Show respect to Harry Sunderland Trophy winners

Former St Helens and Warrington player ADAM FOGERTY wrote this letter to League Express in response to the decision by the RFL to rename the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the player of the match in the Super League Grand Final.
I write this letter with the greatest of respect to all present and past Rugby League players, professional or amateur.
I also wish, at the outset, to congratulate Rob Burrow CBE and his family on the news that the trophy for man of the match in the Super League Grand Final will from this year carry his name, replacing Harry Sunderland’s name, which has been used for the past 59 years.
However, the news that the Harry Sunderland Trophy has been renamed virtually overnight with very little apparent consultation has surprised me and, in my view, shows no respect to Mr Sunderland or his remaining family members, who I don’t believe have been contacted.
The correct way to add Rob’s name to the trophy should have been to announce that this would be the last year the Harry Sunderland Trophy will be awarded, retiring it gracefully over that season and that the new Rob Burrow Award would replace it the following season.
There could then have been a handover ceremony with as many past winners of the Harry Sunderland Trophy present, passing over the new Rob Burrow trophy and retiring the Harry Sunderland Trophy on the pitch.
That would have made it a special occasion and a media event.
For people who don’t know the history of the Harry Sunderland Trophy, it was first given out in 1965 by the Rugby League Writers’ Association to commemorate his life after his death in 1964.. It recognised the great work he did to promote the sport of Rugby League.
It was awarded to the player of the match in the Championship Final from 1965 to 1973, then in the Premiership Final from 1974 to 1997 and in the Grand final from 1998 to 2023.
Many great players have won this award. Alan Tait was the first player to win it twice in 1989 and 1990, followed by Andrew Farrell in 1996 and 1997, Chris Joynt in 1993 and 2000, Rob Burrow in 2007 and 2011, Kevin Sinfield in 2009 and 2012, James Roby 2014 & 2020 and Danny McGuire in 2015 and 2017.
So while I understand the point about Rob winning it twice, so have many other great players.
In my view, by simply announcing what amounts to a name change and not giving it the recognition it deserves, this decision shows a lack of respect for our game’s history and the past players that have won this award.
It would be fitting to see a Harry Sunderland plaque with every winning player’s name on it and displayed somewhere to commemorate this award, be that at Old Trafford; the now recognised home of the Grand Final, or the George Hotel in Huddersfield, where our game was born all those years ago.
My father Terry Fogerty was a professional Rugby League player for Halifax, Wigan and Rochdale Hornets. He represented his country as a Great Britain tourist in 1966. He was also the first ever winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy in 1965.
And that is why I have written this letter as a proud son of a great dad. I don’t want to see his name or any other on the award forgotten about. I don’t want to see history changed simply to gain some publicity.
But to be very clear, I have nothing but admiration for Rob and the tremendous way he and Kevin Sinfield are raising both money and profile to fight against the ravages of this terrible disease MND.
As far as I am concerned, Rob and Kevin deserves every single accolade that the sport can give them.
This is not about Rob. This is about the decision to consign the Harry Sunderland Trophy to history and the way it has been announced with undue haste and, in my view, with a lack of respect for those great players who have actually built its reputation and tradition as probably the most important award for their individual performance in the sport’s biggest game.
So please put this right and show the Harry Sunderland Trophy and the 52 great players who have won this award their proper respect before it’s too late.
Harry Sunderland Trophy winners
Championship Final
1964–65 Terry Fogerty Halifax
1965–66 Albert Halsall St Helens
1966–67 Ray Owen Wakefield Trinity
1967–68 Gary Cooper Wakefield Trinity
1968–69 Bev Risman Leeds
1969–70 Frank Myler St Helens
1970–71 Bill Ashurst Wigan
1971–72 Terry Clawson Leeds
1972–73 Mike Stephenson Dewsbury
Premiership Final
1973–74 Barry Philbin Warrington
1974–75 Mel Mason Leeds
1975–76 George Nicholls St Helens
1976–77 Geoff Pimblett St Helens
1977–78 Bob Haigh Bradford Northern
1978–79 Kevin Dick Leeds
1979–80 Mal Aspey Widnes
1980–81 Len Casey Hull Kingston Rovers
1981–82 Mick Burke Widnes
1982–83 Tony Myler Widnes
1983–84 John Dorahy Hull Kingston Rovers
1984–85 Harry Pinner St Helens
1985–86 Les Boyd Warrington
1986–87 Joe Lydon Wigan
1987–88 David Hulme Widnes
1988–89 Alan Tait Widnes
1989–90 Alan Tait Widnes
1990–91 Greg Mackey Hull FC
1991–92 Andy Platt Wigan
1992–93 Chris Joynt St Helens
1993–94 Sam Panapa Wigan
1994–95 Kris Radlinski Wigan
1996 Andrew Farrell Wigan
1997 Andrew Farrell Wigan
Super League Grand Final
1998 Jason Robinson Wigan
1999 Henry Paul Bradford Bulls
2000 Chris Joynt St Helens
2001 Michael Withers Bradford Bulls
2002 Paul Deacon Bradford Bulls
2003 Stuart Reardon Bradford Bulls
2004 Matt Diskin Leeds Rhinos
2005 Leon Pryce Bradford Bulls
2006 Paul Wellens St Helens
2007 Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos
2008 Lee Smith Leeds Rhinos
2009 Kevin Sinfield Leeds Rhinos
2010 Thomas Leuluai Wigan Warriors
2011 Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos
2012 Kevin Sinfield Leeds Rhinos
2013 Blake Green Wigan Warriors
2014 James Roby St Helens
2015 Danny McGuire Leeds Rhinos
2016 Liam Farrell Wigan Warriors
2017 Danny McGuire Leeds Rhinos
2018 Stefan Ratchford Warrington Wolves
2019 Luke Thompson St Helens
2020 James Roby St Helens
2021 Kevin Naiqama St Helens
2022 Jonny Lomax St Helens
2023 Jake Wardle Wigan Warriors