Even amid the hyperbole that surrounds so much of sport, 2008 was a special year.
So no pressure 2009. But it's not all doom and gloom – next year may have its work cut out to challenge smug old 2008, but it does have a calendar racy enough to give the WI a run for its money. There's a Premier League that promises drama through to May, a Champions League that is ready to bloom come spring, an Ashes that can inflame the summer and the Lions are off to challenge the world champions in South Africa.
But how are these potentially great events going to play out over the next 12 months? The Last Word has been reading the runes...
January: Phil Taylor wins his 14th world darts title but shocks the sport by announcing he's quitting to take up cycling and targeting gold at 2012. "If Rebecca Romero can do it..." muses "The Power".
A phlegmatic Harry Redknapp accepts Gomes is at fault for another Spurs defeat. "That's what happens when you have an octopus in goal," sighs Harry. "It's time I got an English fish to guard the net. Like an eel. Preferably jellied. Lovely."
February: Superbowl XLIII is added to Super League XIV to make a Superbowl League LVII.
The UK Indoor Athletics Championships are interrupted when Craig Pickering's mum rushes on to the track waving his parka and demanding that he get outside and enjoy some fresh air. "What sort of boy stays cooped up indoors?" asks Mrs P rhetorically.
March: After the success of the Davis Cup tie against Ukraine, the Lawn Tennis Association announces that Wimbledon is to be moved to Glasgow. "The city is its natural home, youse ken," says the LTA's chief executive as he chews ruminatively on a deep fried strawberry.
The opening grand prix of the season is overshadowed by Max Mosley's call for cars to be replaced by chariots. "Anyone can drive fast, but who can truly handle a whip?" demands Mosley.
April: Rebecca Romero wins the Grand National. "She's a lovely jumper," reflects her trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies. "Show-off," snaps Phil Taylor.
May: Super League's Magic Weekend at Murrayfield is won by Harry Potter, beating Paul Daniels in the final. "It's a man's game," says Potter, dismissing claims that he distracted his opponent by making Daniels' hairpiece giggle at a key moment.
Aston Villa win the Premier League. "Are you drunk?" Martin O'Neill asks his players.
The Championship play-off final is remarketed as the £1.75 match due to the credit crunch.
June: Sir Alex Ferguson launches an astonishing assault on the FA, abseiling from the roof at Soho Square, smashing through a window and making off with the bowl from which the away teams are drawn for the FA Cup. "That's me out of a job," bemoans Sir Trevor Brooking.
The Lions tour is going well as the Cheetahs are beaten. "They were just too quick for us," gasps the home side's captain. The Lions go on to beat the Sharks. "We were like fish out of water," rues the hosts' coach.
July: The Tour de France passes off without a positive drugs test.
August: Rebecca Romero wins the Ashes. "Oh lah-di-dah," says Phil Taylor.
September: England beat Croatia at a rainy Wembley, but the gloss is taken off the win as Fabio Capello catches a heavy cold having refused an umbrella. Wales are denied by Russia after the visitors' park a tank in front of their goal at the Millennium Stadium. "It got us a result in Georgia – so we thought, why not in Wales too!" laughs Andre Arshavin. "Next stop the Baltic republics."
October: Rebecca Romero wins Super League Grand Final. "She was just too strong," says beaten opponent, Phil Taylor. "It's back to the darts board for me."
November: Rebecca Romero takes up darts. "Bollocks," says Phil Taylor.
December: "If we are still top in the new year, then I think we will win," says Rafa Benitez as Liverpool bid to end their 19-year search for the title.
Ponting's Catch-22, or chicken and egg
You can only admire Ricky Ponting as a cricketer. His Boxing Day century was another marker by a truly great player, yet one who has never captured a nation's heart in the way Sachin Tendulkar has. Perhaps it is because he has the misfortune to be presiding over what appears to be the end of Australia's dominance. Nor can it help having to promote Kentucky Fried Chicken, one of Cricket Australia's sponsors – a marriage with convenience food. One of the offshoots of the deal is the television viewer who wins the Catch of the Season competition is rewarded with a year's supply of the stuff. The body on the receiving end will be hard-pressed to be sporty in 12 months' time.
Trend it like Beckham
In one sense Milan and David Beckham are made for each other. Have you ever seen a more stylish football scarf worn with such elan than the long red and black number Goldenballs sported for his arrival at San Siro last weekend?Reuse content