Deadline looms in our hunt for Yorkshire’s sporting champion

Leeds Rhinos win the Challenge Cup.
Leeds Rhinos win the Challenge Cup.
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As supporters of Yorkshire’s sports clubs will attest, moments of true greatness that create memories to last a lifetime, are few and a far between.

Yet in 2014, there were six clubs who stood out from the pack to give their followers sporting occasions to cherish.

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale poses with the team

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale poses with the team

Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Castleford Tigers, Leeds Rhinos, Hull City, Sheffield United and Rotherham United all had years in which in decades to come, their followers will still be recalling fondly.

And in a good number of those players and coaches, there are stand-out performers who are in the running for your vote for The Yorkshire Post Sports Hero of 2014.

As we reach the final lap of our search for the county’s leading light of the last 12 months – with two hospitality tickets to a Headingley Test up for grabs for one lucky reader – let’s take a look at some of the star performers.

Arguably the most memorable team achievement in 2014 was that accomplished by the players and staff of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Thirteen long years had dragged by since the most storied club in domestic cricket had lifted the county championship title. It had been 12 since they last won a trophy of any sorts – the longest run of all 18 active counties.

But in 2014 the young men of Yorkshire came of age, and what was most uplifting is that 10 of the 11 players standing on the pitch when the final wicket was taken were homegrown.

It has made selecting a standout hero a difficult one – because there were so many.

Andrew Gale captained the side with his heart on his sleeve.

Adam Lyth and Alex Lees led from the front with bat in hand, building the foundations for many a victory in an opening partnership that drew nationwide acclaim.

The masterminds behind the victory are two great characters of Yorkshire cricket.

Jason Gillespie was the first-team coach who brought the Australian winning mentality to the White Rose, while the championship victory was a decade in the making for director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon.

On an international level, Joe Root and Gary Ballance made huge strides for England, as well as pitching in with vital contributions for their county.

Can you choose between any of those for the prize of Yorkshire’s Sports Hero of 2014?

Meanwhile, in rugby league, despite finishing 12th in 2013, Castleford were utterly transformed under the command of Daryl Powell, going on to become the ‘feel-good’ story of the season.

With help from a raft of unheralded signings, a renowned team spirit and playing such an attractive brand of football, they brought some of Super League’s big guns to their knees and came within just 80 minutes of finishing top for the first time ever.

They eventually came fourth – still their best in Super League – and also reached Wembley for the first time since 1992 where they went down to Leeds.

It was no surprise Powell won Coach of the Year and the West Yorkshire side cleaned up, Daryl Clark, their brilliant 21-year-old hooker, claimed both the prestigious Steve Prescott Man of Steel award and Super League’s Young Player of the Year before going on to debut for England, starring in the Four Nations Down Under.

The player Clark narrowly pipped as Super League’s greatest in 2014 was Leeds’s Jamie Peacock, the ex-England captain who defied his 36 years to produce astonishingly consistent displays up front for the Rhinos.

And, at last after five final defeats, Kevin Sinfield, finally lifted the Challenge Cup as Leeds ended their 15-year wait for glory in the famous competition.

Sam Burgess was heroic as the Dewsbury-born forward defied a fractured cheekbone and eye socket to deliver a man-of-the-match performance in South Sydney’s NRL Grand Final win.

Burgess, then, became the first Englishman to be named RLIF International Player of the Year.

And what about the world of football – is there anyone in the national pastime worthy of your vote? Three nominees for your consideration are managers who led their team to new heights.

Steve Bruce took Hull City to a first FA Cup final and kept them in the Premier League.

Steve Evans guided Rotherham United to a second successive promotion while Nigel Clough took third-tier Sheffield United on a memorable ride to the FA Cup semi-final.

Do any of those get your vote? If so, all you need to do is cast your nomination for anyone from the world of Yorkshire sport and hope your selected sports star wins our poll. If you vote for our eventual winner your name will be entered into the prize draw.

The Yorkshire Post sports hero will be the one who receives most nominations from you, our readers. Each nomination counts as a vote.

The criterion is Yorkshire-born sportsmen and women, or people who play for Yorkshire clubs or live and train in the county, who have done wonders this year. The closing date is Monday at noon.