Sport on TV: Shane deserves a medal, Skinner a special tinny

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The Independent Online

Being Independent readers, and therefore cultured and informed, you will, I'm sure, have heard of Piero Manzoni. He was the Italian artist celebrated for canning his own excrement. In that spirit, he's now posthumously given his name to an inaugural award in this column's end-of-year prize-giving. It won't necessarily be given every year, but only in extreme circumstances, when something's really, really bad.

It goes to a man who's also stepping up to collect his usual Alan Partridge Award for being a cringe-making berk: Frank Skinner, who had the temerity to drag the greatest bowler in the world on to his tawdry little chat show after the Ashes in order to make limp jokes about his marital problems.

"So you can, er, legitimately be with the girls, now?" Skinner asked Shane Warne, with all the sensitivity of Eric Idle's wink-wink nudge-nudge man. Warne reacted by not punching him on the nose, which gave him both dignity and the moral high ground. I hope Skinner enjoys his Manzoni tin.

The Those Nice Kray Boys Memorial Award for Robbery with Menaces goes to Roy Keane, for winning February's game at Highbury (Sky Sports 1) in the tunnel, engineering a ruck with Patrick Vieira then standing stock-still in all his brooding, cocky magnificence while the referee, Graham Poll, tried to broker a truce. When the players eventually filed on to the pitch, Arsenal looked completely rattled, except for Thierry Henry, who was grinning in disbelief. Keane's Manchester United team-mates were just grinning. Hindsight's handy, but the game looked over there and then.

To win his gong, Keane had to fight off the makers of Frank Bruno: Gloves Off (ITV1, October). In attempting to rehabilitate their man they found it necessary to mug his wife Laura, who came across as an evil harpy - Lady Macbeth with a Stanley knife, but without the right of reply. It was, in a fairly poor field, the worst documentary of the year. The Best Documentary - and a strong contender in any year - was Heysel '85: Requiem for a Cup Final (BBC2, April), a moving account of how a chain of small details led to 39 deaths.

The Sir Alex Ferguson "Football, Hey? Bloody Hell!" Award for Impossible Comebacks goes, inevitably, to Liverpool FC. At the Carling Cup final in February their fans had become officially the world's loudest, at 130.7 decibels, and they carried the team through a European campaign that had even this United fan willing them on. As they celebrated in Istanbul, the habitually excellent Clive Tyldesley used Sir Alex's famous line from 1999, and it was a perfect summing-up.

Among the best of the rest: The Mark Nicholas Cheesy Grin for Services to Unctuousness goes to Mark Nicholas; the Eraserhead Memorial Golden Hairdo goes to Boris Becker, vertiginously tonsured but an otherwise agreeable newcomer on They Think It's All Over (which nearly is all over, despite the fresh meat); and the One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Commemorative Award for most spectacular on-screen crack-up goes to Ronnie O'Sullivan, for his bewildering, forehead-gouging implosion during his World Snooker Championship defeat to Peter Ebdon.

The Golden Phyllosan Capsule for services to geriatrics goes to Steve Davis, for his recent fabulous run to the UK Championship final; and the Golden Foot In Mouth goes to Rodney Marsh for the feeble but not malicious Toon Army/tsunami joke that got him sacked from Sky - while a Big Golden Raspberry goes to whoever it was who sacked him.

And finally, for his outstanding achievement in exploring the outer limits of jaw-dropping obnoxiousness on Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 4, January), the Big Fat Festering Maggot Award goes to John McCririck. And a Happy New Year to you all!

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