Quotes of the year
Mary Hannigan's comprehensive guide to who said what this year.
Highlight: "If Roy has said he might play for Ireland again then someone must have caught him just after he'd had his Christmas pudding."
- Alex Ferguson, having a giggle at talk of Keane returning for Ireland. As if!
"Get your f***ing fingers out of your arses, lads."
- Trevor Brennan's reply, when asked live on Sky Sports, what the Toulouse coach had said to the team at half-time after a poor display against Leeds.
"These trainers aren't for show: I am an athlete."
- World darts champion Andy Fordham, all 30 stones of him.
"I would rather die in an abandoned building alone, and my family not know what happened, than play for this guy." - Shannon Sharpe, kind of suggesting he was unenthusiastic about playing for New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
"Today's been a good day for Wayne, but he's understood that on another day it could've been a bad day." Everton manager David Moyes - 11 months later and Rooney's still trying to work this one out.
"We have a lot of stars, just no one you've ever heard of." San Francisco 49ers' general manager Terry Donahue on his unknown line-up of household names.
Highlight: "It's my job. Praising me for it is like praising the postman for delivering 44 letters in a row." Celtic Warriors' humble outhalf Neil Jenkins after converting 44 successive goal kicks.
ITV's Jon Champion: "The interesting fact is that of Arsenal's last 56 goals Thierry Henry has only scored 12 of them."
Ron Atkinson: "Yeah, but he created the other 40!" Sometimes, with Big Ron, things just don't add up.
"You're going to the only place madder than Manchester United." Alex Ferguson's farewell to the club's director of communications, Paddy Harveson, after he took up the same post with Prince Charles.
"O'Gara's not quite like God, more like the Holy Ghost." George Hook after his favourite son Ronan had, like his 14 Irish team-mates, an off-day in Paris.
"He must have swallowed a sheep or something like that." Australian cricketer Shane Warne accusing Sri Lanka's Arjuna Ranatunga of being a bit on the flabby side. Pot. Kettle. Black?
Highlight: "Is there anything better for our fans than to beat England on English soil? I don't think so. Hopefully we can give the prawn sandwich brigade at Twickenham something to choke on." Brian O'Driscoll, guaranteeing a warm welcome in London for the Six Nations' game with England.
"You go to bed dreaming about what could happen today and for it to come true - apart from me intercepting a ball on the goal-line and running 80 metres to score - it's a great day." Anthony Foley, after a run-of-the-mill day at Twickenham - apart from leading out Ireland, on his 50th cap, and being part of the first team to beat the recently-crowned world champions.
"Don't make me laugh! It's the WBF belt! I heard they're giving them away with five litres of petrol down at Texaco." Herbie Hide offering Audley Harrison warm congratulations on winning the world WBF heavyweight title.
"You know what to do with your chariots." RTÉ's Tom McGurk's message to Clive Woodward and Co after that triumph at Twickenham.
Highlight: "I've had such a lovely time here, you can take me around the corner and shoot me now. I don't give a monkeys." Ginger McCain, former trainer of Red Rum, after Amberleigh House gave him another Grand National victory.
"Daddy's won! Can you believe it?" Phil Mickelson to his children after winning the Masters, his first Major success at his 47th attempt.
"He's what's known in some schools as a f***ing lazy thick n****r." Ron Atkinson offers a thoughtful, expert analysis of Marcel Desailly's display for Chelsea in the Champions League.
"What about jokes about my long chin? I mean, n****r is black - so we have jokes where we call them n****rs because they're black. Why should that be any more of an offence than someone calling me chinny?" Jimmy "chinny' Hill offers a hard-to-dispute defence of Big Ron. Hard-to-dispute because you wouldn't know where to start.
"The telephone hasn't stopped ringing all day with reporters looking for my opinion. The only ones who didn't ring were Reuters - and that's only because they're busy in Iraq." Jason McAteer, after the world and its mother sought his reaction to his not-so-bestest-friend Roy Keane's announcement that he was returning for Ireland.
Highlight: "I have boxed the best available crap out there and I have boxed a better level of crap than all the other guys." Boxer Audley Harrison responding to criticism that most of his opponents are as fit as Coronation Street's Fred Elliott and as fearsomely nasty as Daniel O'Donnell.
