It’s our third year of telling you who’s the best in these parts and in 2022 we enjoyed a memorable 12 months of sport with success on the field of play and some serious added talent to go with, born in the county, raised in the city, working for one of our great clubs, whoever has lit up the year for Nottingham and the county of Nottinghamshire, you are remembered and thanked, by the people you’ve done so proud.
So to cap on previous winners, last year in the 2021 Nottingham Sport Awards we gave you Boxing World Champion Leigh Wood as a worthy winner of the Robin Hood Man Of The Year Award whilst Weightlifting heroine Emily Campbell deservedly picked up Maid Marian Woman Of The Year.
The Little John Young Star went to Showjumper Jack Whitaker whilst our Friar Tuck Writer Of The Year was won by the marvellous Peter Mann. Finally, the team of the year going to Nottingham Panthers in a year when disappointingly, little silverware was won.
To recap the 2020 awards winners and the inaugural champions of each individual honour, Stuart Broad taking the first ever male award with former Nottingham Wildcats basketball star Jasmine Joyner scooping for the females a first Nottingham Sport Oscar of sorts. The young star went to another basketballer Victor Olarerin of Nottingham Hoods whilst Steve Corry picked up our opening writing award and Notts Outlaws, the 2020 T20 Blast champions in cricket, won our first ever Merry Men Team Of The Year gonk.
So to now, or last year at least, and a year which provided remarkable success to a number of our teams and athletes, as we celebrated 12 glorious months which saw Nottingham Forest win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club win promotion to the County Championship after winning the second division title, Trent Rockets winning the Hundred Competition in the men’s newest cricket format and Beeston Hockey Club winning the National women’s Tier 1 Cup in May.
There were many stunning individual performances too and this is where we’ll start by offering the nominees for the 2022 Robin Hood Man of the Year Award with honourable mentions to Leigh Wood, who dramatically knocked out Michael Conlon in March to defend his WBA featherweight title, to Ben Duckett who’s superb form for Nottinghamshire earned him an England recall where he was equally superb in a series whitewash in Pakistan, to Notts team-mates Haseeb Hameed and Dane Paterson who were also as brilliant in helping Nottinghamshire secure promotion, to Ruben Rodrigues who has been fantastic at Notts County over 12 months and more, to Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley who bowed out of MMA after 19 years with a stunning final win against Wendell Giacomo in Bellator 281 at Wembley Arena.
But one man, one man, has brought the city of Nottingham together like no other in recent years, and that man, a quiet, unassuming man, who’s gentle dignified approach has not only touched the hearts of a fanatical football public in this city, it’s also worked wonders on the teams he’s created, not once, but twice, and that man is Steve Cooper who led Nottingham Forest to that memorable Playoff Final victory in May, and since to healthy places in the Premier League, a deserving man of the year for his achievements, remembering of course the time he joined the Reds at the foot of the Championship in September 2021, to taking them all the way into the Premier League, where the story has far from finished going into 2023.
How do we follow that? Well with the women’s award of course… And whilst Steve Cooper may have enjoyed local and national success, he may even be trumped by our female winner who enjoyed success on a continental scale… Enter the Maid Marian Woman of the Year Award and England Goalkeeper Mary Earps who’s stunning display in the Euros helped her nation to a first ever major continental prize, a first ever piece of major silverware for any full England football team since 1966.
Earps is West Bridgford born and played for Nottingham Forest in her earlier career but is these days keeping net for Manchester United and England who she’s appeared for 29 times. Unbelievably, 15 of her caps came in 2022 as she played a major part in the Lionesses victory, she was in the UEFA team of the Tournament for the Euros, given the freedom of London along with all her England team-mates and of course, she even got her own tram named after her in this very city… Add to that a Nottingham Sport award and Earps can crown off a fabulous year, as she looks forward to achieving even more in 2023 and beyond with a World Cup medal next to eye up.
Special mention on the women’s front to Emily Campbell again, who took Commonwealth Gold in Birmingham on the +87kg weightlifting event. The best of Bulwell also the best of some 56 nations and states taking part and certainly an elite level athlete on a global scale.
Also worth mentioning Nottingham Wildcats forward Kennedy Nicholas who’s point scoring and rebound totalling helped her side reach the Playoffs last season.
Finally, we also want to mention Notts County Women’s footballer Nya Chambers who’s goalscoring over the year has helped the Lady Magpies rise up to the top of the table in the East Midlands Regional Premier Division whilst Lyndsey Harkin, captain of Nottingham Forest has, as ever, continued to deliver with her side currently top of the National League North. The Reds women won the National League Plate last season as well as the County Cup.
Next up, we give you the award for the Little John Young Star and whilst a number of local young athletes can be considered, the likes of Rehan Ahmed for breaking into the England Cricket team aged just 18 with 7 test wickets to his name already just one that shines a light, one footballer aged just 21 years of age and who helped Nottingham Forest achieve their long-awaited destiny after a fabulous 2022 which ended with a World Cup in Qatar with Wales, is one that we cannot ignore, so Westb Bridfgford born Brennan Johnson is deservedly given our prize for an unbelievable twelve months which has seen his value rise into the multi-millions as well as his own stardom into the academy of footballers fame.
Honourable ‘other’ mentions to Johnson’s former Forest team-mates James Garner and Djed Spence, whilst Matty Longstaff was also considered after helping Mansfield Town reach the League Two playoff final whilst on loan from Newcastle United.
So to the Friar Tuck Writer of the Year and our own internal award for those that have gone out of their way to provide exceptional quality content during 2022. So many to thank who have written for us including 2021’s winner Peter Mann, to Nottingham Forest FC reminiscer Stephen Parker, our cricketing bygone blurter Hitesh Darji, but a winner by some way was young K-Ci Rennicks who covered Notts County with exceptional depth and quality, so thank you K-Ci for all your hard work and thank you to all our fabulous writers, names mentioned or not, because without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today!
Which brings us to the reason we are all here, because we love sport, we love Nottinghamshire, and we want to read and enjoy about the success of our teams, and what better way to finish than with our Merry Men Team of the Year Award with so many stunning performances in 2022, those cup winning clubs mentioned, Notts CCC, Trent Rockets, Beeston Hockey Club, don’t forget the seasons from the Stags, men and women, the female side enjoying League Cup success, the males reaching the playoffs at Wembley, so to Notts County who’s men top the National League, who’s women top the East Midlands League, whilst our basketball sides (the Hoods & Wildcats) both reached the playoffs, It’s been a great year for team sport in the city and county, but one club stands tall, across the levels too… As their women’s team currently head their league table having won two pieces of silverware in 2022, the men’s U18’s reaching unprecedented success to reach the FA Youth Cup Final, and the team that Steve Cooper built, Nottingham Forest Football Club for reaching the Premier League and for putting Nottingham well and truly ‘back’ on the global soccer map… We salute you, our team of the year which concludes our ceremony for another twelve months….
See you in 2023…
2023 Nottingham Sport Awards Roll of Honour:
- Robin Hood Man of the Year: Steve Cooper
- Maid Marian Woman of the Year: Mary Earps
- Little John Young Star of the Year: Brennan Johnson
- Friar Tuck Writer of the Year: K-Ci Rennicks
- Merry Men Team of the Year: Nottingham Forest
*Main image @NFFC A city ‘United’ by sporting success in the Old Market Square