WELCOME to the first annual Wanderer Awards, where we recognise the good, the bad, and the ugly things we’ve witnessed on our journey covering the club since last August.
There have been highs – the spanking of Leeds United, Sanmi Odelusi and Rob Hall’s breakthrough moments against Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup, the glorious dipping volley from Liam Trotter at Sheffield Wednesday.
And there have certainly been lows – everything that happened at the Madejski Stadium aside from the press food, the 4-1 mauling at Ewood Park, or Stu Holden’s injury on his return for the Development Squad.
But here at Extra Time we try to keep things light-hearted. And so, in the spirit of football fun, here are a few of the gongs we’d like to dish out if the budget would stretch.
The “Mickey Rourke” comeback award: Split between Matt Mills and Tim Ream, who looked half way out of the Reebok exit door last season but are now arguably Wanderers’ two most consistent players. The “saved my bacon” award for dumb luck: Forgetting to put 50p on Danny Ings as Championship top scorer at 66/1 for me and a fellow journalist looked rather silly as he raced to the top of the scoring charts by Christmas. Thankfully, Ross McCormack et al saved me a real rollocking.
The “what goes around comes around” award: Ex-Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies, whose sacking at the City Ground prompted much celebration among the many, many, many ostracised journalists in the East Midlands.
The “Neverending Story” award for the longest transfer saga: Jermaine Beckford’s protracted move from Leicester City, which spanned an eye-watering 70 days.
The “gravel mouthwash” award for post-match interviews: Sean Dyche, whose earthy tones have inspired Burnley to heights they could have only have dreamt about this season.
The “Peters and Lee” award for clubs who have landed back in the second tier: Wolves – Sam Ricketts and all. Great to see the Midlanders back in the same division so we can renew old rivalries with the Old Gold.
The “wish you were here” award for teams heading out of the division: Yeovil – Huish Park may be a ramshackle old ground but the welcome was Premier League class.
The “nothing is too much trouble” award for outstanding press hospitality: Reading, who pip the massively-improved Leeds and Bolton by virtue of a mountain of bacon butties that appeared half an hour before kick-off. Unfortunately, the afternoon would soon take a very sharp turn for the worse. The “baptism of fire” award for a hellish debut: Hayden White, thrown on after only a couple of minutes against QPR after Tim Ream broke his nose at Loftus Road.
The “Scooby Doo double take” award for strange things seen at away grounds: Shared between Millwall – who had mouse traps in various places in the press room - and Watford – who had moved their press box to a position by the corner flag.
The “Wombles” award for recycling: Charlton Athletic, who have managed to re-use the press box from the 1980 Moscow Olympic Stadium and pass it off as their own.
The “Ebenezer no good” award for poor hospitality: Doncaster Rovers. No press food. Poor show.
The “circumstances conspire” award: Wanderers lose 1-0 at Ipswich on the same day that Craig Davies, Marvin Sordell and Tom Eaves all score for their respective loan clubs. The “Henry V” motivational speech award: Goes to Dougie Freedman for his chest-beating line before January’s FA Cup meeting with Blackpool. The manager said: “I'm working at a club with Nat Lofthouse's statue outside. How can I disrespect the FA Cup?”