Coronation street star swaps cobbles for Co-operative Dinner

Date published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coronation Street actresses Michelle Keegan and Lucy Jo Hudson dazzled on the red carpet last night as they attended The Co-operative Championships awards and celebration dinner in Manchester.

The event, attended by more than 100 people from sporting celebrities to acting talent, was designed to recognise the best on-the-field achievements of players, coaches, referees and teams participating during the 2010 Co-operative Championships season.

Roughyeds were well represented by a party which was headed by directors Chris Hamilton and Sean Whitehead and included, among others, reserve-team coach John Hough and players Paul O’Connor and Neil Roden, who were named in the Co-operative Championship One’s all-star team.

The two players dashed to Manchester to attend the black-tie dinner after training at Whitebank for Sunday’s Grand Final showdown with York City Knights at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

O’Connor was one of three nominees for Championship One player of the year, but the trophy went to half-back Paul March, player-coach of champions Hunslet Hawks.

Former Corrie star Lucy Jo Hudson was keen to pledge her support for Rugby League: “I have been surrounded by Rugby League ever since I was young because my brother Ryan plays professionally for Castleford Tigers. It’s a great game and I am pleased that more and more women are sharing my love for the sport. This evening has been brilliant and it’s all about celebrating another fantastic season with only the final left to go. Good luck to all the guys competing on Sunday!”

Michelle Keegan, who plays Tina McIntyre in the popular soap, also admitted to being a fan: “It was great to be here and celebrate all the fantastic achievements of these talented players. We watch all of the hard work that they put it on the pitch week in, week out so it’s great to be able to come here and help celebrate their efforts.”

Liz Matkin, Head of Sponsorship for competition sponsors The Co-operative, added: “Tonight has been all about celebrating the 2010 Co-operative Championships season and the hard work by all those involved in the League both on and off the field. It’s great that Michelle and Lucy-Jo came and lent their support and that can only be good for a game that is growing in popularity for both men and women.

“Rugby League is good for everyone and we are pleased to be associated with it. On behalf of the Co-operative congratulations to all those who won awards this evening, it really has been another thrilling season.”

Female participation in Rugby League is rising year on year with statistics from the RFL, the sports governing body, highlighting that in 2010 over 1100 girls and women competed in contact Rugby League and a further 2000 have registered to play Touch and Tag Rugby League since the start of the season in March this year.

Additionally the number of qualified female coaches in the UK is now over 100 and there are also over 50 qualified female Rugby League referees currently enjoying the benefits of the professional sport.

Across- the- board participation numbers for women in Rugby league are rising and this is no more evident than at the annual Champions Schools competition which this year reached a new high with over 3,000 girls competing in the competition.

The Co-operative’s Championship awards produced an impressive double for the Oldham RL Referees Society with Robert Hicks winning referee of the year and touchjudge Tony Martin landing the Neil Whittaker Trophy as match official achiever of the year.

Hicks, who will referee Sunday’s Championship Grand Final between Featherstone and Halifax, handled the Northern Rail Cup final and he was a touchjudge at Wembley a month ago.

Other awards:

Coach of the year, Anthony Seibold of South Wales Scorpions (Championship One); Daryl Powell of Featherstone (Championship).

Young Player, Jarrad Stack of Workington (Championship One); Zak Hardaker of Featherstone and Gareth Moore of Batley (joint winners, Championship).

Northern Star award, Jonny Presley (Keighley)

Community programme, Leigh Centurions

Championships Club of the Year, Widnes Vikings.

Frontline Fair Play Index, Sheffield Eagles

Championship player of the year, Liam Finn (Featherstone).

To stay up to date with the latest Finals Day news visit facebook under ‘The Official 2010 Co-operative Championships Finals Day

To purchase your tickets for The Co-operative Championship Finals Day either pop into the Roughyeds office on Lansdowne Road, Chadderton (0161 628 3677) or call the RFL ticket office on 0844 856 1113 or visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk .Tickets can also be purchased from The Halliwell Jones Ticket Office on the day.

The Roughyeds’ office is open 9am to 5pm tonight (Wednesday), 9am to 7pm on Thursday and 9am to 5pm on Friday, when it will then close for the weekend.