Good evening, and welcome to the annual ‘End of Season Cross Awards’ night, hosted by Greg Cross (several well-known celebrity Gooners passed up on this). Please join me as we celebrate the last eight months of Arsenal-related awards and acknowledgments.
‘The Abou Diaby Kicking John Terry in the Face Schadenfreude Award’
This award was unanimously won by Robin van Persie. After a title winning season after leaving Arsenal to head up North (“Where we do what we want”), van Persie looked on in horror as his new mentor/father figure retired and subsequently hired his budget mini-me in his place. After some ‘strategic’ injuries befell the Dutchman, van Persie watched on from the side-lines as Manchester United squeaked into seventh place, consigning van Persie to a season without Champions League football. Although the arrival of his international mentor/father figure promises to perk-up the Dutch striker, the almost certainly hilarious saga of where the club’s captain’s armband will end up promises to entertain United observers. Someone’s nose will be seriously out of joint…
‘The Kaba Diawara missed opportunity Award’
There was only going to be one winner of this award; Yaya Sanogo. Where Diawara originally blazed a trail, Sanogo bravely took it up with both feet. Our non-scoring French striker demonstrated that if you can run around a lot, clatter a few defenders in the process of breaking sweat, the fact that you look unlikely to trouble the goal will not count against you if you want a game for Arsenal F.C. 9/10 for effort and dedication to the cause, 3/10 for finishing off moves. I am sure 2014/15 will be a more successful year for Yaya.
‘The Thierry Henry Gorgeous French Striker Award’
Olivier Giroud. Scoring on and off the pitch. Wearer of the tightest of continental briefs. Sporting a wavy comb-over, Giroud prowled the opposition’s six yard box like a male model on a Milanese catwalk. Well, he did if the opposition was below the top six. Against the bigger sides, Giroud was as absent as said male model at his agency’s annual all-you-can-eat carbohydrate pig out party at the local pasta emporium; perhaps only turning up to say ‘ciao’ and have his face seen by his employer.
The Alyaksandr Hleb Ill-advised Transfer Award’
Only one winner this season, and Bacary Sagna wins this accolade. Yes, by all means run down your contract at a club you have been extremely loyal towards. Yes, bust a nut in your last game; the cup final where you finally help get a sodding great monkey off of the club’s back, but Manchester City…where Pablo Zabaleta will probably consign your last top-flight years to bench warming and stifled yawns?! Come on Bacary, Paris, Milan, Barcelona or even Madrid are no-doubt ringing your phone off of the hook. Yes, I’m sure the money will be irresponsibly massive, but is that worth more than playing out your days as a first choice, world-class fullback? I’m not so sure, but all the best Monsieur, bon voyage.
‘The Abou Diaby’s Like a New Signing Award’
There were several contenders for this prestigious trophy, but it was only fitting that Abou Diaby was awarded it for the fourth consecutive year. A gentle substitute comeback against Norwich in the last league game ensured that the award criteria were fulfilled.
‘The Junichi Inamoto Cynical Marketing Transfer Award’
Park Chu-Young. Carted off to Watford this year after his return from Celta Vigo, the South Korean ‘striker’ has now been released from the club in an even more inauspicious manner than that of the Japanese midfielder of whom this award is named after. Quite why, how and indeed why this transfer happened is one for the oracles to translate. Utterly bizarre for all involved and thus Park is a suitably worthy recipient of tonight’s award.
‘The Cesc Fabregas Bossing the Midfield Like a Don Award’
The first of the big prizes. Aaron Ramsey walks off with this prize, after a season that defied his critics, united a cracking fan-base and gave hope for better things in the future. The Welshmen who was maimed in Stoke, booed there on his return and went on, like his fellow countryman Gareth Bale repeated shortly afterwards; to score a decisive cup final goal. Ramsey showed off everything this season; crunching tackles, lug-bursting runs, powerful shots, precise shots, leaping headers and a face so unapologetically handsome that it would surely steal the heart of Helen of Troy were she brave enough to rock up at The Emirates wearing a shear toga and plaited hair knowing full well that Olivier Giroud was in the near vicinity… Indeed, Aaron Ramsey was quite simply the best midfielder in Europe up until his injury. When he was side-lined, Arsenal fell apart like a pulled pork, gravy soaked sub on ‘Man vs. Food.’
