Brett Peel’s popularity since joining Heanor Town in the middle of September from Hucknall Town was highlighted when he scooped both the Supporters’ and the Players’ Player of the Year Awards at the club’s presentation evening last Friday.
In addressing the meeting Joint Manager Craig Hopkins said that he and Glenn Kirkwood had used the early part of the evening to talk to each of the players individually regarding next season with the need to keep as many as possible.
And it would appear the outcome is that most are keen to remain at the Town Ground, with the exception of 30-goal leading scorer Nathan Benger, who long since promised to try to repeat his goalscoring feats next season in the Evo Stik Northern Premier League with Buxton. But there were still encouraging signs from Benger to the supporters that if things did not work out he would be back.
It would seem from this that the Heanor Town club is now a happy and stable place for players. And what is even more encouraging is that there are positive tales of players actually wanting to come and play for Heanor Town.
Hopkins went on: “I would like to most sincerely thank our loyal supporters who have travelled everywhere with the team and whose support has been desperately needed many times during the course of the season when we found ourselves behind in matches. Thanks are extended on behalf of myself, Glenn and all the players.
“I would also like to thank all the players for their efforts during the season. They have been brilliant.
“When Glenn and I came to Heanor two years ago, we set ourselves a target to win this league in three seasons. We have now finished seventh and third and next season we are going to win it so I ask everyone to stick with us.
“In addition to the players who will be staying with us, we will be bringing in three, four, five, or possibly six to boost the squad, but there will be a need for everyone, players and Glenn and I, to improve 15 per cent on last season if we are going to achieve our objectives.”
Eileen McCulloch opened the presentation proceedings with bouquets of flowers to the ladies at the club, Margaret Hutchinson, Bev Thompson, Kath Atkins, Doris Mingley and Julie Bostock, the latter two for their outstanding work in the tea bar on match days.
Keith Costello then made presentations to the ball boys, George Moore, Charlie Price and Marcus Robertson, for their sterling work on match days. This he followed by inviting Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins to make the remaining presentations, with the Reserve Team Leading Goalscorer going to Kevin Rowles and the First Team Leading Goalscorer to Nathan Benger.
Craig Hopkins then invited the supporters forward to present their Supporters’ Player of the Year Award and Brett Hart did so, paying tribute from all those who had given their support throughout the season to the players and management and handing the trophy over to Brett Peel.
It has to be said here that this was hardly a surprise since the giant stopper’s name had been on everyone’s lips throughout much of the campaign.
But taking over again as MC, Hopkins presented the Players’ Player of the Year to Brett Peel who had to make the long journey from the other end of the Social Club amid much jubilation to collect his second award and one which was, perhaps, a little better kept surprise.
The Reserve Team Player of the Year was made to Steve Holdstock and there were special awards, presented by Keith Costello, to the new Reserve Team Manager Darren Thomson for the sincere way in which he had taken over and kept the team going in the aftermath of the previous management’s departure midway through the last traumatic season.
“Things will be different next year”, Thomson told the gathering. “Already 20 players have agreed to join us and the object will be on supporting the first team.”
There was a Special Award to James Bostock for his help on match days. James has now been recruited onto the Club Committee.
The concluding presentations were a Good Wishes card and the proceeds of a whip round, as Craig Hopkins put it, to retiring physio Bev Thompson, presented by Club Captain Gary Webster, before Eileen McCulloch wrapped up a most delightful evening with a presentation to the joint managers Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood for their efforts on behalf of the club.
And it was perhaps fitting before the Hog Roast was consumed and the disco was enjoyed that the final word should be left to Craig Hopkins: “Let’s make this day next season a bit special.”