Presentation Dinner 2018

Presentation Evening Story written By Phil Griffiths and Photos by Stan Baston

The club’s presentation evening at the Orwell Hotel on Saturday evening (May 26th) saw plenty of awards given out and, for the first time ever, the Supporters Player of the Year shared by two players with the voting split equally between long serving Central Defender Dan Davis and leading scorer Joe Francis, who joined the club at the start of the season.

With the huge increase in attendances last season that saw the average gate rise to over 400 for home games, it made the Supporters award a real testament to how the players had performed across the 10 months that ultimately brought promotion for the club to step 4 of the Non-League Football Pyramid, the highest level in their history.

There was a poignant moment for long term club member Phil Griffiths when he was made a lifetime Vice president of the club, receiving an extended standing ovation after being presented with a framed certificate by Director of Football and long term friend Tony Barnes.

The awards were presented after an excellent three course meal had been served, with Under 18 and Reserve team manager Aren Howell the first to speak, presenting the Under 18’s Players’ Player of the Year to 16 year old Jake Preston, who started the season as a 15 year old, scoring 18 goals in 20 appearances and ended the season as part of the reserve team squad where he made 7 appearances, scoring three times, once he had reached his 16th birthday, the minimum age requirement in adult football.

Howell’s choice of Manager’s Player of the Year went to defender and team captain Lewis Owen, an ever present in the side. Howell spoke with pride on the side’s attitude and application over the course of the season, and with the majority of the squad available for the upcoming season, was looking forward to again getting his tracksuit on.

Quickly switching hats, Aren presented the Reserve Team Manager’s Player of the Year to Harry Archer, who scored 3 goals in 18 appearances while Lewis Owen picked up his second award of the evening as the side’s Players’ Player of the Year, having made 28 appearances for the side in addition to his performances with the Under 18’s. As a player, to be selected by your peers as Players’ Player of the year is perhaps the most sought after of all the trophies you could win.

16 year old Joe Hunt received the Manager’s Young Player of the Year award… an ever present in the under 18 side, Hunt’s consistent performances for the Youths forced him into contention for the reserves, where he made 11 appearances while also making one senior appearance from the bench in the first team.

Howell spoke of his pride in winning the Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup and producing a consistently competitive side.

When joint managers Kevin O’Donnell and Ian Watson took over the mike, they spoke of their pride in what the club had achieved over the season and in the players who had achieved that success, and how important the contribution of Aren and his team of coaches and assistants had been, both with the reserves and under 18’s, and how important they were to the success of the club.

There were gifts to mark their appreciation for the support given that enabled them to concentrate on the main job of what happened on the pitch - presenting individual gifts to First Team Coach Andy Crump, Physio Sam Gedny, Kit-man Craig Studd, match day chef Graham Fisher and last but definitely not least, director of football, Tony Barnes.

It was a popular choice, with loud applause when they named their Managers’ player of the year as Dan Davis, quickly followed by an even louder cheer when the same player was named as the Players’ Player of the Year. Joe Francis collected the top goal scorer’s award, thanks to his contribution of 37 goals in 47 appearances.

The players then presented the usually unseen ladies Julie Beecroft, Christine Daynes, Kate Ayriss, Jan Griffiths, Jayne Ryan, Sam Gedny, Jo Watson, Sharon O’Donnell and Lynne Hakes with bouquets of flowers in recognition of the hours they put in, supporting the club behind the glare of publicity.

The Committee Cup, presented to a person they feel has represented the club in a positive way throughout the season went to Stuart Stevenson for his efforts both supporting the management and players and with non-football related work around the club.

The Mick Southernwood shield for Clubman of the Year went to Phil Griffiths, who was stepping down as Press Officer, after 45 years in a multitude of roles within the club.

Supporter David Witherspoon was nominated by the supporters to present the award of Supporters’ Player of the Year, and for the first time ever it was a split decision with a dead heat in the nominations, making it a double award presentation. Not surprisingly, the joint award went to Dan Davis to add to his Players’ player and Managers’ player awards, and Joe Francis, who had earlier picked up the leading goalscorer’s award.

Finally, the club recognised the service over the years by three members who were stepping down from their various roles within the club. Chris and Jayne Ryan, along with Phil Griffiths were presented with certificates confirming their appointments as life Vice Presidents of the Seasiders, perhaps a fitting way to round off the presentations before musicians from Felixstowe Academy took to the stage with their band ‘Craze’ for the dancing section of the evening.