AFC Mansfield U18's under the watchful eye of Graham Caller scooped both League Championships. Below are pictures from the presentation and Graham's speech.
"Well what can I say, thank you all for coming to celebrate what can only be described as a great season, Double League Champions, how sweet does that sound?
Played 41 in all competitions scoring 196 goals (4.78 goals per game), lost only once in the leagues, undefeated in the Rowsley Sunday League. It’s safe to say we wern’t a cup team this year, something we aim to put right next season, but when the manager of your nearest rivals is ringing around other managers asking “how do we beat them” you know you are doing something right.
I cannot be any prouder than I am of this bunch of lads, so much hard work and dedication in training, on the pitch and even off the field through social media, in the end it all paid off and they got exactly what they deserved.
So were here to celebrate and to honour those that have helped us to achieve what we have done this season, we will hand out club trophies, stop for a drink or three, something to eat, then we will do the individual trophies, and then drink time and karaoke."
Our No1 nearly all season, this lad has improved throughout his game, his kicking is superb, handling great, but what makes him stand out is his voice, (not sure where he gets it from) its like having a 12th man on the pitch and I know the lads feel confident with him behind them. Played for the u21,s winning the league cup and gaining runners up medal in the league he’s one of our vice captains.
Joined us halfway through, his season has been heavily disrupted through work, when he’s played he’s never let us down, would like to see more from him next year.
Hard season for Reace having quality keepers in front of him, he needed to move upon Liams arrival in order to secure game time, another one that when he’s played he’s not let us down.
Out team captain, an ever present and first name on the team sheet, I refused to play a game once because this lad was away, and rightly or wrongly we have relied on him so much this season, he’s a natural, and has led us to achieve what we have this season.
My ever present centre back, has progressed so much this season, always give’s 110% effort, has found his voice this year. Another that broke into the u21’s this season. Has controlled his defence with confidence , one with a great future.
Joined us halfway through the season, and immediately forced his way into the starting line up, been ever present since. This lad is as calm as they come, does all the basics right, a no frills player, but has a great head on his shoulders, expect to see him at u21 level next season.
Our play anywhere player, has been asked to play in many positions this year and another one who hasn’t let us down, work commitments has mean he’s missed some games lately but always done what he’s been asked to do when available.
Our smiler, always has a smile on his face, he has progressed this year under Dave’s coaching and im sure will continue to progress in the future, has anyone seen his black jumper?
Joined part the way into the season and forced his way straight into the starting 11, a great little dynamo in the holding midfield position, how he hasn’t got red card this season I’ll never know as some of his tackles were a little high but that’s what makes him what he is. Looking forward to working with him next year.
What can I say about this lad, the unsung hero of our season, Mr Dependable, a great future ahead of this lad, hard trainer, hard worker, scored some vital goals, cool as you like from the penalty spot as Hosiery Mills found out. Another who is ready for u21 football and will never let you down. He is our other vice-captain.
One of our Sunday only players, when available he starts…simple, a great attacker from the wing, his awareness and link up play is exceptional, a great character to have around the training pitch or dressing room, hopefully I can talk him into u21’s next year.
Our Joey Essex, started the season well then dropped off, I had a fb message asking why don’t I start gaffer, I replied take your chances work hard in training show me you should start, so he did, and since then has started nearly every game, contributed with some vital goals throughout the season, great lad to have around. And no he hasn’t got jaundice….
What can I say about this lad, I was told when I signed him he’s unmanageable, you won’t be able to manage him, I replied he’s misunderstood, he needs to play in a team playing great football and he will settle down, and he has, what a player, every now and again someone comes along who can read the game, has great technical skills, has a great engine, a willingness to work, basically someone who has all the attributes to make a great player, and that person is Brad, I wish I had 20 brads in my squad, we were about to walk onto the pitch last game of the season against Brampton just needing a draw to take the title, brad looked me in the eye and said, this one is for you, it bought a lump to my throat, we went on to hammer them 10-0 to win the league, brad turned to me and said I told you. Only one thing that will beat Brad and that’s Brad himself, what this lad can do with a ball defies belief, AFC need him at u21 level next year…he will be there.
The most natural finisher we have, he scores when he wants, his favourite is to shout MEGS as he nut megs his opponent, has scored some exceptional goals this year with his left, his right, there is no stopping him, and when he’s on free kick duty, DON’T get in the wall…great character and can’t wait to work with him next year, just need to get him to training which work has stopped him doing all season.
Had our ups and downs, but a hard worker in training, just need him to convert that to match’s, he has done in some games but still learning his trade, suffered from injuries this year which has prevented him getting long spells of game time, but with hard work and commitment he will be an asset to any team.
The joker, driest sense of humour you'll come across, started well for us gaining player of the month in his first month with us, A levels has meant he only plays once per week, a hard trainer and great player to have around.
We’ve missed this great lad most of the season through injury, tough tackling no nonsense player, loves the overlap and hope to have him back next year.
What can I say about this lad, I love him to bits, another one who I was told I couldn’t manage…Someone once said to me at a game he’s nothing but a thug and a bully, my reply, yes but he’s my thug and my bully, such a bully he’s never been sent off and had 3 bookings all season, my advice is if you can’t take it don’t play on the same pitch as him because he will eat you alive. Scored 77 Goals in 37 match’s, he’s the most potent finisher I’ve ever worked with, will miss him so much, but all I can say George is it’s been a pleasure to work with you, and good luck for the future, just hope your plane doesn’t get cancelled.
