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Scottish Football End Of Year Football Awards 2013: Andrew Ward has his say!

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Being a Greenock Morton fan, I don’t spend much time watching many SPL games, but I feel I’ve written up a very respectable shortlist.

SPL Manager of the Year

Two names came to mind when I first thought about the Manager of the Year award for the SPL. Both are currently managing sides that have come from the lowest of the low, to find themselves on the brink of Europe. However, with Ross Country slipping up on all occasions against their rivals from the Highlands, I’m going to give my first award to Terry Butcher (Inverness Caledonian Thistle).

Mr Butcher has done wonders this season with his Inverness side who currently sit in third spot and with a real possibility of playing in Europe this season. Results such as defeating Celtic 1-0 at Celtic Park and knocking out bitter rivals, Ross County, in the Scottish Cup have all been down to the huge effort put in by Terry and his background staff. The former England internationalist has also shown great commitment to his side after turning down offers from clubs down South (who you’d imagine
have a much bigger salary that the one terry is currently working under). I personally, think this speaks volumes about the man. Great work, Terry!

SPL Player of the Year

This award was much easier than the one previous, I felt. Despite my dislike with the player off the park, Leigh Griffiths (Hibernian) is a player I can only admire on it. From the young boy that started off at Livingston, before making the step up to Dundee, which then followed a huge money spinning deal with Wolverhampton Wanders, the local boy from Leith has finally began to show his true potential this season.

Griffiths has the attributes of a striker than can play at a very high level. He’s a quick, lively, energetic forward who is determined to prove his critics wrong (I being one of them, I may add) by showing his qualities on the field. His composure to round Fraser Forster and score the only goal in a huge victory against soon-to-be champions, Celtic, was one of the many goals he has scored which has resulted in the ‘Hibees’ being well clear of the relegation dog-fight this season. And let’s not forget
his absolutely sensational strike which fired his home town club into the Scottish Cup Final just a one week ago!

SPL Young Player of the Year

I sat and pondered this award. Being an admirer of First Division football, rather than SPL football, it made this decision a little trickier. I ended up opting for Andrew Shinnie (Inverness Caledonian Thistle). The 23 year-old has been one of the main reasons why Inverness currently finds them sitting in 3rd place. 11 goals scored by a striker is a reasonable feat, but from an attacking midfielder, it’s quite excellent. With a European adventure with Inverness next season on the horizon, and already securing his first Scotland cap, the future looks bright for the Inverness superstar.

SPL Flop of the Year

Gary Hooper (Celtic). Price tag in the region of £10 million just doesn’t cut it for me. Since January, it seems that his mind is already on a move down south. Don’t get me wrong, he has class but for a player of his ability to be behind strikers such as Michael Higdon, Leigh Griffiths, William McKay and Niall McGinn in the goal-scorers charts does show how “off the boil” the 25-year-old is.

SFL Manager of the Year

I have a much clearer picture of the SFL teams, managers and players, therefore my answers for the next few awards are quite simple. Ian Murray (Dumbarton) has done an incredible job since walking into the ‘Sons’ dugout in late November, at a time were relegation was a certainty. His first managerial match was, however, a disappointing defeat at the hands of Hamilton Academical in the Scottish Cup, but since that game, the 31 year-old has recorded an impressive 10 wins from his 21 games in charge, which included fine victories against the top two teams: Greenock Morton (0-3) and Partick Thistle (2-0).

If the ex-Hibernian, Rangers and Norwich City player can improve his side during the summer, we may see a much stronger, more competent Dumbarton side in the First Division next season.

SFL Player of the Year

I’m going to be very biased here and say Michael Tidser (Greenock Morton). Being a Morton sufferer supporter all these years, Michael has been a breath of fresh air. The central midfielder has catapulted the Greenock side from relegation candidates to promotion chasers. After his contract expired from Ostersunds FK , Morton manager at the time, James Grady, snapped up the hot prospect on an 18 month deal. Four seasons on, and 103 appearances later, the 23-year-old has well and truly earned his place in the hearts of many supporters.

15 goals and 13 assists have been recorded this season, which is an excellent return for a midfielder, and one of the main reasons why Morton were top of the league for many months throughout the season. From his long-range passing, to his simple one-two’s, to his rocket shots from 30 yards out – the boy has it all. With time and care, Tidser has developed into one of, if not, the best midfielder in the current SFL setup. Unfortunately from my perspective, these excellent performances haven’t gone unnoticed, and it looks very likely that, even with a further year left on his current deal, Michael will finally get the big move he deserves this summer.

SFL Young Player of the Year

Nicky Clark (Queen of the South). Son of former West Ham, Rangers and Hearts player, Sandy Clark, Nicky has followed in his father’s footsteps by developing into a clinical striker. The 21-year-old has scored the openers in the Challenge Cup wins against both Hibs and Rangers along with the 1st goal in Challenge Cup Final win against Partick Thsitle. Clark hit his first hat trick of his career in the 4-1 over Peterhead this season, which has contributed to his 35 goals overall this campaign. A very shrewd signing from Peterhead, it must be said.

SFL Flop of the Year

You could pick quite a few from the Rangers team, but I’ll pluck for Francisco Sandaza (Rangers) for two reasons. After signing a lucrative three-year-deal with Rangers, fans and player alike were hoping for big things. However, Francisco could only manage to score two goals in his eight appearances. His season was cut short however, after bizarrely believing a fake call which informed him that an American side were interested in his services.

After admitting that he was only at The Rangers for the money, during this interview, the former Dundee United, St.Johnstone and Brighton player had his contract terminated. Oops.

Most Memorable Moment of Season 2012-13

Again, coming from a Morton fans perspective, the win at Firhill on Boxing Day was a truly special occasion. We were battered for 70 odd minutes and lucky not to be 5 or 6 down, but then, incredibly, we scored 2 goals in the last 6 minutes to secure all three points. The scenes when Scott Taggart volley home that cross will live with me for a very long time.

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