Ian Holloway: I met the Power, then Becks smiled at me – what a night!
After being sacked by Leicester and then out of work, SPOTY nomination topped off an incredible year
Sunday 26 December 2010
Being nominated for best coach at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards topped off my 2010. The whole night was great and because of what has happened to me over the last few years – getting sacked by Leicester and being out of work for 12 months – it was a lovely moment.
I received some quite moving texts from my brother, sister and mum after the ceremony saying that dad would have been proud. He always used to watch that programme.
Some people asked if I was disappointed about not winning. Disappointed? You've got to be joking. How can you be disappointed when you get invited to a do like that and you are one of the main contenders for the award?
Colin Montgomerie deserved to win my category because coaching is about talking to people and getting them in the right frame of mind, and he certainly had to do that at the Ryder Cup. OK, he had some of the best golfers throughout Europe at his disposal, but he still had to inspire them and pick the order and to put Graeme McDowell last was a masterstroke.
It was enough for me to be invited and nominated and it was great to rub shoulders with so many individuals I admire. Being a football manager is quite an isolated role and it was wonderful to meet some bona fide sporting superstars.
One of the first people I made a beeline for was Denise Lewis because I watched her win her gold medals and thought she was fantastic. She was so talented and a bubbly girl. I said hello and introduced my wife to her and we had a lovely little chat.
I told Michael Johnson he was the best athlete of the last 20 years and Steve Cram came over to congratulate me on how well Blackpool are playing. We had a chat about the Sunderland game on Tuesday – he did not wish me luck for that one!
I actually met Phil "The Power" Taylor. How good is that? I shook his hand and asked him not to retire. He is absolutely brilliant. Sven Goran Eriksson told me he was impressed by what I'd done, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to meet the winner, AP McCoy. That was a pity because his story is so inspiring.
I also missed out on meeting the boy Beckham, a shame because I would have loved to have shaken his hand. It was a lovely moment when he received that standing ovation, and totally deserved. To get a lifetime award at the age of 35 speaks volumes about the lad, what he has done and the manner in which he has done it, and the great thing is he has so much of his life left to achieve even more.
The closest I got to him was when I was looking for the toilet. He was walking in with his family and he had three or four big bodyguards around him. We smiled at each other but when I asked his guard if I could get past to use the toilet, he replied "you'll have to use the one over there". Never mind, maybe I'll meet Becks next year!
I liked Mark Cavendish and what he said about playing chess. You can understand that. He must need to challenge his mind as well as his body because you imagine being in the Tour de France and sitting down each night and realising how far there is to go. It's not just your legs, your mind gets you through it.
Every one of those people at the awards is there because when they have problems, they don't give up – they soldier on through. That sets the really special people apart and I think I've done a little bit of that myself since my time at Leicester.
I didn't believe the failure at Leicester would happen. I was doing well at Plymouth and I thought the success was going to continue. I think it does you the world of good to have a downer. It didn't do the Leicester fans any good, mind, but, as they said themselves, they'd been like that for four years before I arrived. Thankfully the club is now on the up again. As for me, that whole experience proved it is not about success and failure, it is about keeping going through both and staying the same.
Now I'm at Blackpool and it feels like it is our time. It was an honour to represent the club and have our name mentioned but I don't want it to stop here. Life is not about what you've done, it is about what you do next. That's what matters and it is why I'm already thinking about next year and what we need to achieve.
If the BBC invite me back in 12 months then I'll know I've done something right. Fingers crossed.
Red-letter day if we do double
Liverpool visit Bloomfield Road today and I'm looking forward to it as much as any fan. Assuming the game is on – and I'm keeping everything crossed that our pitch is OK – this is a massive match for us.
Blackpool haven't been in the top division for 40 years. That is a lifetime ago and it is why we are all enjoying it so much. To be able to say we've already won at Anfield this season is an amazing thing and those lads who played in that game will go down in history. They probably don't realise it. They are just going about their business in the same ordinary way and that has perhaps been the secret of our success.
My entire squad went to a children's hospice in the town earlier in the week and every single one of them wanted to be there. They are all such genuine lads, and that shows on the pitch.
If we can do the double over Liverpool then the confidence it will give us will be amazing. Mind you, I was not too chuffed to hear that Steven Gerrard will be fit. That's just our luck. But win or lose, we want to be able to say we played against their best team. So bring it on.
We just want to continue our quest to prove everybody wrong. We know we will be the underdogs all year but we want to continue to be outstanding underdogs and survive in what is the best division in the world.
Caught up in a Webb
The World Cup final referee Howard Webb came to Bloomfield Road earlier in the week and spent two hours with my lads to go through the rules and tell them what a foul is and why certain free-kicks are given.
That probably sounds daft. A foul is a foul, right? You'd be surprised. I said hello to Howard and shook his hand but he came to talk to my lads so I just let them get on with it.
I hope what he said has an impact because I've got my skipper Charlie Adam suspended today after picking up five cautions, and my other midfielder David Vaughan is on four bookings – one away from a ban.
When you've got a small squad like ours, the last thing you want is lads missing games so hopefully Howard's talk will do some good.
I feel sorry for Rafa
Rafael Benitez has become the latest victim of how they seem to do things in Italy: managers get very little time to prove themselves.
Rafa was always in a difficult position because he had to follow in the footsteps of one of the best. Jose Mourinho is one of the smartest guys around and Rafa must have known it was an impossible task to match his last season at Inter.
Rafa did a brilliant job when he was at Liverpool but unfortunately he couldn't get Inter's league form going and it has cost him. In Italy the owners have a big say because they buy the players.
It is supposed to be different here, although, having said that, the way that Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce have been treated in the last couple of weeks makes me wonder if we're going down the same route. I sincerely hope not.
First Christmas up north is a cracker but my perfect present would be staying up
We had two Christmas Days this year. The first was a week ago when we had a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
We bought a turkey crown and cooked the entire dinner, just to make sure we'd get it right on the big day. It worked because everything went well yesterday and it was great to spend our first ever Christmas up north in our new house in Burnley.
We had eight people over and we borrowed a big round table from the club because I wanted everyone to be able to see each other and talk.
It made a nice change from last Christmas, which was my worst ever. I spent it on my Jack Jones in a rented flat in St Annes. I woke up on Christmas Day morning, said "happy Christmas" to myself and then went to take training.
I drove four hours to get back to Bath, where I had dinner with the family. It was great when I got there, but that drive was the worst of my life and there was no way I was going to do it again.
What did I get for Christmas? I'm not telling, but there is one present which I want that I won't be able to get until May. I'm talking Premier League survival, which is far from certain because it could still go horribly wrong. We might not win another game from now till the end of the season because this League is so good and we might run out of luck. But that's for the future.
For now all I want to do is wish everyone a healthy and happy Christmas.
It doesn't matter what religion you are, or even how you feel about religion. To me this time of year is about celebrating humanity by thinking about other people rather than yourself.
Have a cracker.
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