Well that is officially a wrap for the 2018/19 season. The EPC Bracknell Football Awards have closed for another season and we can all get on with having a couple of days off before it all begins again!
We as ever some excellent hosts in Binfield FC and Sky Sports News presenter Tom White. We had some very worthy winners, some very worthy nominees and some very tough decisions to make. But the evening was a great success, complete with some excellent comments from our half time Q&A panel on the future of the men’s and women’s non league game (video out later).
I thought I’d just post my intro since this year I actually wrote something, but if you want to get to the nitty gritty of the awards scroll away! Photo’s courtesy of Philip Benton.
Tom Canning’s intro: Good evening and welcome to the 2019 EPC Bracknell Football Awards. It’s great to see so many of you here at Binfield Football Club to celebrate the grassroots game around Berkshire that we all put so much effort in to.
Just before we get started, I wanted to thank Dan Sleet at the Elite Preparation Centre for their sponsorship of this event – which wouldn’t be able to happen otherwise. If you are looking to get your kids along to coaching sessions, or holiday camps or anything else please go and have a look at their website.
As most of you know, the Football in Bracknell website was setup by me and my friend Darrell Freeland. As you’ll almost certainly know as well, Darrell passed away a couple of months ago and I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank this local football community for all the support and kind words that have been offered. We have named the final award after Darrell and we’ll find out who picks it up later on.
A number of people did nominate Darrell for an award as well as the website, it was something we discussed very early on that we wouldn’t put ourselves forward for anything in our own awards as that wasn’t what it was about.
We are also expanding the website and we’re in the process of changing things to Football in Berkshire meaning we can cover even more great stories. However that does require a few things, mainly people who are interested in writing to join our little team but also sponsors to ensure we can continue to run the site. On both of those, if you know anyone who might be interested please let me know!
Best ground – The Rivermoor (Reading City)
What was said: It’d be easy to pick the best ground as being the shiniest, or the most modern. The category of best ground at the Bracknell Football Awards looks specifically at the improvements clubs have made for both players and supporters.
One ground has a bit of a reputation – probably not entirely unfair, but last summer there was significant improvement, particularly in the playing surface which was still playing impressively at the end of a long hard season with two adult sides sharing it, and has also been nominated for a County award..
While to many of us it will always be Scours Lane, we are pleased to announce that The Rivermoor Stadium is the winner of this category.
Shortlisted: Bedfont Sports, Binfield, Windsor
Supporter of the season – David Bucktrout (Ascot United)
What was said: This supporter has become a legendary figure at their club. Despite a number of things that would keep many people away, they are a regular fixture at home and away games.
Even more remarkably, this support extends to the men’s and ladies’ sides where this person will drive himself to away games with mobility scooter in the car boot.
He is adored by the players, who recognise his unfettering support for them; a point underlined by each of them who make a specific point of acknowledging him after each game.
Shortlisted: Ben Martin-Dye (Bracknell Town), Bert and Diane Surtees (Woodley United Ladies), Tony ‘Fish’ Gilbert (Bracknell Town).
Volunteer of the Season – Bobby Ellis (Binfield)
What was said: Non League and grassroots football volunteers are a rare breed, they work tirelessly for the club. Giving up their free time to ensure things like pitches are cut, bars are clean, changing rooms are ready, not to mention travelling with the team and then doing it all again.
A nomination for this person said they are “an absolute world class human being, supported me as manager as a volunteer, to pretty much every game this season Home & Away.”
Every single person on the volunteer shortlist really should be taking home a trophy but I can only pick one..
Shortlisted: Dave Miles, Nuno Antunes (Woodley United), Ricky Simons (Bracknell Town)
Best photo – Neil Graham (Joe Gater)
What was said: This is the first time we have been able to hold the Best Photo category as we had a few great entries as you have seen.
This person has won the award because of the way he’s captured the joy of scoring, that one key moment of any game, but also the way he’s managed to capture all the colour of the moments in some tricky areas all season.
The winner is Neil Graham for the picture of Joe Gater.
Shortlisted: Philip Benton (Woodley United Ladies), Rob Mack (Chris Ellis), Simon Bryce (Charlie Oakley)
Best website or Social Media presence – Reading City
What was said: Probably the tightest of all the categories to choose from this evening. All the clubs on the shortlist, and any number of clubs who didn’t make it have seriously upped their presence on social media and that can only be positive for getting more people to our clubs.
This club was eventually chosen due to the relatively short time they had to turn it around. As well as the first team they have focussed heavily on pictures and videos from their youth sections. Add to that one of the toughest things to do when you are a volunteer at a club is to keep the enthusiasm going when the season turns against you.
