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The Northern Echo Sport Awards 2013
With the awards season in full swing, it's time to look back on another action-packed year of sport in the North-East and North Yorkshire. Who will be 2013's big winners in The Northern Echo Sport Awards?
SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
It is strange to think it now, but 2013 could not have got off to a worse start for Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes.
In February, the 22-year-old was one of two players sent home from England Lions' tour of Australia for what the ECB termed “unprofessional conduct”. With his reputation tarnished, it looked as though his international career was over before it had begun.
Back in the North-East, however, he set about putting things right and emerged a key performer as Durham claimed their third County Championship in the space of six years.
He scored more than 1,400 runs in all forms of cricket this summer, while also taking 72 wickets, and produced a match-winning performance as Durham beat title rivals Yorkshire in a thrilling match that did much to decide the fate of the county title.
His performances earned him a call-up to England's limited-overs side in the second half of the summer, and he was named in the Ashes squad that travelled to Australia last month.
Promoted to the side for the second Test, he batted fantastically to score his maiden Test hundred in the third Test in Perth. The rest of the series might have been wretched, but Stokes' emergence has at least provided some hope.
The West Rainton-based Olympian became the most successful British trampolinist in history when she won World Championship gold medals in both the team and synchro events.
The Durham-born cricketer helped England's women beat Australia to win the Ashes this summer, and is about to head Down Under in an attempt to go one better than the men and repeat the feat on Aussie soil.
2012: Kat Copeland 2011: Tony Mowbray 2010: Adam Johnson 2009: Joanne Jackson 2008: Tony Jeffries 2007: Paul Collingwood 2006: Graeme Storm
COACH OF THE YEAR
Appointed in the wake of Newcastle Falcons' relegation to the Championship, Dean Richards' primary task was to secure an instant return to the Aviva Premiership.
He achieved it in some style, with Falcons comfortably topping the end-of-season table before cruising through the play-offs to book their place in the top-flight.
Despite working under tight financial constraints, Richards has helped Falcons successfully re-establish themselves in the Premiership, with wins over Sale, Worcester and London Irish lifting them comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
Durham's head coach oversaw the first half of this summer's County Championship success, and while a heart problem forced him to take a brief step back, he returned to his post for the season's dramatic conclusion
The Tees Rowing Club coach's work with the likes of Kat Copeland, Tina Stiller and Beth Bryan was rewarded when he was offered a high-profile role at British Rowing's high-performance centre in Caversham.
2012: James Harris 2011: Alan Pardew 2010: Steve McClaren 2009: Chris Hughton 2008: Geoff Cook 2007: Roy Keane 2006: Fabulous Flournoy
The South African opener played a key role in Durham's County Championship success, providing some solidity at the top of the order and establishing himself as a reliable partner to Mark Stoneman.
A former South Africa under-19 captain, his mother hails from Sunderland, but his recruitment into Durham's academy owed much to the friendship Geoff Cook struck up with his father, Ray, when the pair played domestic cricket in South Africa.
A tall, elegant left hander, 21-year-old Jennings has scored three hundreds and five half-centuries in his 26 first-class games and is likely to be a fixture in Durham's top order for many years to come.
The striker turned down a move to Newcastle United in January, but when he eventually arrived on loan from QPR, he made an immediate impression by scoring eight goals in his first ten Premier League games.
The American basketballer has been the star performer in another hugely successful year for Newcastle Eagles that saw the club finish second in both the play-offs and BBL Cup, and recently book their place in another BBL Cup final.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
JOSEF CRAIG BREAKING THE WORLD RECORD TO WIN AT THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
If 2012 was a remarkable year for Josef Craig, with the Jarrow swimmer winning Paralympic gold and being crowned BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, then 2013 was equally as successful.
The 16-year-old claimed two gold medals and a silver at the IPC World Championships in Montreal, cementing his status as one of the leading disability swimmers in the world.
His greatest moment came in the final of the 400m freestyle as he broke his own world record to edge out Russian Andrey Gladkov by five hundredths of a second.
SPENNYMOOR TOWN WINNING THE FA VASE FINAL AT WEMBLEY
Spennymoor Town claimed their first FA Vase title in front of more than 8,000 of their fans at Wembley as goals from Gavin Cogdon and Keith Graydon secured a 2-1 victory over Tunbridge Wells.
KAT DRISCOLL WINS DOUBLE GOLD AT THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
North-East trampolinist Kat Driscoll helped Great Britain win the team world title in Sofia, and then returned to action 24 hours later to win another world crown in the synchro with Amanda Parker.
