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Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Lions legend Ian McGeechan knighted in New Year Honours

Sir Ian McGeechan

Knighthood still sinking in - McGeechan

British and Irish Lions legend Ian McGeechan heads the list of stars from the world of sport to be included in the 2010 New Year Honours List.

The former Scotland player and coach, who has featured on seven Lions tours, is knighted for his services to rugby.

Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button is appointed MBE, while Ross Brawn, who led Button's team, becomes an OBE.

World champion gymnast Beth Tweddle, cricketer Claire Taylor and golfer Catriona Matthew become MBEs.

Scot McGeechan, who was born in Leeds and started out as a geography teacher, made his international debut in 1972 and played 32 times for his country before taking over as Scotland coach in 1988 and leading them to a Grand Slam and Five Nations title in 1990.


However, he is more well known for his association with the Lions.

He played in the most successful Lions team when the 'Invincibles' went 22 games unbeaten in South Africa in 1974 and won the Test series 3-0 with one tied.

The centre also played in all four Tests on the 1977 Tour of New Zealand, which ended in a 3-1 defeat.

He was appointed coach for the victorious tour of Australia in 1989. He was again put in charge for the trip to New Zealand four years later, but his side went down 2-1.

McGeechan returned for a third spell as coach for the first professional Lions tour, the 1997 triumph in South Africa, which remains the Lions' last victorious tour.

He coached the 2005 midweek side in New Zealand at the request of head coach Sir Clive Woodward before returning to the helm for an unprecedented fourth time for the 2009 return to South Africa.

McGeechan has become synonymous with the Lions
McGeechan has become synonymous with the Lions

It was a tour which also ended in an agonising 2-1 series defeat but arguably reinvigorated the whole concept of the Lions.

"I am extremely proud to receive this honour," said McGeechan.

"I have worked with some fantastic players and coaches in my career and it is a privilege to have worked with so many talented and dedicated people.

"But most of all this honour couldn't have been achieved without the backing of my wife, Judy, and my children Heather and Rob.

"Rugby has been a huge part of my life for over 40 years and to have achieved everything I have with Scotland, in club rugby and with the Lions has been an immensely rewarding and enjoyable experience."

At club level, McGeechan's greatest success came at Wasps where he won the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the Heineken Cup and the Guinness Premiership.

"There's probably nobody that deserves this more than Ian McGeechan for what he did for Scotland and what he did for the Lions as well," said former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, who also skippered the 1993 Lions that McGeechan coached.

"As a guy who has been coached by him for many years, I'm absolutely delighted for him."

Button, 29, is rewarded for a remarkable year that saw him win six of the first seven Grands Prix of the season before clinching the drivers' world championship in Brazil in October.

Jenson Button
Button has switched to McLaren for next season

He looked destined to be without a car to drive after Honda pulled out in December 2008 as a consequence of the global economic downturn.

But 55-year-old Ross Brawn, who was team principal at Honda, stepped in and bought the team, renamed it Brawn GP and led the team to the constructors' championship.

The team has since been bought by Mercedes and Brawn will lead the new team, while Button joins fellow Brit and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.

"This really is the crowning glory to what has been the most incredible year of my life," said Button.

Tweddle's exploits on the floor, that won the 24-year-old a world gymnastics gold in London earlier this year, have also been recognised.

"This came as a total shock," she said. "Outside of gymnastics it's the biggest honour I have ever received.

"I spoke to my grandparents at the weekend because I didn't want them to find out through the newspapers first, and they just broke down in tears. That just showed me how much it meant to them, and how much these awards mean to people in general."

Claire Taylor
Taylor hit the winning runs in the World Twenty20 final against New Zealand

Scotland's Matthew hit the headlines in the summer when she won her first British Open title just 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.

"Having had Sophie in May I never envisaged winning a major golf championship this year," said the 40-year-old.

"The reaction to it and the recognition I have had has been amazing and I'm very grateful to everyone for their support. The MBE really is the icing on the cake."

