First published in League Express, Monday 16th Sept 2013
Huddersfield Giants star Danny Brough will collect the Albert Goldthorpe Medal in a ceremony hosted by League Express at Headingley on Wednesday 18th September.
It will be the second time Brough has won the Goldthorpe Medal. He was the inaugural winner in 2008, when he was a Wakefield player, and his success again shows a remarkable level of consistency.
The Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year will also be announced at the Albert Goldthorpe lunch. The winner of that award will receive a solid silver medal and a cheque for £500.
After receiving his solid gold medal and a cheque for £2,000, Danny will then have to wait to see whether he can pull off a double, by winning the Super League Man of Steel award, which will be presented at a gala dinner at Old Trafford, Manchester two weeks today, Monday September 30.
The Man of Steel is the player deemed to have made the biggest impact on the Super League season.
You would imagine he would come from the Super League Dream Team announced last week in which Danny featured.
Prior to 2011, the Man of Steel was decided exclusively by a media panel. But in recent years the Man of Steel has been determined by a poll of every Super League player. The views of the competition’s stars will again be play a key part in the selection of the 2013 winner, but with a twist.
In an innovation introduced this season, the votes of the players will be considered by a specially convened Man of Steel Selection Panel before the winner is determined.
The five-man panel comprises two current Super League players nominated by the players’ association League13, representatives of the broadcast and print media and a retired former Man of Steel winner.
The RFL last week refused to reveal the names of the panel members, but I understand they are Jon Wilkin (St Helens and League13), Jon Clarke (Widnes Vikings), Paul Sculthorpe (former Man of Steel), Phil Clarke (broadcast media) and Danny Lockwood (print media).
From the votes cast by the Super League players, a long list of five names is considered by the panel, who are asked to narrow the list down to a shortlist of three and select a winner.
I understand that Brough has garnered the most votes from his fellow Super League players, but the panel is at liberty to decide not to give the award to him.
The rationale for asking a panel to sit in judgement on the votes of the players is a curious one.
“The new system brings together the best features of both Man of Steel selection processes and adds an important dimension by considering the views of a former Man of Steel winner,” said RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer.
“Every player in the competition will continue to play an important role in deciding who the Super League Man of Steel is, and the new-look selection panel will ensure the award maintains its status as the prize every Rugby League player dreams of winning.”
So I can only imagine that the RFL believes that the award wouldn’t have “maintained its status” if the decision had been left to the players.
The RFL has emphasised that the players involved on the selection panel have no club affiliation with any of the players on the long list. The names of the three-man shortlist will be revealed at some unspecified time prior to the Man of Steel dinner.
The sad death of a gentleman reporter
Raymond Fletcher, who died on Thursday after a long illness, worked for the Yorkshire Post as their Rugby League reporter until 1996. He then worked as a freelance writer, reporting regularly on matches in League Express.
Raymond joined us just when Super was starting, and we were very fortunate that he did.
By then, of course, he had established a fine reputation, not just as a regular match reporter, but also for what was probably the major work in his life, the Rothman’s Yearbook.
He had established that excellent publication at the beginning of the 1980s with David Howes, who at that time was the RFL’s Public Relations Officer.
There had been previous attempts at creating Yearbooks for the game, notably in the 1970s, but Raymond brought a gravitas and a total dedication to accuracy in the way facts were reported in the Yearbook.
You knew that if a fact appeared in the Yearbook, you were able to rely on it being correct, and Raymond wouldn’t rest until it was.
He brought that same dedication to accuracy to all the match reports he did with us.
I can honestly say that I don’t recall him ever getting a fact wrong, and that attachment to factual accuracy is something I try to impress on all the young reporters who come to us wanting a break in sports journalism.
Raymond was so dedicated because he loved Rugby League. In one of the books about the history of Hull FC there is a photo of him as a small boy sitting on the fence at the Boulevard. And that love affair with the game would never end.
Occasionally Raymond would email me about something I’d written in this column, usually saying how much he agreed with what I’d written.
On those occasions his emails would make me feel good for just about the whole week.
And fortunately he was far too gentlemanly ever to email me to say how much he disagreed with something I’d written, although I’m sure he must have done many times.
He bore his illness with amazing fortitude, and even humour, making light of the number of operations he had, while, truly in character, keeping an accurate record of them.
The Rothman’s ended in 1999, and our own Gillette Yearbook attempts to carry on more or less where Raymond left off.
At League Publications we would like to extend our condolences to Raymond’s wife Muriel and their family and friends for their very sad loss.
We will miss him badly.