Shortlisted: Ascot United, Sandhurst Town, Woodley United
Outstanding contribution to local football – Neil Graham (FC Bracknell)
What was said: This person has won this award, not just for his contribution to his club but to the wider grassroots football community.
Neil Graham not only volunteers as chairman of FC Bracknell and for the East Berks League but he also spends a significant amount of time taking high quality photographs of games which are used across printed and digital media – promoting all our clubs.
He is very active with Social Media to promote football for kids and adult teams and regularly has FC Bracknell covering several pages in the Bracknell News.
As one nomination said: “Neil works tirelessly for FC Bracknell, puts up with countless difficult parents and deals with all the backroom admin still with a smile on his face. We couldn’t do without him!!”
Shortlisted: Jeff Beck (Maidenhead Town), Nuno Antunes (Woodley United), Sanjay Sobte (Thames Motor Group)
The half time Q&A..
A question and answer session was held at the midway point hosted by Tom White with Woodley United Ladies co-manager Nuno Antunes, Binfield chairman Bob Bacon and Hungerford Town manager Ian Herring.
All four were on top form and we’ll post a video later.
Here’s the audio from the session
Manager of the Season – Jamie Tompkins (Ascot United)
What was said: We received some great nominations and some great stories, so many that we had to shortlist five people this year for the category.
This person though stood out for the way he took over a team in the summer that didn’t have the best 2017/18 season despite great effort all around. Taking forward a number of young players from that side he transformed the side in to one challenging for promotion this time around as well as bringing home a league cup trophy in the final game of the season.
Shortlisted: Andy White (Bearwood Wanderers)
Bob Ryan (Bracknell Town under 12s)
Geoff Warner (Bracknell Town)
Ian Herring (Hungerford Town)
Referee of the Season – James Knight (Bracknell Sunday League)
What was said: Football in Bracknell has, since we started these awards believed that the Referee of the Season category is THE most important. You might ask, why isn’t it the last one? Well the game is still about the players…
The referee we have chosen was described as having a ‘cool head’ and didn’t let the emotion of the games cloud his judgement as well as being respected by players and supporters.
Shortlisted: Charlie Bullock, Charlotte Pilling, Oliver Kaya
Young Player of the Season (Female) – Kiah Owen (Binfield)
What was said: What became clear when going through the three nominees for this award was that all, despite their age influence their team mates and encourage them, probably without realising it.
It became clear from the nominations for this player though that she was playing adult football for the first time and still turning out for the youth team. She was described as a dream to coach and the biggest asset to the team she plays for – as well as coaching an under 10s team herself!.
Shortlisted: Darcey Young (Ascot United), Lou Pullen (Ascot United)
Young Player of the Season (Male) – James Richardson (Ascot United)
What was said: We’ve followed this young man’s career closely this season. He’s pretty much ticked all the boxes from youth team football to senior men’s football for his club. You can pretty much say that for most of the shortlisted nominees.
Where he then went on was helping the County side to the South & West County championship, but most impressively winning through several rounds of trials to represent the English Schools FA and winning caps this year.
Shortlisted: Jack Carrod, Josh Harris (Wokingham & Emmbrook), Luke Frewin (Binfield)
Player of the Season (Female) – Charley Evans (Woodley United)
What was said: This player has been described as brilliantly versatile, one of the best players in her league, simply outstanding for her club and a warrior.
That last comment is backed up by a line we were sent: Her commitment to the team was highlighted during one game when she broke and dislocated 2 fingers, during treatment her response was “just tape them up, I’m not coming off”
Shortlisted: Ellen Surtees (Woodley United), Nicole Edwards (Binfield), Shannon Mather (Hawley)
Player of the Season (Male) – Dan Roberts (Windsor/Slough Town)
What was said: This players season just got better and better and better. He joined a new team in the summer and quickly established himself as a fans favourite – helping his side to the fifth round of the FA Vase and earning a dual registration move to a National League South club.
He scored 39 goals for Windsor this season – just 31 more than his nearest rival – and earned a man of the match award on his full Slough Town debut.
Shortlisted: Adam Sharp (Holyport), Joe Grant (Bracknell Town), Liam Ferdinand (Bracknell Town)
The Darrell Freeland Award for service to the local game – Neville Batt
As you know we sadly lost Darrell a couple of months ago. It seemed fitting to rename this ‘lifetime achievement award’ in his honour and focus on people who did what he did, dedicate himself to the local game in whatever format that takes.
We had a few ideas but Neville Batt was the name that stood out to receive the award this year. Neville has served the Bracknell Sunday League since 1966 mainly in the role of Referees Secretary. A very much a respected individual within local refereeing circles, he also serves the Bracknell & District Referees Association as Chairman and is a County FA officer. He is just a long-servant of refereeing in Bracknell and is still refereeing (occasionally) well into his later years.