"The man is United! Cut him and he will bleed red!" Football pundit Alan Brazil, telling us the colour of Alex Ferguson's blood
"Sometimes I'm still at work at three in the afternoon." Paul Merson, then caretaker manager of Walsall, on the gruelling demands of professional football.
Ken Brown: "Darren (Clarke) had mates over to his house last night for a barbecue."
Peter Alliss: "What'd he have? A whole bullock?" Clarke may have trimmed down in 2004 but Alliss still suspected he had a ferocious appetite.
"The only way I'll ever fight again is if someone steals my last Rolo." Lennox Lewis, showing just how determined he is to stay retired.
"He's six years into a five-year plan." Steve Morgan, the man who wants to buy Liverpool, on Gerard Houllier's progress at Anfield.
Highlight: Question: "Name a female farmyard animal which sounds like a letter of the alphabet." Andy Roddick: "Baaaa?" After his efforts on The Weakest Link friends of the American tennis star were entitled to say to him: "Ewe plonker."
"Sir Clive Woodward received his knighthood for services to rugby. The way England have played so far on tour it should be amended to services to thugby." Sydney Morning Herald columnist Spiro Zavos after England's, um, robust meeting with New Zealand.
"These 20 days are the first time I have had the chance to spend a long time with the team. It is like going out with a girlfriend for five or six years, getting married and splitting up one week later. You sleep together, wake up and then you see what she looks like first thing in the morning - really quite ugly." Brian Kerr. No, no: Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
"I'm more relaxed at Wimbledon so maybe that's why I can express myself a bit more tennistically on the court." French tennistic star Amelie Mauresmo, explaining why she expected to have a good run in the grassy Grand Slam.
"I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test, I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football." The Miami Dolphins' Ricky Williams after testing positive . . . for a third time.
"England's head coach demonstrated his sense of humour by sending on Phil Neville to replace Frank Lampard. It was like a painter and decorator taking over from Michelangelo to finish off the Sistine ceiling. Marvellous." Mick Dennis (the Daily Express), somewhat displeased with Sven Goran Eriksson's substitutions.
Highlight: "You're a hero when things go right, but when things go wrong you could end up in the lyrics of a song about the Ryder Cup captain." Cork hurling manager Donal O'Grady, on being one defeat away from being a "Langer".
"Timbo's a real Dimbo . . . gutless . . . with all the strength of a knock-kneed gnat." The Sun offers Tim Henman some support after his defeat by Mario Ancic at Wimbledon.
"I've got nowhere to live. I've been crashing with friends, literally sleeping in shelters. Unsavoury characters are giving me money and I'm taking it. I need it. The drug dealers, they sympathise with me. They see me as some sort of pathetic character . . . my life has been a total waste." Mike Tyson, who declared himself bankrupt, hits rock bottom.
"Cork must be in trouble if they have brought Brian Corcoran back. He's finished - and he'll definitely be finished after Sunday. They've been struggling to get scores all year and they have a dreadful centre forward (Niall McCarthy)." Antrim's Dinny Cahill ahead of the All-Ireland hurling quarter-final . . . which Corcoran, McCarthy and Co won 2-26 to 0-10.
"I threw the kitchen sink at him but he went to the bathroom and threw back the tub." Andy Roddick on his fruitless attempts to beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
"I've no idea what's in store for me now but these problems are good to have. It's like paying taxes." Todd Hamilton, guessing that life would never quite be the same again after winning the British Open.
"We have just proved once again that the Greek soul is, and always will be, our strength. It is the greatest gift that God ever gave us." Greek captain Theo Zagorakis after his team, astoundingly, won Euro 2004.
Highlight: "If I wanted to have an easy job I would have stayed at Porto - beautiful blue chair, the Champions League trophy, God, and after God, me." Jose Mourinho on his arrival at Chelsea.
"This is the big time, it's like Madonna coming to Slane." St Patrick's Athletic manager Johnny McDonnell on Deportivo La Coruna's visit to Dublin for the Champions League game against Shelbourne.
