Hull FC supporter and champion of the late rugby league legend Steve Prescott, Graham Middleton, is this season’s BRUT Fan of Pride.
Graham was the unanimous choice of the judging panel - which included General Manager of the First Utility Super League, Blake Solly - due to his unstinting support of his beloved Hull FC and his running of the campaign which culminated in Super League’s end-of-season award for the competition’s most valuable player, Man of Steel, being renamed in honour of Steve Prescott.
As part of his award, Graham was invited to the 2014 Man of Steel awards where he was fittingly presented with his trophy by the inaugural Steve Prescott Man of Steel,(pictured, above).
On winning the award, Graham said: “Obviously it would have been impossible without the inspirational Steve Prescott. Although it’s absolutely fantastic to have been voted Fan of Pride, it’s just such a shame that Steve isn’t actually with us for the first awarding of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award. I’m totally, totally overwhelmed to have won it - totally unexpected. I was pleased to have been nominated, to have become a joint winner, as I say, I was absolutely delighted, but to become the overall BRUT Fan of Pride is just an immense achievement. It’s something that will live with me forever.”
Blake Solly, General Manager of the First Utility Super League, said: “Graham is a brilliant example of how someone's passion for Rugby League and their favourite club can extend to amazing support for the most worthwhile of causes. Graham’s work on the campaign to have the Man of Steel award named after Steve Prescott mobilised the entire Rugby League community to support not only the renaming, but also Steve's Foundation. It is fitting that he received his BRUT Fan of Pride award at this year's Man of Steel awards and I hope he fully enjoyed the experience.”
By winning BRUT Fan of Pride 2014 Graham has won £5,000 for the Hull FC community foundation, a pair of Hull 2015 season tickets, a signed Hull FC shirt and an invitation to the Man of Steel Awards.
Read the individual club winner’s inspiring stories below:
Colin Raistrick has been chosen as the Bradford winner for his unstinting devotion to the Bulls, which is characterised by the lengths to which the now Morecombe resident goes - making the 150mile round trip to Odsal week in, week out - to support the team he has followed since 1963.
Supporting Bradford Bulls is a family affair for Colin as he has introduced his wife and daughter to the club, and they both joined him as he met with Bradford player and Fan of Pride player ambassador, Luke Gale, to celebrate his award.
Luke Gale had some kind words for Colin and the Bulls fans in general, saying: “It’s legendary that Colin makes such a huge effort to support the club. He’s brilliant and this award just shows his commitment and all the Bradford fans are the same – they’re a credit to the club.”
On being named Bradford Bulls BRUT Fan of Pride, Colin said: “For me it’s a fabulous honour to be quite honest. It’s very humbling the whole thing. Considering we had a meeting at a hotel in Bradford two or three weeks ago, there were people there who I thought perhaps they might deserve it more than I did, so to be here I feel very, very honoured, I really do.”
Ronald Kirk has been recognised as Castleford’s Fan of Pride as a result of his unstinting support of the club he has followed since 1939. Ronald was 10 years old when he went with his father to his first Tigers match, and all these years on he still has his own seat at the Jungle.
Ronald has passed his love of the club down to his family and he describes finding out that he had been named Castleford’s Fan of Pride as “a shock to me, to tell you the truth - and my wife!”.
He modestly puts his award down to having “a big family for a start, plus friends”, but there is no doubt that the rugby league public, who chose each Super League clubs’ winners, understood the loyalty and passion Ronald has for the Tigers.
Fred Haliwell has been rewarded for his devotion to his local amateur club, Hollinwood ARLFC (of which he is a founding member), and to the Giants by being named Huddersfield Giants BRUT Fan of Pride 2014.
Fred’s dedication to amateur rugby league, and Hollinwood in particular, is legendary and is something he describes as “a way of life really, it has been for thirty years.” He does, however, admit to dropping his commitment a little in recent years, though being “into amateur rugby eight days a week. I’m not doing as much as I used to, it used to be nine”, still doesn’t sound like Fred’s resting on his laurels when it comes to giving others the opportunity to play the game he loves.
As part of his prize, Fred met Giants man-mountain and Fan of Pride player ambassador Michael Lawrence at the John Smith’s Stadium. Despite dwarfing the award-winner Michael’s admiration for Fred’s commitment shone through. He said to Fred: “Thank you for your support and congratulations on your award. It’s great to hear about your work for Hollinwood and I hope you continue to support your club and the Giants.”
Lisa Jewitt & Graham Middleton
Lisa Jewitt and Graham Middleton are this year’s joint Hull FC Fan of Pride award winners, after the public vote was unable to separate the two.
