Absolutely scandalous: Jonathan Rea fans fume as World Superbike champion is left out of BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Northern Ireland sports fans were left bemused and frustrated when the BBC announced their shortlist for the Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday evening.
Last year, of course, our own Jonathan Rea picked up over 80,000 votes as he finished runner-up to Mo Farah.
Fast forward 12 months and his adoring supporters weren't even given the chance to once again get behind the World Superbike star, with the shortlist halved from 12 nominees to only six.
There had been concern in the build-up that the changes to the nomination process could harm Rea's chances, claims the BBC denied.
A look at Rea's record and it's clear to see his displays on the bike were improved across 2018. Not only did he win a FOURTH successive world title, he notched some records on the way.
He broke Carl Fogarty's overall wins record when he claimed his 60th WBSK race success and broke the record of consecutive race wins with his 12 victories in a row to close the season.
And, as if it wasn't enough, Rea also equalled Doug Polen's 17 year-old record of 17 wins in a single season.
That left many posing the same question - why wasn't he nominated?
#SPOTY used to be so good but I’m not a fan of what it’s manifested into— Stephen Clements (@radiostephen) December 16, 2018
Plus I suspect if @jonathanrea had been from the Cotswolds, he’d be winning this as easily and consistently as he wins @WorldSBK titles #wsbk #4times #backtobacktobacktoback #legend
There was, it must be said, a great deal of support, respect and delight for eventual winner Geraint Thomas, rightly honoured for his impressive Tour de France success. That praise even came from the man himself, JR:
Very well deserved G! https://t.co/LGhArDTuye— Jonathan Rea (@jonathanrea) December 17, 2018
However, the other five nominees were England striker Harry Kane, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton, sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, cricketer James Anderson and former skeleton racer Lizzy Yarnold.
While Kane did bag the Golden Boot at the World Cup, his gilt-edged chance in the semi-final played a huge part in England's defeat to Croatia. And he failed to land a single piece of team silverware.
Then there's James Anderson, who wasn't even the fancied cricketer in the run-up. Anderson did surpass Glenn McGrath's Test wicket record but, again, silverware was missing while Alastair Cook went unrecognised after his retirement from Test cricket.
Even BBC Sport NI staff couldn't believe the decision to omit JR:
Jonathan Rea - second in SPOTY last year after a massive public vote - but this year we don’t even get the chance to vote for him. Hard to understand the logic of these nominations.— Stephen Watson (@winkerwatson1) December 16, 2018
Rhys McClenaghan wasn't the only other NI sportsperson to bag an honourable mention on social media, with the exploits of a certain Irish rugby duo in mind:
As well as Fury and Ronnie O'Sullivan...— Tim Cocker (@cocker) December 16, 2018
Captained Ireland to a Grand Slam and an historic win against New Zealand.
He's from Belfast, which, last I checked, is part of the UK.#SPOTY is a joke!
Then there was Bethany Firth, who won three European gold medals during the summer.
And who, except the BBC, would forget Ireland women's hockey team, the first EVER Irish team to reach a World Cup final in any sport:
There was also plenty of support for omitted UK snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan and heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, who overcame depression to earn a draw with world champion Deontay Wilder.
Will five in a row be enough for Jonathan Rea to get back into the BBC's thinking? We'll have to wait until December 2019 to find out.
Belfast Telegraph Digital