Haggerty takes Player of the Year gong

David Haggerty (right) receives his Player of the Year award from retiring physio Mick Cunningham. Photo/Sportsshots Photography
David Haggerty (right) receives his Player of the Year award from retiring physio Mick Cunningham. Photo/Sportsshots Photography

Matlock Town fans have picked David Haggerty as their Player of the Year - a decision endorsed by Gladiators boss Mark Atkins.

A packed Autoworld Arena applauded Haggerty as he walked to the stage to be presented with his Matlock Mercury-sponsored award by retiring club physio Micky Cunningham.

The central defender proved to be rock solid at the heart of a Matlock defence that was proving difficult to breach.

However, in his 40th game and just a week after opening his scoring account for the Gladiators in a 3-1 win at Ilkeston, Haggerty suffered a severe facial injury in a surprise home defeat to Stafford Rangers on March 15 to bring his season to a premature conclusion.

But Matlock fans had clearly seen enough and it was very much a landslide victory for Haggerty over fellow contenders Jon Kennedy, Danny Holland, Micky Harcourt and Adam Yates.

Paying tribute to Haggerty Atkins said: “He’s had a great first season. He’s been very consistent, a tower of strength and one of the main reasons why we’ve had such a great defensive record this season.

“Since his injury he’s been badly missed, his injury coming at a crucial stage of the season when we were in with a reasonable shout of the play-offs.

“One of the biggest compliments I can pay him is that in effect he’s come in for James Lukic which was always going to be a big ask, but really with David being in there, we haven’t really missed James and that’s something I never thought would happen.”

Atkins recognised the difficulty in Haggerty moving from Matlock’s fiercest rivals Buxton last term, adding: “In many ways he came here with a point to prove having not got in Buxton’s side for the final couple of months of last season.

“He came to us in pre-season, looked fantastic in training and all throughout the year his standards never dropped.”

Haggerty is already preparing for the 2014/15 campaign.

“When he was hurt he wasn’t able to eat so he’s running and building himself up for next season,” added Atkins.

He knows he’s got to replace the body weight he lost, so he’s been building up his fitness. I know he can’t wait for next season to start.”

Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy received a watch from sponsor C J Sellors after being voted as Players’ Player of the Year while defender Oscar Radford took the Young Player of the Yeaer award.

The Steven Greenhough Goalscorer of the Year Award was won by Danny Holland, back with the Gladiators after a ten-year absence, his 19 league and cup strikes being sufficient to come out on top.

Clubperson of the Year turned out to be the threesome of John Maddocks, Alan Alesbrook and Bob Lake, who spend endless hours at the ground during the week carrying out maintenance jobs.

Atkins told the Autoworld Lounge audience: “You’ve got a great football club here.”

Thanking the many volunteers behind the scenes for their work during the season, he said: “Everyone’s behind each other here, there’s a really good spirit about the place.

“The players have been great at home but so have the fans who’ve given us terrific backing, this is a two way thing. A lot of people work very hard at this football club and they deserve success,

“I feel the club’s set up to move forward so we must now make that next step and try to get promoted into Conference North.”

The reserves and under 19 teams’ presentations also took place.

Reserves manager Matt Norton nominated Jack Griffiths for the manager’s top player with the players voting for Marco Taafe.

The under 19s had their league championship trophy on show and their awards went to James Rogers (manager’s player), Sam Lavelle (players’ player), Alex Bradshaw who at 16 broke into the first team squad (top scorer) and Dec Jenkins who was awarded the Most Impactive Player trophy.

At the end of the awards physio Micky Cunningham received special recognition from chief executive Keith Brown and Atkins, and was presented with a shirt signed by the first team squad, a framed photograph of him with the players and a painted portrait.