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Webb, McDowell and Catt on New Year Honours List

Graeme McDowell

McDowell reflects on major year

Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell and World Cup final referee Howard Webb have been made MBEs in the New Year Honours List.

There is a knighthood for British Airways chairman Martin Broughton, who was Liverpool's independent chairman during their takeover.

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron is made CBE.

There is an OBE for ex-England rugby union star Mike Catt and an MBE for BBC rugby league commentator Ray French.

McDowell, the 31-year-old golfer from Northern Ireland nicknamed GMac, began the year ranked 50 in the world but has moved swiftly up the rankings.

In June, he became the first European for 40 years to win the US Open when he triumphed at Pebble Beach and in October his five-foot putt on the 17th green at Celtic Manor saw Europe beat the USA in the Ryder Cup.

He has ended 2010 as the number six golfer in the world and with a host of awards to his name, including player of the year voted for by the US and the European golf writers.

The Portrush man said he was proud at being chosen for an MBE.

"It is a huge honour for me to be included on the New Year Honours List," he said.

"For my achievements as a professional golfer to be recognised in this way is truly special. Both myself and my family are very proud of this unique acknowledgement."

Webb proud of 2010 achievements

The MBE for Webb is the climax of a year in which he became the first man to referee both the World Cup final - in which he set a record of showing 14 yellow cards and a red - and the Champions League final in the same year.

The 39-year-old from Rotherham, who is on a five-year break from his job as a sergeant with South Yorkshire Police, took up refereeing in 1989.

He refereed his first international match in 2005 and was also in charge of the 2009 FA Cup final.

But the World Cup final in South Africa proved to be one of the most challenging games of his refereeing career.

Holland's strong-arm tactics against Spain led to the flurry of cards, with Everton's Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga sent off.

In August, Webb said he and assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey had been honoured to be chosen for the final, which was won by Spain 1-0, but disappointed at having to set an unwelcome record for cards.

But he described the MBE as a fantastic honour.

"It has been an unbelievable 12 months and this honour tops off an amazing 2010," he said.

"It will be a real treat to go to the Palace with my wife and family and it should be a marvellous occasion.

"I always say refereeing is about your team, and without the support and ability of my assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey I would not have been selected for the final.

"This honour is for them too and it would be lovely if they could be recognised in a similar way at some point in the future."

French, one of the few forwards to have been capped for England in rugby union and Great Britain in rugby league during his playing days, said he had kept his MBE a secret even from his wife Helen.

"I've been keeping it under my hat - my wife will be gobsmacked when she finds out," said the 71-year-old, who combined playing with being a schoolteacher.

"In a sense, I feel somewhat embarrassed by it because I'm being rewarded for doing something that I have loved every minute of.

"To me, this is also an honour for rugby league and it's good the game is recognised in this way."

Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood said: "On behalf of the RFL, I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to Ray on an award which acknowledges all he has done for the sport in the last half century."

Catt, who retired in May aged 38, was part of England's 2003 World Cup-winning team and also played in the 2007 decider against South Africa.

Born in South Africa, Catt started playing club rugby in the amateur days, joining Bath in 1992, and made his England debut in 1994.

Mike Catt with the 2003 Rugby World Cup
Catt played a key role in England's 2003 World Cup final success

He played for England on and off for the next 13 years, winning 75 caps in all, and was part of the successful British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 1997, playing one Test.

Catt's long Bath career came to an end in 2004 and he went on to enjoy a remarkable swansong with London Irish where he was Premiership player of the season in 2006 and in 2009 became the oldest ever player to play in a Premiership final, aged 37.

Catt, now London Irish's attack coach, said: "I have been fortunate to have had an enjoyable and successful career in rugby and to now be recognised in such a way makes me feel very privileged.

"I would like to thank my family along with everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout my career."

Jimmy McIlroy, one of the greats of Northern Ireland football, gets an MBE for services to football and charity.

McIlroy, 79, played most of his club football for Burnley - the club has a stand named in his honour - and was capped 51 times for Northern Ireland.

There is a CBE for George Kerr, a 72-year-old from Edinburgh, who in February became one of only 19 people since 1935 - and only the second Briton - to have achieved the status of 10th Dan in judo.

Peter Walker, the chairman of Glamorgan and man most responsible for the development of the national cricket centre for Wales, receives an MBE for services to cricket.

Toby Balding, the Grand National-winning racehorse trainer who retired this year after half a century and is the uncle of BBC presenter Clare Balding, receives an OBE.

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see also
Guide to the Honours
28 Dec 12 |  UK
Walker on list of Welsh honours
31 Dec 10 |  Wales
McDowell and McIlroy awarded MBEs
31 Dec 10 |  Northern Ireland
Sports Personality 2010 - Graeme McDowell
19 Dec 10 |  Sports Personality
McDowell earns US Writers award
17 Dec 10 |  Golf
McDowell beats Woods in play-off
05 Dec 10 |  Golf
Ref Webb proud of World Cup performance
25 Aug 10 |  Football
Ref Webb defends display in final
13 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Catt signs new deal with Exiles
25 May 10 |  London Irish
Irish's Catt ends playing career
04 May 10 |  London Irish
Catt set to postpone retirement
28 May 09 |  London Irish
England win Rugby World Cup
22 Nov 03 |  Internationals
NESV completes Liverpool takeover
15 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
RFU chief Baron to quit position
20 Nov 09 |  English


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