"I was rendered speechless when I heard the news. I felt sick and bewildered at the apparent dishonesty and felt betrayed at the revelations. I still believe as a coach that with proper training, hard work and the grace of God you can reach the top without recourse to illegal drugs." Cathal Lombard's coach Joe Doonan on hearing the runner had tested positive for EPO.
"In Cathal's case I don't think it was about levelling the playing field, it was about reaching the playing field." Mark Carroll's take on his fellow Cork athlete.
"My whole background is in football. I love football. I never had the passion for rugby that I have for football. I was forced in to playing rugby because that's the only game my school played. And I hated it." After all these years Clive Woodward finally reveals himself to be a round ball man, as opposed to an oval one.
"Tell you what, if he was a lollipop he'd be sucking himself." Rodney Marsh on Jose Mourinho's high regard for, well, Jose Mourinho.
"It's incredible that she leaves me. Only recently I paid for her breasts. I paid 7,000 to make them bigger and now this." Cameroon footballer Mo Idrissou, gobsmacked after his girlfriend Selin, in whom he had invested so much, left him.
Highlight: "I was walking up the town one night last winter and I met this guy I kind of knew. He says to me: 'Did I hear you got called into the Mayo panel?' I says: 'I did, yeah.' And he started laughing at me. He says: 'What the f**k do they want you for?'" Mayo's Ronan McGarrity on local support received during the year.
"I will pray that His will will be done. He is almighty and all powerful. I will certainly pray for blessings and wisdom." Bernard Langer on Colin Montgomerie's importance to the European Ryder Cup team. Or was he talking about God?
"There's nothing sexy about camogie . . . it belittles it if people are wondering what you look like in a cocktail dress or if you think that people will only come and watch if you're good looking or look great in a skirt. They certainly wouldn't be coming to watch me, so." Tipperary's Ciara Gaynor, exasperated by camogie's 'Chicks with Sticks' campaign.
"Look, y'all have been kind of like a bad marriage partner. We've apologised for five years about what happened in 1999 and you need to forget about that." American Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton on being asked about the behaviour of the US team at Brookline in 1999 (Note: "Halimony" is on his fourth marriage).
"Colm Cooper is as good as what is around in the air, pound for pound, as anyone around." Kerry manager Jack O'Connor in an all-rhyming eulogy to Cooper after he excelled in the All-Ireland final against Mayo.
"I suppose we have the same interests because there is nothing to do below in Newtown except hurling." Cork hurler Ben O'Connor on his and twin brother Jerry's quiet social life in Newtownshandrum.
"Why are you always in red? Is it your lucky colour?" A local reporter to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher before the first ever Chinese Grand Prix.
"Yeah, there were highs and lows, but winning wouldn't be so nice if losing wasn't so terrible. I felt that three years in this seat is enough for any sane man." Tommy Lyons bidding adieu to the Dublin football manager's job.
"I had a hangover for two days - and I only drank about half of what Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood knocked back." Padraig Harrington on his hazy recollections of Europe's Ryder Cup-winning celebrations.
Highlight: "I like visiting Silverstone - it's a reminder of what racing was like in the 1950s." Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone hinting that the British track is in need of a little modernisation.
"The Equestrian Federation of Ireland yesterday received from the Federation Equestre Internationale a notification that the 'A' sample taken from the horse Waterford Crystal at the Olympic Games . . . has proved positive for prohibited substances." The statement from the EFI that resulted in most Irish jaws hitting the floor.
"I felt I should have had a few more, to be honest with you." Cobh Ramblers' Dave Warren, despondent after he only scored six goals against Monaghan United.
"There are two huge hills involved and I have to say they nearly killed me. I did it in 2.12 - that would be two days and 12 hours." Blackrock College rugby coach Steve McIvor after taking his time completing the Connemara Marathon.
"I make love to pressure. Pressure finds me. I caress pressure. I love pressure. This is what I was put on this Earth to do, so bring it on." Indiana Pacers' Stephen Jackson, under pressure and lovin' it.
Guest at a charity dinner: "You have a gun with one bullet. Who would you shoot: Victoria Beckham or Arsene Wenger?" Alex Ferguson: "Could I have two bullets?"
