Newcastle Knights and Kurri Kurri premiership player Mark Hughes is proud of his Coalfields heritage.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s Cessnock City Sportsperson of the Year Awards, Hughes said it was an honour to be special guest at this year’s awards and celebrate another generation of the shire’s sporting stars.
“Being a Kurri, Coalfields boy I’m really honoured to be invited to help recognise the great sporting people of the Coalfields,” Hughes said.
“It was always a great rivalry in football between Kurri and Cessnock. They were always really tough games even from under 12s when I started playing.
“It’s funny some of my greatest mates out of footy are from Cessnock, the Johns boys obviously. Daniel Smailes, another Cessnock fella, and Billy Peden is another great mate still.
“As much as Cessnock and Kurri people hate to admit it we’re very similar.”
Fundraising on the night will go to the Mark Hughes Foundation, which Hughes launched in 2013 after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“I had a scan about three weeks ago and everything’s going really well. I certainly don’t take anything for granted these days, but everything’s going along really well,” Hughes said.
The awards will be held at Cessnock Leagues Club on Friday night.
Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.
Ticket sales will close 4pm Thursday and can be bought from the club or online at cessnockleagues.com.au.
Check out the photo gallery of the finalists, and their achievements below.
Peter Selkrig (cycling): The Sawyers Gully cyclist won the 50-54 age category of the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation (WEMBO) 24-hour solo world championship in Rotorua, New Zealand in February.
Blake Blackburn (pistol shooting): The Cessnock Pistol Club member placed 36th in the 10-metre air pistol at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (his first Olympic Games).
Daniel Repacholi (pistol shooting): A three-time winner of the Cessnock City Sportsperson of the Year award, Repacholi placed 28th in the 50m air pistol and 44th in the 10m air pistol at the Rio Olympic Games (his fourth Olympics).
Mark Hale (golf): Hale took out the Branxton Golf Club A-grade club championship for the 18th time in October.
John Lodge jnr (speedway): John Lodge jnr, of Sawyers Gully, won the Victorian Street Stock title in March.
Barry Richards (cricket): The Greta-Branxton cricketer scored a first grade record of 172 not out against Wine Country in December. It took him just 18 overs to reach his century. Richards also played a leading role in the Cessnock rep team's SCG Plate campaign. He also represented NSW Blues Open Men’s team in indoor cricket, receiving man-of-the-match against tournament champions Queensland.
Rohan Tungate (speedway): The Pelaw Main rider capped off a great year winning the 2016 NSW Speedway Solo title in December. He also won the opening round of the 2016 Australian Speedway title, second in Swindon Robins rider of year behind Jason Doyle in British Elite League, a top-three ranking in the UK Premier League and contracts in the UK Elite League, Denmark and Poland.
Nathan Dawson (lawn bowls): The Kurri Kurri bowler won the singles, doubles and triples titles at the zone championships, and captained the Kurri Kurri team to the Big Bowls Challenge title.
Mary Marks (ten pin bowls): Marks, of Cessnock, won gold and silver at National Disabilities Tenpin Bowling Championships in June.
Karina Bailey (motorcycle racing): Bailey, 19, of Bellbird, won the Women's Super Motard event at the Asian SuperMoto in Newcastle in September. She also placed first in NSW Enduro Racing and third in the Australian Off-Road Championships.
Aiden Harvey (athletics): The Kurri Kurri athlete claimed the Australian under-18 shot put title in March, and went on to break the NSW Combined High Schools under-17s shot put record by more than a metre in September.
Aubrey Barr (diving): The Nulkaba Public School student won back-to-back titles at the NSW Primary Schools Sports Association (PSSA) diving championships when he took out the nine-years boys’ springboard title in April.
Hannah Bourke (football): The 16-year-old from Kurri Kurri captained her Northern NSW side to victory in the National Training Centre Challenge at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in June 9. Bourke’s outstanding individual performance scored her a position in a Football Federation Australia All Stars team. She was also selected in the NSW All Schools side.
Brodie Jones (rugby league): Jones, of Quorrobolong, was selected in the Australian Schoolboys rugby league team in July. A member of the Newcastle Knights juniors, Jones played for the NSW Blues under-18s side that defeated Queensland in a curtain-raiser to Origin II.
Keegan Pickering (motorcycle racing): A multiple finalist in the junior sportsperson of the year category, Pickering, then 17, placed third in the Women’s SuperMoto at Asian SuperMoto leg in Newcastle in September. She was selected in the Asian Dream Cup. She placed first in the Australian women’s dirt track championship, and second in NSW. She also first in the FX championship women’s division, seventh in the under-20s and 14th overall.
Thomas Oliver and Jed Horder (futsal): The Weston Bears juniors were members of the Australian junior futsal team which won silver at Pacific futsal titles.
Isabella Jennings, Sophie Williams and Mercydes Metcalf (basketball): Jennings, of Black Hill, Williams, of Kurri Kurri, and Metcalf, of Cessnock, were selected in the NSW Primary Schools girls’ basketball team to compete at the School Sport Australia Championships in August. The girls are all members of the Maitland Mustangs under-14s team.
Isabella was selected in the Basketball NSW D-League in Sydney last year, and the Basketball NSW Developing Athletes Program.
Mercydes was also chosen in the NSW Primary Schools girls’ netball team, and received the Peter Moore Trophy for Hunter School Sports Association Sportswoman Of The Year.
Tyson O’Neil (goalball/athletics): The Weston boy, 13, was a member of the NSW junior goalball team (a sport for vision-impaired athletes), winning a silver medal at the national championships. He also set a record in the T13 under-15 boys’ 100-metre race at the NSW Combined High Schools athletics championships.
TEAM/CLUB OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Cessnock PCYC trampolining squad: The club’s trampolining squad had an excellent year, bringing home six gold medals from the Australian Gymnastics Championships.
Kurri Kurri High School lawn bowls team: The Kurri Kurri High School team won the final of the Hunter District High School Bowls Challenge played at East Maitland Bowling Club in August.
Hunter District Bowls Association junior team: Kurri Kurri junior lawn bowlers Tailor Appleby and Daniel Eyeington were crowned state champions. The duo joined Lauren Gardner, from Greta Workers, and Caleb Threadgate, from East Maitland, in the Hunter team that won the fours at the recent state junior championships.
Kurri Kurri Bowling Club: The Kurri Kurri Cannons defeated Beresfield Magpies to claim the Big Bowls Challenge crown in November.
Kurri Kurri Women’s Bowling Club: The women’s grade one pennant team won the district and zone titles, and narrowly missed out on second place in their section at the state finals.
Cessnock District Cricket Association representative team: The Cessnock rep cricket team made the semi-final of the NSW McDonalds Country Plate, the furthest any Cessnock team has made it in the competition.
ADMINSTRATOR/OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR
Dzmitry Shostau (trampolining): The Cessnock PCYC trampolining coach earned a nomination in this category for his squad’s outstanding success at state and national level in 2016. Cessnock PCYC trampolinists brought home six gold medals between them from the Australian Gymnastics Championships in June. Shostau is a former European silver medallist and circus performer who arrived at Cessnock PCYC in early 2015.