Thank you ever so much to Stoke City for inviting us to present the Supporters Branches' Player Of The Year Award to Jonathan Walters at the club's awards dinner last night, it was truly an honour and I personally was very grateful for the chance to meet my hero Thomas Sorensen and ecstatic to be the winner of the silent auction for his signed photo, which now has pride of place on my wall!
The Seychelles Supporters Branches chooses its Player Of The Season Award based on Man of the Match Points, a system operated throughout the year that awards points to players based on performances during matches in all competitions throughout the season. Every match during the season, 3 points are awarded to one stand-out player, 2 points are awarded to another player and 1 point can go to up to three other players whose performances deserve reward. During games where one player performs exceptionally well, a rare 6 points will be awarded - one example of this would be the 14/15 season's game v. QPR at the Britannia Stadium, where Jon Walters recieved 6 Man of the Match Points following a determined, fighting performance which saw him score a perfect hat-trick (left foot, right foot, header) and become Stoke City's first player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League. All of these points from the season's matches (up to the club's mid-April deadline for Player Of The Season submissions) are then tallied up and put into a table in order to establish which player is most deserving of the Player Of The Season Award.
In the first half of the 14/15 season, it seemed like it was going to be a difficult contest for the Player Of The Season prize, with several players starting the season stronger than ever, including captain Ryan Shawcross and Stephen N'Zonzi in particular. As the season wore on, new players Bojan and Phil Bardsley both joined the race and previously out-of-favour Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan were brought back into the side and quickly became indispensable members of the starting XI. However, things were becoming much clearer towards the final third of the season. With Bardsley, Bojan and Shawcross all falling behind through injury - and despite a strong end to the season from Geoff Cameron - it was Irish duo Walters and Whelan who had pulled undeniably ahead in the race for the prize, with the lead switching between the two for a brief period, especially as Shawcross' absence allowed Whelan a chance to shine, stepping up to take on the role of captain for several games. Both Walters and Whelan put in multiple 6 Points performances over the course of the season, and even in games where they did not receive the main Man of the Match points (3 points), their hard work, team spirit and unwavering determination saw them almost always make it onto the Man of the Match shortlist, picking up at least a point each in almost every game played - and this despite injuries to both men hampering their seasons, including a broken leg for Whelan which he had picked up early in the season when playing for Ireland. However, in the end it was Jonathan Walters who pulled ahead, accumulating a huge total of 41 points to Whelan's impressive 35 points.
This blog is written by our Branch President Malinda. You can hear more from Malinda at her Twitter account: @malinda_29