IT MAY only be a couple of weeks into the new football season, but some of the city’s finest amateur players are already picking up awards.
Players and officials gathered for the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association’s annual awards night at the Hilton Grosvenor Hotel last Friday, where the 11 Divisional Player of the Year winners for season 2011/2012 were announced.
There was an additional accolade awarded to Sunday Premier Division 2 winner, Liberton Thistle’s Dale Richardson, who was also named the association’s overall winner.
The 23-year-old midfielder captained his side to three trophies last year, winning the Premier Division 2 league championship, Colin Campbell Sports League Cup and the President’s Cup, in a season which was dominated by the team in black and white.
Richardson said: “I’m absolutely delighted and over the moon to have won. I sent a round of texts straight away so it’s brilliant.
“We had a cracking team last year and the manager, Mikey Coleman, and assistant John O’Hara are brilliant.
“I didn’t even expect the divisional award to be honest and it could have gone to some of the other players in our side.”
For Saturday section Lothian West winner, Craig Hume, last season’s performances proved to be the most important of his football career. Instead of reporting for pre-season training with his Lochend team-mates at the beginning of July, Hume was preparing for the season ahead as an East Stirlingshire player after signing for the SFL Third Division side over the summer.
However, Hume, 25, paid tribute to the team morale at his former club, which he believes played a significant role in leading the club to an impressive haul of four trophies.
“We’re all really good mates at Lochend and when you enjoy your football you play well.” Hume said. “The team spirit was great and it worked really well as we won most of our games. They’ve (Lochend) lost a couple of players this season, but I still think they will be up there challenging. They’ve brought in a couple of new signings and they seem up to standard already, so they should do well.”
Recalling how his move into senior football unfolded, it finally hit home for the midfield star when he lined up at Ibrox just over a month ago.
He said: “I had interest from a couple of Junior and East of Scotland clubs, but I was going to sign again for Lochend. The phone call then came in, but I never thought it would be me. It was unbelievable to play at Ibrox, but I don’t think I got my first touch until about ten minutes into the match. But after then, I settled in and forgot about the 50,000 people that are there watching. Lochend cancelled their match and the boys came through, so that was great. There are better amateur players than me out there, so it just shows if you get a chance you can make the step up.”
Assistant Kilmarnock manager Jimmy Nicholl was there as an after-dinner guest speaker and along with narrating some of the more memorable moments from his time as a player and manager, he reinforced the importance of playing the game irrespective of the level.
Nicholl said: “I’m very fortunate to go to these dinners. Football people are the same across the world and just down to earth. It doesn’t matter what level you are playing at, you should play as long as you can. Enjoy your football, take what you can out of it and good luck with the rest of your seasons.”
Players of the year
Saturday Section: Peter Gilhooley (Premier 1); Alan Bannon (Premier 2); Craig Hume (Lothian West); Gordon Rollo (Lothian East); Murray Carnie (Edinburgh West); Douglas Morrison (Edinburgh East).
Sunday Section: Andrew Brown (Sunday Morning League); Scott Walker (Premier 1); Dale Richardson (Premier); Stuart George (Division 1 West); James Glodek (Division 1 East).
Larry Walls Award (Team award): Liberton Thistle.