By Louis Hall
Preston North End fan favourite Joe Garner was awarded the League One Player of the Year award at last night’s ceremony at Old Trafford, meaning a Preston player has won the award for the last two years, as Garner follows in the footsteps of club captain John Welsh.
The boyhood Preston fan has had an excellent 2014, achieving a strike rate of over a goal every other game, having scored 28 in 46 so far, helping Preston in their 2013/14 play-off push, and scoring one of the goals of the season against Rotherham after finishing fifth.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Preston didn’t reach the play-off final, but Joe Garner’s form hasn’t dipped and his goals have ensured that the Lilywhites are once again at the summit of the League One table, where they are 3rd after 17 games.
This isn’t the first time Joe’s form has been rewarded in 2014 though, as he was given the Sir Tom Finney Official Preston North End player of the year trophy earlier in the year.
Joe was probably the favourite to win the award beforehand, but he still faced tough opposition from ex-West Brom and Wigan veteran Jason Koumas, graduate of Crewe’s famous academy Matt Tootle, promising Carlisle United midfielder Brad Potts and Shrewsbury’s James Wesolowski (who was nominated for his time at Oldham Athletic).
Joe will be hoping that this isn’t his last award this season, as he is well in the running for the top goalscorer award, and achieving that would give a serious boost to Preston’s chances of promotion.
Unfortunately it wasn’t all good news for Preston North End players, as 18 year old Josh Brownhill lost out in the highly-contested Rising Star category. Brownhill has had a fantastic 2014, where he has staked his claim for a place as a first team regular just two years after joining Preston after being a Manchester United schoolboy player.
Josh came up against the likes of Tom Cairney, James Wilson, Jordon Rossiter, Ross Barkley and the eventual winner Marcos Lopes.
The other winners on the night were:
Sean Dyche (Burnley) – Manager of the Year
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) – Premier League Player of the Year
Danny Ings (Burnley) – Championship Player of the Year
Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town) – League Two Player of the Year
Luke George (Southport) – Conference Player of the Year
Kenny Dalglish – Lifetime Contribution Award