DOESN’T time fly? Why, it only seems like 12 months ago since we last opened the voting to find the Gazette’s Blackpool FC player of the season...
But here we go again, and this time you might have your work cut out to pick a winner.
It has been a terrific year with several players staking a claim to be top man and follow in the footsteps of last year’s recipient David Vaughan. The year before that, Charlie Adam scooped the Gazette prize – this year’s winner has some big boots to fill. We want you to send us your player of the season and runner up. Email your choice to: russell.kingston@blackpool gazette.co.uk or alternatively write to: Blackpool FC player of the season, The Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool, FY42DP.
Everyone who enters will be included in a draw to win a signed shirt and ball.
Voting will close on Friday May 4, with the Gazette winner receiving his prize at the club’s official end of season awards bash. The date for that has yet to be set, mainly because no one yet knows when the season will end.
If you’re struggling who to go for, here is football writer STEVE CANAVAN with a reminder of the main candidates...
The keeper has been in outstanding form from the opening night at Hull, when he made some top-class saves and helped Pool to victory. Persuading the 29-year-old to sign a new contract in the summer might just have been the best bit of business Ian Holloway did. If Gilks had stayed fit throughout the Premier League campaign, Pool would probably have stayed up. A vital part of the team, he has started 41 games, missing just four games over Christmas and New Year, when Mark Howard stepped in. Five clean sheets in last six
As value-for-money signings go, you’d be hard-pressed to find better than Baptiste. He cost just £5,000 from a Mansfield Town team that had been relegated to the Conference four years ago. But he quickly proved just how good he was, making the step up to the Championship with ease. So classy he can play anywhere along the back-line but has recently nailed down the centre half spot – his favoured position. Captain when Barry Ferguson isn’t involved. Holloway labels him his ‘best defender’
What can you say about Evo that hasn’t already been uttered? The lad is going to go down as a Seasiders legend. Joined the club when they were third-bottom of League One and has been a regular throughout their rise up the divisions. Every time you think he might be struggling, he seems to find another gear and the rare occasions he is out of the team is when you realise how important he is. Turned 30 this year and became a dad to twins but his performances on the pitch have remained as good as ever
Aside from the shock of a recent spell out of the side – Bob Harris coming in and doing a superb job – Mr Reliable has again done the business. The manager always knows what he will get from the Scot because he never lets anyone down. You can count his bad performances on one finger. Also had his best goal-scoring year – three goals! Crainey scored a beauty in the home game with Birmingham, racing into the box and finishing like a top-class striker; popped a free-kick into the top corner against Portsmouth; and notched again on Saturday
There were a few raised eyebrows when Ian Holloway shelled out £750,000 for the 33-year-old last summer but Ferguson has shown why he has had such a glittering career, bringing a wealth of experience to the side and adding a bit of much-needed solidity to the team. Pool attack so often that they need someone to sit back in case the opposition wins possession and breaks. Ferguson has done that, quietly but effectively, every week of the season
First half of the season it seemed as though the jet-heeled winger was going to have a frustrating campaign. And when he was shipped out on loan to Sheffield United, there were even rumblings that his Seasiders career might be in doubt. Holloway insisted he only allowed the 21-year-old out to get his confidence up.What a masterstroke by the manager. Phillips scored six in as many games at Bramall Lane, then 10 in 10 on his return to Bloomfield Road. Looks like the complete player and induces panic in any defence
Took a while for the 20-year-old to break into the team but boy has he made an impression in the second half of the season. Arrived raw and untested after spending the majority of the last few years in Liverpool’s reserve team. I daresay they’d have him in their first team now if they could. Started 21 league games and scored six times. Plenty of standout moments, none better than his double against Doncaster; coming off the bench late on with the Seasiders 1-0 down, he scored two fantastic goals to clinch a dramatic victory
Eight goals in 37 appearances, it has been another good return from a fella who just keeps on producing the goods. Deceptively quick and ultra-comfortable on the ball, Taylor-Fletcher finished last season by scoring at Old Trafford ... and opened this one with a stunning volley at Hull. Scored an absolute blinder at Doncaster, too, and continues to be a hugely-valued member of Ian Holloway’s playing staff
“I know it’s Kevin Phillips – a legend – but he’s 38. Surely he’s past it?” That’s what thousands of Blackpool fans were heard uttering during the summer… good job we’re not managers. Holloway knows his stuff. Phillips shows class is permanent by consistently scoring goals all season. So many gems – his volley at Brighton, the pearler to beat Millwall, the braces against Brighton, Leicester and Peterborough. Sixteen goals in 19 starts