The novelty 2011-12 A-League awards

by Ben Somerford on Apr 30, 2012

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After the completion of a rather odd A-League season, GGArmy's Ben Somerford decided to take a fun look at the campaign's most impressive performers with a bunch of novelty awards.

Facepalm Award – Clive Palmer

Your club is down in the doldrums, bottom of the ladder with nobody turning up to watch. What do you do?

According to Clive Palmer's 'How To Run A Sporting Franchise 101', you call the sport “hopeless” and label the competition a “joke”. Yep, that'll get the fans through the turnstiles and the FFA to start listening to you. Honestly, mate.

Idiot/Twit of the Season Award – Antony Golec

Brisbane Roar's 2-2 draw with a nine-man Melbourne Victory early in the season got a lot of people excited, but Adelaide United's Golec took it a step too far on Twitter. After Ben Williams handed out a questionable red card, Golec tweeted: "Ben Williams you are gay, biggest homo going around, you gypsie." Ummm, Antony you know anything you post on Twitter is public?

But like the infamous EnergyWatch CEO, apparently he didn't. He claimed he was merely writing it to his brother, but everyone saw it and it landed him in a lot of hot water. Eventually he apologised for the insulting and homophobic remark, but even that missed the mark.

Character of the Season Award – Besart Berisha

Apart from the 'gypsy' stereotype, there's not much most Aussies know about Albania but we all got a taste in the A-League this term with Brisbane's Berisha. He's a guy who you either love, or you hate. I dare say team-mate Issey Nakajima-Farran – who has now moved on - might be one of the latter after copping a mid-game spray from him on one occasion.

And while Berisha might be a divisive character, he's also emotional, sensitive and wears his heart on his sleeve. In many ways that's exactly what the A-League needs. From admitting he loves his team-mates in a post-game interview, to inviting Pascal Bosschaart for a stoush in the sideline tunnel, he's a curious character who you cannot take your eyes off for a second.

Nepotism Award – Branko Culina

Branko didn't actually manage to take charge of one game during the 2011-12 season after being sacked as coach of Newcastle Jets on the eve of the season.

It was a rather ugly episode for all concerned actually, after Branko signed his son Jason for the Jets on a three-year deal. However it turned out Jason was crocked with a knee injury and perhaps will never play again. Like his father, he didn't play any part in the 2011-12 season. Did Branko know the extent of his son's injury? The Jets thought so and he got the flick. Strange.

Demotion of the Season Award – Rini Coolen

In his first season in charge of the Reds in the 2009-10 season the Dutchman won a lot of admirers including the Adelaide board who re-signed him on a deal until 2015. However it all unravelled for them during the 2011-12 campaign.

There were murmurs of poor player management which had alienated the squad. Whatever the case, the results were far from satisfactory and eventually he got the chop. Well actually, given Coolen's contractual status he was demoted to the position as the head of the club's youth development program. A couple days after the hefty demotion, Coolen opted to sever all ties with the club.

Courage Award – Shane Smeltz

Most AFL programs on Pay TV these days are handing out some kind of courage award so why cannot we do the same. Some of those AFL commentators may say because 'football is soft' and point to the Grand Final drama, but the obvious response is to refer them to the curious case of Shane Smeltz.

Indeed, while Berisha's tumble in the box had non-footballites laughing, Smeltz's nose injury suffered 75 minutes earlier was easily forgotten. Smeltz suffered a broken nose after copping a stray Matt Smith elbow to the face, with blood pouring out before he was bandaged up like a mummy leaving him barely able to breathe. He still managed to get through 80 minutes (although he was largely ineffective), before heading to hospital after the game for a lazy 50-odd stitches and a 'nose re-attachment'. So who said football was soft again?