Nottinghamshire sporting royalty was out in force on Wednesday (23 December) night when Salford played host to the annual, BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, one which has been given since way back in 1954.
Several stars with Nottinghamshire connections have lifted the main award, including that of Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean, who were in attendance, and lifted it themselves way back in 1984, nearly forty years ago now.
Other stars having a presence at this years’ SPOTY was that of retired swim sensation, Rebecca Adlington (third in 2008), current stars Mary Earps (Manchester United and England Women football goalkeeper), Emily Campbell (weightlifter), whilst on the VT there was that of Trent Rockets (cricket) and Natalie Sciver (cricket), and a random inclusion of Pete Allen, of the Nottingham Vikings Ball Hockey side – they get everywhere!!
Overall, in this years’ SPOTY awards, England women’s sensation, Beth Mead took the overall award, with the England Women team, European Championship winners, lifting the Team of the Year, and boss Serina Weigman taking the Coach of the Year.
This means that it’s the perfect time to look at how some of how our own stars have fared this past year, on the sporting front, with one of those in attendance, MARY EARPS, our Sportsperson of the Year 2022.
This year we’ve gone for Moment of the Year, Comeback of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Team of the Year (a hard one to call), Sportsperson of the Year, and a Special Mention.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR The stoppage successes from Nottingham’s world champion boxer, ‘Leighthal’ Leigh Wood against Michael Conlan at the Nottingham Arena, back in March 2022; a contest that would see Wood put on the canvas in the first, Conlan in the eleventh, before being ‘tossed’ out of the ring in the twelfth, for the WBA World featherweight championship.
Also, who can forget a play-off final success for Nottingham Forest, from the Championship to the Premier League, in the summer, following a miraculous turn-around by the then, newly appointed manager, Steve Cooper – it was something else indeed.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR Has to go to Nottingham Forest Women’s Laura-Jayne O’Neill who, only recently, returned to the first team squad following a lengthy lay-off, over a year out of the game, with injury.
LJ O’Neill found herself named on the bench for the Vitality Women’s FA Cup victory over Wem Town in late November, before coming on in extra-time in the win over Stoke City, in the FA Women’s National League, League Cup, at the start of December.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR As with the returning O’Neill at Forest, the newcomer of the year goes to neighbouring County, and that of Skye Lakin-Wright, who made an instant, and stunning introduction to the women’s game, with a debut to remember.
At just 16-years-old, Lakin-Wright started the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League, League Cup match, against Loughborough Foxes, in early November; an 8-0 win for County saw the youngster set her side en-route to victory when setting up the opening goal for Summer Gayle and, with Gayle bagging a hat-trick, went on to add a late brace herself.
Bagging two in just as many minutes late on, Lakin-Wright’s first was fired home from fully eighteen yards out, whilst the second put the gloss on the victory.
TEAM OF THE YEAR Who can look past that of the men’s cricketing side, the Trent Rockets, and their success in The Hundred.
Having finished top of the pile with six wins from their eight outings, defeating Birmingham Phoenix (six wickets), Northern Superchargers (seven wickets), Manchester Originals (eight wickets), Oval Invincibles (twenty-one runs), London Spirit (six wickets), and Welsh Fire (twenty-nine runs), prior to defeating, at Lord’s, second place Manchester Originals, in the early September final.
Two of the Trent Rockets stars featured in the top five run-makers as Dawid Malan (377 runs) and Alex Hales (259 runs) fired the Trent Bridge-based club to victory.
Worthy mentions must go to three of the regions nonleague clubs in Worksop Town, following their start to the current, Northern Premier League East Division season, Newark Town following last season’s successful promotion campaign and decent start to the current one, and Retford United, who themselves have enjoyed an unbeaten start in their Central Midlands Premier North campaign.
SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR Five, standout stars, are deserving of mention in this years’ rundown, topped by that of the 29-year-old Manchester United and England Women’s goalkeeper, Mary Earps (1), the Nottingham-born footballer has been an active player since 2008-09.
In 2019, Earps returned to England following a brief spell in Germany, with VfL Wolfsburg, to join Manchester United, as they embarked on their first season in the Women’s Super League; however, it was this past season where she, and her team-mates, thrust themselves into the spotlight, with a victorious, European Championship.
Earps, and England, also won the Arnold Clark Cup, the shot-stopper claiming four clean sheets when lifting the big one, eyes now turning to next year’s Women’s World Cup, down under.
British weightlifter and Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, England) and European Championship (Tirana, Albania) gold medallist, Emily Campbell (2), continues to impress and is deemed as being ‘the most successful British weightlifter of modern times.’
Newark Town legend, talisman, and captain, Lewis Chambers (3), is deserving of mention in any, end-of-year/season awards. His goals, and on-field presence, fired Town to promotion to the United Counties Division One this past summer, and he continues to do the same this season as well.
Boxer, Nicola Hopewell (4), has made a fine, unbeaten start to her career as a professional boxer; nicknamed ‘Hurricane,’ she has won two-from-two in the second half of 2022 and has her next outing already lined up for the New Year.
And then there’s the new kid on the block, in the sport of British American Football, and the Nottingham Caesars young gun, and Defensive Back, Freddie Burton (5), and one who is the future of the game in this fair land.
Burton was selected, and played for, the Great Britain U19s (GB Lions) at the IFAF U19 Championships, in Bologna, Italy, starring in their third/fourth place, 28-14 play-off success over Spain – watch out for him, and remember the name.
SPECIAL MENTION Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, the former Nottingham Forest trainee turned MMA star retired back in May following a second round knockout victory over Wendell Giacomo.
Daley enjoyed just shy of a twenty year career in the fight game, taking in many promotions, across the world, including the UFC, Bellator MMA, Cage Rage and BAMMA, to name a few, he is also a former Cage Rage World (2007), and British (2006), welterweight champion.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @thegkblog England goalkeeper Mary Earps became a Europe Champion last summer.