Yorkshire’s Most Famous Sport Stars Through the Years

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Yorkshire has more than its fair share of sporting greats across all sorts of disciplines from cycling to football, from athletics to the county’s eternal love affair with cricket.

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Of course, it would be wrong to single out any one person as the greatest Yorkshire sportsperson such is the diversity of skill sets, but here are 5 Yorkshire sporting greats that have gone into legend…

Geoff Boycott

The Barnsley batsman might be known as one of the Greatest Living Yorkshiremen, but he’ll prefer to be remembered as a defiantly obdurate opening batsman who relied on his iron will and refined technique to frustrate some of the world’s best bowling attacks. Obsessed with not getting out, his patient and immaculate method might not have been box office cricket, but the foundations he laid for his Yorkshire and England teams across 30 years made him indispensable.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

The steel city’s Olympic, World, European and Indoor heptathlon champion became the poster girl for the London Olympics in 2012. In an exemplary career path she graduated from youth, to national, to European, to international champion, constantly improving before peaking in a legendary performance at the London Olympics to take gold. A very modern role model, Ennis-Hill retired after taking silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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Kevin Keegan

He might have played his football outside of the White Rose County but the Doncaster lad with the curly perm possesses the attributes that so many Yorkshire sportspeople possess – an iron will for winning, a fierce never-say-die attitude, breathless work rate, bottomless passion and a dose of flair. Keegan, of course, went on to huge playing success at Liverpool and Newcastle as well as a managerial career which saw him take over the England helm in 1999. His ‘so near’ season in 1996 as manager of Newcastle saw the club playing a remarkable brand of attacking football, almost with reckless abandon, that almost brought a title to the club.

Beryl Burton

In her home town of Morley near Leeds, there’s a mural and gardens named after the cyclist who, in an extraordinary and ground-breaking career across three decades (50s-70s) collected 90 domestic championships and seven world titles. In 1967 she set a time trail record that, at the time, surpassed the men’s time. Whilst setting the record she passed the leading man and, so cycling legend has it, passed him a liquorice allsort. Maxine Peake wrote a brilliant play about her, Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels. She died in 1996 – whilst out cycling, naturally.

Rob Burrow

Small in stature, but a giant on the Rugby League pitch. The Leeds Rhinos legend is one of the most decorated English players of all time with eight Super League titles and two Challenge Cups to his name. Only 5 ft 5 in tall, his low centre of gravity and rapid, darting technique made him a formidable and difficult opponent to players who were normally concerned with tackling much bigger men. Sadly diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2019, in true indefatigable style, he is quoted as staying ‘really positive’.


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