Trippier, Hackney and Robson star in North East football writers’ yearly picks

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Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier has been named the North East football writers’ player of the year, with Middlesbrough’s Hayden Hackney crowned young player of the year. Sarah Robson of Durham has – for the third consecutive year – been named women’s player of the year.

None of these should strike fans with any particular surprise but how did each of them get there and what have they achieved this year?

Kieran Trippier

Newcastle’s 33-year-old right-back has shown no signs of slowing down over the last year as his side marched to a Champions League group stage spot and a League Cup final.

He has been a standout in both defence and attack in 2023 as – along with the 14 clean sheets he played his part in – he finished last season with seven assists, more than any of his teammates and a tally that he has already matched in the first half of this season.

Trippier has been a standout in both defence and attack in 2023

Trippier’s ability to win the ball high up the pitch and restart attacks has been instrumental in Newcastle’s recent success and his set-piece skills mean he continues to star as Newcastle’s specialist in that area. Although so far this season the crossbar has denied him on two occasions a trademark free-kick goal.

Like the rest of the award winners, Trippier has continued to be a mainstay for his national team, continuing to be picked consistently by Gareth Southgate despite England’s abundance of talent in his position. 

Beating Sunderland’s Jack Clarke and teammate Joelinton to the award, Trippier becomes the 44th person to be named North East Football Writers’ Men’s Player of the Year and the third consecutive Newcastle player, succeeding Bruno Guimaraes. 

Hayden Hackney

The local starlet has been the key to Michael Carrick’s operations on Teesside and at a Boro side that saw much turnover in key areas, he has provided continuity in solidifying the identity of Carrick’s style this season.

This time last year, few people had heard Hackney’s name before, having just broken into the Boro side after being given a golden opportunity by caretaker manager Leo Percovich, he became a firm favourite at his boyhood club.

Rumoured to be well-scouted by top Premier League sides while sitting in a midfield pairing beside EFL veteran Jonny Howson, Hackney’s defining features personify everything a box-to-box midfielder should be in the era of patient, possession-based philosophies. 

These features include a developed press resistance way beyond his years that sees him receive the ball from his keeper on the edge of his box and shift it through two onrushing attackers like they aren’t there. His progressive play also stands out against his midfield colleagues as he has the confidence to consistently drive into the next third and pick out a line-breaking pass at the exact right moment. The decision-making skills of his that are responsible for so many Middlesbrough goals are simply not that of a 21-year-old Championship player but a seasoned Premier League stalwart.

Hackney’s progressive play stands out against his midfield colleagues

Want goals from your midfield too? No problem. Having mastered the art of arriving late into the box, the youngster has quite the portfolio of goals to his name. I could refer you to finishes at home to Hull and Norwich last season. But why do that when the moment of his short career so far came just two weeks ago? The umbrella in the cocktail of Hackney’s stunning 2023 was his goal against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final, giving his hometown club a huge chance at their first domestic final in 20 years.

Hackney has also been recognised by his national team, representing Scotland then England at U21s international level in the last 12 months. 

Sarah Robson

This one should come as no surprise to anyone, as Durham’s Northern Ireland international Sarah Robson takes him the trophy for a third consecutive year. 

In a mixed 2023 for Durham, Robson has been everpresent, the consistently reliable player she always has been since arriving at the club in 2017.

Robson is often praised for her versatility however in 2023 she has been the ever-present second half to captain Sarah Wilson’s centre-back duo – leading by example as a dominant presence on the pitch.

Despite her defensive capabilities gaining her the plaudits, she is always an aerial threat from set-pieces, with a number of important goals to her name. A trademark Robson goal usually sees her head home or capitalise emphatically on a goalmouth scramble.

Robson also represents Northern Ireland at international level, adding nine caps to her tally this year. A 1-0 win over Albania in September tipped her into triple figures with her 100th appearance for her national team. 

The awards will be held at Durham’s very own Ramside Hall on 3rd March.

Image: Антон Зайцев via Wikimedia Commons

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