Buzz Awards 2018: Winners, losers and buttheads
From the Broncos' BBQ blow-up to Sandpaper-gate and the rise of women's sport, 2018 has been one to remember. PHIL ROTHFIELD takes a look at the big moments of a great sporting year.
GREATEST OF ALL-TIME: Forget Phar Lap, Tulloch and Kingston Town. Winx must go down as the best horse of all time. The Bradman of the Turf. Four Cox Plates. Twenty-nine straight wins. Enough said.
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR: Sam Kerr is Australia's best and most exciting soccer player, male or female. FIFA, sadly, ripped her off, when they chose Brazil's Marta as female player of the year. Sam deserved that title more than anyone.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: The award isn't for what he did on the rugby league field this year, but all the goodwill he generated off it. Johnathan Thurston's growth from skinny kid to Australian icon - someone who has done so much for indigenous Australians and North Queensland - is worthy of any honour.
STORY OF THE YEAR: Sandpapergate and the shame it brought on the Baggy Green. The punishments for Cameron Bancroft (nine months), Steve Smith and David Warner (both 12 months) might have been excessive compared to previous ball-tampering incidents, but it was a terrible look for a sporting nation renowned for playing hard but fair.
PASS THE KLEENEX: It was impossible not to be moved by Steve Smith's airport press conference when he returned from South Africa. The raw emotion with his dad was as human as sport can get.
SADDEST STORY: The passing of Dragons and Sharks stalwart Lance Thompson, at the age of 40. It was way too young.
HAPPIEST MOMENT: Alex McKinnon and wife Teigan welcoming their baby girl Harriet Anne into the world. The most beautiful story.
DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT AWARD: The great cricket purge that saw the departures of CEO James Sutherland, chairman David Peever, board member Mark Taylor and high performance manager Pat Howard.
BATTLE OF HASTINGS: Young Jackson Hastings had his card marked never to play for Manly again after a run-in with club captain Daly Cherry-Evans in Gladstone. Jackson ended up at Salford (read purgatory). There was only going to be one winner.
TRICK OR TWEET: Todd Greenberg and the NRL made a complete hash of the start of the season before their Twitter campaign #Talkupthegame … it should have been #fixupthegame.
THE SOUTH SYDNEY BENNIES: Rugby league is a strange game and the silly season just gets sillier. The coach swap between Souths and the Broncos, with Wayne Bennett (Rabbitohs) and Anthony Seibold (Brisbane) trading places is just downright weird.
THE ULTIMATE PENALTY: The dismissal of refs boss Tony Archer had to happen after a chaotic season for the whistleblowers.
CHOC AND AWE: Jeff Horn's brutal first-round knockout of Anthony Mundine was a passing of the torch. It also gave Australia a chance to see the real The Man - he was gracious and generous in defeat.
MOTHER OF ALL BLOW-UPS: Serena Williams' tirade in the US Open final - and then to play the gender card - was disgraceful. It completely overshadowed Naomi Osaka's maiden grand slam win.
GOLDEN HOOT AWARD: So, England winger Tommy Makinson was the best rugby league player on the planet in 2018. Really? Practical joke, surely.
THE BENNY HILL SHOW: Emails, double dipping and Wayne Bennett's refusal to leave Red Hill - and his sacking from the Broncos via voicemail message - would have made it a great skit in the old British comedy. Cue the music!
COOPER-DOODLE-DO: Cooper Cronk could have played the grand final in a dinner suit as he nursed his broken shoulder, but the Roosters' money man still had the last laugh on old mates Cam Smith and Billy Slater.
HOOK, LINE AND STINKER AWARD: Our old mate Phil 'Gus' Gould. No matter how hard he tried to spin it, sacking Anthony Griffin as Panthers coach a month before the finals was a shocker. Worst decision of the year, hands down.
THROWN UNDER THE BUS AWARD: Ivan Cleary sold the bus tickets to Wests Tigers fans and players and then hailed an Uber driver to take him to Penrith. The biggest coaching betrayal in recent memory.
STRIPPING RULE: Bulldogs players exposed the problems with Mad Monday - literally - by getting their kit off at the Harbour View Hotel in the Rocks.
THE BUNKUM AWARD: The video refs, who often seemed to be watching a different game to the rest of us from their bunker in Redfern.
REFFING MAD AWARD: The treatment of the game's best ref Matt Cecchin was outrageous. It's time to blow full-time on the Sutton clique in the referee ranks.
HIT OF THE YEAR: Penrith centre Dean Whare's monster shot on Bulldogs rookie Jeremy Marshall-King just shaded Issac Luke's bellringer on Penrith's James Maloney and Canberra's Joey Leilua wiping out the Warriors' Mason Lino.
TRY OF THE YEAR: Brisbane's rookie winger Jamayne Isaako scored a stunning matchwinner against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, sidestepping half the team.
RABBIT'S FOOT: Adam Reynolds kicking three clutch field goals in Souths' 13-12 semi-final win against St George Illawarra was ice cool. It took us back to the old days of Eric Simms.
PUCKER-UP AWARD: NSW's Vanessa Foliaki and Queensland's Karina Brown came up with an Origin first when they kissed at full-time after NSW's 16-10 win at North Sydney Oval. We can't imagine Tommy Raudonikis or Artie Beetson - the original Origin skippers - locking lips, but it was a great moment.
BUTTHEAD OF THE YEAR: Roosters and now Bulldogs enforcer Dylan Napa ironed out not one Bronco, but two with his flying headbutt tackle. Technique overhaul needed.
