Hinckley AFC manager Carl Abbott said it wasn’t a surprise that Ryan Seal and Lee Butler ended as the top two in the Supporters’ Player of the Year award.
Captain Seal has plundered 56 goals in all competitions this year, and edged out midfielder Butler to win the supporters’ accolade.
And Abbott said both players are vitally important and hold a great connection with the fans. He said: “He (Seal) is a great entertainer. It’s unsurprising that he and Lee Butler were the top two in the supporters’ award because they’re the two real champions for the fans.
“Sealy is the razzle-dazzle in the side and 56 goals from a player who isn’t a centre forward is sensational. Lee Butler is the fan with the shirt and both of them are important players for our football club and for the supporters.”
During his time handing out awards, Abbott also reserved praise for all his backroom staff and said Paul Tomlinson, Simon Mellor, Ian Nichol, Sam Palmer and Dave Gunn were all pivotal to the club’s successes this season.
“I can’t function without them. I’ve learnt such a lot from Tommo. He wasn’t on the backroom staff at my old club and when I was appointed here I perhaps felt I was a better manager than I actually was.
“I think I was a good young manager but I’ve learnt such a lot under Tommo – I say under Tommo because that’s the respect I have for the man. I wouldn’t want to work without him right now because I’m not ready to. He’s a real guiding hand for me.
“Simon’s a great support. We’re really developing as a team between us. He’s an innovative young coach who has great experience with young players and brings a lot to the set up.
“Sam’s a great guy. He’s enthusiastic, passionate about the club now and if he wasn’t our physio he’d come and watch every game. He loves it, loves the lads and equally we love having Sam around.
“And what can I say about Geordie? I demand so much from him for very little back in his direction other than enjoyment but the set up we have is unbelievable. When Geordie’s not here it doesn’t happen. If he went tomorrow we wouldn’t replace him.”
And with the junior and senior sections all coming together to celebrate the last nine months, Abbott stressed the importance of seeing both facets of the club present.
“It’s been a great night. It’s great to see the junior and senior sections of the football club all come together. There were a good 250 people in there I’d estimate and there was a really good feel about it.
That was a sentiment echoed by Tomlinson, who said: “It’s wonderful to see all the different age groups, the girls and the young lads coming through. That’s what this football club ultimately is about – it’s a community within football and within Hinckley.”
Tomlinson also reflected on Andy Westwood and James Williams, who both won awards doubles. The duo shared the Players’ Player of the Year award after the vote ended as a tie, while Westwood picked up the Manager’s Player of the Year and Williams the Young Player award.
“They’ve both made huge impacts. Westy has been tremendous from the moment he walked into the club. He’s a bagful of energy, he’s great to be around and he’s always got a smile on his face. You don’t realise what you’ve got with Westy until he’s not there.
“For James, as a youngster coming through in his first season of first team football, he’s really come of age. They’re both deserving of their awards tonight because they’ve both been tremendous.”
And reflecting on the season as a whole, Mellor said it was important that the club continued to progress – and he feels it has.
“It’s been a good season where we’ve built momentum. Progression is what we’re about. This is three years in the making and we’re not the finished article yet, nowhere near it, but we’ve improved massively over the three seasons.
“To finish second behind Bromsgrove is a big achievement for us this year. Nobody knew Bromsgrove were going to go the whole season without losing a game and fair play to them, they’ve been fantastic. Paul (Smith, Bromsgrove manager) has done a great job.
“We tried to keep up with them as much as we could but unfortunately this year we were a bit short. Next year, though, we’re confident we’re going to give it a good go.”