Highlight: "The Olympic Games are a fraud . . . not only is there no Santa Claus, but there's no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy either in the world of sport. The whole history is just full of corruption, cover-up, performance-enhancing drug use." Victor Conte, founder of Balco. So much for Citius, Altius, Fortius, eh?
"I came up from Limerick with a few of the selectors and the trainer and when we got to Mullingar only seven of the 61 turned up. And two of those were injured." Tom Ryan detecting a lack of commitment from Westmeath's hurlers. And with that he resigned as manager.
"I don't want to sound homophobic, but I want a Scottish manager." Ex-footballer Pat Nevin - he meant "parochial", or else he was ruling Julian Clary out for the Scottish job.
"If I had to pick from the Irish team, maybe the locks and O'Driscoll would probably be the three men . . . but I doubt if any of the other players would make it." South African rugby coach Jake White, ahead of the game at Lansdowne Road, on being asked how many of the Irish team would make the South African 22-man squad. (After the game? "I'd pick all 15.")
"At least I can go on a diet. What is he going to do about the colour of his hair and his silly voice?" Thurrock manager Colin McBride after Gordon Strachan suggested on the BBC that he was a touch overweight.
"I apologise, I got it wrong when I said New Zealand was a poxy little island in the South Pacific - it's obviously two islands." Wales' assistant coach Scott Johnson giving a big warm Cardiff welcome to the All Blacks.
Highlight: "That's more than I got for the bleedin' fight." Henry Cooper, on being told the gloves he wore for his 1966 fight against Muhammed Ali were auctioned for £19,000.
"Sure, it's addictive and nothing in life will ever make me feel like that again, but I don't really want to be so nervous that I am throwing up that often." Matthew Pinsent, explaining why he's packing away the oars.
"When he blows his nose his eye bulges and that's usually a pretty sure sign." Bath coach John Connolly on how he realised Zak Fea'unati had a fractured eye socket. Gulp.
"I don't know if I'm still The Rocket - perhaps I'm more like Thomas the Tank Engine these days." Veteran snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan (29) on how he's not as quick as he used to be.
"There have been a number of little accidents when it comes to getting into and out of parking spots. Ralf causes the sort of accidents you might expect from women drivers." Ralf Schumacher's wife Cora revealing he struggles to park a car without incident. Huh, boy racers.
"I'll be honest as hell with you: I wrote out a will before taking this trip." American basketballer Lamar Odom, admitting to a few pre-Olympic security concerns.
"From what I understand these drugs shrink your nuts. I can't have my thingy shrunk. I can't afford that." Sprinter Kim Collins explaining why he's very definitely clean.
"You are in a situation that your legs are burning and your brain is screaming for more. Your brain is writing cheques that your body can't cash." Niall O'Toole, after the Irish lightweight fours missed out on a medal in the final.
"I was just waiting for something not to go right." Kelly Holmes, struggling to believe she'd won double gold.
"And this was coming from a marathon-runner-stroke-cross-county-slogger? He doesn't know the meaning of the word speed . . . who's he to question me? Asshole." Runner James Nolan's response to RTÉ pundit Jerry Kiernan's accusation that he as a "dilettante".
"If it wasn't the Olympics I probably wouldn't have finished the race, but the flame was burning, I just couldn't leave the track before the finishing line. I thought something special would happen out there tonight, but it just wasn't there. I don't know, I think I've had it, that's about it." Sonia O'Sullivan, after bowing out gracefully in the 5,000 metres.
"The gold medal she craved above all else was washed down by a flood of her own tears down the dusty gutter into which she slumped so abjectly. So was the pride of a watching nation and unless some drastic explanation for her surrender is forthcoming, her self-respect. She seems destined to become little more than an Olympic postscript. Athens 2004; Marathon: P Radcliffe - pulls up." The Daily Mail's Jeff Powell's kindly take on Paula Radcliffe's marathon woes.
"I think the sailors have performed dismally . . . their results have been really horrific." Pat Hickey, Olympic Council of Ireland president, telling Irish sailing it's not the taking part that matters IT'S THE BLOODY WINNING OF MEDALS!
"It was bad. For me, it's very, very bad. If it were not for that lunatic I am sure I would have won the gold. The way I was running, I was unstoppable." Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima (left) after Cornelius Horan scuppered his chances of marathon gold.