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Monty's men rightly recognised but coach of the year?

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Iain Carter | 16:36 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

Colin Montgomerie has always shopped at the larger end of the rack but to call him a coach is a bit much. He is no such thing, in any sense of the word.

Europe's Ryder Cup captain must have felt as though he was at his local gym's step class given the times he was asked to climb to the stage at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show to celebrate and discuss his team's epic victory at Celtic Manor.

They were a deserving team of the year and in Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell spawned two contenders for the main prize, which was won by jockey AP McCoy. But awarding Monty the Coach of the Year accolade did not seem appropriate.

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Montgomerie marshaled his team very well and was an excellent captain, while several players, including Westwood, said the Scot provided the blueprint for future skippers.

But the role of a coach is not only to create an environment in which players can peform, it is to make them better. Monty deserves credit for doing the former at Celtic Manor but I would have much preferred it if the award had gone to someone who has contributed massively to a current golden era in UK golf.

The judging panel simply went down a populist and unsophisticated route with its pick.

Thankfully, in his acceptance speech Monty got it right by making sure he mentioned the man who should have won his award - Pete Cowen, the hardest working teacher on any golf range anywhere in the world of professional golf.

In 2010, Cowen schooled Westwood to the world number one spot, McDowell to the US Open and coached the top three finishers at the Open Championship. Week in, week out he was on the range dispensing advice to dozens of European Tour players.

The modest Yorkshireman is simply the best in the business as his results this year have shown. He gives players the mechanics and the confidence to improve their games and become world-beaters.

Montgomerie knew he could begin the Ryder Cup with Westwood and get a flying start. He knew he could finish with McDowell - a wise move that won his team the Ryder Cup. That was fine captaincy but we know who coaches both men.

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It was a shame neither players' successes this year were enough for a podium finish alongside McCoy. Perhaps they were victims of UK golf's extraordinary results this year with the vote being split.

It is easy to sympathise with McDowell because I am not sure the wider sporting public quite understood what a huge achievement it was to win the US Open at Pebble Beach. He did something that was beyond Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and even the mighty Monty.

The good news is that our golfers will be knocking loudly on the awards doors for some years to come. With the wisdom and insight of the likes of Cowen and several other talented British coaches, this golden era is set to continue for some years yet.


  • Comment number 1.

    The award of Coach of the Year to Montgomerie reflects poorly on him and potentially the sport of golf (I understand golf came second - Westwood and McDowell got more votes than Phil Taylor and the Ryder Cup team delivered a great result and some dramatic sporting coverage and images - in one of only 4 events the BBC TV actually covers in golf!)

    Montgomerie is not a coach and British sport has countless coaches in a plethora of sports all far more deserving of recognition. It smacks of politics in sport. Montgomerie must have known he was on the shortlist. Only his ego would have let him get that far.

    In reality Pete Cowen (who COACHES) both of the golfers on the shortlist for the main award would not have wanted such a public accolade and therein lies the big difference between the many coaches who deserved the award and the man who got it and didn't deserve it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Agree 100% with your synopsis Iain. A ridiculously populist award and completely undeserving. A bit like the Beckham award...............

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with the above feedback completely. Captain of the year, maybe, but coach? Big mistake by the judging panel.

  • Comment number 4.

    Spot on, Iain.

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree 100% with you, Iain. As for sportsfanjg, your scarcely veiled attack on Monty is complete rot.

  • Comment number 6.

    Iain for once I think you won't get any knockers for this piece! Andy Flower for me, and whilst we are at it, what's with the lifetime achievement award to another football person? let alone he's 35?

    ps quite brave of you to inform your employers they were talking nonsense!

  • Comment number 7.

    Of course you are correct Iain, but also people should understand that Monty is the face of the golf coaches to outsiders and that is why he won it. He also had the dignity to mention all the coaches of the Ryder Cup Team. I believe had there been only one golfer for the SPoTY, he would have run AP McCoy close

  • Comment number 8.

    In reply to Eyetoldyouso, there is nothing veiled about my attack on Montgomerie. I think he made a big mistake in accepting the award.

