With the season fast approaching its conclusion and all four divisional titles more or less nailed to their respective victors, Scotzine has called on its readers and followers to vote in the Scottish Football End of Year awards, covering the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.
So with our readers and followers having their say with the nominations and in the voting process, we felt that we should give our team their chance to ooze plaudits on those they believe deserve to win each category. First up are the selections from Nathan MacKenzie, Scotzine contributor and self-confessed Caley Thistle fan.
SPL Manager of the Year
Terry Butcher (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) – With one of the smallest budgets in the SPL and having lost a number of key players in the summer to SPL rivals (Hayes to Aberdeen, Tade and Tuffey to St Johnstone, Tokely to Ross County) many pundits and supporters had Inverness down to be fighting a relegation battle with their Highland neighbours. However Butcher has performed a minor miracle in clinching the Jags first top six finish, first League Cup Semi-Final and by keeping the club in the European places for the majority of the season. This with a squad made up of predominantly youth system players and free transfers from the lower English leagues. If Inverness clinches their first European place this season, Butcher will certainly go down as the club’s most successful manager ever.
SPL Player of the Year
Leigh Griffiths (Hibernian) – He might not be the best behaved player in the SPL or the most talented but is certainly the most influential with 25 goals in 37 games in all competitions for the Hibees or to put it another way, he has scored 50% of all their goals this season. At 22 and Scottish it seems completely crazy that this kid has still only got one cap for Scotland. Never out of the papers for not always the right reasons, Griffiths has a bright future and could become a Leith legend if he puts Hibernian’s long running Scottish Cup hoodoo to bed at Hampden in May.
SPL Young Player of the Year
Henrik Ojamaa (Motherwell) – The 21-year old Estonian leads the SPL’s assist table with 13 assists already this season. His goal-scoring might be down on last year with only two goals this season however his contribution towards Motherwell’s push to claim second-place is phenomenal. A true international player with 10 caps for his country already, Ojamaa is attracting major attentions from clubs across Europe.
SPL Flop of the Year
Gregory Vignal (Formerly of Dundee United) – The ex-Rangers and Liverpool player signed for the Terrors on September 12th 2012 to much fan fair, with the player hoping to take the SPL by storm. However the Frenchman left Tannadice in November without even a single first team appearance. For a player who has lifted the Uefa Cup, Super Cup and played for top-tier clubs in England, France, Spain, Greece and Germany it was quite a let-down for United fans to see the player leave without even gracing the Tannadice turf for a single second.
SFL Manager of the Year
Jim Jefferies (Dunfermline Athletic) – As fantastic a job as many managers in the SFL have done this season from Allan Johnston at Queen of the South to Alan Archibald at Partick Thistle, none have faced the almost herculean task faced by Jim Jefferies at Dunfermline. The Pars manager came into the job in March last year with the near impossible task of keeping the Fife side in the SPL. That was only the beginning of his troubles at East End Park. A season in which his side should have being competing for promotion has being obliterated by matters off the pitch with the club close to extinction. Most managers, faced with the situation of a second-consecutive relegation, no wages and the task of reducing an already depleted squad to its bare bones would run for the hills, possibly even retire. But not Jim Jefferies, behind the headlines at East End Park, he has being getting on quietly with the task of trying to keep one of Scotland’s oldest clubs in the second tier. If he does, he will go a long way in helping the Pars survive.
SFL Player of the Year
Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) – A very skillful player, he has being instrumental in helping the Jags achieve promotion to the SPL with 13 goals and 13 assists already this season. At 26-years-old he is not the youngest player in the side but if this season is anything to go by he could be a top player in the SPL next season.
SFL Young Player of the Year
Nicky Clark (Queen of the South) – The 21-year-old son of former Rangers player and Hearts manager, Sandy Clark, has taken the Second Division by storm scoring 27 goals and making 10 assists in 34 appearances this season. Top performances from the young Clark include his performance in knocking out Rangers and beating Partick Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup. He has being part of a ruthless Queen’s side that have romped to the Second Division title and beaten First Division leaders Partick Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup Final.
SFL Flop of the Year
Francisco Sandaza (Rangers) – The Spaniard arrived at the Ibrox club for free in the summer after a terrific season in the SPL with St Johnstone. Having left Perthshire for South Glasgow, many at Ibrox hoped he would play an important part in their quest to win the Third Division. However his paltry return of two goals in 20 appearances was worse than Kevin Kyle who managed three goals in 15 appearances. The Spaniard suffered an injury to his cheekbone after a clash with Motherwell player Shaun Hutchison in the League Cup. In March, Sandaza admitted to a telephone hoaxer, who claimed to be a football agent that he was only at Rangers for the money and would leave as soon as a decent alternative offer was made. On April 3 the Spanish striker had his contract terminated.
Most Memorable moment of Season 2012-2013
Celtic’s victory against Barcelona in the Champions League group stage was my most memorable moment of the season. A victory against possibly the greatest football side in history in the world’s strongest football competition was a welcome relief for Scottish football. Even better was the victory was secured with a goal by young Scottish forward Tony Watt.
If you haven’t voted yet, get it done now at: http://www.scotzine.com/2013/04/scotzine-splsfl-end-of-year-football-awards-2013/