PEARLMAN SAYS: County should have been team of the year
6:02am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in Sport
THE easiest pastime in the world is to pour scorn on Sports Personality of the Year.
It's so easy to do and so frequently done, that it's possible that soon we'll need an awards ceremony to recognise the best of the best of those who insult Sports Personality.
We can have a best newspaper columnist pouring scorn (with Ex-Argus man Mick Gannon winning for my money this Yuletide) best social media hatred of the event, the list could go on.
How something so harmless and frankly, not that significant, can provoke such ire on such a frequent basis, I don't fully understand. Why don't these people just not watch it?
However, sometimes, there are decisions made in these award ceremonies that raise your eyebrows and are worthy of discussion and to that end, I avert your attention to the Welsh version of SPOTY, the Welsh Sport Awards.
Now, I could question how the Welsh public didn't see fit to have Gareth Bale in their top three, but frankly, the Welsh public can vote for who they like. I'll leave it to angry Twitter rant-merchants to dissect that award, but Leigh Halfpenny seems to have enjoyed a career defining year as the Lions hero and good luck to him.
I'd like to examine instead an award not picked by the public, but by panel and that award is the Welsh Team of the Year. An award won by the Welsh rugby union side.
My question is a simple one. How was this possible?
This isn't, before any accusing fingers are pointed, an anti-rugby rant or any attempt to diminish a sport that remains hugely popular in Wales.
But what possible criteria can there be for the national rugby side to be named the best team in Wales in 2013?
Four wins in the Six Nations, victories at home over Argentina and Tonga, a win in Japan and a loss in Japan and further defeats to Ireland, Australia and South Africa.
Now I'm only too aware that Wales won the Six Nations, though not the Grand Slam, meaning for the 26th time it was job done, but not with the excitement of adding a 12th Slam. Fine, but not great.
The Autumn Internationals were the familiar tale of woe, when the biggest games arrived, but with Lions success as well, it's been a good year for the Welsh rugby team. Good, but not vintage by any measurement.
Let's compare and contrast that with the fortunes of South Wales' top three football sides, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport County AFC.
In 2013, all three clubs enjoyed, arguably, their most significant seasons ever. Irrefutably, all enjoyed their most significant seasons in recent memory.
For Cardiff City, the reality of ascension to the Premier League in the season where top flight TV money went into a different stratosphere. And that's still only third to their two rivals in my view.
Swansea City won a major football trophy for the first time in their history. We may have a distorted view of the final because of who they played, but they did beat the reigning European Champions over 180 minutes without conceding a goal to get to that final. I didn't dream that did I?
And then of course, there is Newport. Not content with a first appearance at Wembley in 2012, they went from relegation fodder to promotion contenders in 12 months and won their place in the Football League by winning an all-Welsh showcase at Wembley, capping a 25-year odyssey.
Wrexham, for two Wembley appearances, also deserve consideration too, though they were somewhat the bridesmaids in the grand scheme of things.
But for Welsh sport in 2013, football came to the fore not because of higher club attendances, or because of the fame and spotlight on the Bale's and Ryan Giggs' of this world, but because of pure success. Spectacular success.
Perhaps, indeed, they were too successful. Perhaps the panel felt picking between Newport County, Swansea and Cardiff was too tough, would prove too controversial and so they played it safe and went to the default Welsh position of spotlighting rugby.
Can anyone tell me differently? Can a compelling argument be made that the Welsh rugby boys eclipsed Cardiff, Newport or Swansea?
If so, then much like one of my sporting heroes and incidentally a Sports Personality of the Year presenter, I am all ears...
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