THE SHORTLIST for the 2017 Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards has been unveiled.
There are 12 different categories covering both individuals and clubs which will be recognised at a ceremony at Worcester Warriors RFC next month.
The winners will be announced at the annual event, which is attended by more than 250 amateur and professional sports people, local businesses and dignitaries. Olympic hockey gold medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE will be this year’s guest speaker.
Stephen Brewster, chief executive of Sports Partnership Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “These awards are an opportunity for local people, clubs and organisations to be celebrated for their hard work, commitment and passion for grassroots sport, as well as those who are participating at both amateur and professional levels.”
The awards are being held at Sixways Stadium on Thursday, November 23 and will be hosted by BBC Hereford & Worcester presenter Kate Justice.
To view the full shortlist or book tickets for the event, visit www.sportspartnership hw.co.uk/sportsawards.
Over the coming weeks Bullivant Media – publisher of Observer and Standard titles across Worcestershire – will be featuring those shortlisted for the accolades and sharing their inspirational stories.
Our panel of experts will select their winners but readers have their chance to select the headline award winner – the prized sports personality of the year – by voting at www.sportspartnershiphw.co.uk/spoty-poll online.
Here, we take a look at the six contenders for the top honour:
Bromsgrove Sporting FC
THERE is no denying Bromsgrove Sporting fans have been taken on quite a journey this year.
After three years of promotion heartache, the Rouslers finally claimed the title of Midland League Division One champions in April.
However, that is not the jewel in the crown, it is the fact Paul Smith’s men managed to win the league without losing a single game, winning 33 and drawing five.
What is even more incredible is that from the turn of 2017, Sporting won 20 league games on the spin to cruise to promotion.
Away from their league success, the Rouslers came to within an inch of gracing the turf at Wembley in the final of the FA Vase.
Sporting’s Vase run captured the imagination of the town with four-figure crowds watching the wins over higher ranked sides Bristol Manor Farm and Buckland Athletic.
Now into the semi-finals, Smith’s men were given the task of taking on Lincolnshire side Cleethorpes Town and a fantastic crowd of 3,349 turned up at the Victoria Ground to witness the sides draw 1-1 in the first leg.
With dreams of playing at the home of football just 90 minutes away, Sporting’s Vase endeavours came to a sad end as Gary King’s first-minute goal was enough to ensure it was the Owls who would be going through.
Despite this Sporting have never looked back and, in their debut season in the Midland League Premier Division, they sit second after 11 games and are well in the hunt for successive promotions.
WORCESTERSHIRE opener Daryl Mitchell has just come off the back of a title-winning campaign with the county in which he was the second highest run-scorer in Division Two.
The Badsey-born batsman, who is currently chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, amassed 1,266 runs at an average of 55.04 and recorded a personal best of seven hundreds during the promotion-clinching season.
Those centuries, all scored in the Specsavers County Championship, are the highest number in a season by a Worcestershire batsman since 1996 when Tom Moody also made seven.
The 33-year-old’s 139 not out in the win against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in September proved to be a crucial moment in the county’s fight for promotion, as they leapfrogged their opponents to reach the summit – a position they held on to for the remainder of the campaign.
Also a useful limited overs medium-pacer, Mitchell made his debut for Worcestershire in 2005 before going on to skipper his home county from 2010 to 2016 – the first Pear to do so since Maurice Foster in 1925.
Mitchell’s overall first class run tally now stands at 11,550 at an average of 40.66 – including 339 runs for Mountaineers in Zimbabwe and 63 for the MCC versus Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi in 2015.
The evergreen opener will be looking to carry his fine form into the 2018 season when Worcestershire tackle the likes of county champions Essex, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
IT HAS been quite a turnaround for Droitwich RFC over the past year.
Following their crushing relegation from Midlands Two West (South) last term, the Glyn Mitchell Memorial Ground club have had to rebuild from the very bottom.
Adam Drew came in as the club’s new director and, with a string of new signings and promotion of youth, Droitwich have finally reached their potential.
Led by captain James Shewell, who arrived from local rivals Bromsgrove, Droitwich cruised to the Midlands Three West (South) title to secure an immediate return to Midlands Two West (South).
