Croydon sports clubs triumph at sports awards
By Croydon Advertiser | Friday, November 09, 2012, 08:00
THE cream of local sporting talent was celebrated at ESSN Media Sports Awards last week.
Croydon Amphibians' U15 stars Matt Helps, Mhari Nurthen, Ross James and Ellie Danielson collect their award alongside coaches Barry Danielson, Mickey Helps and Chris Martin
Mike Fleet holds the Olympic Torch during his acceptance speech
Sponsor Graham Hollingdale from Hexx and Olympic silver medallist Rebecca Romero MBE present the award to Lawrence Okoye's father, who collected the gong on his son's behalf
Sports teams enjoy the awards at the Effingham Park Hotel, Copthorne
Regional sports editor Glenn Garrett, left, and senior editor Glenn Ebrey, right, presented the awards and entertained the audience
Held at the Effingham Park Copthorne Hotel near Crawley on Thursday, sports stars young and old arrived for a Champagne reception before making their way into the large hospitality suite for a three-course meal.
ESSN Media senior editor Glenn Ebrey and regional sports editor Glenn Garrett kicked off proceedings on stage with an overhead projector showcasing all of the winners from their respective sporting categories, including a game of "heads or tails" for the whole room to join in to win prizes.
One of the night's first successes were Croydon Amphibians water polo club, whose U15 squad scooped the Young Team of the Year award.
Club secretary Chris Martin and coach Mickey Helps went up with three members of the squad to collect their award, followed by a number of photographs..
Mr Helps said: "I'm proud of the team, the club and for water polo.
"I'd like to thank the Croydon Advertiser for its continued support – awards like this are really, really important, not just for the club, but for our minority sport.
"We don't always get the coverage nationally, so whatever we get locally is well-thanked."
The U15 squad performed remarkably well last year and Helps says their recognition is down to motivation, attitude and ambition.
"I was looking at my team and I was thinking what was it that made this team stronger than the ones we were competing against for the award?" he said.
"You look at their ability and they've all got talent. Half the team are in the England talent programme and all the team are in the county side.
"They're all motivated and I think the attitude has been great.
"They've been down at half time in games and come back, but they've set their standards extremely high this season.
"They came into the winter league as ASA champions and they were the team to beat. They just knew they had to work hard to get the results and that's what they did – it's a very proud moment for me and the kids."
Lawrence Okoye was the clear winner for the Sports Star of the Year award after a phenomenal year in athletics.
Unfortunately he was unable to attend but his father was a proud man when he collected the award on his behalf.
The Team of the Year award went to Streatham-Croydon Rugby Club, whose first team won a second successive promotion earlier this year, while also completing a historic double by winning the Surrey Bowl at the Surrey Finals day at Imber Court.
The Unsung Hero award deservedly went to Mike Fleet, for his work behind the scenes at Croydon Harriers.
Meanwhile, the Young Sports Star award went to swimming star Freddie Benians, who has a big future in the sport.
Not only has he had a great year individually, but he was part of the successful medley freestyle team for South Croydon Swimming Club.
However, Benians was unable to collect the award as he was away on a swimming camp in Tenerife, so his parents were glad to accept the award on his behalf in front of the large audience.
Advertiser editor Glenn Ebrey praised the sportsmen and women.
He added: "Alongside all of the winners, the Croydon Advertiser would like to thank everyone who voted and to the teams nominated for their sporting excellence over the past year."