‘The Alex Manninger Stepping up to the Plate Award’
Lukasz Fabianski was handed this award before he slipped off to Wales. Will he play second fiddle to Michael Vorm, or will the big Dutchman head the other way to take up his place on the Arsenal bench? Regardless, when it mattered, in the FA Cup, Fabianski stood tall and was counted. A career in London that hasn’t perhaps gone according to plan has at least ended on a pretty substantial high.
‘The Dennis Bergkamp Unadulterated Genius Award’
In 1995, Arsenal gave everyone a collective ‘WTF?!’ when Dennis Bergkamp was pictured alongside Bruce Rioch (who himself incidentally had the face of a man who’d just spent a long weekend on the set of 1990’s ‘Baywatch’ and sampled all of the sights) holding an Arsenal shirt. In 2013, an ‘I’ve just scored with the Prom Queen grin’ from Arsene Wenger was the first sign that Arsenal were about to repeat this. Enter stage right the arrival of ‘Mesut f**king Ozil’ holding a number eleven shirt and the sound of a thousand Gooners reaching for a Kleenex box. And a collective ‘WTF?!’ that echoed around Europe, and more audibly so in a certain man’s office at White Hart Lane (just after the man in question had hauled himself up from the barrel Real Madrid had until recently bent him over). Mesut Ozil demonstrated the vision, skill and slickness that were trademarks of Arsenal ‘s legendary number ten. Next season promises to be massive for him.
‘The Sol Campbell Best Free Transfer Award’
Whilst purchasing Dennis Bergkamp’s biography from Amazon Kindle for a princely 49p almost won this award, it is only fair that Mathieu Flamini picks this one up. Or he would, but he’s having an early bath. An inspired return to from the diminutive midfield destroyer Arsenal helped overcome a plucky Spurs side on the eve of Arsenal’s ‘WTF?!’ transfer moment. Yellow cards and ill-advised tackles followed, but Flamini provided some much needed solidity in midfield, a role only the hair of Mikel Arteta had previously provided.
‘The “I’ve Just Discovered Wanking” Ecstasy Award’
A hard category. Very hard in-fact. Lots of contenders for this. Jack Wilshere’s goal against Norwich City, Mesut Ozil’s arrival being confirmed or Aaron Ramsey’s FA Cup final winning goal? No, neither of them. The winner of this award goes to…
…Per Mertesacker after his FA Cup equaliser against Wigan Athletic. Had that not have gone in…had have Arsenal lost that tie…End. Of. Days.
‘The “Shit, This Has Never Happened Before” Flaccid Phallus Award’
Goes to…the 2014 January transfer window. The sex that never got started complete with the thinly disguised disappointment from everyone involved in the sorry affair afterwards. The limp member utterly impervious to frantic jump-starting attempts. The start of the end of the league challenge for The Gunners. Urrgh. Terrible.
‘The “How f**king Much?! I’ve Just Spat My Coffee Out of my Eyes!” Award’
Marouane Fellaini. £27.5m.
‘The Caught By Your Mum Whilst Holding Both a Jazz-Mag and Your Cock Award’
This award is presented to the participant of the most cringe-worthy episode of the season, one that combines horror with embarrassment. This year, Jose Mourinho will go finally home with a winner’s medal, specifically, this one. After proclaiming that Arsene Wenger was a ‘specialist in failure’ and despite spunking £100m up the wall on a series of increasingly expensive signings, Jose was able to look on with delight as Wenger duly lifted the FA Cup, whilst he had ended his season at Chelsea winning diddly-f**king-squat after again ostracising his team’s best player and producing a football style that could be recorded and sold as a cure for insomnia. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Maureen.
And finally, ‘The Manuel Almunia “What on Earth Are You Doing Here at My Club?” Award’
Whilst in any other year, Niklas Bendtner would have (and has) been instantly awarded this honour, but this season, Emiliano Viviano takes this trophy back home to La Dolce Vita. Quite what he brought to Arsenal remains a mystery worthy of a black and white stadium-based feature film…perhaps he spurred on the two Poles to up their games (which, if this was the case, worked)….he is a full Italian international after all…but he didn’t play a single minute for the first team. And he looked a lot like Manuel Almunia. Like, ‘X Files music playing’ a lot.
Ciao, Emiliano, we hardly knew thee.
Thanks for coming, enjoy the free bar (until 11pm) and please sample the lukewarm buffet – although I’d avoid that prawn ring…