Local football heroes honoured at Suffolk FA Awards Night

Jason Clarke of Haverhill Rovers FC received the Coach of the Year award. He is pictured with Guest

Jason Clarke of Haverhill Rovers FC received the Coach of the Year award. He is pictured with Guest Speaker Mark Lawrenson, centre, and Sue Longley - Credit: Archant

Nick Garnham rounds up a great night at the Suffolk FA Awards in his latest Love Football, Live Football column.

Suffolk FA Representative Team Players of the Year Ryan Yallop (Under-18s) and Natasha Thomas (Ladie

Suffolk FA Representative Team Players of the Year Ryan Yallop (Under-18s) and Natasha Thomas (Ladies) are pictured with Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler, left, and Martin Tuck of HomeStore Self Storage, sponsors of the Ladies� team - Credit: Archant

The biggest and best Awards Night organised by Suffolk FA so far.

That is how organisers summed up this year’s event which was held at Trinity Park on the outskirts of Ipswich last Friday and attended by nearly 200 guests.

The annual end-of-season event was sponsored by McDonald’s, Ransomes Jacobsen and The KBB Centre.

During the course of the evening various awards were made including The FA Community Awards presented by McDonald’s, a referee long-service award, Groundsmen of the Year awards and Suffolk FA Representative Team Player of the Year awards.

A special merit award was presented to former Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Nathan French, in recognition of his services to Suffolk football.

Guest speaker was ex-Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Mark Lawrenson, now a highly respected pundit, who took part in a Q&A session.

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Lawrenson talked about playing in the great Liverpool side who dominated the domestic scene and also enjoyed considerable success in Europe in the 1980s.

Guests of Honour were Shaun Whiter and Joey Abbs, the two local footballers severely injured in a hit-and-run accident in Newmarket last July.

Former Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Nathan French, centre, who received a special merit a

Former Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Nathan French, centre, who received a special merit award is pictured with his wife Joy and Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler - Credit: Archant

They spoke about the support they have since received from the football community, how Shaun has learnt to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs and how Joey has recovered sufficiently to take part in pre-season training with Fulbourn Institute FC.

A total of £1,000 was raised for Shaun and Joey through a game of Heads & Tails for the chance to win match tickets and corporate hospitality for the England versus Slovakia World Cup Qualifier at Wembley on September 4, courtesy of The FA.

The evening also saw guests enter a draw for the chance to win executive suite hospitality for ten people at a Colchester United home league game next season.

Suffolk FA Marketing & Communications Officer Nick Garnham, who co-organised the event, said: “The Awards Night was the biggest and best that we have organised yet.

“The event was a great way to bring the curtain down on the football season and also celebrate some of the unsung heroes of grassroots football across the county.”

Awards were presented as follows:

Referee Long Service Award: Daryl Butcher – 25 years.

Groundsman of the Year Awards: 1st Tony Adams (Claydon FC), 2nd Bryan Symonds (Bacton Utd 89 FC), 3rd Dave Shave on behalf of Michael Brundish (Old Newton Utd FC).

Suffolk FA Awards

Ladies’ Player of the Year: Natasha Thomas

Under-18 Player of the Year: Ryan Yallop

Merit Award: Nathan French

FA Community Awards presented by McDonald’s

FA Charter Standard League of the Year: Suffolk FA WAYS League; Highly Commended: Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League

Best Inclusive Project: Touchline SIL Ability Counts League

FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year: Haverhill Rovers FC, who also collected the Regional award

FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year: Stowupland Falcons FC

FA Charter Standard Club of the Year: Thurston FC; Highly Commended: Beccles Town FC

Coach of the Year: Jason Clarke (Haverhill Rovers FC)

Outstanding Contribution to Community Football: Gordon McKenzie (Beccles Town FC); Highly Commended Daniel Frost (Woodbridge Town FC)

Young Volunteer of the Year: Daniel Coe (Thurlow Youth FC)

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