Forget the BAFTAs - in Sussex it's all about the SLAFTAs

The BAFTAs? Old hat! Now it’s time for the SLAFTAs.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 8:00 am
Jess Breach takes the selfie of the year / Picture: Getty

That, if you didn’t know, is the Sport Lockdown Awards For Top Achievers. At least, it is now.

As 2020 comes to an end, hopefully never to be spoken of again, we thought it appropriate to highlight some of the clubs and individuals who have illuminated the sport pages of our papers and websites across Sussex in a very odd year.

There may be a glitzy award ceremony (socially distanced, of course) later*.

Gareth Southgate on a video call with Kevin and Scott during the Run5k4NHS project

But for now the winners will have to make to do with this very nice page as recognition of their superb efforts. (*There won’t be a glitzy award ceremony later).

Without further ado, or any need for an insulting pre-ceremony speech from Ricky Gervais, let’s get stuck into finding out who has won what...

The Captain Tom Moore Honorary Award for Fab Fundraisers: Kevin Keehan and Scott Kirkwood.

It might have been Captain Tom setting the bar high when it came to raising a few quid more than expected for doing a spot of light exercise, but Sussex football duo Kevin and Scott went above and beyond too.

Members of Barns Green's new junior section

Deciding early in the spring lockdown that the NHS deserved our support, they set up Run5k4NHS with the aim of raising £3,000 for the charitable arm of the Brighton hospitals NHS trust.

A few weeks later, almost everyone who’s ever played football in Sussex (slight exaggeration, but only slight) had done a 5k and taken a sweaty selfie to prove it.

The project raised £50,000 and earned the duo a call-up from England boss Gareth Southgate. Well, not quite a call-up but a call – a video call in which he quizzed them about their efforts and congratulated them.

The Sussex Silver Selfie Stick award for the selfie to end all selfies: Jess Breach.

A montage of HY Runners who between them ran every street in Hastings on one day

Jess, well-known across West Sussex after coming through the ranks as a junior at Chichester and Pulborough RFCs, is a regular in the England women’s rugby union team – and for the second year, she played a key role in the Red Roses winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.

As the team celebrated, Jess peeled away, got her phone out and took the selfie of the year (see main picture).

It’s what Sir Bobby Moore would have done as he waas lifted on to his teammates’ shoulders in 1966, had cameraphones been around then.

The ‘We’re Out Of Breath Just Reading About You’ award for being more active in lockdown than out of lockdown: HY Runners

Telling it like it is - John Yems

Hastings-based HY Runners have taken up more and more column inches in the Hastings Observer as lockdown and its various baby lockdowns have gone on.

The club are only just coming up to a year old yet members embraced the face there were no big organised races by staging their own virtual events and getting together in smaller groups when permitted.

The highlight was a day when, between them, they ran in every street in Hastings. And that’s a lot of streets – 943 to be precise.

A big well done to them... but which of Sussex’s many excellent athletics clubs can emulate them in 2021? That is your challenge (and a blatant attempt by us to get all the others doing stuff we can put in our sport sections).

The ‘More Blunt than James Blunt When He Says Something Blunt’ award for straight talking: John Yems

The Crawley Town boss has gained a reputation for telling it like it is in interviews. He’s been known to make remarks about ‘stupid’ questions and, after a loss to Millwall, asked for what positives he could take he said simply: “I don’t know.”

Which cricket clubs will serve up something like this next summer?

When we asked about good omens in the Reds’ FA Cup run he said: “I don’t believe in that cobblers.” Never change, John!

The Sussex Cup and Plate award for causing a storm in a teacup: Clubs who, with good intentions, asked for a vote to end teas being compulsory in the Sussex Cricket League.

When some Sussex clubs backed a proposal to end teas being something hosts HAD to provide, they probably didn’t realise they’d incur the combined wrath of Michael Vaughan, Henry Blofeld and Piers Morgan.

But they did – and now, not only will teas continue to be served at all games, the best one will be awarded a prize by Mr Morgan himself.

The ‘Never Mind Just Keeping Our Club Going in Lockdown, Let’s Expand It’ award: Barns Green RFC

We love clubs and sportspeople who refuse to be beaten by lockdown restrictions – and therefore have to admire Barns Green RFC who, just as rugby was battling to be allowed back in action in the summer, launched a new junior section.

It was an instant success, not least because bans on kids doing this, that and the other had spawned huge numbers just itching to get out and play sport. Long may they play!

We hope you enjoyed our awards. Now for the after-party, which because of restrictions, can only be attended by three people...