By Drew Darbyshire – reporter
Preston North End boss Simon Grayson has been named the MBNA North West Manager of the Year, whilst Lilywhites defender Paul Huntington picked up the League One Player of the Year award for the region.
Grayson, 45, has been recognized for his success in leading North End to promotion to the Championship via the play-offs, where they beat Swindon Town 4-0 in the final at Wembley, after narrowly missing out on automatic promotion.
He beat off tough competition from Bury’s David Flitcroft, Manchester City Women’s team chief Nick Cushing and former Liverpool Ladies’ boss Matt Beard to pick up the prestigious trophy.
On being named manager of the year for the North West, Grayson said: “We remained positive after Colchester and wanted to break the play-off hoodoo and it was a great way to do it.
“You have to enjoy the people you work with – I work with great people and we tell the players to come in with a smile on their faces.” he added.
Huntington, 28, was a reliable leader in North End’s promotion season, with the Newcastle United academy product scoring nine goals from the back including one in the play-off final.
The centre-half won the award ahead of Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Ben Garratt, Rochdale’s Ian Henderson, Mike Jones, of Oldham Athletic and Fleetwood Town’s Chris Maxwell.
Hunts, as he is known by his team-mates, said: “Thank you to Simon Grayson and the staff for the opportunity; it’s been a great year with a fantastic set of lads.”
Managing Director of Journey9 and the MBNA North West Football Awards Laura Wolfe was pleased with how the night went.
“I am delighted to say these awards have been the most successful in our history with record engagement from clubs and businesses alike” said Wolfe.