Rugby league legend Sinfield and golden girl Ennis-Hill come within whisker of BBC trophy honour

Yorkshire was feeling proud as punch tonight as two of the county’s favourite stars came within a whisker of winning the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Sunday, 20th December 2015, 9:58 pm

Leeds Rhinos rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield finished second and Sheffield heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill third at the star-studded showpiece event.

They were edged out by tennis hero Andy Murray, who took the title for the second time in three years.

He told the audience: “I would like to thank my wife and my family and everyone who voted for me – I dedicate my life to this sport and I work extremely hard every day to make you proud.”

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Also in the spotlight was Bailey Matthews – a cerebral palsy sufferer from Doncaster who won the event’s Helen Rollason Award, presented for “outstanding achievement in the face of adversity”.

The eight-year-old captured the nation’s hearts when footage was put online in July showing him completing the Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire without his walking frame.

Bailey was given a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage to collect his award before telling the audience it was “cool” to be famous.

Nottingham gymnast Ellie Downie, 16, was named Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Downie became the first British female gymnast to land a major all-around medal when she won bronze at the European Championships.

Around 7,500 people packed into the SSE Arena in Belfast as the event was staged in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Screened live on BBC One, the ceremony was hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan, daughter of former Leeds United player Terry Yorath.

Jockey AP McCoy received the Lifetime Achievement Award after bringing his illustrious career to a close in April.

McCoy – who won the main Sports Personality prize in 2010 – retired after riding 4,357 winners and being crowned Champion Jockey 20 consecutive times.

After picking up the award from fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, McCoy said: “Could I just say what an honour and a privilege it is to receive such a prestigious award, especially here in Belfast?

“Being from Northern Ireland, a place that has produced so many talented and successful sports people... it makes tonight even more special.

“Racing is a wonderful sport. I was lucky to live my life as a jockey through it and for that I will be forever grateful.”

The Overseas Sports Personality of the Year title went to New Zealand rugby union great Dan Carter while Northern Ireland football manager Michael O’Neill was named Coach of the Year.

Tonight’s big winner, that man Andy Murray, and his fellow Davis Cup tennis stars took the Team of the Year prize.

Other famous faces shortlisted for the main award included long jumper Greg Rutherford, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, footballer Lucy Bronze, runner Mo Farah and Otley cycling ace Lizzie Armitstead.

There were emotional scenes as Lizzie Jones, the widow of former Halifax and Keighley Cougars rugby league player Danny Jones, sang over a montage of much-loved sporting names who have died during the last year.

Meanwhile, a small but vocal group of protesters picketed the ceremony over the shortlisting of controversial heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.

Up to 30 gay and equal-rights campaigners held banners and chanted slogans such as “anti-woman, anti-gay, Tyson Fury go away” and “Tyson Fury hear us clear, we don’t want your bigotry here”.

Fury has faced a barrage of criticism over his personal views since he triumphed over Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko to take the WBA, IBF and WBO belts in Dusseldorf last month.

Asked about the backlash while on stage during the event, the fighter said: “If I’ve said anything in the past that’s hurt anybody, I apologise.”