Which Hearts, Hibs and Lothians footballers have won the EEN 2020 awards?
Coronavirus has come along and knocked the stuffing out of all of us, not least the world of football.
We had months of inaction, fears about whether some clubs would come through the other side. Thankfully, we have the sport back, across many levels, but no supporters. Let’s hope that will come in 2021.
Most of us will be glad to see the back of this year, but before we do, let’s dish out the Evening News’ annual football awards …
Player of the year
Paul Hanlon. The Hibs centre-back has been a model of consistency for much of the year and won his first Scotland cap. Hibs are fighting for a place in Europe and have been competitive in the cups. Hanlon has marshalled the defence and captained the whole team in the absence of David Gray. When he is not in the Hibs defence, they struggle. A more than worthy winner.
Young player of the year
Aaron Hickey, who left Hearts to go to Bologna in the summer, comes very close to winning this, but it’s another Hibee who grabs the gong and that is Ryan Porteous. He has matured significantly as the year has gone on, cutting out most of his rash moments and becoming one of the best physical defenders in Scotland. Josh Doig, who has emerged at left-back, also deserves mention for the way he has burst on to the scene and provided viable competition for the evergreen Lewis Stevenson.
Match of the year
Those who took in Kelty Hearts v Bonnyrigg Rose in late February – a 3-2 win for the Fifers that proved so crucial to the destination of the title – left the packed ground privileged to have been in attendance. It was an excellent match that Rose were desperately unlucky not to take something from
Signing of the year
Hibs spent a significant amount of money to lure striker Kevin Nisbet from Dunfermline and has more than proved his value, being the club’s top goalscorer and on the brink of a Scotland call-up. The 23-year-old is only going to get better and better, too.
Most improved player of the year
Hibs midfielder Joe Newell has gone from being persona non grata at Easter Road to one of the first names on the team-sheet. His form has been seriously impressive.
Impact of the year
Robbie Neilson. The current Hearts manager has returned to Tynecastle and reinvigorated the place. Some of the players he has brought in, such as Stephen Kingsley and Craig Gordon, have made a significant difference to what’s going on at Tynecastle.
Most heartening moment of the year
After a year on the sidelines due to a serious groin injury, Hearts midfielder Peter Haring returning to action was pleasing.
Disappointment of the year
Former Hearts coach Daniel Stendel failed to get a tune out of his team for the three months he had in charge at the start of the year. He really ought to have done better.
Most hard-done by people of the year
Hearts, Hibs, Edinburgh City and Bonnyrigg Rose all suffered to varying degrees, but the real victims have been the football fans in the Lothians unable to watch live games.