Bent wins North East writers' award

Darren Bent has been voted the North East Football Writers' Player of the Year.

The England international won the honour by one of the biggest margins in the award's 30-year history and will be presented with the NEFWA's trophy at a special dinner held at the Ramside Hall Hotel later this year.

It's a recognition of the way that Sunderland's record-signing made such an instant and important impact last season. Arriving for an initial 12m fee, Bent scored on his debut in Sunderland's opening day game at Bolton Wanderers and went on to notch 25 goals in all competitions.

Wayne Rooney was the only Englishman to score more goals than the Black Cats striker in the 2009/10 season.

And Bent's goals were instrumental in Sunderland avoiding the relegation dogfight endured in the club's preceding two Premier League seasons.

It was a surprise when he was not included in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad for South Africa – the manager choosing instead to take a trio of forwards to accompany Rooney who had barely scored as many goals between them as Bent did on his own last season.

The folly of that decision might well have been exposed in the awful finals England endured – then national side scoring only three goals in the whole competition and only one of those, Jermain Defoe's, coming from the foot of a striker.

Bent has already shrugged off that disappointment though and with two club goals to his name, not to mention his first international goal with England's 3-0 win over Switzerland this month, is already showing last season was no flash in the pan.

The North East Football Writers Association annually selects its player and young player of the year from a pool of players representing the region's big three clubs, Sunderland, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, as well as Hartlepool, Darlington and Carlisle.

Bent won this year's award by a landslide, with Newcastle's Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll runners-up for their roles in getting the Magpies out of the Championship.

Carroll also edged out Jordan Henderson by the narrowest of margins for the title of Young Player of the Year.

This is the sixth time in the last 11 years that a Sunderland player has won the top award and the third time in four years - last year Danny Collins won the award, while Dean Whitehead and Nyron Nosworthy picked it up jointly in 2007 for their efforts in getting the Wearsiders back into the top flight.

This is the 30th annual award by the NEFWA and special arrangements are being made to mark the landmark in some style with Bent, his fellow nominees and all past winners being invited to this year's dinner.

The dinner will take place at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham on Sunday December 12.

Tickets will go on sale this week and anyone interested in going should contact Samantha Lee on (01429) 26 58 59 or email for more information.

The full NEFWPA roll of honour is:

1980 – David Armstrong (Middlesbrough), 1981 Jim Platt (Middlesbrough), 1982 Bryan 'Pop' Robson (Sunderland), 1983 Kevin Keegan (Newcastle), 1984 Kevin Keegan (Newcastle), 1985 Chris Waddle (Newcastle), 1986 Peter Beardsley (Newcastle), 1987 David McCreery (Newcastle), 1988 Tony Mowbray (Middlesbrough), 1989 Marco Gaddiadini (Sunderland).

1990 Mick Quinn (Newcastle), 1991 Joe Allon (Hartlepool), 1992 Stephen Pears (Middlesbrough), 1993 Lee Clark (Newcastle), 1994 Peter Beardsley (Newcastle), 1995 Barry Venison (Newcastle), 1996 Les Ferdinand (Newcastle), 1997 Juninho (Middlesbrough), 1998 Paul Merson (Middlesbrough), 1999 Niall Quinn (Sunderland).

2000 Kevin Phillips (Sunderland), 2001 Thomas Sorensen (Sunderland), 2002 Shay Given (Newcastle), 2003 Alan Shearer (Newcastle), 2004 Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough), 2005 Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), 2006 –Shay Given (Newcastle), 2007 –Nyron Nosworthy (Sunderland)/Dean Whitehead (Sunderland), 2008 David Wheater (Middlesbrough), 2009 Danny Collins (Sunderland), 2010 Darren Bent (Sunderland).