The rampant yellow and blacks showed no mercy, winning all 22 of their league games and conceding an average of just under ten points per game – a remarkable achievement for a club which only won once the year before.
Away from their league success, Droitwich also won the Midlands Senior Vase and got the chance to play at Twickenham in the final of the RFU Senior Vase.
Unfortunately Surrey side Farnham proved too good for Drew’s men in the final but, for a town with a population of around 23,000, Droitwich should be proud to have got the chance to have played at the home of rugby.
Droitwich’s frightening form has continued into the new Midlands Two West (South) campaign, with the team winning all three of their opening league games.
Having already beaten Walsall in the Midlands Intermediate Cup second round, Droitwich’s journey to Twickenham is under way once more.
RISING star Evie Richards continued to make a name for herself this year.
The Malvern rider has built on her success of 2016 and started 2017 on a very positive note by claiming a bronze medal at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Luxembourg.
Although the 20-year-old failed to retain her title, the Malvern Cycle Sport member went on to achieve second place in the first cross country UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in the Czech Republic in May.
It could have been a victory for Richards had it not been for a small crash on the first lap which allowed eventual winner Kate Courtney to take an early lead.
The U23 category rider never let this deter her from clinching more success and it was not long before she was celebrating her first ever World Cup win just weeks later.
Richards dominated the climbs in Albstadt, Germany, to claim her maiden victory.
Starting alongside championship leader Courtney, Richards showed her skills to pull out a stunning 20-second lead after just the first lap.
Despite suffering a flat during the course of the race, the victory never looked in doubt for the Malvern rider who then completed the World Cup with a third placed finish in Val di Sole, Italy – a result which secured overall third place in the competition.
After several weeks of rest, Richards is now preparing for the UCI Category One cyclo-cross race in Abergavenny on October 29.
HEREFORD FC have continued their surge up the non-League ladder with more resounding successes in 2017.
A season after storming to the Midland League Premier Division crown with 107 points and reaching the FA Vase final at Wembley, the Bulls went marching on as they captured the 2016/17 Southern League Division One South & West title with 108 points.
Peter Beadle’s men topped the pile with a sensational 108 points as they lost just four matches, finishing 26 points clear of second place.
The 2017/18 campaign has also begun in hugely encouraging fashion for the Edgar Street club – reformed in 2014 as a phoenix club for Hereford United – with them firmly in the title race.
Hereford’s success has clearly not gone unnoticed this season, with the Bulls watched by a mightily impressive average home crowd of just over 2,600 in the Southern League Premier at the time of writing.
At the time of going to press, the Bulls’ highest gate this season was 3,366 and their average gate is more than three times that of their nearest challenger.
Furthermore, the newly-formed club have reached the FA Cup first round proper for the first time in their history, setting up a tie at home to AFC Telford United.
WORCESTER Warriors centurion Jonny Arr was awarded a testimonial season this year to honour a decade of service with his hometown club.
Since making his first team debut in 2007, having initially started playing rugby in the club’s mini junior set-up, the prolific scrum half has featured in 193 games for Warriors across all competitions, with 104 in the Aviva Premiership – making him the club’s most capped active player.
Arr’s testimonial season will see a number of key events taking place throughout the 2017/18 campaign to honour him and raise funds for the Warriors Community Foundation and Restart Rugby.
The 28-year-old former Royal Grammar School student featured ten times for Warriors in the 2016/17 Premiership campaign as he helped to steer the club away from relegation earlier this year.
With fellow number nine Francois Hougaard away on international duty with South Africa as the 2017/18 season got under way, director of rugby Gary Gold again put his faith in Arr, with the half back featuring in five of Warriors’ six Premiership games so far.
During his time at Sixways, Arr has helped Worcester secure promotion to the Premiership both in 2010/11 and 2014/2015 and has picked up the club’s Young Player of the Season, Most Improved Player of the Season and Player of the Season awards.
He was also part of the England U20s side which won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2008.
Celebrated for his commitment to the jersey by his team-mates and coaches, with head coach Carl Hogg hailing him as a ‘true Warrior in every sense of the word’, Arr will be looking to help the club in their bid to secure Premiership safety once again.