GENUINE stars of the county soccer scene were honoured as Somerset Football Association held its annual awards evening.
The occasion, witnessed by more than 200 enthusiastic people gathered at Somerset County Cricket Club’s Taunton HQ, was an opportunity for Somerset FA to recognise and reward outstanding contribution and achievement to football by leagues, clubs and volunteers within Somerset over the last 12 months.
Awards were presented within 27 different categories on the evening, eight of which were sponsored by McDonald’s through the FA’s Community Awards scheme, while selected awards were sponsored by Ivan Rendall and Co Accountants, Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP) and Bridgwater College.
The first three awards pertained to Charter Standard Club of the Season, which saw Whitchurch JFC take the ‘club’ prize, Chew Valley JFC the ‘development’ honours and Avishayes Combe JFC /Combe St Nicholas FC the ‘community’ category.
Each club were said to have gone that “extra mile” in providing “top-notch footballing opportunities” in the local area.
Volunteer of the Season went to the “very impressive” Bill Knowles, who has been a “superb servant” for Minehead FC.
Elsewhere Taunton & District Saturday League representatives were proud recipients of the Charter Standard League of the Season.
The organisation is one of Somerset’s leading Charter Standard Leagues and not content with that, it also picked up the South West Regional Award within this particular category.
The Somerset Floodlight Under-18 League was also recognised on the evening for its “superb efforts” in gaining Charter Standard League status during the season.
Elsewhere, there were deserved awards for Young Referee of the Season, and Female Referee of the Season, to Ryan Sainsbury and Stacey Pearson respectively, who have both built up reputations as two of the best young referees in the county.
Savvas Yianni took home the prestigious Referee of the Season award, while Kevin Johnson was awarded for his Outstanding Achievement in Refereeing by gaining Football League status.
The Somerset County League (commended), Blackmore Vale League (commended), Taunton and District Saturday League (bronze) and Yeovil Mini League (bronze) picked up Respect League Awards for “super efforts” in promoting and implementing the FA’s Respect programme throughout the season.
The Welfare Officer of the Season award went to Sara Barrow (Wembdon JFC) for her “tremendous efforts” with safeguarding children, while Milborne Port Under-8s, and Bishop Lydeard Under-14s, picked up the boys’ and girls’ Fair Play awards for the season.
Dave Aries (Tone Youth secretary) received County Grassroots Heroes awards. while Aries’ “astonishing efforts and commitment” saw him receive numerous nominations within the local area.
The county association’s chief executive Jon Pike said: “I would like to congratulate all of the winners on their thoroughly deserved awards. All of them have done an outstanding job in their particular field and I am pleased that we can recognise and acknowledge that achievement.
“To win one of these awards is very difficult as we are very lucky in Somerset to have many excellent volunteers at clubs throughout the county. While we are recognising the very best of our volunteers, I should also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteer workforce, without which grassroots football could not survive.”