Saturday, 23 January 2010

2007 - A Washout Of A Year

A year of slurs from celebrities on the box, a summer marred by torrential downpours, and for sports fans: so near yet so far in some déjà vu circumstances. 2007 was probably one of those years best forgotten ! That doesn’t mean we’re going to let it lie though – here are the highs and lows of the year that was.


The year kicked off with reality television dominating the tabloid headlines throughout January, with controversy reigning in the “Celebrity Big Brother” series, which saw racism cause reverberations across the globe. A heated dispute between Jade Goody (celebrity ? Since when did coming fourth in a tv game show warrant such a title ?) and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Over 3,500 complaints were logged to Ofcom, and Channel 4 were severely reprimanded while the show took a year off to cool down, at least in the celebrity format. Ofcom were also at the centre of the news later in the year after several popular television programmes were found guilty of faking competition results, including children’s favourite “Blue Peter”, while a number of shows also ran draws which viewers had no chance of winning, but were charged a premium rate for calling a telephone number. Further television scandal followed, with another contestant on Big Brother, Emily Parr was heard to make a racist slur, seeing her immediate expulsion from the compound. While on ITV show “Hell’s Kitchen” former “Big Break” host and funnyman, Jim Davidson, was removed after describing fellow contestant, homosexual Brian Dowling as a “shirt lifter”.

Robbie Williams battled addiction to prescription drugs in this year, entering rehab in the U.S. on his 33rd birthday, while Britney Spears also underwent therapy after breaking down after a bizarre series of events including shaving her head in public.

Madeleine McCann, a British toddler went missing from her family’s apartment in Portugal, while her parents dined at a nearby eatery. To this day she has never been found, despite numerous false leads; and unproven allegations.

The summer months were far from sunny for many parts of Britain. June and July saw some of the most heavy and prolonged periods of rainfall ever. Northern Ireland was the first to be hit, with County Antrim, County Down, County Tyrone and County Londonderry bore the brunt of the precipitation. Houses were evacuated, and Belfast Airport had to close after conditions became too severe for planes to land. East Yorkshire suffered horrendous conditions just days later, and the seriousness of the situation was hammered home to all after a man was drowned after becoming trapped in a storm drain. A month after the worst of the peak floods in June, the rain returned once more towards the end of July. Conditions in Berkshire were so severe that a landslide caused the M4 motorway to close, while Tewkesbury and Gloucester experienced some of their worst floods ever. Over this two month period, barely any rivers escaped without bursting their banks, thousands of homes and businesses were flooded, some even demolished by the torrents of water, and there was the tragic loss of ten lives as a direct result of the flooding.

The year ended with grim reports from both sides of the Atlantic that a few too many years of the good life, spent with credit neither the banks nor consumers could realistically account for pointed to a global crisis which would eclipse all collapses that had gone before. One newspaper even described the forthcoming events making the great crash of 1929 look like a “walk in the park”. These predictions did of course come to light, but we’ll come to the “crunch” in the review of 2008.


It was a record breaking year for the 2006 “X-Factor” winner, Leona Lewis. She started the year in dominant fashion, sitting atop the charts for her third and fourth weeks with “A Moment Like This”. Her album “Spirit” released later in the year became the fastest selling debut album in Britain of all time, while her second single, “Bleeding Love” was number one for seven weeks in November and December, and was the biggest selling single of the year. Although Lewis had the biggest selling single, U.S. R&B singer “Rihanna” had the longest stay at number one in the singles chart for thirteen years, with “Umbrella” staying at the top for ten weeks in the early summer. While her personal life was spiralling downwards, Amy Winehouse had the biggest selling album of the year with “Back To Black”, and it spawned several successful singles too.

After a fair bit of media hype, “Mika” became only the second artist (after Gnarls Barkley the year before) to top the chart on downloads alone, with “Grace Kelly”. The top three in the charts in the week of 21st January were all sold solely via download, with “Just Jack” at number two with “Starz In Their Eyes”, and “The View” with “Same Jeans” charting in third. “Mika”, with his quirky and uplifting style retained the top spot for five weeks, and he also enjoyed three other top ten hits and a number one album “Life In Cartoon Motion” to mark a successful maiden year at the forefront of the music industry. The “Kaiser Chiefs” returned in 2007, scoring a number one single “Ruby”, then followed it up a month later with a top placed album entitled “Yours Truly, Angry Mob”. Gaining their tenth number one were "Take That" with “Shine”, which ended up being one of the most played tracks on commercial radio of the noughties; despite featuring Mark Owen on lead vocals, opposed to usual frontman, Gary Barlow.

