25 December 2011
They are the bunch who will look back at 2011 with regret, the ones who've fallen from golden heights or missed a chance for glory. Deserved or not, they are the losers of Australian sport in 2011.
1. Simon Katich: An unfortunate victim of bizarre mishandlings and unfounded visions for the future of Australian cricket. His plight out of favour has been well documented, but hardly justified. Has stood on principle, but treated with disdain by the ACB. Probably won't wear the Baggy Green again, and that's a shame.
2. Nick Riewoldt: The hangover from St Kilda's 2010 grand final disappointment well and truly stuck around well into this year. The nude photo scandal and ongoing saga with player manager Ricky Nixon took a heavier toll on the Saints and their skipper than they'd care to admit. Riewoldt is the talisman of their side, he was poor, and a resultant finals berth was flattery.
3. Ryan Tandy: Embroiled up to his neck in the NRL betting scandal, where he attempted to manipulate a match for the Cowboys, in order to cash in on an exotic bet. Having already faced the indignity of being at the Melbourne Storm during its own time of crisis, Tandy is now lumped with the prospect of never playing professional rugby league again.
4. Dean Bailey: Ungraciously dumped by the Demons after one of the worst AFL losses in history. The Dees capitulated in a storm brewed by the eventual premiers Geeiong, losing by 186 points. Bailey's coaching job was deemed untenable, and despite Melbourne looking to be building towards a brighter future, the axe swung swift and hard.
5. Craig Williams: The hard luck story of the Australian sporting world this year. Williams was the hottest jockey in the paddock, claiming the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate in the lead-up to the big one, the Melbourne Cup. In the eleventh hour a controversial lengthy ban for careless riding dashed the dream, and Williams could only watch on as his ride Dunaden streaked to victory with Frenchman Christophe Lemaire in the saddle.
6. Brendan Fevola: The AFL fantasy is surely over for Big Fev, after his attempts at rekindling a career failed to impress all 18 clubs. Showed promising signs in the VFL for Casey Scorpions kicking a bag of goals, but years of burning both ends of the wick have finally burned him. Can look forward to a potential appearance as a Dancing With The Stars contestant, though with his form, must be a favourite to be voted out by fans early.
7. Matt Giteau: The Wallabies veteran and once go-to-guy for Australia was squeezed out of the World Cup squad and into subsequent international rugby oblivion. Could argue he had plenty to offer still, but was clearly of no interest to Robbie Deans. The subsequent meltdown by Quade Cooper at the tournament would have had Giteau wondering what might have been had he been given one final opportunity.
8. Todd Carney: Was a fall from the ultimate height during 2011 for the Roosters playmaker. In just months Carney went from the toast of the NRL with a Dally M around his neck, to the subject of more fierce debates about player bad behaviour. Had a broken season through sanction and suspension, and must be awfully grateful for a very forgiving Cronulla, who've given him a lifeline in 2012.
9. Ricky Ponting: He may still hold his place in the Australian cricket team but it's tenuous at best. Ponting's pride has undoubtedly been wounded in the process that saw him relinquish the captaincy. Has found it hard to please critics, due to mostly mediocre form out in the middle, and sadly, it's clear his days are numbered.
10. Nick D'Arcy: Seemed to have been on the right track, but the controversial swimmer's career is at a tumultuous junction after he declared bankruptcy. D'Arcy is in the process of paying a massive damages bill to fellow swimmer Simon Cowley, who he punched in the jaw before being sued. His Olympic hopes are in jeopardy, and only some diplomatic and legal wrangling will see that happen. Regardless, is tainted with an unsavoury air.
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