The Courier is proud to announce the first ever Team Newcastle Sports Personality of the Year award. We asked Newcastle’s sports clubs to nominate one person each and received lots of credible candidates. An expert panel of judges deliberated and here are the results…
WINNER: Will O’Brien
In these days of controversy about sports and personalities I am pleased to nominate Will ‘Wobby’ O’Brien because he is a true sporting personality.
The mens 2nd XI has had a very successful season so far and Wobby has played a vital part in this success through his commitment to training and his regular very good performances at the heart of the team’s defence. He is determined strong but fair in tackles and an exceptionally sound distributor of the ball whether or not under pressure.
His enthusiasm for the game extends off the pitch and is demonstrated by his dedication to the smooth running and good reputation of the club not just within the university but within the local and north hockey organisations.
Wobby began 2015 in the post of Fixture Secretary which is by far the most important and pressured job for the club throughout the season. This involves the organisation for all 4 teams of matches and officials twice a week plus timely liaison with opposition teams from all over the northern counties.
He was extremely efficient and this went a long way to raising the profile and reputation both the club and the university within the north hockey circles.
In April, Wobby was elevated to the position of Club president, a very popular choice within the club. Since then he has shown exceptional commitment to overseeing the club, and it is no coincidence that the men’s club is in its strongest playing and administrative situation for several seasons.
There must be 8 days in Wobby’s week as he also puts more time into hockey on midweek evenings in all weathers as a coach to the lower Ladies Club. His likeable enthusiastic character is well received by the girls and they are guaranteed an enjoyable session whatever the weather.
As I mentioned at the start there is currently a great deal of media discussion about sportsmen and women and their roles in the mix between sporting performance, sportsmanship, dedication to their sport and the maintenance of a respected personal profile. Wobby fits the bill on all counts.
The Courier Sport team would like to add their congratulations to Will O’Brien, a worthy winner.
RUNNER UP: Matt Baxter
Last year’s 1st XI Vice-captain Matt scored 365 runs at an average of 52.14 runs per innings last season. He got 3 half centuries and 1 hundred. Matt also claimed 8 wickets at an average of 11.125 runs per wicket, an impressive feat for considering he started the season as wicket keeper.
He also started the season batting at 8 but finished batting at 4 as his good run with the bat continued. The main highlight was a match-winning 114 against Durham 1st XI with the team 9 for 4 when Matt arrived at the crease, it was a must win game for the team to avoid relegation, and when he departed the crease the team score was above 200.
Another highlight was when he achieved figures of 4-40 against Leeds Beckett 1st XI. Matt was also an integral member of the indoor squad that reached the national semi-final through the winter season. A notable performance was when he steered the team home and hit the winning runs against Northumbria in the deciding fixture of the group stages.
He has now gone on to take up the role of Club President playing a big role in running the club on a day-by-day basis. Matt has also been appointed 1st XI captain for the indoor and outdoor seasons.
THIRD: Oli Knight
Oli was new to the Boat Club in 2015, but he quickly made a big impact. He started by impressing everyone with his rowing and attitude to training, this soon earnt him a place in the top crews; an impressive achievement for a fresher.
He was large part of every crew he was in, being a real voice in the team and not afraid to say when things needed changing or what he thought could improve. He quickly became a team member people would listen to and go to for advice.
Throughout the season he further progressed in these roles as well as in rowing. He ended the season in the top boat and getting selected to represent Great Britain at the U23 world championships in the men’s 8. He was also part of the Newcastle four that won gold at the European university championships.
FOURTH: Stephen Hallett
Stephen has been a valued member of NUBC for 4 years now, and he is one of the most committed and passionate individuals that we have had the pleasure to work with.
This year he is Treasurer for the Club and so far he has managed the finances incredibly well. For me personally he has been a key member of my committee, I couldn’t have made certain decisions without his input, approachability and intelligence.
He attends our socials every week without fail and turned an impressive 26 this year in Tiger, showing his dedication to the university and the club. After completing his PhD in Chemistry, he will go on to graduate at the end of this year.
He will be missed by all members of our club and this award would be a well-deserved token of appreciation for his time with NUBC.
FIFTH: Claudia Wilson
Claudia has been a core member of our team for the past 4 years both on and off the pitch.
In her roles as secretary and then president she has led by example, constantly giving her all and supporting everyone as much as she can.
Since taking a step back from committee, her enthusiasm hasn’t faltered. She is still always at training, always available for matches and always there if you need to talk.
Without Claudia, our team would not be the same. She’s our fill in first aider, running on with a med bag and some magic water, and the most dedicated member of our team.
On the blue moon that she joins us on a Wednesday night, she has some cracking dance moves as well. To give you an idea of those, the poly called her t-Rex at Stan Calvert for her running style.
Claudia is an inspiration to us all, and someone the team will miss dearly when she leaves.