Taylor, 34, helped England's women win the World Cup, World Twenty20 and Ashes in an incredible year.

She also became the first woman to be named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year, was voted player of the tournament at both the World Cup and World Twenty20 and was named the International Cricket Council's Women's Cricketer of the Year.

Former Blackpool and England footballer and BBC Radio 5 live summariser Jimmy Armfield, 74, already an OBE, becomes a CBE for his community work in Lancashire.

"It came as a surprise to me and I'm very grateful for the award, although it's also something I get a great deal of enjoyment from," said Armfield, who is to be further honoured in the form of a statue at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road ground.

Blackburn footballer, Jason Roberts, is the only current professional player to receive an honour - an MBE for his work to encourage young people in the UK and Caribbean to play football.

"I think it is in recognition of all the hard work that other people have put into the charity as well as myself, so I'm very humbled by the award," Roberts said.

Rugby league's Steve Prescott also becomes a MBE for his services to the sport and to charity.

The 36-year-old former St Helens, Hull FC and England full-back was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer in 2006 and given two months to live but has since raised thousands of pounds for charity.

Vic Akers, the 63-year-old former manager of Arsenal Ladies football club, becomes a MBE, as does Derby stalwart Gordon Guthrie.


Ian McGeechan - rugby union, for services to sport.


Jimmy Armfield - for services to the community.

Christopher Cohen - for services to sport.


Victor Akers - for services to sport.

Ross Brawn - for services to motor sport.

Phillip Darnton - chairman Cycling England, for services to transport.

John Derbyshire - for services to sport.

Celia Godsall - for services to sport.

David Harrison - for services to golf.

Professor William Hillis - for services to medicine and to sport.

Shirley Hughes - for services to disability sport.

Eva Loeffler - for services to disability sport.

Wendy Martinson - for services to sport and nutrition.


Jenson Button - for services to motor sport.

Susan Clarke - to services to disability swimming.

Heather Crouch - for voluntary service to sport.

Gordon Guthrie - for services to Derby County.

Frank Hannah - for services to sport.

Anna Hemmings - for services to sport.

John Hemmings - for services to grassroots football, Stoke-on-Trent.

Barry Hitchcock - for services to sport.

John Alexander Jameson - for services to cricket.

Sheila Layton - for services to equestrian sport.

Catriona Matthew - for services to golf.

Terence McLernon - for services to table tennis and to the community.

Frederick Millar - for services to to youth football in Northern Ireland.

Keith Hedley Moss - for voluntary service to sport.

Janice Naylor - for services to swimming.

Jean Pickering - for services to athletics and to the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund.

Steve Prescott - for services to rugby league and to charity.

Jason Roberts - for services to sport.

William Roulston - for services to equestrian sport in Northern Ireland.

Claire Taylor - for services to cricket, Wokingham, Berkshire.

Beth Tweddle - for services to gymnastics.

Andrew Wood - for services to sport.

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see also
Honours thrill Button and Brawn
31 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Scots golfer Matthew lands honour
31 Dec 09 |  Golf
Brave Prescott honoured with MBE
31 Dec 09 |  Rugby League
Matt Dawson on Sir Ian McGeechan
31 Dec 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 9-28 Lions
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
McGeechan hails outstanding Lions
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
The word on Geech
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union
McGeechan given Lions coach role
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Button joins Hamilton at McLaren
18 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Brilliant Button clinches title
18 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Tweddle claims superb World gold
18 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Taylor secures top women's award
01 Oct 09 |  Women's cricket
Taylor wins historic Wisden award
03 Apr 09 |  Cricket
Matthew wins maiden British Open
02 Aug 09 |  Golf
Arsenal Ladies seal league title
10 May 09 |  Women
Yankey wants to win Cup for Akers
30 Apr 09 |  Women
Prescott faces toughest fight
29 Mar 07 |  Rugby League
Guide to the Honours
12 Jun 10 |  UK