Amateur League correspondent Alan Hall picks his local ‘Team of the Season’ - the ‘Hall-stars’.
Let’s just say, that in some other years, it’s been harder to get in the team, and perhaps the real local ‘Team of the Season’ were Mossley, with Wellington Rec runners-up.
Apologies for anyone I’ve genuinely forgotten about. Some, perhaps, make the squad more by their past reputation, rather than their form over the past nine months.
GOALKEEPER: Who could forget the exploits of Mossley’s Dwayne Jenkins in those Intermediate Cup shoot outs against Sport and Leisure and Dergview, while Nortel’s Kris Malone made a welcome return from long-term injury – but the number one shirt goes to a player who surely should be playing higher than 1A, CHRIS KEENAN of Larne Tech.
RIGHT-BACK: Contenders here were Scott Todd (Wellington), Chris Monteith (Nortel) and Lee Campbell (Tech), but instead it goes to a player who was part of a defence which ended up with a goal difference of minus 40. Barn United may have missed his goals from midfield, but GARY McKEE has been excellent in what was his original ‘Carrick Rangers’ position.
LEFT-BACK: Arguably one of those who are in on reputation rather than form, but DAVY FREYNE is still a class act, as well as being a natural threat from set pieces. It’s maybe worth also mentioning just how well Kyle McDowell played at left-back in a few games for UUJ, in what manager Billy Youle classes as his best position.
CENTRAL DEFENCE: Representative squad player ELLIOT McKIMM, Nortel, is an automatic choice. However, his defensive partner was the one position that was hardest to fill. Gary Nelson (Wellington), Matthew Devine (Tech), Mark Dean (UUJ), Matthew Sellars (18th), Craig McMurdie (Rathfern) were all in the reckoning, before I plumped for ANDY PHILLIPS (Wellington).
RIGHT-MIDFIELD: Rhys Cleland was in sparkling form for UUJ until missing the closing weeks of the season after his dismissal against Sirocco. In saying that, the place goes to a player whose season was cut short by a leg break against Woodvale, but MARK MARSHALL (18th Newtownabbey) certainly made an impact after arriving from Shankill United, with a high number of assists, as well as ending up as their joint leading goalscorer.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: It was hard to see past NIALL McALLISTER (Larne Tech), who also made the Representative team, and while Willie McMurdie (Nortel) was very much in the frame. But the other midfield slot goes to DOM MELLY who showed his Irish League class after coming to UUJ as player-coach.
LEFT-MIDFIELD: Nortel’s Timmy Clarke, another Representative player, could maybe feel a little hard done by, as the left-midfield position goes to ANDY WAIDE (Wellington), Perhaps not the player of old, but he still ended up as joint leading goalscorer, despite playing four games as stand-in ‘keeper. He also prodeuced an excellent performance in the last game of the season in central midfield.
STRIKERS: The one player who really made the difference to Mossley, the local team of the year, in the run-in was LEE GRAHAM, whose pace was just too much for 1c defences.
There was a temptation to pair Graham with his strike partner Ricky Moore, but instead the last position goes to ANDY KANE, who managed to bag over 20 goals for a Barn side finishing bottom of 1a. Gary Orr (Rathfern) may have been a contender, had his season not come to a premature end through injury.
SUBS: SCOTT TODD (Wellington) would provide cover down the right, as well as in central midfield. Also on the bench is JORDAN CLARKE, who can play anywhere along the middle third and also ended up as Nortel’s leading goalscorer.
The attacking threat from the bench comes from MARK MISKIMMIN. You just can’t ignore someone who started the season playing in the Irish League. As joint-manager of 18th, he has largely been content to sit on the bench, but he has still had enough game time to be the Old Boys’ joint leading goalscorer. For Cup matches, and a five-man bench, they would be joined by midfielder WILLIE McMURDIE (Nortel) and the versatile RICKY MOORE (Mossley). And if you’re wondering why there’s no goalkeeper on a five man bench, who needs one when you’ve got Andy Waide!
MANAGER: An easy choice, GARRY CAMPBELL (Mossley).