Collaborative acts made up several of the biggest hits of the year. Scottish twins “The Proclaimers” teamed up with comedians Peter Kay and Matt Lucas a.k.a. “Brian Potter” and “Andy Pipkin” to rehash their hit “I’m gonna be (500 miles)” which was the unofficial “Comic Relief” single, and was at number one for a fortnight. Earlier, the official single which too was a joint effort from “Girls Aloud” and “Sugababes” also enjoyed some time at the top. American producer “Timbaland” with some help from Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake also had a huge hit with “Give It To Me”. Another all star collaboration directed by "Timbaland" was from Beyonce Knowles and “Shakira” with “Beautiful Liar”. Welsh rockers “Manic Street Preachers” joined up with Nina Persson of “The Cardigans” for a number two hit “Your Love Alone”.

After a nine year absence from the U.K. chart, Swedish singer “Robyn” scored her first number one with the dance track “With Every Heartbeat”. This held off Kate Nash’s debut single “Foundations” from the top spot, after coming to the forefront of the music business with some resounding performances at the summer festivals.

After going in at number two the week previous on downloads alone, seventeen year old Sean Kingston celebrated his debut number one “Beautiful Girls”. The same week, “Hard-Fi” made a triumphant return with their number one album “Once Upon A Time In The West” which spawned the hit single “Suburban Knights”.

Although they only charted at number five with “Sexy ! No. No. No…” the return of “Girls Aloud” saw them make history by having the most consecutive U.K. top ten hits by an all girl group. This was extended further in the Autumn, with “The Promise”. Another all girl group made their return in 2007, after several years absence “The Spice Girls” made a return to the charts, but not in the epic proportions that boyband “Take That” had done a year previous.

A controversial story from the music world in 2007 came as “Radiohead” allowed fans to officially download their new album “In Rainbows” for any price of between £0.00 and £100.00. This caused heated debate throughout the music world, but still did not deter the band from going ahead. The physical (CD) release of the album did not come until the end of the year, but it still made number one in the album chart, despite being available online free.

The year ended much as it had begun, with the new “X-Factor” winner on top, this time it was the turn of Leon Jackson with “When You Believe”. For the first time in many years, owing to the download market becoming much greater, and the fact that all legal downloads were recognised in the singles chart from 2007, there were a number of timely Christmas classics in the chart, including “The Pogues”; “Slade”; “Wham”; Mariah Carey and “Wizzard”.


The long wait for Wembley Stadium was finally ended in 2007, with most of the home Internationals having been played all over the country in the years immediately previous. The start of the 2006/07 season also saw a new man leading the England team, former Middlesbrough beak Steve McClaren, who took charge in September 2006. Opening his account with a 4-0 friendly win over Greece, and then a 5-0 mauling of Andorra in the opening qualifying round for Euro 2008, saw the usual bilge from the England fanatical that they would not only qualify, but win the tournament. However, a series of very unconvincing performances followed this, including a goalless draw at home to Macedonia, and a 2-0 loss to Croatia, which left the managers jacket on a very shaky peg indeed as the football season closed in June 2007.

Manchester United ended, by their terms at least, a barren four seasons, in landing the Premiership title, after Chelsea faltered somewhat, finishing six points astray. Liverpool and Arsenal tied on 68 points apiece, but the Scousers took third place on goal difference. At the foot of the table, Charlton Athletic went down in nineteenth after eight seasons in the top flight, while Watford endured a miserable season, winning only five times, and sitting bottom for more or less the whole year, going straight back down following promotion the previous year, as did, in somewhat dubious terms, Sheffield United who were level on 39 points with Wigan, but lost out by a solitary goal in the goal difference standings. West Ham played Wigan on the last day of the season at the J.J.B. Stadium, and won 3-0, which saw them as unlikely survivors, following a season languishing in the bottom three. There were repercussions and court appearances for months after, as well as unsuccessful appeals by the “Blades” to see West Ham reprimanded for the illegal fielding of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. Three days after United were relegated, their manager, Neil Warnock resigned to be replaced by Bryan Robson.