I would like to say a thank you too to players that started the season with us but for whatever are no longer signed on, they played their part early on and for that I thank them.
So we come to our individual awards
May’s Player of the Month Award.
After each game a player gets the man of the match award, player with the most man of the match awards per month is the player of the month.
With two man of the match awards in the final two games of the season, it’s our smiler Chris Rant.
So our goal of the season, we have scored many great goals this year, JJ’s stunner against Hosiery Mills to set us on our way, Bens volley at Lowdham, Callum’s out at Notts, one that sticks in my mind was at home to Clowne, the keeper cleared his lines with a pump up field, it must of gone 40 yard in the air, as it landed without a touch Newbs dragged it back behind himself, took one touch, split the defence with a through ball and there was George to finish it off with a goal, unbelievable. But the winner of this award was a 35yd screamer, he took the ball on his chest, turned and with a great volley beat the keeper giving him no chance at all, what a goal….unfortunately, he was facing the wrong way, it was an own goal, so the winner of this mini award is Will Parker…
This category is a great one to win, it shows the winner what their own team mates thought of them and more importantly how much they were appreciated by their team mates for their effort towards the teams season, it went to the vote and was very close, in fact it was that close that there was a tie between two lads, after serious thought I decided that I wasn’t going to a re vote but instead decided upon two trophies for the very worthy winners, I have spoken already about these lads and all I can add is without you two our season would have been very different, so thank you both and congratulations to the two lads voted for by their team mates JJ and George.
Here to present the award for coach’s player of the year is our Head Coach Dave.
Sportsman of the year
This was decided upon by my Assistant Manager, so here to present this award is Simon.
What can I say about this lad, he’s destroyed everyone he’s played against, when he came to us for a trial in June last year, within 5 minutes of the trial I was searching for the signing on forms, Dave and I spoke and said he will get us 60 goals this year, we didn’t mention this to him until he was on about 30, his reply was, I won’t get 60 I want 80, well he wasn’t far out, give a great round of applause for our top scorer, the Rowsley Leagues top scorer and the Chad Leagues top scorer George Holloway.
Managers Player of the Year.
This award was a hard one for me, I have so many talented players, players that are committed not just to our team but to AFC as a whole, players that give everything in training and leave everything on the pitch after matches, including the nets and their water bottles and jumpers and gloves…. But seriously this lad has been my rock, he has come so far this season on and off the field, its been a pleasure to see him mature as a player and as an individual and in the role that I had the pleasure in giving him. He has not only won his first trophies this year as a player, he’s been an ever present at u21 level winning the league cup and runners up in the league too, he was signed on by the seniors and made his debut for them late on in the season, gaining promotion with the senior side. he has a great future ahead of him, hopefully with AFC Mansfield, Mr Chairman give him a contract…let’s give a great big round of applause for your team captain and managers player of the year JJ.
And finally ….
I would like to show my appreciation and the appreciation of the lads to two people who without them I know we wouldn’t be standing here as winners this season, Firstly Simon, he’s been with me since mid last season, we have worked together building the squad that we have now, not many people see what he does for the team because a lot of it is behind the scenes, he has gained us two sponsors, he is always there to advise me if needed, he gives me a different outlook on certain issues, he sorts our kit on match days, the team sheets, the referee, the other manager, fills water bottles, he’s our first aider, our linesman when needed, he puts nets up takes them down and does so much more than I can remember, big hand for Simon please.
Secondly Dave, what a man what a coach, he has taken our coaching to a new level, the lads have learnt so much from him, and I know I have, he’s been my right hand man on match days, he’s always there on the phone when needed, times when ive doubted myself as a manager he’s reassured me im doing fine. There’s not many teams can say they have a level two coach soon to be a qualified uefa B coach, its been noted and as such he was asked to step in to assist with the u21’s during their cup and league run in, and already been asked to step up to the seniors during pre –season and also be head coach for the u21’s next year. He’s Mr cool personified, he always looks calm on match days nothing flusters him, however I know underneath he’s as nervous as me and as committed as I am to these great lads and a great club, and that shows when the final whistle goes and he looks at me with relief and we have a man hug, a great future in coaching ahead of him and I will try to hold onto him as long as I can Give it up please for Dave.
Without the backing of this person, I wouldn’t be manager or associated with AFC at all, so much so that towards the end of the seniors/u21’s season I was out 15 night out of the final 18, travelling all over with the u21’s and seniors as well as my teams games and training sessions, this person is my rock and supports me in everything I do, she’s not a bad egg, so a big thank you to My Mrs….Nikki….
So that it, all trophies all the thanks out the way, all that’s left is to say a massive thank you to all the parents who have followed us or supported us financially throughout the season, thank you to the people behind the scenes that help keep this great club going, the chairman, directors, not forgetting Pete Craggs, our photographer, web designer plus the other 50 or so jobs he does for the club, I can’t promise trophies next year, what I can promise is that me and my team will give it 100%, we will work with the lads and continue to progress them and hopefully we will have Senior Bulls among them for the future? Who knows…now enjoy the rest of the night and let’s see you all up on the karaoke…Thank you…"