Lisa has been a Hull fan since attending Chilton Street Primary School which backed onto the club’s former home, the Boulevard, and she has been secretary of the Hull FC supporters group for eight years.
Graham has a similarly long history of supporting Hull FC, having been a fan for 35 years, though he does admit that he is married to a Hull KR fan!
One other aspect which unites Lisa and Graham is their championing of Steve Prescott Foundation. Lisa has taken part in all three of the charity’s walks, getting to know the late Steve Prescott in the process, and Graham conceived the idea and spearheaded the successful campaign to have the annual Man of Steel Award renamed in honour of Prescott.
When asked what being named Hull’s Fan of Pride meant to her, Lisa was typically modest: “It was a massive shock, I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t know who or why I’d been nominated. So it’s just a massive shock, but also a real honour to know that people have thought to nominate me and then to go on and vote as well.”
On winning the award, Graham said: “To become the Fan of Pride, it’s just awesome. I can’t believe it. I was over the moon to be nominated but to become the joint winner with Lisa is just brilliant.”
Alan Parker has been rewarded for supporting his beloved Robins for the past 68 years by being named the Hull KR BRUT Fan of Pride 2014.
As part of his award, Alan had the chance to go pitch-side with his grandson at the recent Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, and the trip to Wembley brought back fond memories for Alan, as he revealed that his greatest Hull KR memory was beating Hull FC at the old stadium in 1980.
Whilst at Wembley Alan recounted his history of supporting the Robins - a history which clearly struck a chord with the public during the online vote for the award - saying: “My dad took me [to his first Hull KR match] in 1946 so he’s the one to blame, and I’ve just gone ever since. So I’m just passionate about rugby league in general and Rovers in particular. My wife thinks I think more of Hull KR than I do of her! My final ambition would be to see Hull KR win here [Wembley] again or at Old Trafford.”
When asked what winning the Hull KR Fan of Pride means to him, Alan said: “I’m very proud and it’s been very difficult to keep it to myself.”
Andrew Playford, a self-confessed Leeds Rhinos fanatic, who owns 60 Leeds shirts and has a 40 foot flag outside his house, is this year’s Leeds Rhinos BRUT Fan of Pride.
Andrew Playford has been supporting Leeds since he was fourteen years old and happily admits that he has every televised match that the Rhinos have won on DVD. As part of his prize for being named Leeds’ Fan of Pride Andrew had the chance to go pitch-side pre-match at the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley – an experience which will live long in the memory for someone who has been to every one of his club’s finals.
When Andrew found out that he’d been nominated for Fan of Pride he said that it brought a tear to his eye when thinking that people had thought of him, and he describes winning the award as “out of this world.” He went on, saying: “It means a lot, it means people have noticed who I am, what I am, what I like. To represent Leeds after all these years, it’s unbelievable.”
Paul Campbell, who uses his support of the club to spend more time with his daughters, has been rewarded for his commitment to the Broncos by being named London Broncos BRUT Fan of Pride 2014.
Paul Campbell has been a Broncos season ticket holder for the past five years, only missing two home games in the last three years. On top of this Paul fundraises for charity, notably organising an auction of signed London memorabilia for the CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) Charity Ball.
When he’s not on the terraces cheering on his team, Paul champions them on social media and enjoys interacting with players, including Broncos Fan of Pride player ambassador, Kieron Dixon, on Twitter.
When asked to describe what being named London Broncos BRUT Fan of Pride means to him, Paul modestly replied: “It means a lot because at the start going to London was never about me. I never thought supporting the club and putting in the effort as a fan would get me this far. It's a good thing to know that the club and BRUT do recognise how supportive their fans, [such as Paul’s fellow Broncos shortlisted fans] Stuart Nightingale, Aaron Lomax, are.”
Wayne Rimmer has been rewarded for his tireless work for rugby league and support of Salford by being crowned Salford Red Devils BRUT Fan of Pride 2014.
Wayne’s unstinting commitment to Langworthy Reds ARLFC and his support of Salford persuaded the public to vote for him as the Red Devils winner. Indeed, it is his work at Langworthy in particular, where he commits countless hours each week, which saw Wayne nominated for the award.
On being named Salford Red Devils Fan of Pride 2014, Wayne said: “I’m delighted to win, but it’s not something I expected. Langworthy and Salford mean so much to me and to be recognised for my commitment to both of them is special.”
Liam Jones, this year’s St Helens Fan of Pride 2014, has been rewarded for his die-hard support of Saints and tireless rugby league volunteering work.
