Saturday Spotlight: From Boro struggles to international stardom

18 December 2010 10:17
Tomorrow sees the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards; today it's the big one as far as sport in the North-East is concerned. After an action-packed 12 months, Assistant Editor Scott Wilson selects the winners of The Northern Echo's North-East Sport Awards.


THIS time last year, Easington-born Adam Johnson was plying his trade in the bottom half of the Championship.

Twelve months on the winger is an established England international with two senior goals under his belt. He is also an integral member of a Manchester City side set to compete for a Premier League and Europa League double in the second half of the season.

Middlesbrough supporters might bemoan his rise, rightly pointing out that his departure coincided with a dramatic slump in the club's fortunes.

But the rest of the North-East should take pride in the achievements of one of the brightest footballing talents to emerge from the region in the last few years.

Unfortunate to miss out on a place at the World Cup finals, Johnson's best week of 2010 came in September, when he scored a crucial goal in England's 3-1 win over Switzerland four days after he had opened his international account in a home victory against Bulgaria.

One month later, he scored a dramatic late winner as Manchester City beat Newcastle, and while he is yet to cement a starting spot at Eastlands, he remains one of Roberto Mancini's most influential players.

Runner-up: SIMON VALLILY - The Middlesbrough-born boxer claimed a heavyweight gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, just two years after being released from a young offenders' institute.

Third: Andy Carroll - He might have had his off-field problems this year, but on the pitch, Gateshead-born Carroll fired Newcastle to the Championship title and earned a maiden international call-up.

2009: Jo Jackson

2008: Tony Jeffries

2007: Paul Collingwood

2006: Graeme Storm


HAVING left the England job with his reputation in tatters, North Yorkshireman Steve McClaren eschewed the easy route back into management by agreeing to lead Dutch side FC Twente.

The move was a masterstroke, as Twente's first ever Eredivisie title led to the former Middlesbrough boss becoming one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe.

He left to join Wolfsburg in the summer, becoming the first Englishman to manage in the German Bundesliga in the process, and is now being linked with a high-profile return to the Premier League in the future.

Runner-up: CHRIS HUGHTON - The Newcastle manager led his side to the Championship title, and had established them in the Premier League's top ten prior to his shock dismissal this month.

Third: MARK JOHNSTON - The Middleham trainer broke the 200-winner mark for the season again and claimed more than £3m in prize money during the calendar year.

2009: Chris Hughton

2008: Geoff Cook

2007: Roy Keane

2006: Fabulous Flournoy


WIDELY criticised for his inconsistency during the relegation season, Newcastle full-back Jose Enrique entered 2010 with a point to prove.

He spent the second half of last season producing a string of impressive displays in the Championship, and has carried that form into the topflight this season.

His relationship with Jonas Gutierrez is a key element of Newcastle's attacking play, while the quality of his defending has improved out of all recognition in the last 12 months.

Runner-up: JIMMY GOPPERTH - The Newcastle Falcons fly-half took time to settle after his move from New Zealand at the start of last season, but has gradually emerged as the club's leading attacking talent.

Third: Michael Di Venuto - The Durham opener broke the 1,000-run barrier in the County Championship for the second season in succession.

2009: Michael Di Venuto

2008: Dale Benkenstein

2007: Ottis Gibson

2006: Dale Benkenstein


SINCE breaking into Sunderland's first team at the start of last season, Jordan Henderson has emerged as one of the most exciting midfielders in the Premier League.

Despite only turning 20 in June, the Wearsider has started every single one of Sunderland's league matches this season and made his full England debut in last month's friendly with France.

He is set to go from strength to strength in the next 12 months, and Steve Bruce's toughest job will surely be holding on to him in the face of sustained interest from some of the Premier League's big guns.

Runner-up: ANDY CARROLL - The Newcastle striker boasts more experience than Henderson, but his rise in the last 12 months has been every bit as dramatic.

Third: BEN STOKES - The 19-year-old all-rounder broke into Durham's first team this season and established himself as a major player, particularly in the four-day form of the game.

2009: Savannah Marshall

2008: Jemma Lowe

2007: Kieren Emery

2006: Paul Drinkhall


VALLILY had impressed in the early rounds of the Commonwealth Games boxing tournament, but looked to face a tough task when he lined up against Northern Irishman Steven Ward looking to become England's first Commonwealth heavyweight champion since 1978.

It took him less than two minutes to record a knockout success though, and the Teessider is now being touted as a gold-medal contender in London 2012.

He's frighteningly good, said British performance director Rob McCracken. We've got two years to work with him and there's a real possibility he could win the Olympics.

Runner-up: NEWCASTLE'S DISPLAY IN THEIR 5-1 WIN OVER SUNDERLAND - It was supposed to be one of the tightest derbies on record, but it turned into a massacre as a Newcastle side inspired by Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan ran riot.

Third: JOHANNA JACKSON'S COMMONWEALTH GAMES GOLD MEDAL - Redcar-born Jackson justified her position as pre-race favourite as she won the 20km walk final by more than three minutes.

2009: Jo Jackson's swimming world record

2008: Stewart Downing's manof- 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


MIDDLESBROUGH supporters haven't had a lot to celebrate this year, but on one memorable afternoon in October, the club came together to celebrate the return of a cherished son.

Tony Mowbray had been mentioned as a possible Middlesbrough manager before, only for events to conspire against a reunion.

After the exit of Gordon Strachan, though, Mogga was ready to return. Revisiting the 1980s has never felt so good.

Runner-up: ENGLAND LOSING OUT ON THE 2018 WORLD CUP - The moment when the decision was relayed to Sunderland's bid committee via television screens in the Stadium of Light perfectly captured the country's frustration and disappointment .

Third: CHRIS HUGHTON'S DISMISSAL - Just when events on Tyneside looked to be calming down, Mike Ashley stirred up another hornet's nest with the dismissal of popular manager Hughton.

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

2006: N/A


WINNING the FA Vase at Wembley once is a notable success; winning it twice in a row is a remarkable achievement for one of the North-East's leading nonleague football clubs.

Whitley Bay defended their title in style, thrashing Norfolk opponents Wroxham 6-1 on a sunny May day at Wembley.

Paul Chow scored after 21 seconds the fastest goal ever scored at the national stadium with Lee Kerr, Adam Johnston, Paul Robinson and Josh Gillies also getting on to the scoresheet, along with an own goal from Andy Easthaugh.

Runner-up: NEWCASTLE UNITED - The Magpies claimed 102 points as they won the Championship title in style and have acquitted themselves well since returning to the Premier League.

Third: NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS - Newcastle's speedway team won the Premier League title, and only narrowly missed out on a place in the Elite League after a two-legged play-off defeat to Ipswich.

2009: Durham

2008: Durham

2007: Durham

2006: Newcastle Eagles


AS a player, Niall Quinn served Sunderland with distinction, scoring 69 goals in 183 starts and forming half of a hugely successful attacking double act with Kevin Phillips.

It is since moving into the Stadium of Light boardroom, though, that the Irishman has really come into his own as a superb ambassador for Sunderland and the wider North-East.

He has helped transform the Black Cats into an established Premier League force, and has rebuilt the relationship between the club and its fans that had been damaged during the latter days of the Bob Murray era.

As an ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid, he also spoke passionately about the North- East as a destination for tourism, business and sporting investment.

2009: Dave Parnaby

2008: Stephen Miller

2007: Sir Bobby Robson

2006: N/A

Source: Northern_Echo

Trending on the forum