UNSUNG heroes of the grassroots game in Suffolk were honoured at an Awards Ceremony at Portman Road.
The annual Suffolk FA Awards Ceremony sponsored by McDonald’s and Ransomes Jacobsen was staged before Tuesday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture between Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough.
Awards winners received their prizes before being treated to an entertaining talk from former Ipswich Town and Northern Ireland midfielder Bryan Hamilton, now a match-day host at the ground.
They were then paraded on the pitch before kick-off (pictured above) and then took their seats to watch the match which was televised live by Sky TV and resulted in a 2-0 win for Middlesbrough.
The Groundsmen of the Year awards sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen were presented with a framed certificate by their International Sales director Andre Andrade.
He was joined by Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler to present six Referee Long Service Awards – five each received a certificate for 25 years’ service – while Martin Stiff was presented with a 50-Year Long Service medal and a certificate.
The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards were presented by McDonald’s franchisee Carol Rogerson, who was also a member of the Judging Panel.
Winners received a glass trophy and a framed certificate, with those highly commended receiving a frame certificate.
Those award winners who were unable to attend on the day will be presented with these at a later date.
Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal said: “The Suffolk FA Awards, sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen and McDonald’s, provide an annual opportunity for the Suffolk footballing community to recognise those volunteers, coaches, parents, and individuals who work so hard behind the scenes to ensure every team in Suffolk enjoys their weekly dose of football.
“We were delighted to host the 2018 ceremony with Ipswich Town Football Club, and include awarding the Suffolk Groundsman of the Year winners and those referees who have reached 25 and 50 years’ service to the game.
“A huge congratulations and thank you to those selected as winners and highly commended by the independent judging panel, your commitment to the Suffolk game is the epitome of our thriving local game.”
Awards were presented as follows:
Groundsman of the Year
Winner: Dave Shave collected on behalf of Michael Brundish of Old Newton United
Joint second: Tony Adams of Claydon FC and Neil Hitter of Bacton United 89 on behalf of Roger Lawson
Referee Long Service Awards
50 Years – Martin Stiff
25 Years – Paul Bailey, Martin Burroughs, Gary Nethercott, Terry Scott and Paul Welham
The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards
Charter Standard Club of the Year: Sole Bay FC – collected by Shaun Doig
Charter Standard League of the Year: Norfolk & South Youth League – collected by Paul Newby & Harry Amey
Grounds Team of the Year: Locomotive Laxfield Youth FC – collected by Marcus Payne
Community Project of the Year: Norfolk & South Youth League – collected by Paul Emblem
The Respect Award: Winner: Collected by Paul Newby on behalf of Shaun Platten; Highly Commended: Keith Mills
Supporter of the Year: Vicky Godhard
Young Volunteer of the Year: Alex Shipp
Volunteer of the Year: Winner: Tony Adams; Highly Commended: Bob McCartney
Coach of the Year: Winner: Gavin Johnson; Highly Commended: Dan Coe
Match Official of the Year: George Byrne