When we set up the Nottingham Sport in October 2019, we envisaged twelve months later hosting our first awards ceremony for the best local athletes, teams and Notts sportspeople of 2020. We chose the year because we thought it had a nice sounding ring with it to start fresh from, we thought of a nice suite at Trent Bridge, Meadow Lane or a hotel function room in the centre of the city to host the event, we had music lined up, speeches, comedy, the only decision left was going to be do we go low key, pint and pie or top end tux and tail with a fine meal and as much champagne as you can handle to go with it… The votes were in… We knew which our office preferred. The process had started in March, believe us… But so did COVID-19 thus scuppering all our ambitious plans.
We understand there is plenty of ‘other’ more lucrative awards, but we wanted to start something different, something that will last and something that will be respected by the people of Nottingham, remembered by local sports men and women with the most important part, recognition for those who did themselves and their city along with the county of Nottinghamshire proud in sport.
So whilst 2020 and the first ever Nottingham Sport Awards could not provide a great night for those we were going to invite, whilst it can not even provide a nice shiny ornament to go on the winners own mantle piece, or a glass of champagne to toast it with, we can still offer recognition to those who did Nottingham Sport proud by at least declaring the winners of the year that never was.
2020 had its ups and downs but so many positives came from the sports people of Nottingham with the county’s cricket team famously winning the T20 Blast for only the second time, the men and women’s premier hockey team Beeston, both winning the England Hockey Championships. Nottingham Panthers (way back in January) reaching the final of the European Continental Cup.
Two men stick out for the Robin Hood Man of the Year Award and we would like to give the accolade to Stuart Broad who became one of only seven men in the world to take over 500 test wickets after a brilliant summer with the ball where he was also named England’s test cricket player of the year.
Broad, who capped a fine personal year by getting engaged to his partner Mollie King on New Year’s Eve, beat Lee Westwood into second place, Westwood winning the race to Dubai as he topped the European Tour order or merit for the second time in his career now just 47 years young.
Whilst the decision on Westwood and Broad was tight for us to call, the winner of the Maid Marian Woman of the Year Award was a little more straight forward for us to choose from. Notable mentions for Lyndsay Harkin, who made her 200th appearance for Nottingham Forest Women, her former team-mate Precious Hamilton, who before joining Derby County mid-year, topped the Reds scoring charts in the FA Women’s National League North. But our winner goes to a basketball star who is one of the best in England. Jasmine Joyner is an American superstar of the WBBL and for Nottingham Wildcats has shone above all players not just at her club but in her league over the last couple of seasons too.
The Mississippi born forward averaged 19.1 points per game during the regular 2019/20 season whilst reaching 900 points in all WBBL competitions in November, reaching 700 rebounds in just 48 WBBL games she recently became only the seventeenth player in WBBL history to reach 1,000 points in all competitions. An easy choice for one who dominated her sport at the top level in 2020.
The Little John Young Star of the Year Award also goes to a basketball player and one that is upcoming with what we believe has a huge future in the game. Victor Olarerin who plays for Nottingham Hoods has scored an average of 21.8 pts per game this season after last season scoring 130 points in just 205 NBL1 minutes court time, this season he’s already topped that with 142 pts in just 192 minutes to average 23.7 points per game in the league. Quite stunning statistics for a man who’s recently turned 21.
Notable mentions for Alex Mighten who has broken through into the Nottingham Forest team and with Basford United reaching the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in their history recently, Wade Hines is one of their leading stars having played a major part in that run, also breaking into his sides first team on several occasions.
At Nottingham Sport we also want to give recognition for our own contributions, and in what we believe is the most fiercely contested award of all, the Friar Tuck Writer of the Year Award really could have been won by any number of our authors.
The outspoken Tom Head and his poignant views on Nottingham Forest always a joy, Marc Williams and Tom Surgay have kept us regularly inundated with all things Basford United. Peter Mann who has recently joined our team, covers all areas requested, something different too in the form of Joe Archer our Health & Lifestyle Correspondent, but our winner for the first year is a man that helped us significantly in our early rise, with valid and thoughtful insight on Nottingham Forest, Steve Corry is the man who we thank most for helping push Nottingham Sport to where it is today.
Finally and by no means last is least, the Merry Men Team of the Year Award is left and that goes to Nottinghamshire Outlaws who backed by the runs of Joe Clarke and Ben Duckett, and thanks to an inspirational skippers performance from Dan Christian in the final of the T20 Blast in October, not only won the coveted short format cricket prize that they first took home in 2017, but also the hearts of our county during lockdown as they brought home the bacon in style to lift a city that has been limited to watching sport on the box during the last 12 months.
A fantastic lift sport gives to all felt ever-more by these testing times, keep doing Nottingham proud and we hope that 2021 at least provides more opportunity for everybody that enjoys, watches, runs, volunteers, writes on and participates in, because without sport, there is no competition.
2020 Nottingham Sport Awards Roll of Honour:
- Robin Hood Man of the Year: Stuart Broad
- Maid Marian Woman of the Year: Jasmine Joyner
- Little John Young Star of the Year: Victor Olarerin
- Friar Tuck Writer of the Year: Steve Corry
- Merry Men Team of the Year: Notts Outlaws
*Main image @ECB_cricket Notts Outlaws were 2020 T20 Blast winners and our merry men team of the year.