WITH 2018 drawing to an end, it’s time to look back on another action-packed year of sport in the North-East and North Yorkshire. Who will be this year’s big winners in The Northern Echo Sport Awards? Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson casts his vote



The Northern Echo: CONFIDENT CHARACTER: Jordan Pickford claims a cross for England in a friendly against Holland in Amsterdam; below, he makes a flying save to deny Swindon at Valley Parade during his loan with City

Jordan Pickford was crowned The Northern Echo’s North-East Sports Personality of the Year for 2017 after a fantastic year that saw him break into the England squad and establish himself as a Premier League regular at Everton. If that was good though, the last 12 months have been even better.

On the domestic front, Pickford has cemented his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, with a string of impressive performances helping Everton carve out a place in the top half of the table. However, it is on the international stage where the Wearsider has really shone.

He won his second senior cap in March, and his performance as England kept a clean sheet in Holland helped secure his place as Gareth Southgate’s first-choice goalkeeper for the World Cup finals.

He performed solidly as England cruised through their group, and enjoyed the best moment of his career in the second-round win over Colombia.

With the game having finished level at 1-1, Pickford became the first England goalkeeper to triumph in a penalty shoot-out at a World Cup finals when he kept out Carlos Bacca’s spot-kick with a magnificent sprawling save.

He was at it again in the quarter-finals, making a couple of crucial stops in a 2-0 win over Sweden, and while England’s World Cup run ended in the semi-finals, Pickford’s performances in the autumn helped Southgate’s side reach the finals of the inaugural Nations League.

Runner-up: Lucy Bronze

Third: Aimee Willmott

2017 Jordan Pickford

2016 Jack Laugher

2015 Steph Houghton

2014 Katy McLean

2013 Ben Stokes

2012 Kat Copeland

2011 Tony Mowbray

2010 Adam Johnson

2009 Joanne Jackson

2008 Tony Jeffries

2007 Paul Collingwood

2006 Graeme Storm



The Northern Echo:

If he wasn’t a professional footballer, Bali Mumba would probably best remember 2018 as the year he took his GCSE exams. Instead, he will reflect on the last 12 months as the period in which his sporting dreams became a reality.

The Sunderland midfielder was just 16 when he made his senior debut on the final day of last season, and having performed creditably throughout pre-season under new boss Jack Ross, he was selected for the first three matches of the current League One campaign.

Given his age, it was hardly surprising he found himself back in the Under-23s, but he has returned to the senior squad in the last few weeks, producing a Man-of-the-Match display in the Checkatrade Trophy win over Notts County.

Runner-up: Nathan Wood

Third: Daisy Cooil

2017 Georgia O’Connor

2016 Amy Tinkler

2015 Amy Tinkler

2014 Jack Laugher

2013 Matthew Fisher

2012 Josef Craig

2011 Jack Hermeston

2010 Jordan Henderson

2009 Savannah Marshall

2008 Jemma Lowe

2007 Kieren Emery

2006 Paul Drinkhall



The Northern Echo: Newcastle Falcons Vereniki Goneva runs in his try during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingston Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 7, 2018. See PA story RUGBYU Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wi

It has been a superb year for Newcastle Falcons, who returned to the Heineken Champions Cup after an absence of more than a decade, but while there are plenty of members of Dean Richards’ side who have impressed in 2018, one player stood head and shoulders above his team-mates.

Vereneki Goneva’s performances last season saw him crowned Player of the Season at the Aviva Premiership Awards, a fitting reward for a sensational campaign that saw him finish as the league’s joint-highest try scorer with 13 tries.

Goneva, who lit up St James’ Park with an Alan Shearer-style celebration when Falcons beat Northampton at the home of Newcastle United in March, turns 35 next April, but the Fijian remains one of English rugby’s most reliable finishers, and one of Newcastle Falcons’ key performers.

Runner-up: Martin Dubravka

Third: Sinoti Sinoti

2017 Sonatane Takulua

2016 Gaston Ramirez

2015 Dimi Konstantopoulos

2014 Jonas Gutierrez

2013 Keaton Jennings

2012 Tim Krul

2011 Dale Benkenstein

2010 Jose Enrique

2009 Michael Di Venuto

2008 Dale Benkenstein

2007 Ottis Gibson

2006 Dale Benkenstein



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez celebrates promotion to the Premier League after the Sky Bet Championship match at St James' Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 24, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo cr

Having secured promotion from the Championship in 2017, Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez achieved an even greater feat in 2018 when he kept his side in the Premier League despite a chronic lack of investment from Mike Ashley.

Despite presiding over a squad with one of the lowest wage bills in the league, Benitez guided his side into the top half of the table thanks to a mixture of tactical expertise and astute man-management.

