Well, here we are again. Eventually. After a season consisting of 65 games (I know, a real cut-back this one), over 10 whole months, within three countries (nothing too exotic though!) and at levels from Premier League right down to the lower levels of amateur football on the public fields, it’s time to nominate and indeed award the good, the bad and the downright ugly of this last footballing year, as well as the stranger goings on that have cropped up here and there!
Whether it be attending the soon to be flattened White Hart Lane or standing on the touchline at Flixton Fields; from Ladybridge FC at the start of July through to Turton FC at the beginning of May, there have been things that have been seen and heard that deserve some recognition, not to mention some of the things overheard in the many “locals” I’ve popped into here and there!!
So, here you have it; Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, here’s the cream of the crop from Manchopper’s Ventures 2016-’17…
*All players/teams considered must have been seen by myself during this season*
Celebrity/Former Player Random Appearance of the Season:
Nominees: Paul Dickov (at Lostock Gralam vs AFC Macclesfield) Timmy Mallett (at Middlesbrough vs Oxford Utd), Alan Kennedy (at Huddersfield Town vs Preston North End)
Winner: Paul Dickov. As the only person at a game whilst not involved in a half-time on-pitch draw, Dickov gets the nod on this award, which is surely a bigger memorable moment than the play-off goal.
Cuisine of the Season:
Nominees: Middlesbrough’s Parmo, Clitheroe’s Pie, Whalley Range’s chips with chilli sauce on, Gretna’s Scotch Pie.
Winner: Parmo. I’d heard good things. They were true. The parmo is superb.
Clubhouse of the Season:
Nominees: Penycae, Turton, Skelmersdale Utd, Farsley Celtic, Witton Albion.
Winner: Witton Albion. Top clubhouse here. Triples up as a shop and a DJ booth!
City/Town/Village/Hamlet/other place of the Season:
Nominees: Ramsbottom, Tadcaster, York, Boston, Edinburgh.
Winner: Edinburgh. What a place. Enjoyed all the above, but the Scottish Capital is a great city.
Worst Weather Experience of the Season:
Nominees: Beechfield United
Winner: What a shock, it’s Beechfield United. The only really poor weather I’ve experienced this year left all there damp and cold.
Strangest Moment of the Season:
Nominees: Discovering & watching a game at Millmoor, Light knocked off stand at Gretna, The 90-minute nil-nil at Charnock Richard (how?).
Winner: Visiting Millmoor. It was all a bit eerie and, for sure, a strange experience.
Welcome of the Season:
Nominees: Heyside, Richmond
Winner: Has to be a tie! Can’t split them and wouldn’t wish to!
Individual Performance of the Season:
Nominees: Jake Pollard (PARTINGTON vs Sale Ams), Tom Heaton (BURNLEY vs Manchester Utd), Jordan Gidley (BARNOLDSWICK vs Charnock R), Rick Tindall (POYNTON vs Eagle Sports), Connor Ripley (OLDHAM vs Port Vale)
Winner: Tom Heaton. Included the ‘Match of the Day’ “save of the season” as Heaton denied Ibrahimovic. The ‘keeper faced a record amount of attempts against his former club and still came away with a point and a clean sheet.
Team Performance of the Season:
Nominees: Partington Rovers (vs Sale Amateurs), Curzon Ashton (vs York City), Leicester City (vs Manchester City), Old Ashtonians (vs Whalley Range), Altrincham (vs Boston United), Mold Alexandra (vs Caernarfon Town)
Winner: Old Ashtonians. With only ten men for the full ninety against title chasers Whalley Range, Old Ashtonians pushed them close before falling narrowly short. Great effort.
Fans of the Season:
Nominees: Curzon Ashton, Oxford United, Colne
Winner: Curzon Ashton. It’s a second straight win for the Nash boys from the Nash Bar.
Programme of the Season:
Nominees: Charnock Richard, Boston Utd, FC Halifax Town, Ramsbottom Utd, Winsford Utd
Winner: FC Halifax Town. Still holds up with some football league clubs, as it should. But it’s a good issue nonetheless and the best I came across this year.
Ground of the Season:
Nominees: Leek Town’s Harrison Park, Witton Albion’s Wincham Park, Boston Utd’s York Street, Colne’s Holt House, Turton’s Thomason Fold.
Winner: Turton’s Thomason Fold. It’s fairly basic, but it’s a gem. Just remember to watch the grass around the pitch!
Goal of the Season:
Nominees: Alex Murphy (PADIHAM vs Team Northumbria, Josh Wilson (Ramsbottom Utd vs AFC TELFORD UTD), Chris Thompson (RICHMOND vs Liobians), Joe Gaughan (Charnock R vs BARNOLDSWICK T), Mark Adams (CHARNOCK R vs Barnoldswick T), Wes Benjamin (WITTON ALBION vs Kettering Town), Nathan Craig (Mold Alex vs CAERNARFON TOWN).
Winner: Witton Albion’s Wes Benjamin. Benjamin’s strike just pips it on account of it being a last-kick winner. And what a winner too.
Match of the Season:
Nominees: Tadcaster Albion vs Scarborough Ath, Leek Town vs Kettering Town, Middlesbrough vs Oxford Utd, Huddersfield vs Preston NE, Farsley Celtic vs Ossett Town.
Winner: Huddersfield Town vs Preston NE. A pulsating game saw the hosts take the points in the last-minute and, of course, they would go on to secure a play-off spot before taking a place at English football’s top table for next season.
Team of the Season:
Nominees: Curzon Ashton, Charnock Richard, Witton Albion, Huddersfield Town, Windle Labour
Winner: Pro: Huddersfield Town Non-Lge: Windle Labour. Huddersfield’s season was brilliant, with them bouncing back from a lower-end finish to achieve promotion to the Premier League. Windle’s was, perhaps, less spectacular, but to join the Cheshire League for a first season at the level and win the League’s League 2 is no mean feat. Congrats to both.
Player of the Season:
Nominees: Tom Heaton (Burnley), Rick Tindall, Connor Ripley (Oldham (loan)), Danny Rowe (Fylde), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)
Winner: Connor Ripley (Oldham (loan)). Twice I saw him and twice he had great games. I also heard his double pen save from nearby Royton Town too, and played a huge part in keeping the Latics up. So he pips all the above to the honour. Big things lie ahead for him I’d say.
And that’s that for this season’s award. Congratulations to all those who have achieved one of these prestigious “Chopper” awards. Also, they’re very easy to accommodate on your mantelpiece as they take up exactly zero space! See you all again next year for the fourth “Chopper Awards” ceremony….