Sporting heroes and villains from 2021 including a referee who qualifies in both categories, a man who proved himself to be the best Formula One driver in the world and the latest crybaby Australian cricketer

My heroes and villains from the national and international sporting world in 2021.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 9:11 am
Referee John Busby.

As usual there have been plenty to choose from, especially the bad guys.

FOOTBALL

Heroes: Anyone who promotes young English talent at the top level so Pep Guardiola for Phil Foden at Manchedster City and Mikel Arteta at Arsenal for Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka, but as a Posh fan there is only one true hero of 2021...step forward referee John Busby for his phantom penalty award which effectively sealed the club’s promotion from League One.

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Tim Paine. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/Getty Images.

Villains: Premier League managers whinging about busy Christmas schedules and player welfare when you have massive squads, enormous budgets and when you will probably be circling the globe playing in cash-laden tours summers to come. I happen to agree with new Manchester United chief Ralf Rangnick in suggesting the League Cup is scrapped (not this season though), but not at the expense of festive football. Boxing Day football is a fantastic tradition in England and these whining clubs/players/managers need to remember they are in the entertainment business.

Referees chief Mike Riley for not falling on his sword despite the overwhelming evidence he has been producing hopeless officials who can’t make logical decisions when staring at the many angles TV cameras provide.

Pundit/failed manager Gary Neville for losing the plot to protect his mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Still that and his constant bashing of Boris and the rest of the useless Tories has been a useful deflection for how bad a job he’s done at Salford FC. Clueless on appointing managers for a start.

Oh and referee John Busby for inflicting such an ugly Championship struggle on Posh.

Max Verstappen celebrates his deserved Formula One Drivers Championship. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images.

Cricket

Heroes: Joe Root the batsman. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson for showing Indian leader Virat Kohli you don’t have to act like an entitled spoilt brat to become a successful captain.

Villains: Joe Root the captain. England cricket coach Chris Silverwood and any other halfwit who decided rest and rotation was the best way to prepare for the Ashes.

ECB chief Tom Harrison and his staff for collecting huge bonuses for inflicting a pointless new competition on us, one that will help delay any improvement in England’s Test form.

Aussie captain Tim Paine for resigning in tears (as all Aussies caught cheating do) after sending rude pictures to a lady friend. England’s chances in the Ashes went from slim to none as soon as he stepped down.

RUGBY UNION

Villains: Warren Gatland, Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus for reducing the British Lions and South Africa to an ugly spectacle of kick and chase.

TENNIS

Heroes: US Open champion Emma Raducanu for providing the best sports story of 2021, or virtually any other year. I just hope the endless photoshoots and sponsorships don’t stop her developing as a player.

Villains: Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and any other player who thinks bouncing the ball 25 times before serving is a good thing, and anyone who grunts while hitting a shot.

GOLF

Heroes: Jon Rahm for his one-man show of European defiance at the Ryder Cup. Charlie Woods - check out the footage of the 12 year-old and his famous father, Tiger. Incredible.

Villain: Rory McIlroy for crying after the Ryder Cup. It’s only golf mate.

HORSE RACING

Hero: Jockey Rachel Blackmore for proving that women can be better than men on a level sporting field.

Villains: Trainer Gordon Elliott for the vile photos that prompted a six-month ban from racing and those who have now welcomed him back into the sport.

FORMULA ONE

Hero: Max Verstappen for proving he is actually the best driver in the world. After all he won the Formula One title in what turned out not to be the best car and that hardly ever happens.