Stuart Littler picked up the top two trophies at Leigh Centurions’ Seasons Award night last Friday.
Littler, who has played outstandingly in the second row or at centre all season, was named as the Player’s Player of the Year as well as getting to share the Coach’s Player of the Year with stand-off Martyn Ridyard.
It was a night for reflection and although there was no silverware on parade a semi-final place in Grand Final series, a semi-final in the Northern rail Cup and a quarter Final clash with Leeds Rhinos in the Carnegie Challenge Cup never the less signalled an exceptional season for a club that some 12 months ago appeared to be bankrupt and on the verge of extinction.
But the battling spirit of local businessmen, the club’s chief executive , Trevor Barton and the coach Paul Rowley, players and fans ensured that not only did the club survive, but that it proved incredibly competitive to finish second in the Championship – a finish of which everyone should be immensely proud.
The players have, of course played a leading role in their success on the pitch helping to attract sponsors and fans to lend their valuable financial support, and already plans are well underway for next season.
But Friday was to honour the performances of the players in 2012 and on that front Stuart Littler had been a stand-out player in more ways than one.
“He has been Mr Consistent as far as the team was concerned,” explained Rowley. “And he has been so inspirational at times as he has sparked the team by word and deed.
“The value that the player’s put on his contribution was marked by them voting him as the Players’ Player of the Year. Off the field Stuart has ensured that the highest levels of professionalism are instilled and maintained and he has had an exceptional season for us.”
Yet despite such an accolade, Rowley and his coaching staff had selected Martyn Ridyard to share that Coach’s Player of the Year Award.
“I thought Riddy (Martyn) had been outstanding too but in a different way.” he added. “I felt that most of the truly special moments of the season, the moments of breath-taking skills had Martyn’s hand in there somewhere and I thought that deserved recognition too. His golden point drop goal winner against Halifax summed up his spectacular contribution to the season.
“The Young Player of the Year went to Gregg McNally and the combination and understanding he has with Ryan Brierley, and Riddy is something special. You can see they all enjoy playing together and they have put in some magical moves to score some superb tries. But I though Greg deserved that Award as he was a starter at full back for most of the campaign.”
The Clubman of the Year went to kitman Sean Fairhurst and Rowley had plenty to say about him.
“He’s a quiet man who goes about his business thoroughly and methodically. But it is a job that every one of the coaching staff and the players fully appreciate the part he plays in making sure everything is right on a game day so that we can concentrate on getting out there and winning. We cannot speak highly enough about his contribution.”
Squad manager Frank Taylor was awarded Life Membership of Leigh Centurions at the event, recognising an association with the club which goes back nearly 40 years.
Rowley said: “Frank does a magnificent job behind the scenes and his professionalism is outstanding and sets a tone for the dressing room that contributes to our drive for success.
“He fully deserves his Life Membership It’s one big team effort and everybody fully appreciates the role that each and every one of the people involved from being a player to being a part of the backroom staff plays.”
Coach’s Player Of The Year: Award shared by Martyn Ridyard and Stuart Littler.
Young Player of The Year: Gregg McNally.
Players’ Player of The Year: Stuart Littler.
Clubman of The Year: Sean Fairhurst.
Additionally Frank Taylor, who was Clubman of The Year in 2011 was granted Honorary Life Membership to Leigh Centurions.
For next season Paul Anderson will be running the Under 23’s team with John Duffy assisting.