Now there will surely be some achievements that I have missed as the most part of these moments are taken from my memory and I have not been keeping thorough notes. If any reader would like to add any suggestions agreeing or disagreeing with the choices that are to come, please do so using the comments section at the bottom of the post, I'll happily respond to any kind of debate we can get going on, the choices are mine and mine alone and so it is up to you, players and fans (probably not many fans... yet) to decide if you think I've got them right. Above all, this is just a bit of entertainment and light hearted fun. It's a great feeling to be in the position where I feel we can poke fun like this at ourselves whilst still being Number one. The list will start from defence and work through to attack covering all players and positions and finishing with Coach and a whole team moment. So without any further ado here are the Champagne and Turkey moments for Sale men's 1st XI 2011.
Harrison (Captain): Only one GK played for us of course, the Talisman, the hero, the lazy bastard known to us all as H.
Champagne moment: Sick stick stop. vs Crewe. H pulled out a wonderfully improvised stick save from a Drag Flick at a Short Corner, it was a great save because he was surprised by the trajectory of the ball (apparently because the striker was 'shit at drag flicking'), a crucial stop in a crucial game.
Turkey moment: Spectator. There would be a rouges gallery of off-field contenders for this title but as we're on-pitch it has to be the many times when H has had barely a touch of the ball, getting kitted up and warmed up only to spend 70 minutes watching a game in Goalie kit that ironically is probably beginning to smell a bit like rotting Turkey.
Nick: Once known as New-man-Nick, he's now known more as our straight talking, hard tackling, gin-loving defensive talisman.
Champagne moment: No Entry! There have been too many crucial tackles or interceptions to single out just one so for champagne just read the stats. In the 10/12 games Nick has been in the line up we have conceded just 4 goals, numbers to be proud of.
Turkey moment: Seeing Yellow. A cruel one to give here, given mostly for the incredulous look of shock on his face when Nick was awarded a Yellow Card vs Bebington for..... something... it slips my mind now, I'm sure it was totally the correct decision though, it always is.
Adam (Kiwi): The girth from middle-earth it's the warrior orc himself, making up the second crucial component if the defensive line Kiwi's physical presence on the pitch have ensured no striker wants to step on the dancefloor with him.
Champagne moment: Get that out of here! Unsurprisingly this echoes Nick's champagne very closely. Kiwi has also only allowed 4 goals in 9/12 games for Sale this season (him and Nick have missed separate games, in case you're wondering), fantastic numbers. That we have conceded 5 goals in the 3 games he missed shows true defensive value.
Turkey moment: Reverse Gear. There are always times when a defender can get caught out. Vs Triton this happened to Kiwi looking for a pass that wasn't on he found himself quickly under pressure and proceeded to about turn and run the ball back to near our own baseline. A close escape, it looked ridiculous from the sideline.
Mark Holmes: Slotting in his new home at centre half Mark looks at home working the passes, and he's even popped up with a number of goals, outstripping his previous seasons tally (when playing higher up the pitch) of two goals by some distance.
Champagne moment: A stitch in time. In our first 'bad' game of the season vs Bebington racing against the clock at 1-1 Mark pops up with the winner and helps us go on a long winning run, a lot of head's could have dropped if we didn't get that result so it was a cracking time to strike.
Turkey moment: Who am I? Some hours before his heroic moment Mark awoke at 6am in a flat in central Manchester, unsure of his whereabouts and even his own name and company. The dishevelled player who turned up for warm-up (hugely late) was not the Mark that turns up most weeks, it was a turkey version.
Martin Earl: A new addition to the outfit, Martin has fit right in providing consistent work on the unrewarding half-back positions and filling in with defensive cover excellently a number of times.
Champagne moment: Hunter. Being one of the older (but by no means the oldest) members of the team many opposition wingers (usually young pacy prima donna types) think they're in for a fun afternoon of Martin failing to catch them, until they make that first run on goal only to find the unlikely pace man right on their shoulder taking the ball away for them, the element of surprise is very valuable.
Turkey moment: Last-gasp. There was no member of the team which didn't suffer from the heart-break of the cup loss to Winnington Park. The greatest pain of it is that we were only 10 seconds away from victory in that game, conceding from a late short corner. Martin, in his first game for us, filling in on post duties, missed the shot. Not from any obvious mistake I should add, but it can't be harder to imagine a worse place to have been on that pitch when it went in.
Jon O: Left half terrorist who makes some 'adventurous' movements forward Jon O attacks the game and wants to be a part of the game wherever it is played, cropping up top D or back post when you least expect him to be there.
Champagne moment: Assasin. Ghosting in and taking the glory, Jon O bagged both of his goals this season vs Oxton, celebrating his second with what could well become his trademark exuberant celebration run down the sideline.
Turkey moment: Javelin! We are all susceptible to frustration, nowhere is this more evident than in training. Jon O shows us how frustration can get the better of you. Frustrated with a drill one cold Tuesday Jon O had his fury compounded by a hamstring injury, then, out of frustration proceeded to launch his stick over the astro-turf fence where it landed outside on the concrete and cracked slightly. Unfortunate for Jon O, hilarious for everyone else!
