BY all accounts, the Romans were a fairly decadent old crew. If they weren’t writhing around in vast orgies or feeding folk to the lions, then they were feasting on the more exotic parts of animals such as hummingbird tongues and unicorn horns.

Such drooling, rambunctious hedonism pales into insignificance, of course, when confronted with the work place Christmas knees-up which would probably have Nero tut-tutting like a disapproving librarian.

Someone gleefully informed me recently that their own excessive office do involved liberal lashings of promiscuity, which I thought was some sort of fizzy wine.

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As you can tell, this correspondent prefers a more tranquil scene and here at The Herald, our sports desk’s annual assembly was a gentle, glass-clinking exercise in sophisticated decorum and cultured conversation. Well, I think it was but I couldn’t hear a word of these erudite exchanges because of the din generated by our football writer slurping his soup and cursing about the slooters down his tie.

In addition to these evenings of indulgence, it’s also that time of the season when an ornate silver-plated four-turret lens camera on a plinth gets everybody into a frightful fankle.

Back in more tranquil times of yore, of course, the BBC Sports personality of the year was a genteel, dignified affair. It was all neatly pressed shirts, nicely coiffured hair, subtle colognes and, well, a bit of understated class.

Nowadays, it’s a blingy, strobe-light flashing, music-thumping extravaganza that’s as garish as Liberace auditioning for the part of Joseph with that coat.

The fact that Lewis Hamilton turned up to the 2014 showpiece with his pet bull dog,

to gasps of wonderment from the easy to please simpletons who gushed in amazement at a four-legged beast with a crumpled face, simply highlighted the gaudy depths into which the event has been plunged. Oh, and to underline this general sense of wretchedness, it’s called SPOTY because, in these breathless, acronym driven times, one presumes the title, Sports Personality of the Year, is just too long winded and complex for the Great British public to pronounce without choking on their own tongues.

Predictably, the shortlist of runners and riders doesn’t include a golfer. Those plying their trade in football, tennis, boxing, cycling, F1 and athletics are there, as are folk from short-track speed skating and taekwando.

Given the BBC’s diminishing sports portfolio, you half expected the Worcestershire Shove ha’penny order of merit winner and the Redcar & Cleveland Carrot Whittling champion to be on the list of candidates.

Yet, 60 years on from Dai Rees becoming the first of just two golfing recipients of the award, there is no representation from the Royal & Ancient game despite Tommy Fleetwood and Georgia Hall, two golfers from the UK, winning both the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour order of merits respectively.

Interestingly, one of the topics of debate which generated quite a bit of reaction during an open forum at the recent Future of Golf in Scotland conference was the lack of golf on terrestrial TV.

There is no doubt that the chronic absence of the game on this platform is a very real problem. Golf, in many ways, has been drifting out of the public consciousness. The game needs exposure instead of a situation where folk get excited about, say, the Masters and then forget about the sport until another major championship rolls round.

Despite the achievements of British players in general, golf still lacks the superstar attraction afforded to many tennis players, cricketers, athletes, racing drivers or rugby players. That, in itself, is a huge disservice to a great legion of terrific, engaging performers.

And so, in Liverpool this Sunday night, golf will be out of bounds as far as SPOTY is concerned.

The aforementioned Hamilton, meanwhile, is not even going. He’ll probably just send his bloomin’ dog.


Who needs SPOTY when you’ve got Paul Lawrie. There was a standing ovation for the canny Aberdonian last week when he was given the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the Scottish Sports

Awards amid dabs of his teary een.

Acclaim from Jack Nicklaus and Sir Alex Ferguson via a video link added to the emotion. They were fitting tributes to a man who has not always been lavished with the respect and admiration his achievements and wider endeavours deserve.

Professional golf can be a selfish game but Lawrie’s sense of duty and awareness make him a true ambassador.The Scottish game is lucky to have him.