FA honours efforts of dedicated clubs
It may not be the football season, but that hasn’t stopped Haverhill Rovers from scoring a hat-trick.
The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division club recently collected three awards at the Suffolk FA Awards Night, including a regional accolade, while Thurlow Youth FC and Suffolk FA WAYS League were also honoured.
Nearly 200 guests gathered at Trinity Park near Ipswich last Friday for the annual end-of-season event sponsored by McDonald’s, Ransomes Jacobsen and The KBB Centre.
Guest speaker was ex-Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Mark Lawrenson, now a pundit, who took part in a Q&A session.
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 award and Suffolk FA Representative Team Player of the Year award.
Rovers, who last week announced the arrival of Aaron Forshaw from neighbouring Borough, picked up their Suffolk FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year award.
Each category is judged at county level and then regional level, before a national shortlist is created from the regional winners.
And, alongside the county level award, the club also went on to win the regional — East Region and East Midlands — accolade and were able to collect it at the Awards Night.
The club will find out in the coming months if they have been judged the best community club in the nation, with The FA yet to pick a date for the announcement.
But the honours continued for the club as Jason Clarke was also presented with his Coach of the Year award.
Clarke coaches across various age groups from the U-8s up to and including the U-21s.
And Daniel Coe of Thurlow Youth FC also enjoyed his moment as he received the Young Volunteer of the Year award.
A special merit award was presented to former Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Nathan French, in recognition of his services to Suffolk football.
French, who has just stood down as Chairman of the Suffolk FA WAYS League, also collected their award for the FA Charter Standard League of the Year.
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.
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 and 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 10 people at a Colchester United home league game next season.
Former local footballer Russell Langham entertained guests with a comedian’s spot, before taking part in the Q&A with Lawrenson.
Suffolk FA marketing and communications officer Nick Garnham 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 celebrate some of the unsung heroes of grassroots football.”