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Player of the Year Awards 2009/10 - 13th May 2010

Report by Rob Craven - Pictures by Graham Bridgeman-Clarke
Simon Francis completed a clean sweep of Player of the Year awards as he claimed both the Shrimpers Trust Player of the Year and Southend Junior Shrimper Player of the Year accolades.

Having already won the main club award, the full-back was further feted in front of a committed and enthusiastic group of supporters on Thursday night. Francis thanked supporters after fending off competition from midfielder Anthony Grant (second) and goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall (third) to collect the main award, voted for by Shrimpers Trust members, from Steve Tilson. SJS competition winner Dan McDuff had earlier handed the former Sheffield United youngster his award from the Trust’s Under-16 group.

In the Goal of the Season category, Belgian midfielder Franck Moussa emerged as a clear winner for his stunning volley in the home match against Walsall during March. His excellent technique helped him to beat Lee Barnard (against Bristol Rovers at home in October) and Francis Laurent (the injury-time winner at Brighton & Hove Albion in September).

At the end of the night, Blues boss Tilson moved to thank supporters for sticking by the team in adversity: “I would like to thank the fans; the support at home and away has been fantastic. We got 7,000 for the last home game against Stockport, who were bottom, and we appreciate that. I get a bit of grief, but I expect that and on the whole the support has been superb. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it,” he said.

Tilson was also cheered to the rafters after acknowledging the contribution of his former assistant: “I’d like to say thank-you to Paul Brush - who isn’t here tonight - he was a fantastic servant for six years alongside me. It has been a tough season, but I’d like to thank all the staff: Lawrence Bloom and Lee Turner, who work tirelessly, John Stannard, our physio; I know it has been a tough season for you to watch us get relegated.”

“Ricky Duncan and your youth team, you also work tirelessly. We weren’t quite good enough, but I’d like to thank the players who have worked as hard as they can. The table doesn’t lie,” the 43-year-old added.

Duncan was on hand to give out commemorative photographs to the monthly Shrimpers Trust SUFC Youth Team Player of the Month winners, who were Harry Crawford, Julian Okai, Jamie Dennis, Adetayo Osifuwa, Merrick James-Lewis, Anthony Furlonge and Marcus Milner.

That led to the 3-2-1 for the Tom Grace Memorial Shield, awarded to the 2009/10 Youth Team Player of the Year. The award is named in the memory of a former Shrimpers supporter who sadly passed away at the age of 15 in July 2007, and Tom’s brother Nick gave out the prizes. In third was Marcus Milner, second was Kyle Asante whilst the winner was Harry Crawford, who recently scored on his full debut for the senior side against Stockport.

Duncan paid tribute to the Trust and the club’s fans in general for their contribution to the club’s youth department: “The money that the Shrimpers Trust have given us makes a massive difference because it is supporters putting the money in. The youth department is about you; you will always support the club, the players and staff may go. You have supplied so much, and we have seen the benefit with players coming through into the first team,” he revealed.

Finally, the evening saw the Trust’s top coach travellers handed commemorative awards having completed 7,948 miles watching the Shrimpers. Scott Barber, Alan Gifford, Lesley Hicks, Dean Overall, Gaye Overall, Keith Overall, Warren Sadler and Terry Slater were those to have travelled the entire distance, whilst Nathan Jowett, who clocked up 5,114, was the top junior traveller.

More pictures from the Evening can be found by clicking here.
Video Highlights of the Awards can be found by clicking here.


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