Danson, Pearn are Hockey Writers' Players of the Year

Mark Pearn, the 34-year-old Great Britain, England and East Grinstead striker and Alex Danson, the 26 year old Great Britain, England and Reading forward have been named UK Player of the Year for 2011 following the annual poll conducted amongst British members of the Hockey Writers’ Club.  Both are currently in the GB Olympic training squads and are no strangers to honours.  

Alex Danson comes under pressure from Sophie Polkamp of the Netherlands at the 2011 EuroHockey Nations Championships

Alex Danson (above), the former Trojans and Slough player who joined Reading two years ago on returning from a season playing for Laren in the Dutch League, has had a highly successful club and international season which was  iced at the end of December with her selection, with her club colleague, Helen Richardson, for the FIH World Squad.  The youngest player to be capped for England when she played against Germany in a 1-1 draw in Cologne on 23rd October 2001 at the tender age of 16, she has now amassed 162 combined Great Britain and England international caps at the end of 2011 including the Beijing Olympics in 2008. 

Mark Pearn celebrates scoring his 50th goal for England at The London Cup, Chiswick

Mark Pearn’s international career started way back in 1995 when he pulled on an England shirt at the age of 18 in Berlin against the Netherlands.  It included selection for the Sydney and Athens Olympics and has been rekindled by his recall to the international arena for England and Great Britain during 2011 after a gap of seven years at the age of 34.  The call came after a series of fine performances as player/coach of East Grinstead where he moved seven seasons ago after a highly successful career with Reading and a season in Bacelona playing for the Polo Club.  Mark had previously won the Award for 2000.  Mark received the traditional Rose Bowl and his cheque at a presentational lunch at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in Knightsbridge, London from FIH President Leandro Negre, who flew in from Barcelona for the occasion and GB Hockey President Richard Leman. 

Unfortunately, Alex is away with the GB Squad in Argentina and was unable to accept her award, which in her absence was accepted by her parents, Trisha and David.  On learning of her award Alex commented, “It’s been quite a surreal day and I feel so honoured.  I feel so exceptionally lucky to play the sport I love in the environment I do.  The central programme for me is quite simply the best job in the world."  Barry Middleton (East Grinstead) and Helen Richardson (Reading) the 2010 winners were runners up with James Fair (Cannock) with  Beth Storry (Reading) in third place.  Plaques and cheques were also presented to Jo Leigh (Clifton HC) and Joe Sharp (Belper HC & Ecclesbourne School) as winners of the Higgins Group UK Youth Hockey Awards.  Martha Baker (Beeston HC & Bramcote Hills School) and James Albery (Old Loughtonians HC) won the newly introduced Higgins Junior awards.

Previous Winners of the Hockey Writers' Player of the Year

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 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 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

SOURCE: Hockey Writers' Club