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Shrimpers Trust Player Of The Year Awards 2015/16 - Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Report & Pictures by Rob Craven
Southend United's mercurial magician Jack Payne collected a clean sweep of the awards on offer for the first-team at the Shrimpers Trust's Player of the Year Awards for the 2015/16 season.

Payne, dubbed the club's 'Mini Messi' during his time with the Academy, a nickname that has stuck after his progression into the senior set-up, became the first player ever to win all three awards on offer by claiming the silverware for the Shrimpers Trust Player of the Year, the Junior Blues Player of the Year and the Martin Cranmer Goal of the Season at the Awards Evening on Tuesday 3rd May.

The playmaker, who has scored nine times in 34 appearances during the current campaign, collected the main award from Blues boss Phil Brown having fought off competition from defender Adam Barrett and goalkeeper Daniel Bentley who, like Payne, emerged through the club's youth system. Speaking before picking up the award, Payne paid tribute to the Trust's continued efforts to raise funds for the Academy.
As well as being a firm favourite with Shrimpers Trust members, Payne was also favoured by the younger generation as he scooped the Junior Blues award. He was presented with the shield by Junior Blues member Ollie Nicks in front of the assembled gathering in the Shrimpers Bar beneath Roots Hall.
And the 21-year-old ensured that he went home with all the senior awards from the moment that he slalomed his way through the Sheffield United defence in front of the Sky television cameras to win the Goal of the Season award. That effort emerged ahead of rival strikes from Ryan Leonard, in the away game against the Blades, and Michael Timlin at Oakwell against Barnsley.
The Goal of the Season award is dedicated to the memory of lifelong Southend supporter, Martin Cranmer, who was one of the founder members of the Southend United Independent Supporters Club and was a Shrimpers Trust Life Member. Martin passed away six years ago at the age of 40, and his widow Zoe was on hand to present the award again this year.
Meanwhile, Harry Phillips was the worthy recipient of the Tom Grace Memorial Shield, which is presented each season to the Youth Team Player of the Year. He received the prize from youth team coach Dave Huzzey, who also handed out the runners-up awards to prolific forward Dan Walker and towering central defender Abdul Salami. All three will return to Southend with the Under-21s next season.
Tom Grace was an avid Southend United supporter and a junior member of the Trust who sadly passed away at the age of 15 in July 2007. It was decided by the Trust to rename the Youth Team Player of the Year Award the Tom Grace Memorial Shield in his memory. Tom's family were guests of the Trust and his father, Len, helped Dave to present the awards.
Dave was invited to say a few words by the event's host, David Crown, and he thanked Shrimpers Trust members for their financial backing to the youth team again this term. Huzzey spoke of another fine campaign for the Under-18s, who finished second in the Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference and reached the Third Round of The FA Youth Cup as well as moving eight players into the Under-21s for next season.

Later in the evening Phil Brown also thanked the fans for their support up and down the country throughout 2015/16. They included the seven top travellers - Chris Diani, Lesley Hicks, Gaye Overall, Darren Posnack, Warren Sadler, Nicola Slater and Terry Slater – who have each completed 8,728 miles following the Shrimpers this season.

That septet, along with the top Junior Blues traveller, Callum Turp, who has journeyed an incredible 4,066 miles supporting Southend in 2015/16, will receive their prizes at a later date following the final match of the season against Bury at Gigg Lane on Sunday.

Brown also spoke about the fantastic commitment of a number of members of the squad since he arrived at the club a little over three years ago. He spoke of his delight at bringing Kevin Maher and Adam Barrett back to the club, and vowed that he would be plotting Blues' promotion from League One next term. He also talked glowingly about the work done at the club's Academy in bringing players through.

As the evening drew towards a close, Carmel Orford was named as the first recipient of the Shrimpers Trust Unsung Hero Award. Carmel, who was unable to attend due to a prior commitment, earned the award for her tireless commitment to the Academy and work at Boots & Laces.

The 72-year-old has been at the club for around eleven years, primarily working at the training ground looking after the youth team, a role which includes preparing their meals. She has also been landlady to several of the youth team players, including this year's Player of the Year Jack Payne.

Carmel worked in the lodgings where the Under-18s stayed together for several years, and she also organises Christmas and Easter quizzes for the boys, as well as raffles. She will be presented with her award at a later date.

Other prizes to be handed out included the Shrimpers Trust Player of the Month Award for April, which was handed to Ryan Leonard by Junior Blues member Jessica Lansley, and the PFA Community Champion Award, which was given to Ben Coker by Southend United's Community & Educational Trust representative April Smith.
A raffle for the Trust raised over £100, a sum that was matched by the auctioning of a pair of Jack Payne's signed and match-worn football boots. A pair of Daniel Bentley's signed and match-worn goalkeeping gloves raised in excess of £50. The Shrimpers Trust would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to the evening.
All the pictures from the Awards Evening can be found on the Trust's Facebook page by clicking here.
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