The dreaded “BEST OF [insert year here]” post. Horrible things, they are. Just awful. The stuff of bloggers who have run out of things to write about around Christmas time, so they go off on some self-indulgent wank-fest of “yay look at how wonderful I am, I wrote all these cutting edge, poignant, insightful, intellectual, subtly satirical in all the right places, better than Shakespeare, literary masterpieces that I promoted to within an inch of their pathetic lives at the time of writing but nobody bothered to read them, so now I’m going to inflict them on you yet again, and you are going to bloody well like them, damn you.” I hate that sort of narcissistic crap with the burning passion of a supernova. I wouldn’t write a ‘best of’ post if you paid me.
That’s what I thought anyway, until I realised it’s almost Christmas, there’s no football to go to and nothing interesting to write about. I also couldn’t help but notice that the most popular posts according to my stats are the ones I knocked together in a hurry after attending games, and they all read like brain-farts. Whilst the cutting edge, poignant, insightful, intellectual, subtly satirical in all the right places, better than Shakespeare, literary masterpieces I wrote throughout the year tend to be rotting on the vine, despite me promoting the living crap out of them at the time of writing. So what better way to celebrate Christmas than to unceremoniously shove these gems down your throat, yet again? You’re welcome.
2012 started off with a Christmas holiday road-trip along the North Island’s East Coast. On our travels, we called into Napier and aside from defacing Pania of the Reef with a Roma scarf, we were very fortunate to be able to see a cracking good football match at Park Island, the home of legendary club side Napier City Rovers. There, we witnessed Louis Fenton and his Team Wellington crew carve up Hawkes Bay United in the summer sun.
In February, I uncovered the find of the year by far – Bruce Holloway’s ‘Waikato Chronicles’, a 20 year anthology of his columns in Waikato United, Melville United and Waikato FC match day programmes. If you haven’t ordered your copy, shame on you. My post on the topic contains details for how you can rectify your egregious error in judgement. Also in February, I wrote a piece about New Zealand’s qualification for South Africa 2010 and what it was like to be an Italy supporter in New Zealand at the time of the finals. *Shudder*
March was the month that hypocrisy from Roma fans about “racist Lazio” became too much and I made myself unpopular with some of my Romanista friends by saying so.
April saw me experience my first serious episode of writer’s block, so I asked my Facebook friends to suggest a topic to write about. Inspiration came from one political friend who told me I should write about “why soccer doesn’t suck”. With all due modesty (not) I was particularly happy with my response, especially when it passed the ultimate test – the same friend said it changed her view of “soccer” for the better. Easily my favourite post to date. Next year my goal is to get her calling it football.
In May, going to the Northern Second Division match between Hibiscus Coast and Warkworth at picturesque Stanmore Bay seemed like as good a time as any to have a bit of fun with the fact that lower league football in New Zealand would be much more popular if our derbies had cooler names.
June was the month when it was established that I am a corrupt individual who will stop at nothing to reward people who give me free stuff. This is something that clearly wasn’t adequately noted to any extent by other clubs at the time. Nonetheless it can’t ever be reiterated enough. June was also the month of Euro 2012, a fine tournament where my beloved Italy far exceeded expectations, destroyed England along the way, and I got to enjoy the fun of it all with the local Italian community. The very definition of football bliss!
If www.in-the-back-of-the.net had a team of the year award, it would undoubtedly go to Manukau City AFC, whose giant killing July Chatham Cup run was the stuff of fairy tales. There were several posts on this, but the one that still holds the all-time record for the highest number of hits on this site is this guest piece about their quarter-final exit in Dunedin. What’s that you say? No, it doesn’t bother me at all that the most popular post in the history of my blog was written by someone else…… Oh, shut up.
The New Zealand club football calendar wound down in August, while the Italian equivalent (I use that word loosely of course) was in the process of winding up. In honour of the latter, I provided New Zealand readers with a slightly quirky take on all 20 Serie A clubs. In honour of the former, came one of the real highlights of the year for me – my first ever interview, which was with one of the stars of the New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup Final.
There was another first in September, as I went to my first ever game of Futsal. I posted some pretty uninformed drivel about it which was probably not ideal. On the other hand though, it generated some interest and whilst I don’t believe in being controversial just to get blog hits, I do like a bit of debate in the comments section so seeing that occur was a highlight.
October was Alessandro Del Piero month as the Juventus legend shocked the world by deciding to emigrate to Australia and see out his career in the A-League with Sydney FC. The first game of his new adventure was, as staggeringly good luck would have it, in Wellington and being there to witness it was a humungous privilege for this Italokiwi. It was also the month that only a few weeks after he started, new Roma manager Zdeněk Zeman was already coming under ridiculous pressure due to a perceived poor start to the season. It wasn’t surprising, but it was disappointing. Approaching the halfway stage of the season now, it’s great to see the results improving and some of that debilitating pressure slowly coming off.
In November I posted something or other about men taking their shirts off, I don’t even know what…
Which brings us to this fine month of December, when I achieved the feat of managing to offend a Junior Football Fern by using my privilege as a crusty old white man to imply that she’s not feminist enough. Straight out of Dale Carnegie, that one. Although to make up for it, as well as all of the rest of the crimes against football catalogued above (I hope), I saw the vast bulk of the year out with a bit of amateur poetry – the story of how the fairy got on top of the Christmas tree which I think came out pretty well as far as overcooked clichéd parodies of already parodied to death children’s rhymes go.
So all that remains after all that is to hope that you have a very happy Christmas and to give you my best wishes for 2013. May your manager last until June, may your transfer window be prolific and may all your strikers find form. In case you are wondering, this is the part where you all rush to the comments section to tell me how wonderful I am and to “keep up the good work”. Thanks, I appreciate every word.
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.