Sunderland, under the stewardship of new manager Roy Keane, bounced straight back to the Premiership after relegation the previous year. They won the league by two points from Birmingham City (also returning after just a single season). Derby County had waited a little longer, their last season in the top flight had been 2001/02, but after finishing third in the league, and conquering West Brom in the play off final, they could look forward to life in the top tier once more. At the other end, Leeds continued their miserable form of the last few years, finishing bottom, and moving down to the third level of English football, following a ten point deduction for entering voluntary administration (although by the time this was announced their fate of going down had already been sealed). The Elland Road outfit also had the prospect of starting life in League One on -15 points, which was actually a relief to their following, as the club were close to expulsion from the football league due to their interpretation of the administration rulings.

Two notable goals stood out in the Premier Division, firstly, the 15,000th goal since the top flight was rebranded as “The Premiership” was scored by Moritz Volz of Fulham (against derby rivals Chelsea), gaining him the nickname “15,000 Volz" ! Also, a bizarre goal was scored by Tottenham Hotspurs goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, who beat his opposite number and England understudy Ben Foster, from an 83 yard free kick in the 3-1 win over Watford. This was the third time a goalkeeper had scored in the Premier League, can you name the other two and whom they were playing for ? If so, post your responses in the comments section below, please.

It was a decent season for Premiership newcomers, Reading. Having been promoted as winners of the “Championship” the year before, they made their debut in the top flight (their first time in the top tier in their 135 year history), they finished in a very credible eighth place, thanks to gritty determination, which was in evidence throughout their campaign, for example winning their opening tie against Middlesbrough 3-2, after going two goals down. Reading also recorded the biggest scoreline of the season, thumping West Ham 6-0.

Chelsea took the F.A. Cup in a 1-0 win over Manchester United, to avenge the suffering for conceding their title in the Premier League. The return to Wembley for the final, the first since 2000, was a very dull affair, with 116 minutes without a goal until Chelsea striker Didier Drogba hit the back of the net to ensure the tie did not go to spot kicks. Despite their torrid Premiership form, Watford surprised many by getting to the semi final, but were outclassed 4-1 by United at this stage. It was a cup double for Chelsea, as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Carling Cup final back in February. In a repeat line up of the 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan and Liverpool once again squared up. However, despite a late rallying comeback from Liverpool seeing Dirk Kuyt score in the 89th minute, they did not have the same answer to the Italians as two years previously, and thanks to a brace from Felipe Inzaghi either side of half time, AC lifted the trophy. The semi finals had seen three English teams take part, with an all English tie between Liverpool and Chelsea, which ended in a shootout loss for Chelsea after a 1-1 aggregate result (with a goal which never was from Liverpool). Manchester United were comprehensively beaten 5-3 by Milan over two legs in the other tie. Arsenal, who had been runners up the year previous, were dumped out by PSV Eindhoven in the first knockout round.

It was yet another fruitful year in Scotland for Celtic, but not so for the blue side of Glasgow, with the Ibrox club finishing twelve points off the leaders in the league, and failing to take down a trophy in their other competitions. A surprise third place in the league were perennial underachievers, Aberdeen. Going down to the First Division were bottom side Dunfermline, but at the same time earned themselves a place in the UEFA Cup the following season after being beaten in the final of the Scottish Cup by Celtic. Gretna continued to capture the imagination of fans in Scotland, and indeed beyond, with their third promotion in as many years, once again winning their league, and making it into the top level of Scottish football, but was their bubble about to burst ? In the League Cup, Hibernian thrashed Kilmarnock 5-1 in the final, in a one sided encounter.

It was all change in Formula One, following the retirement of German legend Michael Schumacher. Ferrari welcomed former McLaren golden boy Kimi Raikkonen, while McLaren signed the reigning champion Fernando Alonso to pair with their protégé Lewis Hamilton, who had been nurtured through the junior formulae. The season was an intriguing one, with a close battle, which often turned sour and cold between the McLaren team mates. In his rookie year, the title was so nearly Hamilton’s, but in the heat of the moment, he lost his cool, while “ice-man Raikkonen made up a 22 point shortfall in the last three Grands Prix to snatch the title from the jaws of defeat. Alonso lasted only twelve months in a tempestuous relationship with the British team. Meanwhile, BMW looked good, with Polish driver Robert Kubica particularly impressive, despite one of the most horrendous crashes of the decade, in Canada, thankfully without serious injury. Worth a mention is Scotsman Dario Franchitti, who won the world famous “Indianapolis 500” race in the Indycar scene.

