Perfect end to perfect season

Chairman Andy Pilley presents the Player of the Year award to Jamie Vardy

Chairman Andy Pilley presents the Player of the Year award to Jamie Vardy

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IF this was to be Jamie Vardy’s farewell to Fleetwood Town, it was the perfect send-off.

Saturday’s celebration day for the Conference champions culminated in the Player of the Season awards, which the 25-year-old unsurprisingly dominated.

Vardy was named manager’s, players’ and supporters’ player of the year at the celebration in Jim’s Bar at Highbury Stadium, which rounded off a tremendous day in which the players and management paraded the Blue Square Bet Premier Trophy around the town.

After the Cod Army clung firmly to their star asset throughout January’s transfer window in order for him to complete his assignment of helping shoot the club into League Two, many now expect chairman Andy Pilley to cash in on Vardy over the summer to subsidise his squad strengthening.

Pilley told The Gazette last week that talks are ongoing with numerous clubs, with Leicester City – the striker’s likeliest destination, according to the latest national media reports.

All but three of Vardy’s 34 goals last season came in the league, helping to propel the club to the pinnacle of non-league football and keep them there. They clinched the title with two games to spare.

He could have scored even more, but signed from Halifax only four games into a campaign which Town had started erratically.

Town managed only one goal in their first three home games before a 3-1 victory over Gateshead on September 10 transformed their fortunes at Highbury. They lost only one of their next 36 league games.

Vardy netted his first two Highbury goals against the Tyneside club, but it was Andy Mangan’s opener, a long-range thunderbolt, which was named home goal of the season in the voting.

Indeed, amid Vardy’s heroics the contribution of his strike partner was perhaps overshadowed, and this award was fitting recognition of Mangan’s efforts.

Mangan netted 20 of his own, and looks set to add to the Football League experience he gained at Accrington and Bury with Town next season. The 25-year-old Liverpudlian, who started his career as a Blackpool trainee and made his first two League appearances as a substitute in 2004/5, thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations which started with the trophy presentation after the final game of the season.

Mangan: said “I feel like I have been celebrating promotion for about four weeks now.

“It has been amazing. The whole town deserves it, the chairman deserves it and the manager, staff and players. Everybody worked so hard all season and it’s only come to fruition now.

“I think that when you win a trophy you have to enjoy it, but I believe this club will win more things.

“Saturday was a great day, and it was lovely to see the fans out showing their support for the lads and the staff.

“It’s nice for our families too. A few of the players brought their kids on the bus, and I had my little boy out on the pitch last week. They have been here all season as well and they’re very, very happy for us.”

Paul Hearty, manager of the girls’ under-14 side, was named clubman of the year, while supporter of the year was Dave ‘Docs’ Daniels.