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Kenny Archer: There's already a sporting honours system - they're called medals

Tennis star Andy Murray was made a knight of the realm by queen Elizabeth of England in her new years honours list 

THE (British) honours system has never held much appeal for me.

Just as I’m uncomfortable with waiting staff or hotel workers calling me ‘sir’, equally I don’t like to feel obliged to bow and scrape to anyone else.

Never mind the rights or wrong of associations with any ‘Empire’, pats on the head or the back aren’t all that enjoyable actually, whether or not they come from the establishment.

As a work colleague once said about our Christmas meal at a Belfast restaurant - in earshot of the maitre d’ - ‘It was good, if you like that sort of thing’.

In the sporting world, much is made of the respect given to rugby referees, with some players even calling them ‘sir’, but politeness does not require deference or forelock-tugging (although I’m long past being capable of the latter anyway).

The honours system gasped its last breath in my view when a certain local politician became a ‘Lord’. Just as ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, it doesn’t matter what label you pin on some people, they’re still idiots.

However, I understand they mean much to some people and I genuinely respect that aspect. They are a fitting reward for volunteers who devote decades of their life to helping kids get into sport, running clubs and teams.

Yet, as regards the actual participants, honours should surely be like gold dust, not 10 a penny. Basically, there are far too many ‘honours’ handed out. It’s getting to the stage where they’ll become almost meaningless, like certificates handed out to everyone who participates in a sporting event.

Besides, there is an honours system in sport already - they’re known as medals. They’re usually given to the winners, perhaps to the runners-up, occasionally to those who finish third.

Another issue I have is age-related. It took me until well into my 30s before I stopped looking behind me in shops when an assistant said to a colleague ‘serve that man’.

I still find it difficult to think about sports stars as sirs or dames. It just doesn’t seem right for an interviewer to address someone wearing a few scraps of sweaty, brightly-coloured Lycra as ‘sir this’ or ‘dame that’.

Ken Dodd will be joining Murray at the roundtable 

Consider some of the recipients of new year honours in other spheres: comedian/singer Ken Dodd is 89, musician Ray Davies is 72, actress Patricia Routledge is 87.

Now, I’m not suggesting Andy Murray should have had to wait six decades to be knighted. However, the authorities could at least wait until he, and all other sportspeople retire, which usually occurs during their 30s. That would allow a little bit of historical perspective, to judge who is, or isn’t, truly great.

Those who hand out the accolades could also wait to be sure, or at least surer, that the recipients weren’t unworthy because of having been drug cheats, for example.

In the meantime, with no current sportspeople to give awards too, they could honour some of those who were overlooked in the decades when sport, or at least certain sports, weren’t deemed fashionable or honourable.

At least if it’s not ‘out with the new year honours’ it could be ‘in with the old’.


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gave a forthright interview following Monday's victory over Burnley
Picture by PA 

THE next time a team manager gives a grumpy post-match interview, the media should praise him rather than getting their collective knickers in a twist.

Pep Guardiola has been criticised for his tetchy responses to the BBC’s Damian Johnson after Monday’s hard-fought win for his Manchester City side against Burnley.

Yet, unlike most post-match interviews by most managers, at least it was interesting. Pep raised valid questions about whether his goalkeeper was fouled in the lead-up to the Clarets’ goal.

He also wondered why City should be considered back in the title race less than 48 hours after being ruled out of it by many after they lost at Liverpool.

Sure, he was snarky and sarky, but at least he was memorable. It was actually Johnson who brought the interview to an abrupt end and that’s something the media should never do, especially not in the modern era.

Nor should they push for bosses to take their time to cool down, calm down and collect their thoughts, so that they’re cool, calm and collected before they speak to the media, as Johnson suggested Guardiola should have done. Never mind about the pressure of deadlines, sportspeople are usually far more quotable when their blood is pumping.

I still remember Joe Kernan’s first interview after a Championship match in charge of Armagh, the dramatic draw with Tyrone in 2002. ‘Big Joe’ had been there and done that, won Ulsters and All-Irelands with Crossmaglen, played in an All-Ireland final with Armagh - but this occasion was something else.

The emotion was evident on his face, having metaphorically kicked and caught every ball, tried to make or break every tackle, as he prowled the sideline in Clones.

In the changing room, surrounded by a pack of hacks, Joe was giving great quotes - until one clown (not me, honest) broke the spell by asking: "Who gave the pass for your goal, Joe?" 

Joe looked round, bewildered and lost his express train of thought. The rest of the reporters glared at the fact-checker. Facts may be sacred -  but forthright opinions are even more precious.

Then again, as regards Pep on Monday, the next time a manager turns a question back on the interviewer, the latter should play along. Invite the boss to write the match report; better still, get him to do the player ratings. For both sides.

In this celebrity-obsessed world, imagine the hits an article billed ‘Jose Mourinho reports from the Emirates Stadium’ would get. And as we continue to chase our own tails in this crazy post-modern world, the media could then critique the manager’s spelling and grammar.

Before pointing out that Manchester United marks totalling 110 and Arsenal ratings coming to just 55 - with a ‘3’ for the referee - don’t really add up after a game that finished in a goalless draw.

But if Arsene Wenger ever asks a member of the media for their opinion on any incident, the obvious retort must be: ‘I didn’t see it’.

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