    You need an ego to achieve the special things he has (you see I admire him), however to be truly great I think you need to be able to put that aside at certain times. He received the public recognition the Ryder Cup victory deserved with the team award and being presented and interviewed with the three members of the team there on the night previously. A team won the Ryder Cup and it was right that a team was recognised.

    No individual won it and he did not merit an individual award for doing so. With many PGA professionals struggling to make a decent living through teaching and many coaches in sport across the UK doing their role for little or no reward, I suspect more could have been achieved for golf or another sport by recognising the invaluable contribution that coaches who help create champions from an early age make.

    I am a passionate golf fan and a big admirer of Montgomerie as a golfer. It is only my opinion but I don't think that getting/accepting the award was necessary. I think the BBC missed a trick in not sending out a more positive message as well.

  • Comment number 9.

    Iain and others,
    Im sure Monty did not choose to "win" this award so why attack him? At the end of the day, many "coaches" are praised for their motivational skills, Mourinho being one, Monty has this in abundance, and a was widely praised by the whole team for his role in captaining the side.

    Also im sure if you re-watch his acceptance he did thank all involved and certainly never received the award as if it was a boost to his ego. Monty is a legend and deserving of the award as im sure without his guidance the team would have have lost this i have no doubt and in my eyes that`s coaching.

    Im sure if Monty was English you`d all be rejoicing and haling him a national hero worthy of knighthood.

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with the article, but not with a lot of the comments on here using this as an excuse to criticise Montgomery, especially John Cregan's vile little rant that contributed nothing other than a pop at David Beckham.

    When it comes down to it, Montgomery was given an award. He didn't ask for it, and why wouldn't he accept it? It's like with Ryan Giggs last year - he didn't deserve the award (he would, however, have been a worthy recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award), but once he won the vote what was he supposed to do? Refuse to go to the stage?

    To blast Montgomery for somebody else's decision is ludicrous, especially given that he used the opportunity to praise Cowen and graciously admit that he would have been a more deserving winner. Perhaps the real issue here is the ambiguity of the award itself, or the process in which it's handed out, but it certainly isn't the fault of Montgomery. Anyone who thinks it is probably already disliked Montgomery and is just using this as an excuse to hurl childish insults at him.

  • Comment number 11.

    The original article is spot on, in my opinion.

    To join the discussion on Monty turning down the award let's think about what would have happened if he had turned it down. Imagine the headlines, "Monty in BBC Award Snub." The papers just love throwing Colin Montgomery into the middle of any controversy they can think of (or up!).

    I think he did exactly the right thing; accepted the award and recognized the real coaches for their great work.

  • Comment number 12.

    #10 Chief laughs at trolls,
    That attack is rather unwarranted. i think it's fair comment to call this award and David Beckham "populist" and "undeserving". To describe what i said as "vile" is over the line.........................

  • Comment number 13.

    I can understand that perhaps a lifetime achievement award for someone in their mid thirties maybe a little patronising but David Beckham remains an icon for our country and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 14.

    Poor choice for the award.
    I,m golfs biggest fan but we only just won by a very small margin, at home, in a "two horse race" and to be fair the captain doesn't really do any coaching. The sports personality of the year was always eagerly anticapated in our house as I was growing up, but is sadly losing credibilty with awards such as this, and especially with Ryan Giggs getting the main award last year, how misjudged was that? A lifetime achievement award maybe. I,m even missing the Frank Bruno/Harry Carpenter sideshow and the daft stunts. Come back Des Lyman!

  • Comment number 15.

    Did you lot listen to Colin's speech - '...The unsung heroes ...' '...on behalf of the European tour'
    No ego in it at all. It was very well said.
    Take nothing away from the man, he know what it was all about.

  • Comment number 16.

    Didn't see SPOTY but Montgomerie was not coach. He was Captain. Coaches are people who work on the physical, technical, mental and emotional aspects of sport in order to make better athletes and improve performance.

    Therefore by definition he should not even have been considered for the award.

