Let's just forget pointless awards

Surely it's about time that we abandoned the announcement of the Man of the Match award while the game is still in progress, and even consider dumping such futile nonsense all-together.

Yet again the naming of the award winner over the tannoy interrupted play at the weekend, caused a bad reaction from the crowd and could even have cost us a victory, because for a moment or so the players too reacted to the noise from the crowd, and our opponents seemed to be inspired to greater effort.

It always seems to come with a few minutes to go and is a pointless, annoying distraction. And if it causes just one moment of lost concentration, then it has to stop.

Our skipper Kevin Nolan found his name being jeered on Saturday in the dying minutes of a hard-fought, tense victory over Barnsley. He will probably say he didn't notice, but just say he did and lost focus for a minute or so.

He didn't deserve that, and despite plenty of comment to the contrary, I felt he had a more than decent game holding a patched-up side together and doing the dirty jobs needed. He has never had pace, never will have, but he runs, covers, intercept, stops opponents in their tracks, plugs gaps and generally battles away for the cause.

Having seen his display described elsewhere as ineffective and limited just defies words. He's never going to be Billy Bonds, but he does not allow teams to boss us and that's crucial.

He may not have been our best player on Saturday, but he was still vitally important. He is still finding it hard to be accepted at the Boleyn, but maybe that's because he is Sam's man in the dressing room and therefore a crucial part of the management regime.

But I bet there is no whinging and moaning behind the boss's back these days, no clich?s and no damaging splits in the camp. We've seen what happened last season to know that this campaign there has been a 100 per cent improvement in spirit and effort. That's down to Nolan.

But I still hear scant praise. He was even being called 'fat boy' but the moron who sits near me at the ground. I may have mentioned his inane nonsense before, but this insult came from someone who is 18 stone plus and couldn't run for a bus.

I constantly find myself defending Nolan, and I'm sure he does not need my support because he's big enough and ugly enough to fight his own battles and close his ears to it all. But his overall contribution is far greater than some may think.

Which brings me to another point. Our fans were even taken to task on Monday by the reporter from the Guardian, who was critical of the atmosphere and the way our fans were distracted from cheering the side to victory by the man of the match announcement.

Now the Guardian do, it seems these days, feel they are doing God's work on earth by setting themselves up as the arbitrators of the media. They can be patronising, pompous and pretentious. They can rightly uncover and condemn phone hacking one minute but then brush aside their own errors on the Milly Dowler story.

But even if I don't know a journalist who hasn't 'twirled' a quote to help along a story line, I do agree with their politics.

But when one of their writers points out that we have an 'angry' crowd these days, with a short fuse and even less tolerance, we should take note. None of that helps the cause, and the attitude to the man of the match announcement underlines that.

Nolan did well, Danny Potts was excellent on his debut - how nice it is to see our own come good - while Carlton Cole led the line as well as he has all season. Robert Green, again, was top quality. Any one of them could have been Man of the Match.

But the award loses credibility when it is noted that the choice is made by a group of fans from the posh boxes who probably have paid for the right to have their company mentioned along with the announcement. Whatever, it should not be allowed to have any effect on the match.

Frankly, the award is pointless, meaningless and of no real relevance to what is basically a team game. So when its very announcement can be disruptive, it should be stopped.

I know of one Premier League club who restricts such announcements to the VIP areas, suites and lounges after the game, that's just about right.

But we come back to the real point, one I have banged on about too often, that our home crowd are very good at creating problems for the team with tension, criticism and a general failure to get behind the team. The Guardian hack suggested that the Boleyn is not a happy place to watch football from.

Sadly I can think of several grounds where the atmosphere is better and more supportive. Everton, Stoke, Manchester City, Southampton, Newcastle, Blackpool from recent experience, spring to mind.

Away from home we are fine, at home we need to get our house in order. This is a dreadfully tough division, we are almost half way through the campaign and the relentless nature of the competition is already seeing our squad struggling with injuries, fitness, suspensions and lack of genuine cover.

On Saturday at the end, I looked around and found myself the only one applauding the team off in a large area of the ground where I sit. I've never booed my team or players in over 50 years of watching the Irons, it is counter-productive.

If you are not happy with a player, ignore him. And if you all want to see us out of this division quickly, tolerance and support are vital. And the end of silly awards.

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