Jim: We welcomed back 'Uncle Jim' gladly on a much more consistent basis this season and he has been a reliable experienced head in the midfield, keeping his head when some of us might otherwise lose them.
Champagne moment: Jim'll fix it! Backing up his versatility, Jim has played all across the midfield this season, putting in maximum effort in as many as 5 different positions per game, a great utility.
Turkey moment: Off or On. Being versatile can have its downside, in Jim's case this means that he is swapped around more often than any other player, spending a lot of time on the touchline as a result. Jim is lucky though, he may be the only player to have had his Turkey moment thrust onto him rather than cocked up for it, and has dealt with it well.
Ben: Young and gifted Ben seems to get better with every game he plays and ranks as one of the most influential players when on the pitch.
Champagne moment: Back for Christmas. It's hard to look past a return from injury layoff vs Triton. Ben was out after a knee operation and many of us didn't expect him to be back until after Christmas, but such was his determination in training his place was rightly given back and he filled in with an excellent job at centre half, like he'd never been away
Turkey moment: Nice trip? I've mentioned the surgery of course, in the run up to that Ben's knee was quite delicate and tender. So much so in fact that when he took a tumble on a Friday night he had to cry off from the Saturday trip to Llandudno an hour before the meet; our only loss was this game. It may have been the right decision for health but it was still a big turkey moment to fall, one which none of us witnessed.
Lynners: Ex Jesus lookalike, current lesbian lookalike Lynners has thrived working higher up the field. One man coverage, two man coverage, three man coverage, it does not bother him. I don't think even sky sports coverage would be enough to take the ball of Lynners when the bit is between his teeth. I'm inclined to be very nice to Lynners of course as he has set up several of my goals this year, including a defence beating assist vs Crewe.
Champagne moment: BOOM! Lynners has always been a champion for placement over power in the shooting debate, which has led to him seeming reluctant to crack the ball in when at top D. It was a great bang that silenced the doubters of his shooting prowess as Lynners boomed in a short corner shot in the first league game of the season vs South Cheshire. He's backed it up with a couple more smashed finishes since then as well for good measure.
Turkey moment: What a finish. Lynners has made it clear he prefers attack but being such a capable player he often helps out the defence and on the post in Short corners especially. This is where he was stood when the Turkey struck, as a wide shot hit his stick and deflected into the goal putting us 2-1 down to Llandudno, a scoreline we never recovered from.
Dave: Dave is our very own Jason McAteer type character, by which I mean his reputation for saying and doing ridiculous thing off-pitch matches his reputation on pitch. This is all about what's on pitch though so I'll focus on that.
Champagne moment: Birthday strike. Vs Triton at home, Dave bagged a goal on his Birthday, it doesn't get much more champagne than that!
Turkey moment: From the jaws of victory... For some reason Dave loves to flick a ball at goal when in a shooting position, allowing crucial extra time for keepers and defenders to react. It's an instinct I know he's been fighting and he managed to put a fantastic shot into the bottom corner of the goal... until Neil popped up and poached it with a deflection, cue lots of whinging, cue turkeys.
Paul: Paul, infamous for his patented 'sweepman-brushman' playing style and also his 'small hands-big arms' physique, is an important option for our midfield who has sadly been out with injury for much of this season so far.
Champagne moment: Sweepstakes. Demonstrating the finest in work effort and sweep ability in a big game Vs Winnington, a game in which all who were involved can be proud of.
Turkey moment: Broken brush. Has to be the injury sadly, Paul would've surely featured or us more often but injury and availability crises in the 2's led to him being absent from us more often than not, a shame as he was building some good link up play with his brother-from-another-mother and fellow right sided player Lionel.
Mikey: Only played one game for us this season but a solid player and always good to see players moving up for the 2's.
Champagne moment: Step-up. Being part of the side that beat Crewe and gave us our lovely 6-point gap at the top of the table.
Turkey moment: New York, New York. Only getting the one game, and leaving for New York for the rest of the season, opportunities lie in wait for next season perhaps.
Goldsie: Fast stick skills and an even faster mouth, Goldsie is often the brunt of many shamefully poor innuendos from the lads, I'm making it my mission to get through his moments without using one.
Champagne moments: One-Two One-Two. Being a player with the ability to take on and beat players (I wouldn't know personally) is a great asset to a side and this campaign Goldsie has shown that value with a much larger emphasis on link play, creating some champagne hockey and tearing defences apart.
Turkey moment: Bad Call. Always wanting to have the ball is a commendable attitude however some of the calls Goldsie makes are dubious at best. Chief among these and well known to any defensive player, is the call of OTT (over the top) asking for an over-the-midfield aerial pass. Nick's counter-call of 'NO!' is usually enough to stop this madness of a pass going through but some players (Kiwi, Jim) have been tempted, only to face the wrath of Nick afterwards.