After the public vote Liam was chosen to win the prestigious award for both his volunteering commitments with the St Helens Community Foundation, which includes coaching youngsters and raising money for charity, and his unwavering loyalty to his beloved Saints.
Liam’s pride at being named St Helens BRUT Fan of Pride is evident: “I am delighted to be named as the Fan of Pride for Saints. I have supported Saints since I was eleven when my mum first took me to Knowsley Road, and I always do my best not to miss a match – I’ve only missed Catalans away this season. I love sport and since starting volunteering by coaching rugby league at university, and then with the Saints Foundation, I think this is something I’d love to continue to do. Although I am young I definitely want to share my knowledge and enthusiasm of the game with the children I coach. I love helping them play the sport that I love.”
Ryan Williamson is this year’s Wakefield Wildcats’ BRUT Fan of Pride on account of him being a founding member of the ‘Northstanders’ supporters group and his use of social media to promote his team.
A lifelong fan of the club, Ryan doesn’t let his support of his team stop once he steps off the terraces. As a leading figure in the Northstanders (named after the stand at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium which is officially known as the Fleetmaster Stand), Ryan manages the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts which provide an online forum for Wakey fans to discuss what’s going on at the club.
The Northstanders came about just over two years ago when the aforementioned stand had a roof added and, in Ryan’s own words, “we booted the away fans out and said this is our home now.” The group has since gone from strength-to-strength and this season it sponsored Wakefield player, Matt Wildie, for which Ryan raised just short of £2,000 in a week. This is the first time the group has finicially backed a Wakefield player and is something Ryan is keen to repeat in 2015.
On being named Wakefield Wildcats BRUT Fan of Pride 2014, Ryan said: “It’s overwhelming more than anything. The other two guys who were nominated, I know them very well, and they both deserve nominations and I’m overwhelmed to come out on top over both of them really because they’re both fantastic blokes. I’m very proud of it.”
Pam Caley has been rewarded for being one of the figureheads of the Warrington Wolves fan base by being named Warrington Wolves BRUT Fan of Pride 2014.
The last 18 months have been tough for Pam, with illness meaning that even rugby league has had to take a back seat at times – she was unable to attend last year’s Grand Final due to being in hospital recovering from surgery.
Pam took on the voluntary job of organising supporter coaches to Wolves away games some twenty years ago and shows no sign of letting up. Not only this, she has also taken an increasingly active charity role, fundraising for causes close to her heart – such as the Steve Prescott Foundation - by baking cakes and treats for travelling fans.
When asked what the award meant to her Pam admitted she was still in a state of shock. She said: “I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve no idea who nominated me, but to know that the public voted for me to be Warrington’s Fan of Pride is amazing. I’ve had a tough last 18 months, but Warrington Wolves have really helped me get through it. Before last year’s Grand Final Benny Westwood told me that they were playing for me, and even though I couldn’t make it to Old Trafford I was there with the boys in spirit.”
Leam Fox has been crowned the Widnes Vikings BRUT Fan of Pride 2014, succeeding the late Pat Price who won the award in 2013. He was chosen for the award due to his vast range of charity work for causes such as the Steve Prescott Foundation and his unwavering support of his beloved Widnes.
Leam spoke of his pride at winning the Widnes BRUT Fan of Pride award, saying: “It’s a real honour to follow in the footsteps of the great Pat Price in winning the Vikings BRUT Fan of Pride Award on behalf of the Widnes fans. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to come close to what she did for the club. I love this club with all my heart and can only hope to do Pat and the Widnes supporters proud. I come to the Select Security Stadium week in week out and have been amazed by the support shown me by everybody. It is humbling.”
Aaron Moon, a Royal Marine who has bounced back from adversity with the help of his beloved Warriors, is this year’s Wigan Warriors Fan of Pride.
Aaron lost a leg and suffered multiple injuries in a bomb blast in Afghanistan whilst out on patrol, but has since channelled much of his energies into supporting the club he grew up on the terraces of Central Park watching with his father and granddad.
Such is Aaron’s commitment to the cause he’s even had a prosthetic leg made in cherry and white hoops, adorned by the Wigan badge. Indeed there are few things he enjoys more than joining his two best mates and fellow season ticket-holders for a match and cheering his team.
On being named Wigan Warriors’ BRUT Fan of Pride, Aaron said: “It’s a huge honour. When my wife informed me she had nominated me I never thought I would win, but to have the public vote for me - other fans selecting me as Wigan’s Fan of Pride - makes me proud. It also makes me realise the support people have for the armed forces and shows my sacrifice wasn't for nothing. I am proud to have served to protect our country and its people.”
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