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Echosport's heroes, villains and magic sporting moments of 2012
4:13pm Monday 31st December 2012 in Sport
ECHO sports writers Neil Meldrum, Ian Wadley and Neil Perrett pick their heroes, villains and magic moments from the 2012 Dorset sporting year...
HERO: Jeff Mostyn
An unsung hero at that. Having backed AFC Bournemouth with his own cash when the club needed it most, Mostyn continues to flourish in calmer waters as vice-chairman.
Dubbed the ‘Rubber Man’ by sports writers here at the Echo due to his ability to bounce back from criticism, Mostyn promotes the club better than any PR machine with a smile and infectious enthusiasm.
He is the ying to Eddie Mitchell’s yang, an ideal front of house man, and was rewarded for his efforts with election on to the Football League board of directors last month.
Worth a mention: Georgia Hall. The Remedy Oak teenager single-handedly putting Dorset golf on the map by becoming European number one.
VILLAIN: Lee Bradbury
Having enjoyed some success with the team assembled by Eddie Howe, boss Bradbury was found wanting when it came to the crunch – the January transfer window.
He spent big, around £1.6m if rumours are to be believed, but achieved next to nothing as Cherries slumped from promotion contenders to mid-table mediocrity in a matter of weeks.
Bradbury’s reign was rightly ended in March and his dedicated playing career at Dean Court will, unfortunately, be forever overshadowed by his failings as the club’s manager.
Worth a mention: Paul Groves. Say no more.
2012 MOMENT: Chris Holder in Torun
Chris Holder’s world title win in Poland in October has to go down as Poole Speedway’s greatest ever success.
The Pirates captain’s Grand Prix championship victory in Torun was as dramatic as it comes and he showed guile, maturity and no shortage of guts to fend of Nicki Pedersen and lift the Ove Fundin Trophy.
After becoming a father in March as well, 2012 was quite a year for Holder.
Worth a mention: Ben Ainslie winning Olympic gold on the waters of Weymouth.
HERO: Chris Holder
What a year for Bearwood's very own – well, sort of – speedway superstar.
The Dorset-adopted Australian fulfilled the world champion potential predicted by so many as he sensationally brought home his first GP title.
A down-to-earth fair dinkum bloke, he also gave absolutely everything for Pirates, despite injuries and his commitments on the global stage. Nobody tried harder or scored more consistently.
Worth a mention: Eddie Howe. Revived Cherries' fortunes beyond supporters' wildest dreams to set up what could be a momentous 2013.
VILLAIN: UK Sport
Legacy? What legacy? That was the question on the lips of Dorset’s London 2012 stars Dan Hunter, Lucy Wicks and John Pearce last month.
Lesser known Olympic disciplines such as indoor volleyball and handball did not expect – or warrant – a large slice of the elite funding cake to build for Rio 2016.
But when UK Sport announced that the two minority sports would receive nothing, it was a needless and dismissive kick in the teeth at the end of a glorious year for Team GB.
Worth a mention: Paul Groves. Failed to find a winning formula despite one of the biggest budgets in Cherries' history.
2012 MOMENT: Andy Culliford benefit match
A truly heart-warming, emotional evening in aid of one of football’s good guys.
Queues snaked from the Cuthbury turnstiles as more than 750 of the local football fraternity – including Harry Redknapp – turned out to raise £6,000 for Andy Culliford.
A popular former non-league player, firefighter Culliford produced a starring performance despite being overwhelmed as people gave generously to help fund his treatment for motor neurone disease. Sport at its uniting best.
Worth a mention: Lions’ win over title rivals Chinnor. Dramatic, tense and with huge rewards, it was the match that had everything.
HERO: Eddie Mitchell
Cherries’ chairman and co-owner has been a changed man during the past 12 months. His alliance with wealthy Russian businessman Maxim Demin helped the club significantly strengthen its playing resources, both in January and during the summer.
Mitchell has also continued to oversee a dramatic transformation of Dean Court and the surrounding area, sprucing up the venue and improving facilities for supporters.
His greatest masterstroke, however, was bringing back Eddie Howe as manager. It was a measure of the man that he ate a large portion of humble pie and acted so quickly after his appointment of Paul Groves and Shaun Brooks had backfired.
Worth a mention: Alex Baldacchino. His goals saved mighty New Milton Town from the Wessex Premier drop.
VILLAIN: Paul Groves
Much has been said and written about Groves’s disastrous tenure as Cherries boss and this incident gives an insight into his man-management failings.
He waited fully four days to grill me after I had penned a scathing article criticising both him and his players for an abject display during a 4-0 thumping at Swindon.
He needed a 23-year-old press officer present in the room before he meekly and nervously attempted to tear me off a strip. Asked what my piece would have done for Donal McDermott’s confidence, Groves had no answer when I countered that the Irishman’s confidence must have been shot to bits after he was told to train with the youth team.
Worth a mention: Steve Claridge. Broke Poole Town hearts by spearheading Gosport to Southern League play-off victory.
2012 MOMENT: The Turbo Twins
I rarely let my emotions get the better of me while watching sport and, until I had witnessed this awe-inspiring heat of speedway, it would have been unheard of for me to high five with a total stranger.
The pick was when Holder brought down the house at Wimborne Road by fearlessly racing from last to first on the final lap during an epic win over Kings Lynn in June. Gimme five… whoever you were!
Worth a mention: Kris Temple. Dressing as Elvis Presley after failing to believe Eddie Howe would return to Cherries as manager, as predicted by the Daily Echo days in advance.