Holly Walker won both first-team player of the year awards at Crawley Wasps’ presentation evening on Saturday, with stalwart Michelle Ward honoured for her 20 years at the club.
Meanwhile, Jodie Barker, Lauren Graves, Chanelle Gainsford and Eleanor Keegan were among the main winners in the youth section.
Chairman Alan Dunt said: “It was a good night as always. There was a lot of emotion there – I think when you get involved with the club, it becomes close to your heart.”
Here’s where the awards went…
Named after our main club sponsor, the Thales Award is new for 2017 and is designed to honour anyone within the club for their outstanding commitment to Crawley Wasps LFC.
The first recipient was vice-captain Michelle Ward, who has now been with Wasps for 20 seasons. She rose up through the youth ranks from a very young age and remains a key figure in the first team, being named our player of the match in the League Cup final against Leyton Orient last month.
“There was no more deserving winner, she’s been a credit to the club”
First-team boss and Wasps vice-chairman Paul Walker.
Ladies – first team
Players’ player of the year/manager’s player of the year: Holly Walker; Most improved player: Jade Elphick; Squad player (for exemplary commitment): Hannah Duncan
Centre-back Holly Walker picked up the top two trophies, after an excellent season which included selection for the Sussex FA representative team and jointly winning the most number of player of the match awards in the London & South East Premier Division.
Midfielder Jade Elphick was named most improved player. She arrived in the summer having played at a lower level with Haywards Heath and Hassocks, but stepped up with a string of composed performances in the middle of the park.
Captain Hannah Duncan – who is also one of the Under-12s coaches – was given the squad player award for her commitment to the team.
“In the tougher games, Holly has always performed. That is what tipped the balance for us.”
First-team boss Paul Walker.
Players’ player of the year: Jessica Rippin; Manager’s player of the year: Natalie Stephenson; Most improved player: Hope Laker; Squad player (for exemplary commitment): Zoe Martin
Former first-team captain Natalie Stephenson has enjoyed a renaissance under reserve-team boss Simon Pavey, who named her his player of the year after a season in which she chipped in with seven goals.
At 19, goalkeeper Hope Laker is showing mature and brave performances beyond her years in the Wasps’ goal – she was also given a first-team bow in an Women’s FA Cup tie at Abbey Rangers in September.
One of the loudest rounds of applause on the night was reserved for Zoe Martin, the reserves’ captain who was given the squad player for her determination to return to football just four months after husband Carl was paralysed in a motorcycle track day accident.
Players’ player of the year/squad player (for exemplary commitment): Jodie Barker; Manager’s player of the year: Chloe Baines; Most improved player: Abbie Chart; Golden boot: Lily Beckett.
Jodie Barker went away with two awards – players’ player of the year and the squad player, for her hard work and encouragement of others.
Midfielder Mark Hills and coach Mark Barker selected Chloe Baines (pictured) as their player of the year, while Abbie Chart took the most improved player, after stepping up her game this season.
Lily Beckett also picked up a trophy after finishing as the team’s top scorer, with 12 goals.
“Mark Barker and I are really proud of the girls and the hard work they have put in.
We are now preparing to move into ladies football, a new challenge we are all looking forward to.”
Mark Hills, Under-16s manager
Players’ player of the year: Chanelle Gainsford and Eleanor Keegan; Manager’s player of the year: Lauren Graves; Most improved player: Macy Watts; Squad player: Chloe Upton.
You couldn’t split the top two in the players’ player of the year vote – Chanelle Gainsford and Eleanor Keegan shared the trophy after excellent performances against the boys of the Mid Sussex League.
Goalkeeper Lauren Graves was kept busy at times during a difficult but rewarding season and constantly impressed with her saves, earning her the player of the year nod from manager Roy Stannard and coach Emma Wood.
Chloe Upton took the squad player of the year for her commitment to the cause.
A selection of Wasps’ younger players were presented with medals as a reward for their efforts this season.