IS there a better or more passionate area for rugby than Hartlepool & District?
Kelly’s Eye thinks we are up there with the best of them.Proof of my theory was forthcoming last Wednesday at the second staging of the annual Hartlepool Mail Sports Awards.
Rugby featured in four of the categories, with two winners.
Horden, for all this season has been a near catastrophe, picked up the trophy as the Club of the Year.
A deserved success too, given every side at Welfare Park won their leagues and there were two cup triumphs as well, not to mention two Horden players representing Durham in the County Championship final at Twickenham.
Horden featured heavily, no references to waistlines, on this very page last week so that is all I will write about the leds from Northumberland Street. Kelly’s Eye will this week feature the other three rugby people on show at the Hardwick Hall.
I’m not sure when he was transformed into William Scott Lithgo, but the Seaton stalwart, with the Hollywood name, was named Unsung Hero.
Billy, as we all know him, has been part of the fixtures and fittings at Hornby Park for three decades.
Player, captain and coach are just the tip of the iceberg – he has been as the citation pointed out “the heart of Seaton Carew rugby club”, working his socks off behind the scenes, whether it has been marking the pitch at the crack of dawn or tidying the dressing rooms.
His top contribution surely has been his work on the coaching ground in the club’s youth system – borne out by the two adult teams turning out on a Saturday.
Not many of those lads have not been coached by Billy on a Sunday morning. Congratulations William Scott Lithgo, you are no longer an unsung hero.
Chris Hyndman was nominated for the coach of the year award.
The Billingham player-boss missed out on the prize, Rebecca Taylor, from Hartlepool Hawks cheerleading academy clinching it. If only you had been a bit more agile Chris!
Seriously, he was a very good candidate for the award.
He has transformed Billingham from a Durham Northumberland One team to a side on the National rugby ladder.
Last season, he kept Billingham in the very challenging National Three North while his attack-minded team lifted the Durham Senior Cup by beating Westoe in a thrilling final at Hollow Drfit.
As well as that, he is the coach of Hartlepool Sixth Form College’s rugby academy and works hard across the whole H6FC sports section.
One of his gifted players was nominated for the Young Sports Personality of the Year.
Ryan Foreman is part of an incredible sporting dynasty. Rugby players, runners, netballers, boxers, there is nothing the Foremans can’t do.
Young Ryan, a born and bred Rover, now turns out for Billingham. He was signed for the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Academy when he was 14 and has been with them ever since.
The talented stand-off and ace points scorer has represented Durham at U15, U16 and U18 levels and was in contention for England U17 last season, only to suffer a hand injury.
Ryan’s sister was also nominated for the award, Oaksway netballer, Shaunagh, who looks like having a bright future on the court.
Shaunagh did not make the final four, but Ryan was a very worthy finalist, Premier League kayak ace Bethan Kelly gaining the trophy.
The truth is, and forgive the old cliche, but every Hartlepool Mail Sports Awards nominee was a winner.
Kelly’s Eye had the privilege of sharing a table with Kaitlyn Crowther, who had been put forward for two categories – the Inspire award and Young leader/ Volunteer.
Kaitlyn is not only a member of the Kimberley Gough Dance Academy, but there is more to her than that as she combines her dancing and her school work with being a young carer for her mum. She is a true inspiration.
So too is an amazing character called David Cranson.
At 60-years-young, the fact that the ex-soldier from Deaf Hill is running marathon after marathon and taking part in triathlons is astonishing in its own right.
Factor in that David is blind makes this man a real superstar.
Kelly had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to David in a table dominated by two more big sporting families, the Goughs and the Copes.
His disability has not slowed him down, far from it, he’s fitter than he was when he was in HM Forces and he’s doing great work for the Blind Veterans UK.
Well done David. Well done to all in fact.
JUST going back to the word cliche, Colin Cooper hated the oft-trotted-out media question of ‘must-win game’.
When he was Pools boss he’d occasionally remark at a press conference “if you lose, what does the next game become?”
He had a point I guess.
Anyway, there is a must-win game this Saturday when Boys Brigade Old Boys take on Ashington in Durham Northumberland Two.
A little like the above-mentioned Horden, BBOB were the best things since sliced bread last year.
This season though, Brigade have endured a torrid time, losing seven of their eight fixtures to be third bottom, level on nine points with Saturday’s visitors.
BBOB were hammered at Winlaton at the weekend, the Vulcans winning 81-5.
A total of 30 players have worn the white and black strip this season but on Saturday, for various reasons, just 14 were able to make the trip to Axwell View.
Veteran Mark Crawford, normally content to put out the flags, volunteered to play at full-back for a third outing.
Brigade were happy to see him in the number 15 jersey and also pleased to see flanker Jack Walker back on the grass after an absence due to naval duties.
But the depleted Boys suffered, especially after injuries sent them down to 12 men – the effort was there but not the numbers and the Vulcans filled their boots.
With just two clubs below them in the league table a home win is not just vital for BBOB. It’s amust win. Good luck Boys
BEFORE signing off, a plug for a game where it does not matter who wins, not that Kelly’s Eye would dare suggest that to their faces.
Sunday, as mentioned two Tuesdays ago, is the Peter Willgress Memorial Game at Brinkburn.
A West Select XV will tackle a Town Select XV in honour of Wilf, who died in the spring of 1993.
Organisers would love a big turn-out of players from all local clubs. Kick-off is 12,30pm. Bring your boots!.