Society and social media alter Spoty contenders’ outlooks | Andy Bull


Andy Bull

Raheem Sterling, Lewis Hamilton and Ben Stokes have used social media to fight back against a hostile press

Let’s begin with Bob Nudd. Now, this may seem a strange place to start an article about the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards when the show has come up with its strongest shortlist since the 2012 Olympics and, in all honesty, even Bob himself seemed a bit surprised when I called him up this past week to talk about it. “You can probably guess why I’m calling,” I started. “No,” he stopped. “Is it something to do with the election?” Not the election Bob, but the other big vote. The one you should have won, back in 1991 when Nudd, four‑times world freshwater angling champion, one of the finest coarse fishermen ever to cast a line, was the (alleged) victim of one the great showbiz swindles.

That was the year Nudd won the second of his world titles, and the Angling Times ran a front page beseeching its readers to “Vote Bob” for Sports Personality of the Year. And they did. First in their thousands, then in their tens of thousands. Bookies across the country started slashing their odds when a flood of bets came in on Nudd at 100-1. And then, so the story goes, the BBC realised he was going to win. So it disqualified him on the grounds that orchestrated block votes were against the rules. Was Bob robbed? The BBC never confirmed or denied it. Asked about it at the time, it said: “We have received votes for Bob Nudd but he has never finished in the top three.”

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