The PFA Scotland awards may have been last night and ended with Michael Higdon being arrested for an alleged assault outside the ‘hot bed of footballers and women whose goal in life is to be a WAG’ Corinthians nightclub on Ingram Street.
The Scotzine End of Year Football Awards 2013 may be minus the late night shenanigans of footballers, the big fancy awards bash and the after party, but you can still vote for your winners of each category up until the 26th May.
Over the past few weeks we have asked our contributors to select their winners from each category and up next is Raith Rovers fan blogger Iain Wallace to select his candidates.
SPL Manager of the Year
Motherwell’s outstanding season makes Stuart McCall a shoe-in for SPL manager of the year. There is undoubtedly competition in this category, not least because I write this in the wake of Terry Butcher’s Highland Jags’ 4-3 victory over the Steelmen. Albeit, with little chance of usurping second place from the ‘Well. Similarly, Neil Lennon has answered many of his critics with Celtic’s performance this year, however, his real achievements have come outwith the SPL, such as in the Champion’s League, while his side have been far from infallible the domestic competition.
Whereas, the consistency Motherwell have demonstrated, not to mention the way in which McCall has got the very best out of players – from the mercurial Ojaama to the lethal Higdon, as well the welcome return to form of one James McFadden – underlines McCall’s quality and his ability to maximise performance within a limited budget.
Honourable mention: Terry Butcher, Neil Lennon
SPL Player of the Year
There can be little doubt that Leigh Griffiths is a headline-generating machine. His confidence, creativity and mercurial nature mean he can steal the show with no warning and create something, where it looked like there was nothing… and is also good at football.
Having found his goal-scoring form again Griffiths has led a less than outstanding Hibs side to a creditable league position, and is, in large-part responsible for their turn-around in fortunes from last season. He has stolen points when they looked to have been forfeited on numerous occasions, often with outstanding individual efforts, be it mazey-runs or long-range screamers. There can be no better example than his timeout winner – his second of the match – against Falkirk in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Honourable mention: Victor Wanyama
SPL Young Player of the Year
I can understand Neil Lennon’s surprise at his squad’s lack of representation in the player of the year stakes, and particularly at one omission, namely the pacy, hard-tackling, composed, creative box-to-box-midfield-dynamo-and-all-around-good-guy Victor Wanyama.
He has been central to many of Celtic’s best performances this year, not least against Barcelona, and has, at different times, relied on every facet of his considerable repertoire. His strength, pace, technique and composure are hard to rival individually, but combined into one humble, hard-working package in the 21-year old Wanyama make him a hugely exciting prospect and one of Celtic’s most valuable assets. Indeed, it is only because of my desire to discuss as many players as possible that he finds himself nominated for young player of the year in this list.
Honourable mention: Tony Watt
SPL Flop of the Year
Dundee. Despite their bluster, their excuses, their world-is-against-us outlook, the fact is they are lucky to be in the SPL and have succeeded only in setting a perfect example for how to make the least of the opportunity. Having ultimately benefited from previous financial irresponsibility, they found themselves in the SPL with essentially a clean slate and have failed, with the notable exception of the last fortnight, to go out with anything more than a whimper.
Dens enjoys a creditable attendance of avid supporters, as well as regular large turn-outs on derby day, and yet the most interesting narrative emerging from Dens Park this year was their replacement manager, John Brown, who introduced himself to the club with a training ground scrap with stalwart Rab Douglas.
If they can hold on to their core squad at the end of this season, they shall be a formidable force in the First Division and could well find themselves back in the SPL soon.
Dishonourable mention: Heart of Midlothian
SFL Manager of the Year
To achieve what he has in his first full season in management is astonishing enough, but to do it with, albeit diminished, playing responsibilities too is testament to the ability of Allan Johnston and his Palmerston staff.
A league a cup double with a dominant Queens will no doubt salve the memory of those fans still smarting over their poor performances in, and ultimate relegation from, the First Division in 2012.
Assuming they can be retained, it is possible that the Queen of the South squad will require minimal additions to be competitive in the First Division and, indeed, with some key signings, could be looking to do more than consolidate their First Division status.
Honourable mention: Alan Archibald
SFL Player of the Year
Greenock Morton’s Michael Tidser has had an outstanding year in the centre of midfield for a Morton side who came close to promotion to the SPL, and has rightly be nominated for the First Division player of the year award, as well as the team of the year.
It so happens that I am particularly appreciative of Tidser’s style, and the role he occupies in the Morton team, however, there can be little argument with the way Tidser combines ability and intelligence. A skillful attacking midfielder, Tidser has been central to the Morton campaign, not only by scoring and creating goals directly, but by controlling play and distributing the ball effectively and with composure. He is the metronome by which the Greenock band play. If there can be one criticism levelled at him and his team-mates it is Morton’s over-reliance on his influence, and it is well understood that by containing Tidser, one often de-fangs the Morton team.
Honourable mention: Chris Erskine
SFL Young Player of the Year
Cutting a recognisable figure as the attacking focus for an otherwise mediocre Hamilton Accies side, the 20-year-old Stevie May has had a break-out year, on loan from St Johnstone. With limited opportunities May has streaked ahead in the First Division scoring race with 24 goals, and presumably the highest conversion rate. Reports from St.Johnstone suggest manager Steve Lomas is not as eager as he might be to incorporate young players into the first team, which surely makes May hot transfer property.
Honourable mention: Jordan Allan
SFL Flop of the Year
Despite limited financial means, a strong academy (which produced Scotland’s youngest ever league debutant in Jordan Allan) and good facilities, Airdrie fans should be able to expect more from their team than their woeful First Division performance. Their relegation looked set from the first few weeks of the season and the team looked resigned to their fate, lacking any semblance of fighting spirit. However, the Diamonds did at least manage to shock a complacent Dunfermline at East End Park on the last day of the season, stealing all three points and consigning the Pars’ to the First/Second Division play-off.
Dishonourable mention: Dunfermline Athletic
Most Memorable moment of Season 2012-2013
Despite their respective underwhelming league campaigns, St Mirren and Hearts both showed up for an exhilarating league cup final at Hampden Park. An end-to-end affair, this high scoring match was a superb advert for Scottish football which took place in an electric atmosphere and with a minimum of trouble among fans or players. Notably, it involved neither of the old firm, and, maybe as a result, feature two uninhibited sides playing with hunger and enterprise, rather than caginess and fear. If only St Mirren had attended the league restructure vote in the same mind-set.
For a Raith fan it was particularly pleasing to see Danny Lennon raising the cup to rapturous noise from the Paisley faithful, as the ex-Rovers midfielder was denied the opportunity to play in the ’94 cup-winning game due to injury.
Honourable mention: Celtic 2-1 Barcelona