HAPPY NEW YEAR! We take a look back at a year of highs and lows in Doncaster sport

Billy Sharp in tribute to his son Louie. Picture: Steve Uttley
Billy Sharp in tribute to his son Louie. Picture: Steve Uttley

In many ways 2011 has been a forgettable year for sport in Doncaster.

First came the shame of Shaun Leaf’s rugby league betting scandal, Sarah Stevenson and Billy Sharp then suffered their respective heartbreak, while Knights star Lee Audis remains in a coma after a serious car accident last month.

So in an effort to cheer ourselves up here on the Free Press sportsdesk, reporters PAUL GOODWIN and LIAM HODEN cherry picked a selection box of the year’s more memorable moments - and handed out a few accolades in the process.

Let’s hope for a happier New Year!

Sports Personalities of the Year: SARAH STEVENSON & BILLY SHARP

THERE’S just no splitting these two.

Both Sarah and Billy have suffered unimaginable heartbreak in 2011.

But, contrary to the “it’s only a game” theorists, both have used their respective sports as a way of grieving and focussing the mind - and both have come out of a traumatic year with their heads held high.

Sarah became a world champion and now wants Olympic Tae Kwon Do gold in memory of her parents.

And every ball that Billy kicks is now in honour of Luey Jacob Sharp.

Sarah and Billy’s personal tragedies place sport firmly into context.

But the way these two have responded make them perfect ambassadors for sport in Doncaster.

Free Press Sport salutes you both!

Performance of the Year: JAMIE MCDONNELL

IF 2010 was the year Jamie McDonnell finally lived up to his potential, 2011 was the one he showed exactly how good and, more specifically, how exciting he can be.

While the bantamweight king can justifiably enter two claims for the title of the fight of the year, choosing between them is near impossible.

He kicked off the year with an epic European title war against Belgium’s Stephane Jamoye, demonstrating phenomenal heart and grit to see off a top class opponent. And he closed out the summer with a perfect performance in the action-packed triple title bout with Stuey Hall, executing a game plan to the letter to outclass the Darlington veteran.

In one he demonstrated brilliant resilience and determination, in the other he showed his growing technical prowess. In both he defeated top quality fighters.

In 2011, McDonnell had two genuinely world class fights. In 2012, he will look to prove he is world class.

Coach of the Year: TONY MILLER

THE Dons might ultimately have been disappointed to finish fifth in Championship One - and to then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Rochdale in their play-off eliminator.

But that should not take anything away from the fantastic work done by Miller and his coaching team.

With very limited resources, Miller built a fiercely determined and well-organised side who produced some of their finest performances in recent years.

Miller has raised standards every year since he took the job which bodes well for next season’s more pressurised campaign.

With four promotion slots up for grabs, it’s now or never for the Dons in their bid to return to the second tier - and with Miller at the helm the Free Press expects the Dons to do the business in 2012.

First came the shame of Shaun Leaf’s rugby league betting scandal, Sarah Stevenson and Billy Sharp then suffered their respective heartbreak, while Knights star Lee Audis remains in a coma after a serious car accident last month.

So in an effort to cheer ourselves up here on the Free Press sportsdesk, reporters PAUL GOODWIN and LIAM HODEN cherry picked a selection box of the year’s more memorable moments - and handed out a few accolades in the process.

Let’s hope for a happier New Year!

Sports Personalities of the Year: SARAH STEVENSON & BILLY SHARP

THERE’S just no splitting these two.

Both Sarah and Billy have suffered unimaginable heartbreak in 2011.

But, contrary to the “it’s only a game” theorists, both have used their respective sports as a way of grieving and focussing the mind - and both have come out of a traumatic year with their heads held high.

Sarah became a world champion and now wants Olympic Tae Kwon Do gold in memory of her parents.

And every ball that Billy kicks is now in honour of Luey Jacob Sharp.

Sarah and Billy’s personal tragedies place sport firmly into context.

But the way these two have responded make them perfect ambassadors for sport in Doncaster.

Free Press Sport salutes you both!

Performance of the Year: JAMIE MCDONNELL

IF 2010 was the year Jamie McDonnell finally lived up to his potential, 2011 was the one he showed exactly how good and, more specifically, how exciting he can be.

While the bantamweight king can justifiably enter two claims for the title of the fight of the year, choosing between them is near impossible.

He kicked off the year with an epic European title war against Belgium’s Stephane Jamoye, demonstrating phenomenal heart and grit to see off a top class opponent. And he closed out the summer with a perfect performance in the action-packed triple title bout with Stuey Hall, executing a game plan to the letter to outclass the Darlington veteran.

In one he demonstrated brilliant resilience and determination, in the other he showed his growing technical prowess. In both he defeated top quality fighters.

In 2011, McDonnell had two genuinely world class fights. In 2012, he will look to prove he is world class.

Coach of the Year: TONY MILLER

THE Dons might ultimately have been disappointed to finish fifth in Championship One - and to then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Rochdale in their play-off eliminator.

But that should not take anything away from the fantastic work done by Miller and his coaching team.

With very limited resources, Miller built a fiercely determined and well-organised side who produced some of their finest performances in recent years.

Miller has raised standards every year since he took the job which bodes well for next season’s more pressurised campaign.

With four promotion slots up for grabs, it’s now or never for the Dons in their bid to return to the second tier - and with Miller at the helm the Free Press expects the Dons to do the business in 2012.