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Aberdeen’s Sports Awards 2022 – ‘Huge honour’ as Neil Fachie takes top prize, with Aberdeen AAC and Kincorth football duo’s efforts also recognised

Neil Fachie with wife Lora, also a gold medallist at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Neil Fachie with wife Lora, also a gold medallist at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Track cycling legend Neil Fachie labelled it a ‘huge honour’ after being named Sports Achiever of the Year at Aberdeen’s Sports Awards 2022.

The Evening Express-organised awards, supported by Samsung Electronics, took place at P&J Live on Tuesday evening.

Granite City born and raised Fachie, 38, was recognised at the first Sports Awards since 2019, having won his second Paralympic gold medal at last year’s Covid-delayed Tokyo Games when triumphing in the tandem B 1k time trial event with pilot Matt Rotherham.

Fachie and Rotherham put in a world record performance in the final, beating GB team-mates James Ball and Lewis Stewart by more than a second to regain a title Fachie previously won at the London Games in 2012.

It was a stunning achievement and one which saw Fachie beat fellow Tokyo athletes Toni Shaw, Conner Morrison (both swimming) and Zoey Clark (sprinting) to the Aberdeen’s Sports Awards top prize, with the category sponsored by Sport Aberdeen.

He told the Evening Express and Press and Journal: “It’s a huge achievement especially when you look at the other nominees. We’d all gone to the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and it’s amazing how many top sportspeople we have in the area now.

“To be in amongst them was great and to win it is a huge honour.

“From a disability sport perspective, it was great to see three of the four nominees were Paralympians as well, which was really cool.”

Shaw, just 18 and previously Young Sports Achiever of the Year in 2019, won a bronze in the S9 400m freestyle on her Paralympics debut.

Her University of Aberdeen Performance Swim Team team-mate Morrison, meanwhile, reached the final of the SB14 100m breaststroke in his first Games, while Clark – Sports Achiever of the Year in 2017 and 2018 – ran in the mixed 4x400m relay for Team GB earlier in the summer at the Olympics.

The judges recognised Shaw’s medal-winning showing in Japan with a highly commended award.

But the big winner at the bash was Fachie, who has a rich pedigree at Aberdeen’s Sports Awards. The north-east icon, who also competed at Beijing 2008 as a sprinter, has picked up a litany of gongs since the early 2000s.

Fachie, who couldn’t attend this year’s P&J Live ceremony due to training commitments, added:  “After a big event, you go often just go on to the next thing, and you don’t really take the time to reflect and look back at what’s happened.

Neil Fachie in full flow.

“These sorts of moments give you that opportunity, and it does mean a lot.”

Fachie intends to continue racing and is looking to make it double gold at three consecutive Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer – something which could see him become Scotland’s most-decorated Commonwealth athlete.

He is also targeting the 2023 World Championships, set for home soil in Glasgow, having already accumulated 19 world medals – with 14 golds – across the tandem B kilo and sprint disciplines over his career.

Fachie said: “I can’t wait to pull on a Scotland top again.

“Worlds are at the end of October in Paris and those two events are in the diary at the moment. There will probably be something smaller later in the year, but Commie Games and World Champs is a pretty decent year and it’s exciting.”

Asked whether his legs have any more world records in them, he said: “It’s a big ask, but I think if I’d done the perfect ride I wouldn’t keep going, there’d be no point.

“There’s definitely more in there.”

Club of the Year

Sponsored by ClubSport Aberdeen

Aberdeen Amateur Athletics Club followed up their 2019 success by retaining the Club of the Year title at Aberdeen’s Sports Awards 2022.

The Aberdeen Sports Village-based club impressed the judges by demonstrating a continued commitment to build on an already impressive range of activities across the city.

The athletics club’s structure for bringing athletes through their pathway, and recruiting and developing coaches, is comprehensive, and they continued their work via virtual means during periods of Covid lockdown, while also donating nearly £1,500 to two Granite City foodbanks.

However, Aberdeen AAC’s work includes not just their competitive athletes, but is now heavily focused on bringing athletics and coaching opportunities to parts of Aberdeen and people who may otherwise not have those opportunities.

Club of the Year winners Aberdeen Amateur Athletics Club.

Among their activities are Kids@ASV sessions – as well as holiday camps – for youngsters, weekly free athletics sessions during school terms at Inchgarth Community Centre, work in schools with Active Schools, and partnership working with a host of other bodies, including Grampian Disability Sport and Barnardo’s to recruit both athletes and coaches.

Recently, Aberdeen AAC have expanded their offering to include frame running sessions, as well as creating their own jogscotland group – with these initiatives providing further opportunities for disabled athletes and those running recreationally. The club also now have their first wheelchair racer.

