Roberto Martinez and Rafael Benitez among winners of the alternative Sports Personality of the Year awards

For those unfashionable types who don’t always make the headlines

It was one of the more predictable outcomes to the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, even if Chris Froome and Mo Farah’s absence from the top three was eye-catching. An alternative list seemed to be in order. Not one of those comedy lists. Just 10 people – unfashionable, unnoticed and unloved – who seemed to fall behind the radar…

1. Inspirational Manager of the Year

 Perhaps the unravelling of Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City career obscured a little of the enormity of Wigan Athletic defeating one of the most wealthy clubs in the world in the 2013 FA Cup final. Now Roberto Martinez has achieved in four months the transformation in football culture at Everton which it took Brendan Rodgers a year to accomplish at Liverpool. We are watching the best Everton side since that club’s 1980s halcyon days. The qualities of genius in Martinez are still not recognised as widely as they might be.

2. Unfashionable Manager of the Year


If he had been anyone else, then Rafael Benitez’s performance as Chelsea manager at Old Trafford on 10 March would have been celebrated to the heavens. The stereo symphony of abuse he received – “fat Spanish waiter” and “you fat b*****d” from Manchester United and Chelsea fans respectively – would have crushed most managers. Benitez transformed the game with substitutions, out-thinking Sir Alex Ferguson. His Chelsea team lifted the Europa League trophy and collected 49 points out of 75 after defeat at West Ham on 1 December 2012. Then Benitez was almost inevitably removed for a manager who has made the side no better.

3. Unsung Coach of the Year


There are plenty of them. But Anna Mayes, the England netball coach who this year led her players to a 3-0 series victory over Australia – the old sporting enemy in that sport too – is remarkable. Netball is not actually an Olympic sport so there are not the usual funding streams which have helped cycling and athletics to prosper. Before this year’s whitewash, England had beaten Australia only once in 32 years. Mayes’ 2013 international record in total? One defeat in 13. Eat your heart out Roy Hodgson.

4. Administrator of the Year


Brian Cookson wrestled away the presidency of the UCI from Pat McQuaid – in itself an accomplishment of profound significance after decades of failure to tackle doping in cycling – and has since started to introduce some rigour. Cookson looks like the key agent of change. A mention in dispatches for the Football Association’s non-executive director, Heather Rabatts, whose searing dissection of Greg Dyke’s England Commission in October cut through the bureaucracy.

5. Unsung World Champion of the Year


Squash’s Nick Matthew, in my book. Of course, there was none of the national clamour which Andy Murray faced, but there was the same pressure cooker intensity – facing Gregory Gaultier, the French second seed, on home territory in Manchester. “What people don’t see is that mental torment. That mental chess. There’s no space to breathe, to move,” Matthew said. He’d looked second best in the tournament all week but won in five sets. It was a third world squash title in four years for a sportsman few have heard of.

6. Inspiration of the Year 

It catches you when a mother tells you: “My son died this year.” When I met Sue Dewhirst this summer you could see the sense of loss in her eyes and I guess that hasn’t changed in the five months since I spoke at an event for the Cardiac Risk in the Young charity she campaigns for. Her 17-year-old son, Matthew, collapsed and died during a rugby training session at the school, in Shropshire, for which he played front row, while also representing his county and the North Midlands rugby team. He had also been a junior footballer of the year in the South Cheshire League. Some 500 young people a year under 30 die from cardiac arrest. Sue’s campaign to fund diagnostic checks for young people at schools and colleges is about to take her to the House of Commons.

7. Young Performer of the Year


By a country mile, Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj. Sir Matt Busby always said that you didn’t know a football player’s full quality until he was out there in the field of combat. Januzaj’s fearlessness would be remarkable in any team, but to see it in a squad so fragile and beset by anxiety as this one, in the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure is astonishing. He has kept United on the right side of the line between trouble and calamity in the last four months of 2013.

8. Grass-roots Coach of the Year

Nominating one is clearly an imprecise science. There’s only so much ground you can cover in the course of this job. But I can tell you that Jonathan Michael, the coach of the south Manchester youth team I wrote about last month, will take some beating. His team was formed out of the disappointments of players who were jettisoned by their school and club first teams. It’s democratic. Everyone gets a game. And they’ve flourished. The FA’s general secretary, Alex Horne, said last week that he was committed to halting the drain of 300,000 players from the game in the past year. Ending the sport’s elitism would help. Michael is willing to help the FA replicate his model. I can vouch that he is worth listening to.

9. Personality of the Year


Because the BBC ceremony is often a misnomer. Thank you, Marion Bartoli, for demonstrating in a world where youth counts for so much in sport that a lifetime of effort can yield results when you are 28 years of age and have tried unsuccessfully to win 46 consecutive Grand Slams. In the media-managed place sport can be, here is someone who has lived and breathed, won and lost in the raw.

10. Paralympian of the Year

To sail around the world is some achievement: to do so when profoundly deaf is something else entirely. Gerry Hughes, who in May became the first individual to achieve this – departing from Troon in his boat Quest III, on 1 September last year and navigating around all five capes – was an inspiration to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The 55-year-old’s solo-circumnavigation lasted eight months and covered more than 32,000 miles, during which time he endured a capsize and equipment problems.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas