From Jill Scott to Savannah Marshall: How North East women delivered sporting success in 2022
Tom Johnston reports
The year 2022 will be remembered as a year full of huge moments for women in sport.
From football to boxing and everything in between, women from our region have been flying the flag for the North East and inspiring the next generation of girls to follow their dreams.
ITV Tyne Tees has been looking back on some of the major sporting achievements by women in our region that made the last twelve months so memorable.
What a year it's been for Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall.
Her hotly anticipated fight against long-time American rival Claressa Shields was a landmark moment for women's boxing. It was watched by a record number of viewers, with more than two million people tuning in to watch.
While she was beaten on the night, Marshall promises she'll come back swinging in the New Year - and has now has her sights set on a rematch at St James' Park in 2023.
She said: "It's like the whole world is pushing female sport at the minute. I joke on and say it's about the winning, not the taking part - but when I'm sat on my own and I sit there, I think 'wow, I was part of selling out the O2 arena.'"
Sarah Hunter helps Red Roses bloom in New Zealand
South of the equator, England's Red Roses charged to the final of the Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand - led by their skipper Sarah Hunter, from North Tyneside.
Having studied her A-Levels at Longbenton High School, Hunter went on to become the most capped player in England Women's history.
They fell just short against hosts New Zealand in what 37-year-old Hunter says will be her last ever World Cup.
The Lady Magpies take flight
The takeover of Newcastle United in 2021 promised to awaken a sleeping giant which had lay dormant for so long. While the dramatic turnaround in fortunes for Newcastle United's mens side has been well documented, 2022 proved to be a crucial moment for the women's side.
In August, Newcastle United Women officially came under the full ownership of the club, with the promise of investment in the first team squad and the creation of a development squad.
Manager Becky Langley also took up the role on full-time basis. She said: "I feel lucky to be in this position and be at the forefront of women's football in the North East, especially in Newcastle.
"The Lionesses inspired a whole nation earlier in the summer and we intend to do that and make sure we're inspiring a whole crowd of girls and boys and their parents to make sure they're bringing them back to watch women's football.
"It's brilliant to see the visibility for women and I think we've got that respect - they're athletes, they train hard and actually it's a great spectacle to come and watch so we just want fans to come out and support the girls."
Alongside the investment, there has also been greater exposure. The Lady Magpies took to the turf at St James' Park in May, when 22,134 fans turned out to watch them.
Just months later, they smashed that figure - along with the record for attendance at a women's FA Cup game, outside of a final - when they pulled in a crowd of 28,565.
North East Lionesses roar to Euros glory
There were historic scenes at Wembley this summer as the Lionesses went one step further than their male counterparts and brought football home. They saw off Germany 2-1 in extra time to win the European Championships and the hearts of the nation.
It was a squad glittering with North East stars.
Whitby's Beth Mead was named Player of the Tournament, scooped the golden boot and led the charts for assists - and later won the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award after a public vote.
Her colleagues Lucy Bronze, from Alnwick, and Harrogate-born Rachel Daly were also mainstays in Sarina Wiegman's starting eleven.
So too was Sunderland's very own Jill Scott.
Wearside royalty down under
Following that famous night at Wembley, Scott took the decision to call time on her 18-year career. She would soon trade the centre circle for the outback, jetting off to Australia to join the cast of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
From the moment she arrived in the jungle, she was an instant hit - both with the public and her campmates - thanks to her leadership, sense of humour and down-to-earth nature.
Those traits carried her all the way to the final where, to the delight of her family and the whole North East, she was crowned Queen of the Jungle.
In March 2023, she is due to be given the Freedom of the City of Sunderland, the highest honour the city can bestow upon an individual. She will receive it alongside her fellow Lioness Steph Houghton and Sunderland legend Gary Bennett.
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