Danny: The double Doctor of disaster as he's never been known (nor will be again) has been a crucial attacking presence this campaign working in several positions (including, to everyone's surprise, left-half) providing another strong outlet that the opposition can't forget about.
Champagne moment: Stick like a traction engine. In a tough battle it was Danny who made the crucial strike vs Neston to give us a 1-0 win, and what a strike. He latched onto Jon O's pull back so sweetly it was in the goal before anyone knew what was happening. As a striker I can tell you there are few things more satisfying than hitting the ball in the goal really really hard.
Turkey moment: Low score. Danny is known to have had a vice-like grip on the 1st team top-scorer trophy for a good few years, but this season has only managed to hit 3 goals so far, lagging some way behind the leader. Sure, this is due to positioning rather than missing chances but it counts as turkey for me. Note: this is not an excuse to begin zero-angle shooting again Danny!
Neil: Another new addition Neil is the crucial outlet for our team. An absolute nuisance inside the D up at centre forward Neil has had nothing but success, leading our top scorers list by some distance as well as the leagues top scorer list, keep it up!
Champagne moment: Chipping in. Maybe it should be the hat-tricks and in some ways this champagne moment is for them. Vs City of Manchester Neil was able to score two out of his three goals with the most sublime chips over the keeper that he had to to it twice to prove it wasn't a fluke, champagne strikes indeed.
Turkey moment: Plate service. I know some out there will expect me to be harsh and go for the injury Neil suffered last week but I'm not going to do that. For me, there can be no greater moment than the absolute sitter he missed vs Neston. It was put on a plate for him to make it 2-0 and the game safe, but in that moment it turned out Neil wasn't hungry for goals, he was hungry for Turkey!
Lionel: Probably the fastest player in the league, Lionel has owned the right wing when on it this season and though he may of took some time to find his scoring form, he's been a great option to change a game and gives us a crucial element, pace.
Champagne moment: Out of nowhere. Lots of hard work doesn't always mean lots of goals but for Lionel the hard work paid off and I'm picking his 2nd strike in as many games vs Deeside for a champagne moment. Using his pace he latched onto what seemed a hopeless ball into the D to put away the 2nd goal of the game and hit the opposition like a knife in the dark.
Turkey moment: Man down. Has to be injury once more. Vs Crewe Lionel had started strong and was through on goal looking to make it 1-0 and 3 goals in 3 games but his hamstring went and that was that, the Xmas break has come at a good time for Lionel had we hope to welcome him back in January.
Lewis: Mr Ice cold, the man in the 'shit' jacket is a newcomer, fighting for and retaining his place in the first team deservedly, he will give H and coach many selection headaches in the new year.
Champagne moment: Cooler than cool. After a couple of games in the 1's Lewis fell back to the 2's but kept his head in true Ice cold style and came roaring back like a winter blizzard to command a place in the team.
Turkey moment: Bambi on ice. Vs Crewe Lewis started a run only to fall over, get up, fall over and get up again. There may have been more falling and standing than that, I'm not sure, it all happened so fast. The closest thing I can describe it as is when a cartoon character falls down a hill and becomes a big ball of rolling dust with arms and legs sticking out of it at all angles, it was a turkey-worthy fall.
George (Vice-Captain): Lastly of the players we come to me. Not sure how I'd describe myself, my Twitter bio says I'm mediocre so I think I'll stick with that, doing OK for goals though which is always nice.
Champagne moment: Goal of the century. For me it has to be, by a mile, the superb, sublime and totally unexpected reverse stick finish vs Winnington Park for the equaliser in the cup. I used cunning and 'unorthadox' technique (also known as being crap) to make the finish. It might not of been pretty but it gave us the belief that we needed in that game and for that I'm proud.
Turkey moment: Lost. I've made a couple of cameos at right-half this season and I would describe my performances there as a centre forward playing at right half aka Turkey-full.
Coach (Rob): I can't let coach get away without a mention. He's been supporting us every step of the way, shown us the road, helped us go down it and is every bit and more a part of this team as all of the players on it. We all play for him and want to win for him, long may it continue.
Champagne moment: New Born. Looking past the joy of getting to watch the mighty Sale every weekend, I have to save special mention for the birth of Coach's daughter Katy, for whom he has missed some of our games for. It's a testament to the clarity of his instruction in how he wants us to play that we can still go out there and perform for him, in his style, and win.
Turkey moment: Barn Door. After one of our home games the
Team: Lastly a whole team champagne and turkey moment, two moments that have summed up the joy and failings of our season:
Champagne moment: Can we get much higher? Final whistle vs Crewe, when me moved 6 points clear and beat the best team we'd come up against in the league, everyone worked hard for that victory and felt it.
Turkey moment: Grim Seaside. Llandudno.... enough said.
That concludes the Champagne and Turkey moments for 2011. I hope you've enjoyed them and agree with my choices. Think I've missed something? Feel hard done by? Please leave a comment and let's get debating. Thanks for reading though, this took me far longer than I thought it would so I'm not going to promise a 2012 version of this right now but we'll see