Durham Women midfielder Beth Hepple has been crowned as the North East Football Writers’ Association’s women’s player of the year for 2020.
Hepple, who also took home the trophy in 2018, was voted as the winner by a panel of North East football journalists.
Her award comes after a stellar year for the midfielder who, as well as becoming the first player in the club’s history to hit 150 appearances, enjoyed a goal-laden start to the 2020/21 campaign.
The midfielder becomes the third straight Durham player to take home the trophy, after Kathryn Hill was handed the top prize in 2019.
The NEFWA’s annual awards ceremony is normally staged at Durham’s Ramside Hall in the spring, but the coronavirus pandemic means this year’s event has had to be postponed.
Rather than staging a virtual ceremony, the NEFWA is hoping to be able to arrange a live event later in the year if coronavirus restrictions are eased, but the organisation opted to stick with its usual voting timetable for its major annual honours.
Elsewhere, Jonny Howson of Middlesbrough has won the men’s player of the year award – with Marcus Tavernier scooping the young player of the year prize.
“It has been a challenging year for everybody,” said Colin Young, chairman of the North-East Football Writers’ Association. “But football has continued, and we felt it was important that after more than 40 years of awarding our Player of the Year awards, we didn’t allow the coronavirus pandemic to stop us in our tracks.
“We aren’t able to stage our annual awards ceremony in its usual slot, but we’re hoping that with the support of Ramside Hall, we might be able to arrange something if conditions are different later in the year.
“For now, Jonny Howson is a fitting winner of the Player of the Year award, and with Marcus Tavernier winning the Young Player of the Year honour, it’s a double celebration for Middlesbrough, who have had a new lease of life under Neil Warnock.
“Beth Hepple is the winner of the Women’s Player of the Year award, which is further proof of the giant strides made by Durham Women in the last few years.”
The NEFWA will announce the winner of its other awards – including the John Fotheringham Award, Bob Cass Award and North-East Personality of the Year award, which is presented in conjunction with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, soon.