IT is that time of year again – the search is on for the Seasiders Premier League player of the year.
Not so long ago, the winners of this award were the likes of Martin Bullock, John Hills and Peter Clarke.
All great lads, but who would have thought then that the club would have made the progress it has in such a few, short remarkable years? Nearly everyone in the squad is a contender for the prize this year.
Charlie Adam, last year’s winner of the Gazette award, again leads the way, after enjoying yet another superb season. He has 10 goals for the campaign and his inspirational displays have helped lead the team to nine Premier League victories... some pundits didn’t think Pool would get nine points, let alone nine wins.
DJ Campbell has scored nine goals, making his £1.25m price tag – the most the Seasiders have ever paid for a player – look like a snip.
David Vaughan has taken to the Premier League like the proverbial duck to water, while Ian Evatt may just be having the season of his life – a rock at the back who has proved himself the equal of the top flight’s most deadly strikers. Craig Cathcart’s maiden season at Bloomfield Road has been a triumph, while Stephen Crainey has once again barely put a foot wrong.
Then there are the likes of Luke Varney, Elliot Grandin and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who have all had years to remember.
It is down to you, who we crown as player of the year, so please get your votes in as soon as possible.
All you have to do is email your top three players, in order of preference, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone who emails will be entered into a draw to win a signed Blackpool shirt. Closing date for entries is Monday, May 2.
A commemorative Gazette page and gift will be presented to the winning player at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony.
In the meantime, here is football writer STEVE CANAVAN with a reminder of the top contenders.
Those who wondered whether Adam could do the business at the top level have had their answer: the 25-year-old really is one of the best players in the game. He has stood out all year, his sublime passing, his skill on the ball, and his 10 goals so far making him probably the pick of anyone in a tangerine shirt. No wonder Liverpool and Tottenham, plus many others, wanted him in January. Thankfully Karl Oyston’s stubborn streak was, for once, welcomed by Pool fans, as he resisted all bids. Adam has cemented his place in the Scotland squad - a bonus as the lad truly loves playing for his country - and is destined to become of the country’s leading midfielders over the next few years. In a very short space of time he has forever etched himself into the Blackpool history books and in years to come, the supporters who’ve seen him regularly over the last two years will realise how lucky they were
There were those who doubted Campbell would ever properly fulfil his potential, but this season he has shown exactly what he can do. What he needed was a club and a set of fans which appreciated his efforts, and a manager with complete faith in him. At Blackpool he’s found that. Holloway ditched his policy of only paying big money for players under the age of 26 by breaking the Seasiders transfer record to sign 29-year-old Campbell from Leicester. A summer long chase for the player ended with a £1.25m deal on deadline day in August. He’s been one of the first names on the team-sheet ever since and has responded with many match-winning displays and some big goals, against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. Pity he picked up the red card at Wolves but at least he’ll return fresh and champing at the bit for the final seven games. A big player
One of those lads who has given his all ever since walking into Bloomfield Road when the club was at the wrong end of League One in 2006. A crowd favourite because of the way he plays - putting his body on the line time and time again and making countless number of last-ditch blocks, tackles and clearances. But far from being daunted by the Premier League, he has simply upped his game once more and at the age of 29 is in the form of his life. One wondered whether he’d be able to make the step up when he was red-carded at Arsenal second game in. We shouldn’t have doubted him. Evatt has been majestic ever since and has formed a superb central defensive partnership with Craig Cathcart. Scored a Premier League goal too, in the 2-2 draw at Bolton
The quiet man of the club does his talking on the pitch, and my has he been talking. Still seems incredible that when he first came to Blackpool no one particularly rated him. Playing under Simon Grayson as a left winger, he did OK but nothing more. He wouldn’t have been missed had he been left out. And yet now ... what a transformation. Holloway’s midfield three has rejuvenated the Welshman’s career. He was great last season but this year, despite the quality of the opposition, he has been even better. Keeps things simple, rarely gives away the ball and a real asset to the side. He has had a terrific year, chipping in with two goals, against Everton and West Brom. Also becoming a key man for Wales, and made a big impression against England after coming off the bench on Saturday. Gary Speed probably won’t leave him out again
Such a good player it sometimes easy to forget the lad is only 22. So calm and unruffled, and he reads the game as well an anyone. Reminiscent of a young Rio Ferdinand, which perhaps isn’t such a surprise given that Cathcart came through the ranks at Old Trafford, where Ferdinand was one of his heroes. Holloway had been trying to sign Cathcart while Blackpool were in the Championship. Finally landed him on the eve of this season for £500,000. Money well spent. Holloway already believes Cathcart will one day end up back at United and become an Old Trafford regular. We hope it won’t be for a while yet
Crainey had a bit of a nightmare in his first Premier League away game, given a torrid afternoon by Arsenal’s rocket-heeled Theo Walcott. Ever the consummate pro, Crainey went away, learned from the experience and came back 20 times stronger. The Scot has been magnificent this season and his importance to the team was underlined when he suffered an injury in January. How the team missed him during his six weeks out, and they looked much better at Blackburn last time out with Crainey back in the line up. Good left backs are hard to come by. It’s a pity the club has yet to persuade the 29-year-old to sign a new deal - it would be a huge loss if he were to depart in the summer
Might have had a tricky spell of late but Varney lit up the first half of the season with some wonderful performances and five big goals. None were better than the delicious right-footed effort against Wolves, when he cut in off the left wing and scored a goal he’ll never forget, especially as it was witnessed by Royalty ... Prince William in the stand, celebrating a mate’s stag do. Varney’s enthusiasm is infectious and his commitment to the cause has been a big influence. He is the kind of player every team needs - runs till the end and never gives up. Seemed back to his best at Blackburn and will want to add a couple more goals to his tally before the season ends
It is when Taylor-Fletcher isn’t in the starting line up that you realise how important he is to the team. The lad should be respected by fans everywhere - he has played at every level from the Evo-Stick league to the Premier. And even in this top division, he still does a job and does it well. His main asset is his skill on the ball. He has the ability to drift past opponents and get himself a yard of space. He is deceptively quick too. Always chips in with vital goals and has scored four this season, including the winner at home to Liverpool. Opponents find him hard to mark and a much-respected figure inside the dressing room. The £90,000 Simon Grayson paid to Huddersfield for his services in 2007 seems a snip
The very definition of an unknown quality when he signed days before the start of the season from CSKA Sofia. Holloway had never seen him in the flesh, deciding to take a gamble after watching the 23-year-old on a DVD. It proved an inspired move, the fleet-footed, attack-minded midfielder fitting in perfectly. Like David Vaughan. Holloway’s system suits him perfectly. He plays at the tip of a three-man midfield, linking with the strikers. The only thing lacking is goals - the recent header against Aston Villa the only time he’s hit the back of the net. But has bags of potential and if he can shrug off the hamstring problems which have dogged him all season, he will certainly be someone to look out for next year