The club’s shift in focus to growing their community projects, and aim to expand into further areas rated highly on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivations (SIMDs), saw AAAC registered as a Scottish Incorporated Charitable Organisation (SCIO) in May 2020.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsored by Aberdeen Sports Village

A former football referee, who has gone on to mentor countless other officials from the city, is the recipient of the Aberdeen’s Sports Awards 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sandy Roy has given around 60 years of his life to refereeing.

Before hanging up his whistle, Sandy officiated games ranging from juvenile and amateur level, all the way up the ranks from the Highland League to the Scottish Premier League and across Europe at UEFA and FIFA level.

Since his days taking charge on the pitch ended, Sandy has put all of his efforts into bringing through subsequent generations of Granite City referees – something he’s still doing today.

In his role as the Scottish FA’s referees manager for Aberdeen, Sandy ensures all games in the area from the minor grades to the Highland League have officials in place to cover them. A job he’s been doing for three decades.

Sandy Roy.

He’s actively involved in mentoring the area’s men and women in black – getting them started with introductory training and by teaching them the laws of the game, organising kits, organising their initial matches under guidance and offering support.

Some of his proteges are currently serving as assistants at FIFA level, and Sandy remains involved with all of Aberdeen’s officials – organising their training sessions and attending himself, no matter the weather, including on the night of Aberdeen’s Sports Awards.

In addition to the above, Sandy is often seen at games across the area, and is a match referee assessor for Scottish Premiership fixtures, while also serving as liaison for FIFA officials who take charge of European matches at Pittodrie.

The nomination for Sandy made clear that, without his work – which he performs voluntarily and for the love of the game – football teams in the city and further afield might not have referees to officiate their matches.

He is said to be available day and night, and this commitment, 60 years after he first got involved, left a deep impression on the judging panel.

Adult Volunteer of the Year

Double act Andrew Ewen and Daniel Kindness have been recognised for their work reviving football prospects for both adults and kids in Kincorth.

Despite Andrew working offshore and Danny being in full-time employment, the pals have helped take Kincorth Amateurs from the “brink” of folding three years ago back to the Premier division of the Saturday amateur set-up.

Meanwhile, the pair have also brought a youth football club back to the area for the first time in 20 years by establishing Kincorth Emirates Youth FC – with 100 kids now registered with the new outfit.

To make the progress they have, Andrew and Daniel were putting in more than 20 hours some weeks, with tasks ranging from pitch lining, to grass cutting, to fundraising, with the aim of improving the football facilities in the area.

Winners of Adult Volunteers of the Year Award, Andrew Ewen and Daniel Kindness.

They are in process of turning donated cabins into permanent dressing room facilities at their Kincorth field home.

The nomination form stated, thanks to Andrew and Daniel, ‘the whole community is engaged and in awe of their achievements in such a short time.’

It added: “The playing fields are in be best condition they’ve ever been due to the hard work from these two lads.

“There are now five children’s pitches and an adults’ pitch on the site. This takes many hours of their time, which does not faze them.

“They are now able to host festivals and attract between 100-200 people to the area.”

Young Volunteer of the Year

Sponsored by P&J Live

Liane Wood was named Young Volunteer of the Year at Aberdeen’s Sports Awards for her substantial work with Bucksburn Amateur Swimming Club.

Liane Wood was named Young Volunteer of the Year.

On top of a full-time job, the 25-year-old serves as the club’s head coach, is a ‘key part’ of their senior committee, meet secretary, one of the lead Covid team members at the club and coordinates their Facebook and Instagram pages.

She spends 5.5 hours per week coaching with the top squads at the club, as well as mentoring junior coaches and helpers.

On top of this, Liane spends another five hours per week performing administrative and organisational tasks for the club, with this work including booking pool time, entering the club’s swimmers into competitions and performing Covid risk assessments during the pandemic.

The latter project was described as ‘key’ to helping several of Aberdeen’s grassroots swimming clubs return to the pool during the coronavirus crisis, and Liane’s work was hailed by Scottish Swimming, as well as being credited with speeding up the return of regular public sessions at Bucksburn pool.

The young volunteer also organised a host of activities for Bucksburn club members to keep them engaged during lockdown, when access to the pool wasn’t possible.

The nomination form described Liane’s dedication to the club as ‘boundless’ and ‘tireless’, and the judges agreed – with the sheer volume of her efforts to help run and develop Bucksburn Amateur Swimming Club difficult to summarise.

Jyden Kinnaird of Aberdeen Snowsports Centre was highly commended in this category for his efforts.

This year’s Aberdeen’s Sports Awards sponsors –