Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer saw off competition from José Mourinho to be named Manager of the Year at the 2017 North West Football Awards last night.
Bowyer was recognised for his sterling work steadying the ship at Bloomfield Road before leading the club back to League One at the first attempt in his first season in charge.
The Seasiders’ promotion, sealed in a 2-1 win against Exeter City in the play-off final, came after Pool had suffered back-to-back relegations.
The two other names on the shortlist were Manchester United boss Mourinho and Phil Parkinson, whose Bolton side won automatic promotion to the Championship.
Other top managers in the North West, such as Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, weren’t even shortlisted.
Meanwhile, Blackpool’s Kelvin Mellor and Fleetwood Town’s Cian Bolger missed out on the League Two and League One player of the year awards respectively.
Mellor, who won The Gazette’s player of the year award last season, was shortlisted for his eye-catching performances at right-back for the Seasiders.
Bolger was a rock at the heart of Uwe Rosler’s defence last season as the Cod Army narrowly missed out on promotion.
One of the night’s big winners was Brian Kidd, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his incredible career in North West football, both as a player and a coach at Manchester United and Manchester City.
In its tenth anniversary year, the North West Football Awards bestowed its inaugural Impact Award to Liverpool Football Club’s James Milner.
The new award recognises the significant positive impact on football in the region and in particular James’ work off the pitch, through the James Milner Foundation, which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help positively change the lives of many people.
The Unsung Hero was awarded posthumously to Gordon Lawton of Oldham Athletic, a club legend described as the ‘heart and soul’ of the club.
Gordon, who passed away in June aged 63, had worked for the Latics for more than 30 years and fulfilled a number of different roles, including programme editor, club commentator, media manager and football secretary, and was a well-known face among players and fans at Boundary Park.
His award was accepted by his wife, Lorraine.
The Fabrice Muamba Award for Outstanding Service to Football Medicine and Science award went to Dr Ian Irving, who recently retired from his role as club doctor at Everton, having worked alongside nine managers during his 39-year tenure.
Laura Wolfe, managing director of Wolfesport and the Leesa North West Football Awards, said: “These awards proudly celebrate 10 years of the best of football, on and off the pitch, from across the region, while remembering some incredible winners over the past 10 years.
“We are proud to honour the dedicated, hard-working, talented and inspirational people from our great football clubs and those businesses that support them. We honour our heroes – some well-known and some unsung – on what is an incredible night of celebration for North West football.
“We are immensely proud of what we have created and wish to congratulate all our finalists and winners.
“Football is much more than just about what happens on the pitch.
“These awards celebrate the clubs, the people and organisations across the sport in our region who are truly leading the way and setting an example for the rest of the UK, across both the men’s and women’s games, positively impacting local communities socially and economically.”