THE Gateshead FC end of season awards took place on Saturday night hosted by Gateshead Soul and Mark Carruthers.
Gateshead players, staff and fans alike packed into Pelaw Social Club for a celebration of a remarkable 2018/19 campaign.
The first award of the evening was for Goal of the Season. Nominees included Greg Olley’s sublime chip against Maidenhead on the opening day of the season, JJ O’Donnell’s audacious halfway line effort against Billingham Town in the Durham Challenge Cup and Tom White’s fine finish against Barnet at the International Stadium.
But the award was given to Steve Rigg for his emphatic solo effort in the 3-0 win over Chesterfield back in September.
The Gateshead FC Young Player of the Year award went to Lewis McGeoch. The teenage striker has been a regular goalscorer for the Heed’s second string side and made his first-team breakthrough in 2019.
McGeoch made four National League appearances in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign and also impressed in the Durham Challenge Cup, scoring four goals in three matches as the Heed reached the quarter-finals.
The third award of the evening was the coveted Player’s Player Award as voted by the Gateshead FC first team squad.
The winner of the award was goalkeeper Aynsley Pears, who enjoyed a fantastic season between the sticks while on loan from Middlesbrough.
After receiving his award, Pears addressed the room, stating: “I’ve enjoyed the season, I’ve loved every minute.
“The lads have been brilliant and we’ve done our best but just fell short.
“The supporters have been brilliant with us all year. Clarky, Busted, Annie – they’ve all been class but just disappointing that we fell short in the end.”
The Gateshead Soul Player of the Season was awarded to midfielder Tom White. The 21-year-old England C International had a fine first full season in the National League, making 46 appearances for the Heed and scoring three goals.
The award, voted for by Gateshead fans, named Gateshead College Graduate White as the stand-out player of a remarkable campaign.
Following the award, White commented: “I’ve loved this season, from the first game against Maidenhead – getting up at half five in the morning to get the bus and since then I’ve loved every single second.
“It’s been a joint effort with the fans, the lads and the staff and I think I speak for everyone when I say what a season it’s been.
“It’s one that will live long in the memory.
“Clarky has been unbelievable with me from the day I started, I love him to bits.”
On his England C call-up: “The thing is Greg (Olley) snuck in before me and I had to get called up after an injury came in but credit to credit to Greg because he’s been unbelievable.
“All the lads have been a pleasure to play with personally. Jon (Mellish) is a bit iffy, I don’t know about him! But no, everyone has been different class so thank you.”
Next up was an award that recognised the contributions made by fans over the course of the season.
The Tommy Milburn award for Club Man of the Year was awarded to Gateshead Soul’s Tracie Wilson.
Tracie has done some fantastic work for both Gateshead FC and more recently Gateshead Soul, dedicating a lot of time and effort to various important roles.
Tracie was also one of a few Gateshead fans who volunteered to wash the players’ kits when the club was unable to use its usual laundrette.
The award was presented by Gateshead fan and granddaughter of Tommy Milburn, Michelle Lawson.
The final award of the evening was the Gateshead FC Soul Award. This award gave recognition to the efforts of all of the Gateshead FC players and staff over the course of the 2018/19 campaign.
Despite being relegation favourites at the start of the season, the Heed defied all odds to achieve a 9th place finish in the National League and remained in the play-off hunt right until the final week of the season. This is in spite of numerous obstacles been thrown in their way.
To close the awards ceremony, Gateshead manager Ben Clark emotionally addressed the near 200 strong crowd at Pelaw Social club by saying: “Everyone has been different class, I know a lot of the fans come and support us home and away wherever we play.
“I’ve got to mention Steve (Watson) and Micky (Cummins) as well. I was at The Schooner with them in pre-season and we were trying to establish a squad and we went to Tynemouth beach with about eight of us training.
“I was training and I pulled my hamstring doing the running!
“But to have the season we’ve had, it’s all down to the players – they’re an absolute credit to themselves.
“Regardless of what happens, life moves on and I just want to thank the lads and I want to thank the supporters because it’s been an unbelievable season.”
Full list of awards and winners here…
Goal of the Season – Steve Rigg (v Chesterfield, September 2018)
Young Player of the Season – Lewis McGeoch
Player’s Player – Aynsley Pears
Player of the Season – Tom White
Tommy Milburn Award for Club Man of the Year – Tracie Wilson
Gateshead FC Soul Award – The 2018/19 Gateshead FC squad and staff