It’s been an exceptional year for many reasons. For what we have achieved and what we have lost. Brexit could fall into both categories; for achieving independence whilst at the same time losing security. Momentous decisions have been made this year all over the world.
America showed us that if we thought we the Brits could shake up the status quo, they could bring change to their landscape in just as startling a fashion. Donald Trump will be President of the United States next month. Who would have thought? Amazing.
It’s really been a year shaped by loss too. If you were to look back at all the great names, who have been part of our lives, shaped our worlds, who will not be part of 2017, it’s as staggering as it is sobering.
Here’s the list, in importance, as I see it; Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Terry Wogan, Prince, Christy O’Connor Jnr, Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Gene Wilder, even Paul Daniels,
Paul Daniels being a notable inclusion because of his relationship with Caroline Aherne’s world class one liner, as Mrs Merton, whilst interviewing Debbie McGee, ‘So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”
Every one of the above touched our lives but for me no more than Palmer and Ali.
Both were powerhouses in their own sports with Ali being voted Sports Personality of the century by the BBC and Palmer being acclaimed as golf’s saviour by every player who has any shred of knowledge about the history of the game. Palmer was called the “King” not because of his privileged background but for how he made people feel, by what he did for golf.
There are so many examples of how he changed people’s lives, the simplest example I can recall was a brief exchange between Rory McIlroy and Palmer in 2015 at the Bay Hill Invitational, Palmer’s USPGA Tournament. McIlroy was sitting in the clubhouse where Palmer approached him and said, “Rory, if you need anything this week just let me know.”
Rory’s reply was precise and pertinent, “Mr Palmer, I will never want for anything at all in life. That’s because of you.” Touchingly simple.
With regard to the passing of Muhammad Ali, it almost feels like a blessing that he has passed. For too long it seems that such a vibrant soul has been trapped inside a shell which was unable to express his personality. If you ever feel you need to avail yourself of his intoxicating energy either watch the brilliant documentary, ‘When We Were Kings’ which documents the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ contest between Foreman and Ali.
Or, watch my favourite press conference, where Ali recites a poem, which goes like this;
“I have wrestled an alligator, I’ve gone tussled with a whale,
I’ve gone handcuffed lightning and threw thunder in jail. (That’s bad)
“Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone and hospitalised a brick.
I’m so mean I make medicine sick!”
These two greats led their sports to new heights in totally. totally different styles. They will both be missed and it is unlikely the world will ever have two more worthy champions.
We are only a few days from 2017, I hope 2016 was a good year for you. If it was a year to be forgotten at least 2017 is a blank slate. For us at the Academy there have been many great moments from which we have learned.
So as a thank you to all of our clients, last Friday we held a party at the Academy, where we poured a couple of drinks, offered a couple of cakes and shared a lot of laughs. We loved every minute of it and just want to thank the 50+ people who attended. It made our year, whilst putting our year in perspective. We didn’t know many of you guys this time last year, and look forward to seeing you in 2017.
To everybody reading this we hope you have a great Christmas and that the New Year brings all you could ever want for. In 2017, in the words of Muhammad Ali, “Go and throw some thunder in jail!”