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?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£60 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Youth Support Workers Glouceste...

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary Teaching Jobs Available NOW-Southport

£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London