Is Hague really the greatest of them all?

Dickie Bird was suggested as the greatest living Yorkshireman. Photo credit: Gary Longbottom
Dickie Bird was suggested as the greatest living Yorkshireman. Photo credit: Gary Longbottom
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Many greats hail from Yorkshire – but who is the greatest of them all?

According to Prime Minister David Cameron, the greatest living Yorkshireman is Rotherham-born MP William Hague.

Brian Blessed is the greatest living Yorkshireman according to many in the region. Photo by Simon Dewhurst

Brian Blessed is the greatest living Yorkshireman according to many in the region. Photo by Simon Dewhurst

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Star Opinion: The greatest ever Yorkshireman is...?

Mr Cameron delivered the bold statement as he paid tribute to the outgoing former Tory leader during the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

He said: “He boy became an amazing parliamentarian, a brilliant Foreign Secretary, our greatest living Yorkshireman and someone to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Michael Palin was one of the favourites to be crowned greatest living Yorkshireman. Photo credit Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

Michael Palin was one of the favourites to be crowned greatest living Yorkshireman. Photo credit Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

However. the remark caused uproar amomg Yorkshire folk with many taking to social media to disregard Cameron’s claim and instead propose their own alternatives.

Sheffield-born comedian, actor and writer Michael Palin, and Mexborough-born actor Brian Blessed were among the top choices, along with former Yorkshire and England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott and Sheffield pop star Jarvis Cocker – The Star’s recently retired sports writer Les Payne also received some nominations after more than 40 years covering Rotherham United.

High-profile names from throughout South Yorkshire joined the debate to give their opinion on who is most worthy of the prestigious title.

Athletics coach Toni Minichiello, coach of Sheffield’s Olympic heptathlete champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, said:”For me, from a sports point of view, I would say English former footballer and Sheffield Wednesday manager Howard Wilkinson.

Jarvis Cocker's name was also put forward for the greatest living Yorkshireman title

Jarvis Cocker's name was also put forward for the greatest living Yorkshireman title

“He is the last English manager to win the top-flight league in England and his role in the League Managers Association is also highly commendable. I think his sporting journey, coaching experience and achievements make him a good contender – plus he’s a Sheffield lad.”

Meanwhile Barnsley cricket legend Dickie Bird, whose name was also put in the mix for the title, said he would nominate a woman as the greatest living Yorkshire person.

The former Test cricket umpire said: “It would have to be Dame Judi Dench. She’s such a wonderful actress and she’s done so much for charity.”

Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, said: “There are so many great Yorkshiremen and women it’s hard to pick out just one, so I’ll pick thousands and say all the members of the Yorkshire Regiment past and present who were given the freedom of the City of Sheffield in 2006.”

Geoffrey Boycott was a front runner in the suggestions for the grestest living Yorkshireman

Geoffrey Boycott was a front runner in the suggestions for the grestest living Yorkshireman

Coun Peter Rippon, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, said: “I would nominate David Blunkett, because of the work he has done not only for Sheffield but for the country as a whole, both in his role as Home Secretary and Education Secretary.”

Rosie Winterton, Doncaster Central MP, nominated playwright and author Alan Bennett, calling him as ‘a towering figure in the world of literature and an asset to Yorkshire’, while the town’s former mayor Peter Davies, picked former England cricket captain Brian Close.

Mr Davies said: “He could have played any sport. He played football, and rugby and was pretty good at golf too. He was my boyhood hero.”

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, Doncaster North MP, nominated Boycott, who he saw score his hundredth first-class century in Leeds in 1977.

He said: “He Boycott is a cricketing hero of mine, and a great Yorkshireman.”

The famous cricketer himself nominated several names, including Barnsley-born TB personality Michael Parkinson and Bennett – as well as former Sheffield schoolboy and Olympic champion Lord Sebastian Coe.

He said: “What about Lord Coe? Two Olympic gold medals – I don’t think Mr Hague has done more than that.”

Vox Pops

Sophy Scott, aged 39, an anti-social behaviour officer from Greenhill

“I would say Michael Palin is the greatest living Yorkshireman.

“He’s very down to earth and extremely funny person - he really paved the way for alternative comedy with Ponty Python.

“He’s also taken up the challenge of travelling the world and is a great ambassador for Yorkshire.”

Chris Over, 53, a housing officer from Chapeltown

“I think it should be the title of great Yorkshire person and I would give it to Jessica Ennis-Hill.

“I think her track events have made her an inspiration to up and coming young athletes in Yorkshire and around the world.

“She’s very approachable and relates well to the youth of the area.

“She’s the most high profile sporting personality with a gold medal and gives Yorkshire something to be really proud of.”

Receptionist Jackie Smith, 51, from Gleadless

“I’d have to say David Hockney.

“He brought art to the masses and has pieces hanging in Hollywood homes.

“He started in Yorkshire and has gone around the world.”

Matthew Glaves, 34, a support worker from Broomhall

“I don’t think it should be a high profile person but instead someone who gives everything to help others.

“In my opinion, it’s the everyday people of Yorkshire who are the greatest.”

Panel

What you’ve been saying online

Ian Barrett

“Fred Trueman, Geoff Boycott, Brian Blessed, Joe Elliott, Sean Bean.”

Moanytony

“Shouldn’t the greatest Yorkshireman be someone known throughout the world. Michael Palin perhaps. Someone you can laugh at for the right reasons.”

Wedance

“Would put Trueman first followed by Geoffrey Boycott and then dear old Dickie Bird without his handkerchief.”

Nikki Arnold

“Don’t forget Patrick Stewart in all the lists of alternatives.”

Dan Proctor

“Either Dickie Bird, Brian Blessed or the bloke who invented Hendo’s Relish.”