It’s the last column of 2018 so time for my sporting heroes and villains of the past 12 months.
Hero: Jurgen Klopp for proving that football managers can at least look like they are enjoying their work and for assembling an attractive side at least capable of giving oil-rich clubs a run for their money.
Villain: Jurgen Klopp for failing to turn attractive football into a trophy. Just win something mate, even if it’s nonly the FA Cup, just to stop people like me banging on about it.
Hero: England’s Alistair Cook for bowing out of Test cricket with the same class with which he conducted himself throughout a 150-match career. Finishing with a ton was memorable.
Villains: Australian cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner (both right) and Cameron Bancroft for cheating, lying and then crying when they were found out. They should never be allowed to forget.
Heroine: Naomi Osaka for beating Serena Williams in the US Open Ladies singles final.
Villain: Serena Williams for taking her defeat to Osaka so badly. Her rant at the umpire was among the most embarrassing sporting spectacles of the year and deflected attention away completely from her superior opponent.
Hero: US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk not only for picking Phil Mickelson to play in the event, but also sending him out in the foursomes, a most unsuitable format for a man who can’t hit the ball straight.
Villain: Rory McIlroy who is not as good as he or his lickspittles in the media believe.
Heroes: All those volunteers in local football who give up their time to ensure youngsters can play the greatest sport of them all. And the referees without whom matches wouldn’t take place.
Villains: The gobby coaches, parents (and impressionable players) who ruin the experience of young footballers and referees. They are a very small minority, but they need to take responsibility for their actions more readily.
Hero: Jimmy Anderson for breaking the record for Test wickets by a fast bowler.
Villain: Ben Stokes. A less important England cricketer would have been treated far more harshly for beating people up in the street.
Hero: Anthony Joshua for proving you can become world heavyweight champion without trash talking.
Villain: Tyson Fury for showing us how good he would have been if he hadn’t failed a drugs test.
Hero: Kylian Mbappe, the best young football talent in the world and now a World Cup winner.
Villain: Neymar, one of the best players in the world probably, but definitely the biggest cheat.
Heroes: Dr Jason Neale and Stewart Thompson, the newish Posh co-owners for taking the pressure off Darragh MacAnthony. Well some of it anyway.
Villain: Ed Woodward for taking too long to put Jose Mourinho (and the rest of us) out of his Manchester United misery.
And my Hero of the Year is.....Italian golfer Francesco Molinari. Winning the Open, his first victory in a Major, winning five out of five matches in the Ryder Cup and winning the European Order of Merit (race to Dubai) made it a stunning year for Molinari. His partnership with Tommy Fleetwood as Europe battered the United States in France was marvellous to behold.