Broadly speaking, 2021 is a year to forget, as a global pandemic restricted our lives and coated a little bit of angst over everything. We’ve had better years and we will have better years again.
At least there was the football, entertaining us mostly; annoying us elsewhere. And sometimes making us chuckle so much we held our sides as if hammy actors. In those moments – moments we celebrate below – we temporarily forgot about any pandemic; dismissed all the bad stuff.
So, thanks for that football. Thanks David Moyes, and Ollie Holt. And gratitude is also due to a pet duck taken from us much too soon.
It is the 99th minute of England’s Euro final against Italy. A nation is on tenterhooks, dreading the prospect of penalties that loom ever closer. We all know what’s coming, and there isn’t a thing we can do about it but endure the seemingly inevitable torture.
With Jack Grealish preparing to enter the fray, Darcie Philp held up a Manchester United away shirt adorned with ‘Mrs Grealish 69’ written on the back and when an eagle-eyed cameraman spied this a meme was born.
There were funnier moments this past 12 months but as the famous saying goes, in comedy timing is everything. Just when we were collectively at our tensest, Darcie gave us a cheap laugh and boy did we need that.
Noble, willing but unprepared
When Jesse Lingard wheeled away in semi-muted celebration back in September, having scored a last-minute goal against the side he was on loan to last season, everyone assumed Manchester United had enacted one of their dramatic trademark comebacks. Only then, remarkably, in the 94th minute, the hosts West Ham caught a break when Luke Shaw handballed in the area.
So, who was going to take this highly pressurized pen that would keep the Hammers in top six contention? Maybe Declan Rice who had been excellent throughout? Lanzini?
No, dispensing with the coaching manual and plain common sense, David Moyes instructed Mark Noble to get stripped, chucking on his midfielder cold, without even a warm-up or touch of the ball.
Noble missed and in one instant a potential masterstroke turned into a disaster-stroke. Oh, how we laughed.
Mark Noble’s match stats v #MUFC
1 penalty missed
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) September 19, 2021
The Latics go quakers
When a Wigan Athletic supporter posted on a fan forum that ‘Keith’ had passed away many Latics assumed it was a match-goer of that name who had been seriously ill. Tributes duly flooded in.
Thankfully, that particular Keith was doing okay and found it highly amusing when the misunderstanding came to light. Because the deceased Keith was actually a fan’s pet duck.
In due course, the club got involved and even put up a photo of Keith the duck on the big screen during half-time when they next played at home. A minute’s applause rang out across the DW Stadium.
“That was for Keith,” striker Stephen Humphrys tweeted following their 1-0 win.
Alisson v Allardyce
Who doesn’t love to see a goalkeeper score? Only the opposition surely and those whose souls have become so chipped away by cynicism they now smile purely through obligation.
At the tail-end of last season, Liverpool’s Alisson Becker went one better than to pull off a wind-assisted hoof that bounces over his counterpart’s head or bundling one in amidst a set-piece melee. In the 95th minute, at home to West Brom, the Reds stopper thundered in a textbook header from a corner, the like any striker would be proud to claim.
That this memorable route-one gem came at Big Sam Allardyce’s expense made it all the more hilarious.
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) December 24, 2021
Warnock’s pre-signed photos
When footage emerged pre-season of Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock dispensing signed photos to supporters from a bum-bag, Twitter exploded. On the one hand, it’s a sensible, time-saving measure for Warnock to take while the positive feedback from recipients highlight that the gesture was wholly appreciated.
Yet, it’s also perhaps the kind of time-saving measure deployed by a megastar, not a former boss of Bury and Rotherham.
This is the best thing you’ll see today.
So old school. 2021 are the days of taking pictures to show off on social media. Here’s me thinking the days of signatures were gone… never mind pre-signed autographs.
Neil Warnock ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ioEwhasWw2
— The72 – We Love the #EFL (@_The72) July 21, 2021
Ollie overeggs the praise
Anyone who is familiar with the scribbles of Ollie Holt, the Mail on Sunday’s Chief Sports Writer, will know that he’s not averse to laying on sentiment with a heavy trowel.
On September 11th, to accompany Ronaldo’s triumphant return to Old Trafford, Holt committed the second worst atrocity on this date when he tweeted the following –
“As Ronaldo walked down the tunnel after his match-winning performance, the sound of Fatboy Slim serenaded him from the loud-speaker system – We’ve come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good, I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should.”
Our sincerest apologies if you have just eaten.
A wee jobby
When Hamilton Academical versus Ross County resumed after the half-time break back in February, co-commentator Bobby Bulloch was nowhere to be seen, with fans tuning into the live feed wondering where he’d got to. They were soon put in the picture very much against their will.
“Sorry if you haven’t heard me in the second half. I was doing a wee jobby,” the soon-to-be-sacked broadcaster explained. “It was just a bit of poop but I had to squeeze a bit.”
It was an over-share that cost Bobby his jobby.