Benitez continues to successfully negotiate the political minefield of life at St James’ Park with charm and grace, and while the current campaign has been something of a struggle, he heads into the festive period with his side once again outside the bottom three.

Runner-up: Jason Ainsley

Third: Dean Richards

2017 Rafael Benitez

2016 Martin Gray

2015 Aitor Karanka

2014 Jon Lewis

2013 Dean Richards

2012 James Harris

2011 Alan Pardew

2010 Steve McClaren

2009 Chris Hughton

2008 Geoff Cook

2007 Roy Keane

2006 Fab Flournoy



The Northern Echo:

This has been a landmark year for Mark Johnston, the ‘Master of Middleham’ who is now the most successful British racehorse trainer of all time.

Since training his first winner in 1987, Johnston has consistently recorded more than 100 victories a season, and he claimed his 4,194th success when Poet’s Word triumphed at York’s Ebor meeting in August.

The win saw Johnston pass Richard Hannon’s total for British winners, and the 58-year-old continues to rack up the successes as he shows no sign of heading towards retirement.

Runner-up: Jade Jones-Hall wins Commonwealth gold in the para-triathlon

Third: Harry Tanfield becomes the first Yorkshire cyclist to win a stage on the Tour de Yorkshire

2017 Graeme Storm winning the South African Open

2016 Keaton Jennings hitting a century on his Test debut

2015 Mecca’s Angel winning the Nunthorpe

2014 Richard Kilty wins the 60m title at the World Indoor Championships

2013 Josef Craig breaks the world record at the World Championships

2012 Savannah Marshall becomes Women’s World Boxing champion

2011 Chris Tomlinson breaks the British long-jump record

2010 Simon Vallily wins a Commonwealth Gmes gold medal in boxing

2009 Joanne Jackson breaks the swimming World record

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



The Northern Echo:

It felt like an evening when everything was going wrong. Having been seconds away from a place in the World Cup quarter-finals, England found themselves facing yet another penalty shoot-out after Yerry Mina claimed a Colombian equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.

When Jordan Henderson missed his spot-kick, defeat felt inevitable, but moments later, Mateus Uribe hit the bar to put the shoot-out back in the balance.

Step forward, Jordan Pickford. The Wearsider flung out his right arm to parry Carlos Bacca’s effort, enabling Eric Dier to stroke home the goal that took England into the last eight.

Runner-up: Callum Chick’s stoppage-time try earns Newcastle Falcons a dramatic Champions Cup win over Montpellier

Third: Alpha Delphini beats Mabs Cross by a nose in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes

2017 Glen Durrant wins the BDO World Darts Championship

2016 Middlesbrough clinch promotion against Brighton

2015 The All Blacks and Tonga perform their pre-match routines ahead of their Rugby World Cup match in Newcastle

2014 The Tour de France heads up the Buttertubs Pass

2013 The first ball of the Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street

2012 Doug Embleton and Shaun Campbell save Darlington with a suitcase containing £5,000

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



The Northern Echo:

Having spent most of the last decade battling in the bottom half of the Premiership table, Newcastle Falcons turned things around spectacularly last season as they finished in fourth position.

That secured a play-off spot, and while Falcons were beaten by Exeter Chiefs, their performances secured a return to the top table of the European Champions Cup for the first time in more than a decade.

European wins over Toulon and Montpellier lit up the autumn, and while Falcons need to improve their league form to haul themselves away from relegation trouble in the Premiership, the second half of the season should contain plenty of highlights at Kingston Park.

Runner-up: Stockton Town

Third: Richmondshire CC

2017 South Shields

2016 Durham

2015 Yorkshire

2014 Yorkshire

2013 Durham

2012 Newcastle Eagles

2011 Newcastle United

2010 Whitley Bay

2009 Durham

2008 Durham

2007 Durham

2006 Newcastle Eagles



The Northern Echo:

For more than two decades, Paul Collingwood has been a permanent fixture at Durham. Next season, however, the county will have to manage without its greatest-ever player.

Collingwood announced his retirement as a player this autumn, bringing an end to a career that saw him amass 304 first-class appearances, 16,844 runs and 164 wickets.

The all-rounder also starred for England, playing in 68 Test matches and captaining the one-day side to victory in the World Twenty20 in 2010, but in this part of the world, he will forever be remembered for the integral role he played in establishing Durham as a leading first-class side.

He is now embarking on a coaching career, and at some stage in the future, there is every chance he will lead Durham from the sidelines rather than on the pitch.

2017 Gordon Surtees

2016 Denys Smith

2015 Kath Cassidy

2014 Mick Mulhern

2013 Geoff Cook

2012 Sir Bob Murray

2011 Dave Elderkin

2010 Niall Quinn

2009 Dave Parnaby

2008 Stephen Miller

2007 Sir Bobby Robson