    I do agree that for some unknown reason, McDowell who was undoubtedly the UK sportsperson of the year, didn't even get in the top 3.....and you can't say he hasn't got personality...he's from Northern Ireland and they're all charming, fun-loving, handsome rogues!!! Just ask my wife!

  • Comment number 17.


  • Comment number 18.

    I think the lines between coach and leader are far too blurred here which is why the question of whether Colin Montgomerie deserves his award is apparent. Perhaps the Coach of the Year Award should be changed to a Leader of the Year as that's what Montgomerie essentially is.

    'Coach' encompasses MANY roles - two major ones are 'teacher' and 'leader'. Probably the most essential one for a coach is to be a teacher over a leader. However, a coach must be a leader in any circumstance whether it is leading a one-to-one driving range session or leading a Ryder Cup campaign.

    I think the real culprit is the implication that the word 'Coach' has in the awards name. I think Monty is well deserving of this award considering he was the leader of the Europe team. He would be no different from the role that any football World Cup manager would have. Craig Levein or Fabio Capello wouldn't teach their players how to play football any better or improve their ability - their jobs are to prepare their players and send them out to play a certain way, exactly the same job Montgomerie had in his team. When Capello won Coach of the Year last year, was anyone crying "it should go to the coaches who provided the players, that Capello worked, with their footballing abilities".

    Colin Montgomerie in this sense deserves his award. The question is 'should the coaches who trained the athletes have an award for their efforts?'... should there be a Trainer of the Year award??

  • Comment number 19.

    Risible award but not Monty's fault. What was Monty's fault was having Ross Fisher up there (with McDowell and Westwood) and not giving him a single mention, even seeming at one point to have him confused with the non-appearing Martin Kaymer. Whole thing made poor Ross look like a complete proverbial. Really poor show. Sort of thing that, if he'd done it at the Ryder Cup opening ceremony, would have been tantamount to starting "one down", as he himself - rightfully - put it about Faldo's lamentable efforts in that department in 2008.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Iain,

    First and foremost I agree with your views generally and especially the split votes for GMAC & Lee(well done Lee and also very well done to Graeme for your MBE and being an ulster legend).

    The monty one was just the hype of the ryder cup which has become such a huge event and I guess to a certain degree a bit of a 'lifetime award' for him too(which the event as a whole has become with giggs / ap etc..).

    But, MUST SAY, poulter talks absolute ***** when he disrepects taylor and ap and based on him allegedly being an arsenal fan like ap,it makes it a full slice of irony.

    Speaking as a proud Ulsterman, yes I felt sorry for GMAC and his achievements were immense (and will be properly appreciated in time) but AP and Taylor are true legends of their eras and the fact it has taken so long for them to be appreciated is the farce, not the poulter balderdash.

    15 world titles and 15 odd jockey championships (in a sport where people die fronm falls) is enough said.

    Poulter occasionally talks **** as he did with his 'nostradamus' prediction about him and tiger sharing the spoils and going head to head in the future (lol a year or two back..hmmmmm..:-)

    Lastly, how rory wasn't in the reckoning for young personality of the year was indeed a farce and more worthy of press.

    But all these awards will come to him as he has it all and youth.

    Good luck to Taylor and especially AP as they deserve their moments as their records are quite literally peerless and unlikely to be beaten EVER.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Weir

  • Comment number 21.

    While I agree that this award looks ill fitting given the nature of a coach and what Monty was charged with do the BBC do have a responsibility to put on a show that people will watch, and with the best will in the world Monty is the face that people know, not Pete Cowen.

    I don't think we can or should blame Monty for accepting it, but rather applaud him for noting the right people. All too many people seem to jump on the anti-Monty bandwagon, as indicated in these comments, and I agree he is not easily likeable but he has been a fantastic servant golf, and incredible winner and the Ryder Cup, a team game, has been his greatest stage.

    I would also like to note that while I enjoy your blogs Iain this one stuck in my throat a little; your obvious dislike for Monty has clouded your judgement here and it came across a little churlish, with comments such as shopping at the larger end of the rack setting the tone. Less invective please.


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