Fans can start playing a key role in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s 2013 Players of the Year Awards after voting got underway this week.
Managers and coaches at the Evo-Stik NPL’s 66 clubs are now choosing the campaign’s top performers after receiving their ballot papers while supporters are being asked to nominate the players who’ll be short-listed for the prestigious Fans Player of the Year Award.
Last year’s inaugural event at Barnsley’s Brooklands Holiday Inn was the brainchild of former Manchester City keeper and NPL man Alan Ogley. It returns there again as a unique celebration in the top levels of Non-League football with the focus purely on recognising the success of players and their impact on the campaign, the Evo-Stik NPL’s managers and coaches voting for their favourites by secret ballot.
Polls close on February 28 and the onus is now on the supporters’ accolade which is being organised by the Evo-Stik NPL’s official Facebook group again after their success last year in attracting hundreds of nominations. Hednesford’s Cheyenne Dunkley won the individual laurels after the Pitmen star beat Witton Albion’s Alex Titchiner and Carlton Town’s Ruben Wiggins-Thomas into second and third places respectively.
Organisers say there are three ways for fans to ensure their candidates make this year’s shortlist for judges to choose from – via Facebook or, via Twitter to @TheNPL group using the Hashtag #NPLFPOTY and finally via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporters have until 23.59 on Wednesday 27 February to make their nominations and spokesman James Heyes hopes to see a repeat of last season’s barrage of nominations.
One player alone got the nod from more than 200 fans and Heyes said: “This award is a great way for the fans to give thanks to the players of the league. This is an opportunity to not just represent their clubs but to help their players take their places in history.
“No other league system we know in England offers such an award and to see a player honoured like this at an Evo-Stik NPL League event is fantastic for fans and the group.”
More than three hundred guests packed the Barnsley hotel’s conference suite for 2012 awards which were jointly hosted on stage by League Representative John Jones and BBC 5 Live Non-League Show presenter Caroline Barker.
World Cup referee Howard Jones was guest of honour, handing out honours to players in six individual categories with a Player of the Year and Young Player of Year named for each division. The Premier League referee also honoured the 11 stars who made each division’s Team of the Year and presented former Marine manager Roly Howard with the NPL Merit Award – the veteran being recognised for his remarkable service to football and the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division Mariners after his 1,975 games in charge during a tenure spanning 30 years.
Tickets are now on sale via clubs themselves for players, officials and sponsors hoping to attend the function on Sunday April 7 which is being filmed for the media and includes a three course meal and live entertainment before and after the awards ceremony.
Look out for regular updates on the 2013 NPL Players of the Year Awards over the coming weeks here and on the pages of the league’s official website.