COLUMN: Give me a Premier League Hall of Infamy - and fun - any day

Duncan Browne would rather celebrate the weird and wonderful than the usual heroes...

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 6:35 am
Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips should be seen as Premier League royalty. Photo: GettyImages

A sports hall of fame is a ridiculously weird concept. Creating an imaginary room and deciding to fill it with nothing but retired athletes seems, in the kindest way possible, an absolutely stupid waste of everyone’s time.

But even dafter is the induction process, as the Premier League is showing at present.

Yes, the good old Prem has decided to launch its very own lobby of loveliness, foyer for the fantastic, rotunda of riches and will be inducting its first two members on March 19.

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There's only one Ian Marshall! Photo: GettyImages

Two seems a bizarrely small number of people to be shoved into a giant hall together. Like the start of each series of Big Brother, things don’t really kick off until a mob are all in and everyone’s had a good few drinks down them.

The first two people in just make small talk about where they’re from and what they do, which will be a bit awkward - hopefully easier - when you’ve both spent your lives doing the same job.

Even worse, what if the first two inductees don’t get on? The imaginary hall could get a bit tetchy if Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira are ushered in later this month, both pulling up chairs at opposite ends of the room, growling and refusing to blink.

Of course, we all know they’re only inducting two at a time because they want to drip feed us the members to make sure we all remain totally enthralled and excited as we’re reminded that brilliant footballers were, in fact, brilliant.

Ronaldo is great, but he's no Franny Benali! Photo: GettyImages

The Premier League has promised that ‘only the very best’ will make it into the hall, which sounds great if you’re a Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal or, dare I say it, Blackburn Rovers fan.

Names like Giggs, Henry, Cantona, Aguero, Shearer, Lampard, Gerrard, Adams and Drogba will all be in there soon enough.

And fair enough too, as I don’t remember ever hearing any kid run round the playground screaming ‘when I grow up I want to be Tal Ben Haim’.

But how should we truly measure greatness?

If we’re celebrating the Premier League why do we always have to worship the same old heroes?

He may never have won the trophy, but few strikers have brought me as much joy as Ipswich’s Ian Marshall.

He may have looked more like Charles II than your average top-flight striker, but his erractic style and raised finger celebration brought me constant pleasure.

They never completed an invincibles season, but the Niall Quinn-Kevin Phillips partnership at Sunderland was mesmerising.

He never qualified for the Champions League spot, but find me a greater alpha male than Franny Benali.

Norwich pushing for a league title and dishing out a free lesson to Bayern Munich, Gunnar Halle bagging the goal to keep Oldham up on the final day of the season on a pitch so bobbly you’d think it was the moon, Matty Taylor scoring my favourite ever Premier League goal for Portsmouth against Everton, Paul Warhurst the striker, Ronny Rosenthal rattling the bar at Villa and Ali Dia somehow getting a game for Southampton.

These moments remain with as vividly as any title celebration and deserve to be lauded.

Bradford City, Barnsley, Huddersfield Town, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic and Peter Ridsdale’s fish tank are as much part of the Premier League story as Robert Pires diving against Portsmouth to ensure Arsenal finished a whole season unbeaten.

I’m a football fan. I want to be entertained rather than become fixated on winning

Sometimes we sadly lose sight of that.

I hope the Premier League find room for some of the lesser known heroes as the years pass, because playing in this competition is no mean feat in itself.

If not, I’m building my own imaginary barn in my brain, and everyone - the mavericks, the entertainers, the loose cannons - are all invited.