Vale's achievements celebrated at 23rd annual awards evening
Not all of Vale of Lune's senior sides emulated the successes of the first and second teams, who both gained promotion, but at the 23rd annual awards evening there was genuine appreciation of their achievements from all quarters of a full clubhouse.
Director of Rugby, Paul Dorrington, reminded everyone of the challenges that awaited the club at all levels, and it was important that the unity that had gathered in momentum over the season must not only be continued, but built upon. He praised the Ladies team which began their season with only a handful of players but played their final game with a full 15 plus replacements.
In addition, he thanked all the coaches and players associated with the Colts for making sure that this section enjoyed a successful season.
Dan Williams, head coach, continued the theme of togetherness when he said that club cohesion was a vital building block for the future with all involved in the undertaking from bar staff, committee members, volunteers and of course, the players, all committed to ensuring that the club flourished, both on and off the field.
In his overview of the first team’s season the head coach praised the players and thanked Evan Stewart for his contribution, sadly Evan is moving away from the area in a career move, but this highly talented, experienced player and coach has left behind a blueprint for the future.
His words of advice and game management skills have rubbed off on a number of players who have greatly benefitted from his input.
Stewart presented the Player of the Season award to back row forward Jack Ayrton, while it came as no real surprise when Williams announced that the record breaking Damon Hall, 43 tries, 444 points, was the Players’ Player of the Season.
The Brian Huddleston Trophy for the Young Player went to Harry Finan, a player who stepped up to senior rugby and had developed immensely over the season.
Presentations were made to Sam Wallbank and Dan Baines to celebrate the 200th and 150th appearances respectively, and to physio, Hannah O’Connor.
The second team ended with a playing record not dissimilar from the firsts which reflected the hard work put in on the training ground.
Williams thanked Fred Swarbrick and Reg Robinson for supporting the seconds and also Paul Antcliffe for playing an active role on match days.
Fraser Spavin was presented with the Brian Huddleston Memorial Trophy for Player of the Season, while the Swarbrick/Robinson Trophy for the Players’ Player went to Sam Velasce Hoare.
Alex Briggs collected the award for the Most Improved Player.
Mark Bower fully deserved his award of Players; Player for the thirds, Steve Tagg was the Player of the Season while Joe Bebbington was given the deserved title of Viking of the Season.
For the fourths, the ethos within the team was consolidated by the efforts of Alex Batson who was not only the Brain Huddleston Player of the Season but the Players’ Player.
For the Ladies, the Sue Garnett Memorial Award for the Player of the Season was Leanne Clark, Kat Huntriss was the Players’ Player, while Jess Dean was voted the most improved player.
Ben Dobson thanked Simon Hatton for all the help he had provided him with during the Colts’ season and also Paul Scott for encouraging some of the Colts to step up a level, plus Paul Clarke’s work behind the scenes had been invaluable.
The Colts Player of the Season was Henry Higginson, a player of immense talent who has joined the Sale Academy.
Joel Stewart was named the Players’ Player with the Phil Davies Trophy being awarded to Mark Henderson.
Paul Dorrington named Ben Dobson as Club Person of the Season in recognition of the massive amount of work he had put in throughout the season in ensuring that the Colts achieved their potential.
The Team of the Season award went to the first team for clinching the championship of North One West and promotion to North Premier; it was the first outright promotion since 2003/03, although the first team were prompted, via the play offs into North One West, at the end of the 2008/09 season.