Last weekend it was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards; this weekend it’s the big one as far as sport in the North-East is concerned. After a roller-coaster 12 months, Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson selects the winners of The Northern Echo’s North-East Sport Awards.
SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR – JO JACKSON
AFTER claiming a bronze medal at 2008’s Beijing Olympics, it would have been no surprise if 2009 had been something of a comedown for Richmond swimmer Jo Jackson. Instead, the last 12 months have been the most successful period in the 23- year-old’s life.
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Her stellar spell began in March, when she smashed the 400m freestyle world record at the British Championships in Sheffield.
Leaving double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington trailing in her wake, Jackson, a former member of Derwentside ASC, chipped almost nine-tenths of a second off the existing record.
She would lose the record later in the year, when it was reclaimed by Italian Federica Pellegrini, but her world-best performance provided a glimpse of what was to come in the summer.
At July’s World Championships in Rome, Jackson claimed three medals, the biggest haul ever achieved by a British swimmer at a single World event.
Jackson claimed silver medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle, and also won a bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay to cement her status as Britain’s new heroine of the pool.
Runner-up: PAUL COLLINGWOOD – The Durham all-rounder helped England reclaim the Ashes in the summer, and played a pivotal role in the recent oneday series victory in South Africa.
Third: IAN BLACKWELL – The former Somerset allrounder took ten more wickets than any other Durham spinner has achieved in a season, and posted figures of 7-85 against Lancashire, the best recorded by a Durham spinner.
2008: Tony Jeffries
2007: Paul Collingwood
2006: Graeme Storm
COACH OF THE YEAR – CHRIS HUGHTON
IF you had polled 100 Newcastle supporters about who they wanted as their manager in the wake of last season’s relegation at Aston Villa, it’s a fair bet that none would have said ‘Chris Hughton’.
The former assistant was appointed as caretaker manager at the start of preseason, however, and has transformed the Magpies’ fortunes in the last six months, guiding them to the top of the Championship table.
His quiet, undemonstrative style has provided a welcome contrast to the chaos that continues to exist in the St James’ Park boardroom, and he is now a respected figure among players and supporters alike.
Runner-up: MARK JOHNSTON – The Middleham trainer recorded the 200th win of his most successful calendar year to date when Corsica won at Ayr in late October.
Third: STEVE BATES – The Newcastle Falcons director of rugby allowed a host of bigname players to leave in the summer, but has still guided his new-look side to seventh in the Guinness Premiership and top of their Amlin Challenge Cup pool.
2008: Geoff Cook
2007: Roy Keane
2006: Fabulous Flournoy
OVERSEAS PERSONALITY – MICHAEL DI VENUTO
Di Venuto performed heroics with the bat as Durham retained their County Championship title in style.
The Tasmanian’s 1,601 Championship runs were a Durham record, and were recorded at an average of more than 80.
His stand-out performance came in August’s home game against Sussex, with an unbeaten 254, his highest first-class score, helping Durham to a nine-wicket win.
Runner-up: CARL HAYMAN – The Newcastle Falcons captain has helped transform the side’s pack into one of the most highly-rated units in the Guinness Premiership.
Third: FABULOUS FLOURNOY – The Newcastle Eagles player-coach enjoyed one of his most productive seasons to date as his club won the league, BBL Trophy and play-offs treble.
2008: Dale Benkenstein
2007: Ottis Gibson
2006: Dale Benkenstein
YOUNG SPORTS PERSONALITY – SAVANNAH MARSHALL
THE Hartlepool-born 18-year-old is one of the most highly-rated young boxers in the country, and seems certain to represent Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
Marshall has won English and European titles this year, and is currently on an 18-fight winning run.
The Headland ABC boxer has been training at Britain’s Olympic base at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield, and has been highlighted by Sport England as one of Britain’s top 16 prospects for 2016.
Runner-up: HOLLY SMITH – The East Herrington-born 15-year-old is the leading badminton player in the country in her age group, and is part of England’s Under-17s World-Class Performance squad.
