia Hall for a start.

Sporting hero Billy Monger.

Sporting hero Billy Monger.

At least coach of the year Gareth Southgate (an award devalued by asking two clapped-out comics to present it) and captain Harry Kane (a lovely bloke, but a serial non-winner) had the decency to look embarrassed and not just because of smug presenter Gary Lineker’s inevitable mention of his own Golden Boot World Cup victory of the distant past.

I hadn’t tuned into SPOTY for years, but for columnists it’s a godsend. It’s a sporting review show with hardly any sporting clips as the BBC long ago abandoned live coverage of eveything from horse racing to cricket in favour of quizzes and mildly eccentric folk shopping at a car boot sale in the hope of turning a profit of a few quid at a later auction.

Blunders and bloopers are inevitable. Last year surprise winner Mo Farah (how on earth did he beat Anthony Joshua?) wasn’t present at the ceremony and the hastily-assembled video link to his home crashed and burned.

This year some dolt in production cut the most eloquent speaker of the night off in mid-stream of an emotional thank-you speech. I can’t stand motor sport, but Billy Monger deserved the biggest available prize for what he’s been through and for emerging from the horrors (footage of his crash was heartstoppingly gruesome) as such a fine, and still grateful, young man.

SPOTY winner Geraint Thomas and wife Sara Elen.

SPOTY winner Geraint Thomas and wife Sara Elen.

How refreshing to see an articulate, modest sporting hero among the crashing bores and giant egos (and that’s just the presenters).

It’s actually risky having cyclists in a poll, especially one from Team Sky, as you never know what might turn up in the future. Fortunately Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas is clean and honest as well as talented.

Thomas deserved his place on the six-person shortlist as did sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, but the presence of Kane (being good at penalties shouldn’t be enough), skeleton expert Lizzie Yarnold (minority sport), Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton (not a sport, not a personality) and cricketer Jimmy Anderson (if you want a lifetime achievement cricketer it should have been Alistair Cook) were harder to explain.

But as with a lot of sports coverage, not just on the BBC, there is always a PC box-ticking exercise going on in the background. That can be the only reason England’s netballers beat Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes to the team of the year prize and also won the best sporting moment award for an easy last-minute ‘goal,’ ahead of Cook’s ton in his final Test.

The England netball team.

The England netball team.