BEST COUNTER PUNCH: The all-powerful Godolphin stable finally painted Flemington blue, and silenced the doubters, when their champ Cross Counter won the Melbourne Cup. The 30-year wait was worth it.
THE ULTIMATE SLEDGE AWARD: A review into Australian cricket found the administration to be "arrogant" and "dictatorial". The biggest concern was just 14 of 48 current Aussie players completed the survey.
BEST NEW TALENT: The women's NRL was a terrific addition to the rugby league calendar. The Broncos won the inaugural title, Broncos five-eighth Kimiora Nati player of the grand final with three tries against the Roosters.
RETIREMENT VILLAGE: It wasn't just JT who rode off into the sunset as the NRL farewelled champions like Billy Slater (future Immortal), Luke Lewis, Simon Mannering, Sam Thaiday, Ryan Hoffman and Jason Nightingale among others.
THE ROOKIE MONSTER: The astonishing Kalyn Ponga proved rugby league is in good hands - and feet - with his dazzling breakout year at the Knights. His Origin debut was phenomenal.
DRIBBLERS AWARD: The basketbrawl between Australia and the Philippines was one the lowlight of the sporting year. The scenes were horrific and frightening.
BEST ACT OF SPORTSMANSHIP: It came at the Invictus Games when a passing helicopter caused wheelchair tennis player Paul Guest to freeze with PTSD. The way he was comforted by playing partner Edwin Vermetten reflected the very best of sport.
SWIMMING'S NEGATIVE SPLIT: Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you're two high-profile Olympic swimmers. Mitch Larkin's and Emily Seebohm's public separation was difficult for everyone.
MAKING UP LOST GROUND AWARD: Whatever side of the stadium debate you sit, it was nostalgic to see the last game at Allianz Stadium in its current configuration. It was the scene of so many wonderful occasions and a Roosters-Souths preliminary final was the perfect send-off.
WHERE EAGLES DARE: The mop flop is back at Brookie. It's good to see old eccentric Dessie Hasler back where he belongs, coaching Manly. Bring on his first media conference.
FREDDIE, SET GO: How cool was it watching Brad Fittler's baby Blues put Queensland in their place. The new generation of James 'Teddy' Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, Nathan Cleary, the Trbojevic brothers and Damien Cook are ready to build a dynasty.
FARCE OVER APEX AWARD: Origin's man of the series selectors got it seriously wrong when they gave Billy Slater, who only played two games, the award. I love Billy, but seriously?
THE BOY ERASED: It must have been painful for Rusty Crowe to watch Luke Keary - the kid he punted - win a premiership and Clive Churchill Medal with Souths' archrivals the Roosters. Life imitating art.
WHICH HUNT? Million-dollar recruit Ben Hunt was the Dragons' golden boy for the first half of the year and finished it as a social media punching bag. He enters 2019 with some huge questions hanging over him if Saints are to win a title.
NRL GAME OF THE YEAR: The Storm-Souths epic was one of the best finals matches I've seen in a long, long time. It was so brutal - that night basically ended any hope either side had of winning they comp; they just couldn't recover.
HORSE OPERA AWARD: Why was there so much howling about promoting the Everest by illuminating the Opera House with the jockey colours? As that old scribe Billy Shakespeare would have said, Much Ado about Nothing.
RED-FACED AWARD: For the smart Alecs out there, no, it's not me. It's the incoming NRL chairman Peter Beattie, who didn't know the Sharks were based in Cronulla. D'oh! Rookie error.
BIGGEST STUFF-UP: The decision to have the athletes enter the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony outside the television times. Athletes equal stars … sports administrators equal boring.
FEUD FOR THOUGHT: Manly isn't known as the insular peninsula for nothing. Trent Barrett's split with the Sea Eagles was ugly. And, as we stand, they have two coaches until July.
YEAR'S BIGGEST SHOCKER: Usain Bolt trialling with the Central Coast to earn an A-League contract is something I never thought I'd see. He scored a couple of goals in a pre-season game … maybe an NRL club can find a spot for him on the wing next season.
DALLY MAGIC AWARD: Issac Luke leading an impromptu haka to celebrate Roger Tuivasa-Scheck winning the Warriors' inaugural Dally M medal was the single greatest moment in the 39-year history of the awards. Spine-tingling.
THE GOLD STANDARD: Australia's Cate and Bronte Campbell, Shayna Jack and Emma McKeon broke the world record in the women's 4x100m relay to launch the Gold Coast pool party at the Commonwealth Games.
DEAD-SET LEGEND AWARD: In a year of farewells, our finest Socceroo, Tim Cahill, fittingly took his final bow at his fourth World Cup. He leaves an incredible legacy - 50 goals in 107 internationals.
MOST STIRRING VICTORY: Australia's Kathryn Mitchell melted into tears after throwing a personal best on her first attempt in the women's javelin at the Commonwealth Games. Her success came just days after former training partner Jarrod Bannister died in Holland.
THE WHEEL DEAL: Wheelchair athlete Kurt Fearnley had already secured his place as an Aussie great, but he finished his brilliant international career with gold in the T54 marathon.
WORLD'S BIGGEST TEE PARTY: Old Tiger Woods gave us a glimpse of what golf used to be like when he won the Tour Championship - his first tour title in five years and 80th overall. The massive crowds and deafening roars took us back to the sport's glory days.
BOOFHEAD OF THE YEAR: The fan, and I use the word loosely, who thought it was a good idea to abuse Wallaby Lukhan Tui after the Test against Argentina on the Gold Coast.
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