Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Monday, June 07, 2010

End of Season Awards Part I

It's that time of the year - the matches have been played, the issues at the top and bottom sorted, and the dust is beginning to settle.

So, as we digest the past nine months of action, all this week the lads reflect upon who deserves to be saluted and who've had a shocker of a campaign in the Soccer AM/MW awards!

First up, we look at the teams who should be recognised for their on-pitch achievements this season.

Team of the Year

Blackpool, Bournemouth, Dagenham & Redbridge

Nobes: It's difficult to argue against Blackpool - but I really want to champion the cause of Bournemouth.

Under a transfer embargo for most of the season, unable to fill the bench, and the youngest manager in the Football League. Yet they never dropped lower than 4th all season and gained automatic promotion.

Turls: I think we appear to be choosing between Bournemouth and Blackpool. I think Blackpool probably deserve it in my eyes because they were predicted to get relegated and they went and did the opposite.

Nobes: I agree, Blackpool were tipped to struggle at the wrong end. Not universally to get relegated, but certainly not to go up. They've done it playing good football and having not spent much.

They are the success story of the season.

Turls: I'm sure Lakes would, reluctantly, agree.

Lakes: I do. Newcastle on points, but Blackpool on achievement.

Winner: Blackpool

Worst Team of the Year

Nominations: Darlington, Grimsby Town, Stockport County

Nobes: Stockport are tempting - but they do have mitigating circumstances. They've been in administration all season, in a huge financial mess, and have had to get rid of their top players.

Both Lakes and I predicted it would lead to relegation.

Turls: It would be very harsh to give this to Stockport considering two of us predicted them to drop - as well as their financial difficulties. That leaves Grimsby and Darlington.

Nobes: Contrast Stockport with Grimsby, who have some of the biggest crowds in League Two and a very competitive budget. They only narrowly avoided the job the previous season, but did they learn their lesson? Nope.

They sacked their manager early on, appointed the youth team boss, and then kept him in charge despite not winning for 25 games. It was an easily preventable relegation, whereas I don't think Stockport's was. People expected it.

Lakes: Grimsby for me - bottled and blew it.

Nobes: On Darlington, they were similarly in a right mess over the summer, they nearly went to the wall and had to throw together a team at short notice. They were always going to have it tough.

I just think Grimsby is the perfect example of how not to run a football club - wasting money on ageing players and sacking manager after manager hoping for a quick fix.

Turls: I'll agree with Grimsby. Dreadful season.

Winner: Grimsby Town

Championship Team of the Year

Nominations: Blackpool, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Scunthorpe United

Turls: Technically, Blackpool should win this considering they won Team of the Year, but I'd like to see different teams win.

In my opinion, it's between Scunthorpe and Leicester. Newcastle were expected to win the league at a canter and did.

Lakes: I reckon Scunny of the two - we should reward teams at the bottom too.

Nobes: I'd go for Scunthorpe. If you look at how far behind the top two they finished - only sneaking up through the play-offs - they looked well short of what was required to stay up.

However, despite the smallest crowds and a tiny budget, they've stayed up. They made really good use of their home games - where they became one of only four teams to beat Newcastle all term.

For getting every last inch out of his players, Nigel Adkins and Scunthorpe deserve recognition.

Winner: Scunthorpe United

League One Team of the Year

Nominations: Exeter City, Norwich City, Swindon Town

Turls: This is a really tight one for me. Norwich bounced back splendidly but ultimately had the squad to prove that Bryan Gunn wasn't up to the immediate task.

Lakes: I'd say Norwich, just because they won quite comprehensively in the end.

Nobes: Norwich always had the strength to do that, though. Are we all getting a bit carried away by that freak 7-1 result? Also, by that token, Newcastle would have won in the Championship.

Lakes: I see your point.

Turls: How about Exeter, they're similar to Scunthorpe. Made safety look comfortable in the end - so fair play to them.

And Swindon - plucked a Non League player and made him their main striker. Got to the play-off final in a very difficult league.

Nobes: Very tough to call. I hadn't thought of Swindon as they were always my dark horses for the top six. Not that that shouldn't disguise the fact they've done brilliantly.

