Great Britain captains Kate Walsh and Barry Middleton have been named UK Players of the Year for 2012 following the annual poll conducted by the British members of the Hockey Writers’ Club.
Defender Walsh, 32, suffered a horrendous injury in the closing minutes of GB’s Olympic game against Japan when she suffered a broken jaw but returned to captain her team in their important game against China six days later.
“Captain Courageous” went on to lead her team to the Olympic Bronze medal to conclude her international season. Shortly after the Olympics, she was back as assistant coach playing for her club side, Reading.
Kate made her international debut against Russia in 1999 and has now amassed a combined total of 292 international caps (184 England, 108 Great Britain), including the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games. She has won the HWC’s UK Player of the Year twice previously in 2003 and 2007.
“Kate has been an incredible ambassador for our sport and been fantastic all year so is thoroughly deserving of her accolade”, said club and international team-mate Alex Danson, the 2011 HWC Player of the Year.
Great Britain attacker Barry Middleton, 29, has claimed his fourth HWC Player of the Year Award, having also lifted the silverware in 2006, 2007 and 2010. Middleton started playing hockey in Doncaster before moving to Premier League side Cannock, where his sparkling talent, hard graft and inspirational leadership came to the fore. He is currently enjoying his second spell with Dutch club HGC, having also spent time at Der Club an Der Alster (Hamburg, Germany) and East Grinstead (England).
Middleton’s senior international career began in 2003 against Belgium, and has since amassed a combined total of 270 caps (England 165 and Great Britain 105), netting 79 goals in the process. He has no intention of retiring from the international scene before Rio 2016, which would be his fourth Olympic Games following Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Speaking to England Hockey TV ahead of the Champions Trophy in Melbourne Barry said: “I’m looking to go to Rio. I want to play for four more years. Hockey’s my life; it’s what I’ve always done. I feel fit enough to carry on. As soon as I stop enjoying hockey or I feel I’m not helping the team then that’s when I’ll stop.”
Barry Middleton was presented with the traditional Rose Bowl and cheque at a presentational Lunch at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, London, on Tuesday. He was presented with his award by Leandro Negre, President of the International Hockey Federation, who flew in from Barcelona especially for the occasion. Due to her commitments with the British Olympic Association, Kate Walsh was unable to be at the ceremony, with England Hockey representative Jennie Byass collecting the award on Kate’s behalf.
The runners up in the HWC UK Players of the Year Award were Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) and Alex Danson (Reading), with Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) and Crista Cullen (Leicester) in third place.
HOCKEY WRITERS’ CLUB
UK PLAYER OF THE YEAR PREVIOUS WINNERS
1983 Margaret Gleghorne Paul Barber
1984 Karen Brown Richard Leman
1985 Linda Carr Sean Kerly MBE
1986 Moira McLeod Ian Taylor
1987 Violet McBride Imran Sherwani
1988 Barbara Hambly OBE Jon Potter
1989 Vickey Dixon David Faulkner
1990 Maggie Souyave Andy Halliday
1991 Joanne Thompson Jason Laslett
1992 Jane Sixsmith MBE Rob Hill
1993 Sandie Lister Julian Halls
1994 Karen Brown Simon Mason
1995 Tammy Miller Ian Jennings MBE
1996 Kathryn Johnson Bobby Crutchley
1997 Karen Brown Jon Wyatt
1998 Carolyn Reid David Hacker
1999 Christina Cullen MBE Chris Ashcroft
2000 Jane Sixsmith MBE Mark Pearn
2001 Jane Smith Danny Hall
2002 Leisa King Robert Todd
2003 Kate Walsh Simon Mason
2004 Christina Cullen MBE Barry Middleton
2005 Crista Cullen Jonathan Ebsworth
2006 Crista Cullen James Tindall
2007 Kate Walsh Barry Middleton
2008 Beth Storry Ali McGregor
2009 Helen Richardson Ashley Jackson
2010 Helen Richardson Barry Middleton
2011 Alex Danson Mark Pearn
2012 Kate Walsh Barry Middleton
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