By Robert Allen
Now that the season has come to an end for Bathgate and 6th place looks all but assured it is time for the annual Player of the Year awards to be unveiled.
Of course, each and every player should be applauded for their efforts on the park. 6th place in the league after last seasons near relegation is an outstanding achievement and all the lads played a part in that. From the effort displayed during training, right through to the performances on match-day, the boys have been terrific. As always with the Juniors over the course of a season there are highs and there are lows but without a doubt this year the supporters have witnessed many more highs. Who will ever forget that sensational last minute come-from-behind win at The Volley against Armadale? Or the 5-1 thrashing handed out to eventual McBookie.com East Premier League Champions Jeanfield Swifts?
In recognition of these achievements Bathgate Thistle handed out awards recognising ‘Committee and Supporters Player of the Year’, ‘Player’s Player of the Year’, ‘Young Player of the Year’, ‘Top Goalscorer’ and ‘Goal of the Season’. The gaffer, Andrew Colley, was on hand to present the trophies.
Firstly, Goal of the season. The winner of this award is Gordon Harris for his goal in the match away to Haddington in our 2 nil win. He picked the ball up on the left hand side of box, close to the bye-line, slalomed through the home defence before calmly slotting the goal in past the goalkeeper. A top quality strike, but don’t take my word for it. It’s available on YouTube!
Next, Top Goalscorer and this award goes to Bryan Jaconelli. ‘Jaco’ has been on fire this year, scoring 26 goals for The Jags with all sorts of goals to his name; headers, volleys, tap-ins, thunderous strikes , the list goes on and on. His most memorable may well be that last minute winner against Armadale Thistle. 2-1 down with little over 5 minutes to play, Bathgate turned the game on its head with Bryan expertly scoring into the top right hand corner of the net from the tightest of angles to leave the travelling support delirious in the stand.
Young Player of the Year is Darren MacIsaac. This is Darren’s first year playing at this level but you would never be able to tell from some of the excellent performances the young central defender has produced. He has formed a terrific partnership with Hassan Nyang at the back for The Jags and although he had a period of time out through injury in the middle of the season it is to his enormous credit that he came back into the side and was a key figure in our run-in. He has also managed to pop up with a goal here and there including one in the win over The Dale.
The award for Committee and Supporters Player of the Year was too close to call and in fact in the end the recipients could not be separated. Joint winners were Stuart MacLeod and Hassan Nyang. Any side that wants to be successful needs a strong spine and Stoogs and Hassan were certainly part of ours this year. Hassan has been an absolute rock at the heart of our defence. Hailing from Gambia, where he represented his country, he has formed a formidable team with Darren MacIsaac and his experience has been instrumental in Darren’s development too. His tackling and never-say-die attitude, alongside his knack of scoring a goal at the opposite end was very much appreciated by all those on the sidelines.
Stuart MacLeod, the joint recipient of the Committee and Supporter’s Player of the Year also received the coveted Player’s Player of the Year award. There is perhaps no greater award that a player can receive than one that is voted for by his peers and team-mates. Stoogs’ exceptional form in the centre of midfield has been instrumental in some of the teams performances this year. His vision and range of passing has resulted in several assists for our strikers and his excellent work rate is a testament to him and certainly must be one of the reasons for the recognition given by the players. An excellent achievement and one that is richly deserved.
Congratulations to all of the players who received awards and a big thank-you to them and the rest of the lads for the effort given this season. Onwards and upwards for The Jags and bring on 16/17.