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Shrimpers Trust Player of the Year Awards - 2013/14 - 30th April 2014
Report by Lesley Hicks, Pictures by Tom Biggs

The Shrimpers Trust held their 2013/14 Player of the Year Awards on 30th April in the Shrimpers Bar at Roots Hall. Trust members were joined on the night by Phil Brown and his management team plus the Southend United 1st team squad. Ricky Duncan and his under 18's Youth team squad also attended.

The evening included various presentations to members of the first and youth teams, culminating in the Trust's 2013/14 Goal of the Season and Player of the Year awards.

Trust Vice Chairman, Paul Yeomanson who was host for the evening opened by extending a warm welcome to everyone and in particular thanked Phil, Ricky, the management team and the players for attending the event.

Youth Team Awards:

The Trust's ongoing involvement with the Youth structure was highlighted, which included donations made to the Centre of Excellence, as well as shirt sponsorship of the Youth team which had been in place now for over 6 years.

The under 18's had this season finished a respectable 7th in the Football League Youth Alliance and had reached the 2nd round of the FA Youth Cup. They had also reached the 2nd round of the Southern Section of the Football League Youth Alliance Cup narrowly losing to Portsmouth.

Congratulations were extended to goalkeeper Ted Smith who had earlier in the year secured a professional contract with the Club, as well as having been a regular in the England under 18's squad. In addition Josh Banton, Jack Bridge and Jason Williams had been offered pro contracts with Southend United. Kane Farrell had been offered a 3rd year development contract for next season.

Player of the Year:

The winner of this award was presented with the Tom Grace Memorial Shield. The Youth Team Player of the Year award had previously been renamed in memory of avid Southend United supporter and junior member of the Trust Tom Grace, who sadly had passed away at the age of 15 in 2007. Tom's father Len was on hand to make the presentation. Overall winner was Ted Smith, with Jack Bridge as 1st runner up and Jason Williams as 2nd runner up.

Following the presentations Ricky Duncan spoke about his work as Head of Youth and his key objective of producing as many players as possible who would make the transition into the first team squad. It is worthy to note the continued progress being made in this respect. Ricky finished by adding how appreciative he was of the Trust's ongoing support and how he very much valued its involvement as a key sponsor of the Youth set up.

Top Traveler Awards:

For the 2013/14 regular season the Trust had again run coaches to all away league and cup fixtures, having covered some 9,534 miles so far.

There were currently ten supporters Scott Barber, Clare Brocks, Shane Chapman, Alan Gifford, Lesley Hicks, Brian and John Illsey, Gaye Overall, Darren Posnack and Warren Sadler who had travelled with the Trust to all these games. With the small matter of the play offs still outstanding additional mileage would of course be added to the current tally. It was therefore confirmed that the customary Top Traveler Awards would be made at a later date.

Current Top Junior Blues Traveler Scott Doherty (5,204 miles) would also receive his award at the same time.

A thank you was extended to all supporters who had travelled with the Trust so far this season. The Trust looked forward to everyone joining them to travel for the play offs and then welcoming everyone back in August ready for the new season.

Trust Travel Co-coordinator Presentation:

Ryan Leonard was asked to make a presentation on behalf of the Southend United supporters who regularly travel on the Trust coaches to away games.

As had been mentioned already the Trust will take at least one coach to every league and cup match. This requires considerable organisation both in terms of coordinating bookings and running the coaches on the day.

Clare Brooks had again this season worked tirelessly as Trust Travel Coordinator and in making this presentation her friends and fellow travelers wanted to thank her for all her hard work throughout the season which was thoroughly appreciated.
Junior Blues Player of the Year:
The Junior Blues Player of the Year as voted for by the Trust's under 16 members was presented to Southend United goalkeeper Daniel Bentley by Junior Blues member Stanley Clayton. Stanley had been selected at random from entries received to present the award.
Goal of the Season:
The Martin Cramner Goal of the Season award, named in memory of lifelong Southend United supporter Martin who had passed away at the start of the 2010/11 season aged 40, was presented by his wife Zoe Cranmer. The contenders for this award as voted by Trust members, were Ben Coker vs Newport County (A), Freddy Eastwood vs Torquay United (H), John Egan vs Scunthorpe United (A), Kevan Hurst vs Chesterfield (A) and Jamar Loza vs Oxford United (H).
On loan Sunderland centre half John Egan was confirmed as a very popular winner in recognition of his 30 yard screamer vs Scunthorpe. This was the first goal scored in senior football by the Ireland under 21's international.
Player of the Season:
Manager Phil Brown presented the main award of the evening. 2nd runner up went to defender Ben Coker, 1st runner up went to the Blues versatile midfielder Ryan Leonard, with Trust members voting goalkeeper Dan Bentley as Player of the Season for 2013/14. The popular shot stopper and former Blues Youth team player narrowly beat team mate Ryan for the top spot.

Phil Brown on behalf of his management team and the players took the opportunity to thank the Trust for their continued support and financial backing over the last season, which he said was greatly appreciated. Phil gave the example of a time during this last season when the team had been in urgent need of funds to purchase basic fitness equipment and on the way to a game he had called the Trust for help and had been given immediate assistance.

Tribute was given by Phil to his squad of players; the management team and backroom staff. All who he said had worked so hard throughout the season and had been fantastic. It had been a total group contribution.

The attitude and commitment of the whole of the squad had been first class for the entire campaign, from the starting eleven, to those on the bench, as well as those players working to get their opportunity. In particular Phil praised the contribution made by the loan players, both those who still remained at the Club and those who had since returned to their parent clubs. This group had added certain value.

On a slightly negative note Phil expressed his disappointment that no Southend United player had been included in the League 2 PFA Team of the Year. Along with the likes of Dan Bentley, Ryan Leonard and Ben Coker there were a number of other players that he might name who would be worthy contenders to get into the PFA team.

Phil said he knew he could depend on supporters, who had been fantastic both home and away this season, to continue to give full and vocal support to the team for our last home game of the season, so that we could keep the winning momentum going into the play offs. The backing by the fans was so important to the team and could prove to be the difference that gets us over the finishing line so as to achieve League One status next season.

Paul Yeomanson wrapped the evening up by thanking Phil, Ricky and the rest of the management team plus all the players for taking the time to attend the evening. On behalf of everyone he of course wished Phil and the 1st team squad the very best of luck for the forthcoming play offs.

Thanks were also given to Trust members who had attended on the night and to the various people who had helped organise the evening.

In was noted that the auction held (signed match ball from the FA Cup game vs Hull City, Daniel Bentley's shorts, Ryan Leonard's shin pads and Ted Smith's goalkeeper gloves) raised a commendable £265.00. The raffle added a further £124 to Trust funds.
The Trust would also like to thank Tom Biggs from the Club for taking the pictures of the awards, Scott Barber for filming the awards and to Scott Wallace from SX Sports Media & Film Production for producing the on screen content.
Video footage of the Awards can be found by clicking here, and video footage of Phil Brown's speech can be found here.
A full set of pictures from the evening can be found on the Trust's Facebook page here.
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