Lakes: I'd go along with Swindon.

Turls: Let's not rule out Exeter - they had a grand season, however, I'd go with Swindon. As Nobes said, although they were some people's dark horses, that shouldn't take away from their achievement.

Nobes: Yep, I'd go along with Swindon overall. I think Exeter deserve a mention though. Successive promotions followed by staying up - outstanding.

Winner: Swindon Town

League Two Team of the Year

Nominations: Bournemouth, Dagenham & Redbridge, Rochdale

Lakes: I think Rochdale for being awesome and escaping the basement division.

Nobes: Pains me to say it, but Dagenham have done brilliantly this season. However, I'm reluctant to give them the award just because I don't like their approach to the game. It is not nice to watch.

I'd still be keen to give it to Bournemouth.

Turls: It's got to be Bournemouth. Look at what they've had to work with - no money, no players, seemingly no chance. Yet they never left the top seven all season and they've got promoted.

Rochdale have had a great year and nothing should be taken away from them for that, but let's not forget they have been there or thereabouts for the past few years.

Nobes: That is a good point. I'm in admiration for the work Keith Hill has done at Spotland, but we're in danger of getting caught up in the fact this was their first promotion for 40 odd years.

Turls: As for Dagenham, great year considering their size. Still, I keep leaning towards Bournemouth.

Lakes: I still think Dale should win.

Nobes: The other point I'd make about Bournemouth is that the conditions they've had to work under would have been hard for even the most experienced manager.

However, Eddie Howe is a complete rookie - the youngest manager in the Football League. Yet he's seen his club through a really dark period and brought them out of League Two.

Winner: Bournemouth

Conference Team of the Year

Nominations: Stevenage Borough, York City

Nobes: I hadn't considered York as contenders, but they've obviously done very well to get to the play off final and gave Oxford a good run for their money.

Turls: I initially thought York because they seemed to have drifted into becoming a mid table Conference team and have come out of nowhere. However, for me, Stevenage have had a tough battle on their hands this year.

They've had to finish above Oxford and Luton. Not one, but both. Impressive in my eyes.

Nobes: Very true, rarely can the Conference have had two bigger teams more fancied to battle it out over the title. I tipped Oxford all the way, and just couldn't see anyone outside those two competing.

However, after knocking on the door in the past, it was finally Stevenage's year. They've done remarkably well to win it in this of all seasons.

Lakes: For romping home to the title with 99 points, it has to be Stevenage.

Winner: Stevenage Borough

Game of the Year

Nominations: Blackpool 3 Cardiff City 2 (Play Off Final)
.....................Burton Albion 5 Cheltenham Town 6
.....................Sheffield Wednesday 2 Crystal Palace 2

Turls: How a game that had 11 goals, an incredible comeback and an injury time winner could not be voted as the greatest game of the year is criminal. And yet, I can't vote for it.

Yes it was a great spectacle, but that's all it was - a spectacle. The other two games had so much riding on them.

Nobes: That's very true. Lots of goals don't necessarily make a great game, even if that one did feature a stunning comeback. Had it been vital for Cheltenham's survival on the final day, then yes. Otherwise, no.

Turls: The other two games had so much riding on them in different capacities. The Blackpool/Cardiff game was great but, for me, the Wednesday vs. Palace game had more.

The play-off final happens every year but how often do two teams playing one another on the final day of the season knowing whoever loses will get relegated?

It had drama, it had tension, it had Soccer AM/MW making history by choosing it to be the first live game we covered. Incredible in my book.

Nobes: Having experienced a relegation shoot out with my own team, I really enjoy those sorts of games. It wasn't the best football from either side, but it just had an amazing atmosphere to it.

The rain pouring down, the players giving it everything they had, Wednesday showing terrific commitment right to the end. It had everything you wanted from such an important match that will live long in the memory.

I enjoyed the play-off final, particularly the goals in the first half, but it didn't feel quite as dramatic as that game at Hillsborough.

Lakes: Blackpool/Cardiff was a thrill fest, but the Wednesday/Palace was a cream cracker of a match with everything to play for. Plus we did cover it live.

Winner: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Crystal Palace 2

More awards tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment