Why the Halberg judges got it wrong

The All White's performance at the World Cup was most certainly not the most excellent sporting achievement of 2010. And God help us if it represents the future of football in this country.

The below originally was a comment over on Imperator Fish, in response to Scott's claim that the All Whites were worthy recipients of the Halberg Award. Seeing as I kind of went to town on it, I'm stealing it back and reproducing it here.


I play a lot of football. I was excited by the World Cup. I cared a lot about how New Zealand (the "All Whites" tag sucks) did there. But I don't think they should have got the Halberg Award for it. Here's why...

(1): The Halberg Trust's mission statement is that "the Halberg Trust will honour sporting excellence" (there may be more detailed criteria for judging performance, but I can't find them).

(2): Getting to the World Cup doesn't really count for anything, imho. In reality, it means we had to beat Bahrain. And even then we really shouldn't have done so ... we ought to have been 2-0 down after the first leg alone, while that Bahrainian penalty in Wellington was pretty awful.

(3) The NZ team then were not "excellent" in their performances in South Africa. I don't say this because they didn't win their matches ... I know that a draw in football is often an amazing result generated by supurb play - check out this, for instance  ... but rather because they were completely outclassed in every game they played. To be brutally frank, we couldn't keep the ball for more than 3 or 4 passes, none of our players had the skills or the confidence to take on the opposition one-on-one, we relied on a single tactic (defend in depth, try to win possession from an error, then kick it up to the tall guys up front) and we had no fall-back when this plan didn't work (as it was bound not to, once it became clear this is all we planned to do).

(4): So, yes - the team was "gutsy", it was "committed", it was "plucky" ... but I simply don't think you could describe any of its performances as "excellent" displays of sport. In fact, that last game against Paraguay possibly was the worst game of football I've ever seen. Compare the NZ team's performances to, say, the way the All Blacks set a new standard for the rest of the rugby world this year. One led. The other struggled to even stay on the field.

(5): Thus, to award this on the basis that NZ went undefeated in three games at the biggest football event on the planet is to make the opposite mistake to the one people are now accusing Dick Tayler of making (being fixated on results). Yes - we didn't lose a game. But we didn't ever look like winning ... we didn't really even look like playing football.

(6) Finally, while we're on results, hasn't the World Cup kind of overshadowed the fact that NZ only won 2 of the 10 games that they played in 2010, losing 4 and drawing the other 4? Is that really the "most excellent" sporting achievement of 2010?

That is all I have to say. The rant endeth here.