While Ducati had been regular winners in the World Superbike Championships, Australian rider Casey Stoner finally landed them their first top flight MotoGP title in 2007 in a dominant season. Valentino Rossi could only finish third in the standings for Yamaha, a point adrift of second placed Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, in his worst season for over a decade. Over at World Superbikes, 2004 champion, James Toseland of Sheffield took the championship once again, but this time for Honda, which earned him a 2008 ride in MotoGP. Over on the Isle of Man, the T.T. Races celebrated their centenary year, with victories for John McGuinness in the superbikes and Dave Molyneaux & Rick Long in the ever popular sidecar class.

Once again, it was a good year for Welsh boxing hero Joe Calzaghe, in November he defeated Mikkel Kessler by unanimous decision in a unification bout for the W.B.A.; W.B.C. and W.B.O. Super Middleweight titles. In doing so, he became the first undisputed Super Middleweight holder, and also surpassed the twenty defences made by Bernard Hopkins and Larry Holmes at Middleweight and Heavyweight, respectively.

In a year which England cricket fans will want to forget, England bowed to a 5-0 series whitewash to Australia in the Ashes series. The lifeless display was the first time since 1920-21 that one side dominated a series in such a fashion. Australia also took the Cricket World Cup, beating Sri Lanka by a 53 run margin in the final. England were knocked out at the “Super 8” stage, on the bubble for the semi final placings. In the inaugural International “Twenty20” tournament, India beat Pakistan by five runs in a closely contested final. Domestically, Sussex again won the County Championship, Kent the “Twenty20” Cup and Durham, the “Friends Provident Trophy”.

At the P.G.A. Championship, it was a lucky thirteenth major title win for Tiger Woods at “Southern Hills”, and it was also his fourth P.G.A. Championship win. The other major titles went to Zach Johnson (U.S. Masters); Angel Cabrera (U.S. Open) and Irishman Padraig Harrington, in a play off win over fellow European Sergio Garcia (The Open held at Carnoustie).

Silver Birch” took the Grand National at Aintree, and the legacy that is “Kauto Star” took down the “Gold Cup” feature race at Cheltenham. On the flat circuit, “Cockney Rebel” romped to victory in the “2000 Guineas Stakes”; The “Epsom Derby” was taken down by “Authorized” and “Lucarno” won the “St. Leger” at Doncaster.

The annual Rugby Union Six Nations championship saw a return to form for France, who won the tournament, beating “Triple Crown” winners Ireland on points difference, which was a fair result, given the French beat the Irish in a close run 20-17 encounter. A 21-9 kick and clap victory over Wales, with seven penalties from Chris Patterson was not enough to prevent Scotland ending up once again with the “Wooden Spoon”. Italy had their best tournament and final placing to date, with fourth in the table scoring their first away win, a victory over Scotland at Murrayfield, and also beating Wales in Rome. Later in the year, the Rugby World Cup was held, and the title returned to the Southern Hemisphere, after holders England succumbed to South Africa 15-6 in a turgid final which featured little running rugby, and no tries. It was, a relatively disappointing tournament for the home nations, especially Ireland and Wales who failed to clear the group stages, and Scotland, who were knocked out in the quarter finals by Argentina, who were clearly the revelations of the tournament, having beaten both Ireland and France to top their group in the early stages.

Well, we are rapidly approaching the end of the decade, yet looking back at 2007, it seems many of these events only feel like they happened yesterday. The element of mystery of unsolved cases in the news, the current hot property in the music charts and the events in the world of sport can all be closely related to, even today. Very much a year of deflation, Liverpool and England R.U. getting so near yet so far to the biggest prizes in their sports; much of Britain underwater in one of the most miserable summers on record and the charts full of menial rubbish. Surely 2008 was better than this ?
Thanks for reading,
Mountain Man

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