Third: KATE AVERY – The Shildon middle-distance runner recorded the best result of her career when she won a bronze medal in the women’s Under-20s race at this month’s European Cross Country Championships.
2008: Jemma Lowe
2007: Kieren Emery
2006: Paul Drinkhall
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – JO JACKSON’S WORLD RECORD
Our Sports Personality of the Year announced her arrival at the very top of world swimming when she shattered the world 400m freestyle record at March’s British Championships in Sheffield.
Jackson edged ahead of double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington at an early stage of the race, and powered through the final 25m to improve Federica Pellegrini’s world-best mark by almost nine-tenths of a second.
Her look of surprise when she realised she had achieved a world-record time provided one of the most memorable images of the year, and her battle to reclaim her record will be one of the great North- East stories of 2010.
Runner-up: MICHAEL DI VENUTO’S 254 NOT OUT AGAINST SUSSEX – The Durham opener produced one of the greatest innings in the county’s history and shattered his own first-class record in the process.
Third: PAUL COLLINGWOOD’S 105 NOT OUT IN THE SECOND ODI AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA – The Durham all-rounder produced a wonderful unbeaten century on the day he became England’s most capped One-Day International player of all time.
2008: Stewart Downing’s man-of-the-match display for England v Germany
2007: Ottis Gibson claims all ten wickets in an innings for Durham v Hampshire
2006: Newcastle swimmer Chris Cook wins gold at the Commonwealth Games
MOMENT OF THE YEAR – Sir Bobby Robson’S MEMORIAL SERVICE AT DURHAM CATHEDRAL
IT was the day that stopped a city, a region and the whole of the sporting world. Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial Service at Durham Cathedral was a fitting tribute to the North-East’s favourite son.
The likes of Fabio Capello, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne were all in attendance as Robson’s memory was celebrated in the county he called home.
His legacy will live on via The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, but his death cast a huge shadow over the second half of 2009.
Runner-up: WHITLEY BAY WIN THE FA VASE AT WEMBLEY – The Northern League side became the first North-East team to win at the new Wembley when they beat Glossop 2-0 in the FA Vase final.
Third: THE FINAL DAY OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON – For fans of Newcastle and Middlesbrough, it was awful.
For supporters of Sunderland, it was the party of the year.
And for everybody else, it was macabre sporting entertainment of the very highest order.
2008: Joe Kinnear’s rant at the press
2007: Mathew Tait’s run in the Rugby World Cup final
TEAM OF THE YEAR – DURHAM
IT’S getting predictable, but when it came to nominating the Team of the Year, there was no contest for the third year in a row.
Durham didn’t just defend their County Championship title, they defended it in style as they finished a mammoth 47 points clear of their closest rivals.
There were stars at both the top and bottom of the order, with Di Venuto dominating with the bat and both Steve Harmison and Graham Onions wreaking havoc with the ball.
Runner-up: NEWCASTLE EAGLES – The North-East’s basketball kings defended their league title and added a play-off success and a BBL Trophy to record a notable treble.
Third: WHITLEY BAY – The Northern League side showed the rest of the North-East’s football sides how to do it as they won the FA Vase at Wembley.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – DAVE PARNABY
AS the head of Middlesbrough Football Club’s Academy, Durham-born Parnaby has been responsible for the development of a succession of senior players who have progressed to the club’s first team.
The likes of Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson, Lee Cattermole, Matthew Bates, Tony McMahon, Stuart Parnaby and James Morrison all developed under Parnaby’s watchful eye to become established senior professionals.
Formerly a PE teacher, Parnaby led both Gateshead and England Under-15s before he was appointed as the head of Middlesbrough’s Academy in the late 1990s.
He led Boro’s youngsters to FA Youth Cup glory in 2004, and has carried on overseeing the development of one of the most successful youth production lines in the country.
2008: Stephen Miller
2007: Sir Bobby Robson