Mark Pearn and Alex Danson have been named UK Players of the Year for 2011 following the annual poll conducted among British members of the Hockey Writers’ Club.
Both players are in the Great Britain Olympic training squads and are no strangers to honours; barring injury, they look certain to take their places in the GB squads in the London Olympics.
Danson, 26, the former Trojans and Slough player who joined Reading two years ago, has had a highly successful club and international season which was topped off at the end of December with her selection, along with her club colleague, Helen Richardson, for the international governing body’s 2011 World Squad.
The youngest player to be capped for England when she played against Germany in a 1-1 draw in Cologne in
2001 at the age of 16, she has now amassed 162 combined Great Britain and England international caps at the end of 2011, including playing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Mark Pearn’s international career started as an 18-year-old in 1995 when he made his England debut. He has since played for Britain at the Sydney and Athens Olympics, and at 34 his career has been rekindled by his recall to the international arena with England and Great Britain during 2011 after a gap of seven years.
Pearn got the call after a series of fine performances as player-coach of East Grinstead, where he moved seven seasons ago after a highly successful career with Reading and a season in Barcelona playing for the Polo Club.
Pearn had previously won the HWC Award in 2000.
On Tuesday, he received the traditional Rose Bowl and his cheque from World Hockey President Leandro Negre, who flew in from Barcelona for the occasion held the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge.
Danson was away in Argentina with the Great Britain squad and was unable to collect her award, which in her absence was accepted by her parents, Trisha and David. On learning of her award, Alex said, “It’s been quite a surreal day and I feel so honoured. I feel so exceptionally lucky to play the sport I love in the environment I do. It is quite simply the best job in the world.”
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