2012: Savannah Marshall becomes women's world boxing champion 2011: Chris Tomlinson breaks the British long jump record 2010: Simon Vallily's Commonwealth Games gold medal bout 2009: Joanne Jackson's swimming world record 2008: Stewart Downing's man-of-the-match display for England vs Germany 2007: Ottis Gibson claims all ten wickets in an innings for Durham vs Hampshire 2006: Newcastle swimmer Chris Cook wins gold at the Commonwealth Games
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
THE FIRST BALL OF THE ASHES TEST AT CHESTER-LE-STREET
As the home of Durham CCC, Emirates Durham ICG had already seen some memorable sights, but nothing compared to the spectacle of an Ashes Test here in the North-East.
Ryan Harris' opening delivery to Alastair Cook might have been a no ball, but it marked the moment when the North-East sporting landscape changed and a piece of sporting history was made.
The following five days were an unqualified success, culminating in a sensational finish as Stuart Broad inspired the English attack to rattle through the Australian batting line up and secure a 74-run success.
PAOLO DI CANIO ON THE PITCH AT WEST BROM
It was the moment when Paolo Di Canio's tempestuous reign as Sunderland boss reached the point of no return. Remonstrating with his own supporters in the wake of a 3-0 defeat at West Brom, Di Canio's isolation on the pitch at the Hawthorns spoke volumes.
BEN STOKES' MAIDEN TEST CENTURY
This week's third Test might have been the game that handed the Ashes back to Australia, but it contained a landmark moment in North-East cricket as Ben Stokes became the second Durham player to score a century for England.
2012: Doug Embleton and Shaun Campbell save Darlington with a suitcase containing £50,000 2011: Chris Senior's FA Trophy-winning goal for Darlington 2010: Tony Mowbray's return to Middlesbrough 2009: Sir Bobby Robson's memorial service at Durham Cathedral 2008: Joe Kinnear's rant at the press 2007: Mathew Tait's run in the Rugby World Cup final
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Who else could it be in a year that saw the County Championship title return to the North-East for the third time in six seasons?
Remarkably, this was supposed to be a season of struggle for Durham, who were forced to release some of their senior players because of budgetary constraints and who were unable to sign an established overseas player for the same reason.
Yet a side that contained a large number of players born within 20 miles of Chester-le-Street started strongly and maintained their fine form through to the end of the season. By the end, they were thoroughly deserving champions.
The disappointment of 2012's relegation was comprehensively banished as Falcons dominated the Championship and deservedly won the end-of-season play-offs. Back in the top flight, they have looked perfectly at home this term.
They might have missed out on the Northern League title to Darlington, but Spennymoor claimed national honours as they saw off Tunbridge Wells to win the FA Vase at Wembley.
2012: Newcastle Eagles 2011: Newcastle United 2010: Whitley Bay 2009: Durham 2008: Durham 2007: Durham 2006: Newcastle Eagles
YOUNG SPORTS PERSONALITY
Based in Huby, near Easingwold, 15-year-old Matthew Fisher created history when he became Yorkshire's youngest post-war first-team player earlier this summer.
The tall fast bowler took a hatful of wickets for the second team at the start of the season, and was rewarded with a senior call up that saw him take a wicket on his debut against Leicestershire at Scarborough in June.
Despite still studying for his GCSEs, Fisher is spending most of the winter in the United Arab Emirates training with England's under-19s team.
Given how much he has achieved, it seems remarkable that Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig is still just 16. This year, he won two world titles and set another world record as he set off on the long road to Rio in 2016.
The 18-year-old Teessider scored the winning try as Yarm School won the Daily Mail Schools' Cup final at Twickenham, and stepped into the professional ranks after signing his first contract with Newcastle Falcons.
2012: Josef Craig 2011: Jack Hermeston 2010: Jordan Henderson 2009: Savannah Marshall 2008: Jemma Lowe 2007: Kieren Emery 2006: Paul Drinkhall
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
As the driving force behind Durham's remarkable ascent to the very top of English cricket, Teessider Geoff Cook has been one of the key figures in North-East sport for the best part of two decades now.
A member of Durham's debut first-class line up, Cook ran Durham's hugely successful academy before stepping up to replace Martyn Moxon as head coach in 2007.
He has overseen three County Championship triumphs, and shrugged off the effects of a heart attack earlier this summer, to return to his post. A backroom reshuffle has seen him take on a new role as director of cricket, but he will remain a huge influence at Durham Emirates ICG.
2012: Sir Bob Murray 2011: Dave Elderkin 2010: Niall Quinn 2009: Dave Parnaby 2008: Stephen Miller 2007: Sir Bobby Robson
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